By 7:30 am I was at the Mt. Kinabalu park headquarters, ready to sign up. Malaysia has higher permit fees for foreigners ($35), and requires you to be accompanied by a guide ($25), and I don’t have any problem with any of these policies. I did grumble, however, at the $10 I had to pay for transport between headquarters and the trail head. For a fleeting moment I thought about just walking the 5 km, but at the end my eagerness for starting the climb won over my cheapness.
So me and my faithful guide started climbing the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. It is steep! And because it is steep you don’t have the feeling of going through foothills, where one path is as good as the other. Here there is really only one path, built-up through the years along the narrow ridges between the deep canyons that radiate away from the mountain. I say built-up because half of the path has steep steps which must have been built by a race of giants. I can tell they are going to be hell on the knees coming back.
My guide and I paced ourselves very nicely, and by 3 pm reached the lodge where we were to overnight, at about 3,500 m altitude. It is a nice complex with a big common room, a good kitchen, and bunk houses. There were maybe 100 hikers all together, and we all enjoyed a hearty early dinner before going to bed around 6 pm.