While the popular Mount Kinabalu is the highest point in the Malay Archipelago, Mount Trus Madi poses a considerably more serious challenge to trekkers looking for a memorable climbing experience. Though located roughly 25 miles southeast of its taller and more high-profile sister peak, Trus Madi is a great place to take in dawn views of Kinabalu and the surrounding region.
There are other reasons to consider organizing an ascent on Trus Madi’s 8,077-foot (2,462 meter) high summit. Namely, you won’t be plagued by much in the way of company. Attempts at this climb have increased recently, but the number of climbers is not even close to the thousands who storm Kinabalu’s slopes every year. If you’re physically fit, relatively experienced, and prepared to spend at least one night in the wilds of Sabah, you can rest assured that you will be treated to a high degree of solitude by taking on the mountain entirely on foot. Before undertaking such a venture, be sure to stock up on supplies (water, portable stove, leech socks, toilet paper, and so on) and pick up a climbing permit from the Forestry Department.
If you want a more abbreviated (and less daunting) experience, a rough, dirt/mud road now enables tour groups in 4WD vehicles to approach a recently constructed base camp located just over 3 miles from the summit. After a far more comfortable night than you’re likely to enjoy on your own, small groups make their ascent via a well-maintained trail with regular progress markers before descending back to the comforts of Kota Kinabalu.