The summit of Mount Kinabalu is one of the highest points in the Malay Archipelago, and it is famously easy to ascend. The typical route takes just a few days, and there are clearly marked paths, fixed ropes and stairs that make the journey feasible for anyone other than the very young, aged or infirm. There is also perfectly adequate, dormitory-style lodging roughly two-thirds of the way up the mountain. If you’re really looking for a challenge, however, and you’re not a seasoned climber, try tackling the summit “via ferrata” (Italian for “iron road”), a mountain route equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders and bridges that would otherwise only be accessible to experienced climbers.
The via ferrata established on Kinabalu is reputedly the highest of its kind anywhere in the world. That doesn’t mean your trip won’t involve at least a little bit of rest and relaxation. The newly established Pendant Hut offers shelter and bunk beds along the ascent, and while it isn’t heated, it’s likely to feel like a home away from home by comparison to a sheer cliff face.
Whether you are searching for someplace to stay en-route to your climb, or someplace to recuperate after, consider the city of Kota Kinabalu. It has been growing in popularity for years now, but it remains far enough off the beaten track to escape the notice of many travelers planning a trip to Malaysia. For a proper view of the city center and the mountain beyond, take a short hike to the Signal Hill Observatory. Kick back after your climb and bask in the sight of your recently conquered route, or gather your strength and prepare yourself for an ascent in full view of what you’re up against.