Saturday, July 3, 2010

Equipment and Gear For Kinabalu Mountain

I get a lot of requests on what to bring for the climb up to Kinabalu. Ah Chong was the last to ask so thought I'd put up a SIMPLE LIST OF BARE NECESSITIES for the average climber.

Here goes:

1. Termals top and bottom. Invest in a good pair they will safe your balls from freezing when the wind chill hits at at the peak. If you're cheap you can get a decent set at some of those old school winter clothing shops in most department stores or along Jalan Tunku ABdul Rahman. Retails for about RM120 to RM140. To be used for the peak climb. The cheaper ones are not bad. Unfashionable with that beige look only hip in the 18th century they've kept me warm at about 17,000 ft at the top of the Thronglar Pass in Nepal (no blasting winds though)

2. Water resistant lined cargo/ climbing pants - lined because than you've option for not using the thermal long johns. BUT you dont want to be caught in a morning gale without BOTH on. Trust me. Lined bottom and termal long johns in the icy wind at 13,000 ft will keep your privates warm and happy.

3. Good fleece jacket - the main bit to keep you warm. a lot of outdoor brands have good non bulky jackets. The key to layering as most women will tell you is to keep a comfortable silhouette for easy movement. Many people end up borrowing sizes too large and baggy and end up flapping about like Batman with a weight problem or waddling about like an overweight Teletubby.

4. Wind cheater/Slick/Storm jacket - the main piece to keep you from the harsh wind at the peak. The wind is freezing and if you're not layered properly you're going to get assaulted with zero temperature high velocity winds. Get one with a hood and possibly one of those that covers your face.

5. Balaclava - protection for your face from the winds - the one with just the eyes and (and sometimes mouth sections cut out). you can reuse in bed role playing games with the GF or BF. Sexy terrorist v wimpy accountant or something. It can double up like a beanie and keeps your ears from freezing into useless bits of flesh that you will have to cut out after a bout of frost bite.

6. Swiss Army Knife - its a must for any outdoor enthusiasts. You never know when you may need it to saw off your legs trapped under a boulder. Ladies please don't even think about getting that pink one with only the knife and the nail file and tweezers. The gods of the mountains wont care if you've hair growing out of your nostrils at 3am in the morning.

7. Head Lamp - A MUST- you will need your hands especially the last 3 hour climb to the peak. Check that it works and put in new batteries. Remember it will on on for 3 hours straight. You can also use it in a pub to attract the attention of bored hookers.

8. Backpacks with Hydration packs - I personally like a Camel Bak - the hydration compartment is meant for the water bladder. Not those pseudo shit that enables you to carry your lap top, files, legal documents which happens to half holster a water bladder holder. But then they dont sell Camel Baks here in Malaysia so any Solomon, Deuter or whatever will be good. Also the best to get one of these packs as you can drink on the move and you can also flip the bird to those monkeys at Kinabalu Park. With both fingers....

9. Hiking boots with broad forefoot - the Keen brand seems to have the broadest forefoot but because of the high prices they have been or slowly being phased out in Malaysia (available in World of Sports stores). Just make sure there is enough space up front so that your toenails don't keep jamming against the forefoot wall when you descend - blisters and broken toenails are normally the result of folks wearing the wrong shoe. It does not need to be an expensive boot - Hi-Tec and Columbia have decent models - wait for the World of Sports sales - which is often as outdoor brands dont sell as fast as the rest. I have seen some friends go up with nothing more than running shoes. Its OK if you have the feet of mountain goats and may not offer much support when you are navigating the rocky path up to Laban Rata. The boots help your ankle at the peak where you have to navigate rocky terrain, but running shoes are doable although their narrow forefoot is not the best on the descent. Nike shoes with those recycled outsoles are a hazard, slipping easily on wet rock thus testing the shock absorbtion of your ass.

I am tempted to try out one of those RM8 Cap Gajah shoes on my next hike up mountain though. AND LADIES... hiking boots or shoes will ALWAYS make your feet look fat and big and broad. AAANNND you're going to find it tough to find one that is color coordinated with your jacket and hairband and lipstick.

10. Rain coat - Fuck those expensive storm fit shit - get an old school yellow plastic ones from the hardwear shop. Better still those that construction workers use. - the ones that are WATER PROOF. Fuck breathability and shit. If its raining at 13,000 feet you do not want to get wet. Icicles on your balls are not cool. My guide actually had one of those little umbrellas that old ladies use tucked in his pack. Obviously enough to ward off the rain on the mountain.

11. Food and water - spring along the way. Water is essential and your guide can carry it for you however some folks like Arial has replenished her water supply at some of the streams and waterfalls along the Mesilau trails. I think one stream and one waterfall. Pack your lunch and keep powerbars on standby. Try never to finish everything in your pack unless necessary (just an old rule in case you get lost and are kidnapped by rogue biawaks that eat nothing but boiled tree bark)

12. Spare socks - feet are going to be the most important friend. If you get caught in the rain you're gonna want to have dry socks on hold spare. They also double up to keep your feet warm in Laban Rata.
13. Watch with alarm - Timing is key that you keep to your schedule. An alarm setting helps for you to catch the 2am waking hour to push to the peak.

14. Water proofing (keep plastic bags on standby in case of rain)

15. Climbing Stick pole. (for anyone carrying any injury or is just plain unfit. Not macho but it really helps. Trust me. You can get the cheap wooden ones at the Mesilau gate at RM3. (this was about 3 years ago)

16. Light T-shirts (3) Ideally long sleeves as it act as another layer - One to climb in and one to descend to the peak. One spare just in case you're caught in the rain. If you're not fussy just 2 t-shirts are fine. The dry fit/clima cool/polyester ones work as they don't get bogged down with sweat as much as the cotton shirts.

17. Shorts - fun to climb in on a sunny day.

18. Gloves - you will need this at the top where it will be freezing. Advisable to get thermal gloves and not those cotton ones the old ladies use to drive their cars in Old Town PJ and Klang.

19. Handphone - well I know the peak has some reception (not sure which carrier) as I've seen my guide talking to his wive on the way down. This is just one of those things. In case you're lost. Plus if doubles as a torch light, a radio, spare camera, can record the phone number of that cute Japanese climber and if you're McGyver you can use it and combine it with your head lamp, Swiss Army life and long johns to build a glider and fly off the mountain if you're bored of the climb.

Packing for Kinabalu is almost like packing for two trips - the first 5-8 hours (depending on which trail) is almost a regular albeit a little chilly hike which you can do in a t-shirt and even shorts if it's a sunny day. The heat you're generating from your exertions will be enough to keep you warm. The second segment of the hike to the peak is where it gets tricky. If you're unlucky you will get hit by heavy rain or a thick misty onslaught and fierce icy cold wind which can be tricky on the hard smooth granite crown of the mountain.

Have I left out anything?


ah lim said...

wow... damn detailed.

Chindiana said...

i was damn bored... :P

Ah Chongzzz said...

Thankyuk Chindy! *scribbling notes* Especially love the balaclava bit :]

Chindiana said...

No prob Ah Chongzzz! so going to be the mild mannered accountant or the other way round?

J said...

Whozzat waving wildly at the camera in the purple outfit? *squints*

Chindiana said...

Yo J, just some European climber who was calling her friend behind me. Very animated...

LCB said...

i was a hero the last time around... carried my own pack cos i was adament on climbing a mountain carrying my own bag! it weight in at 18kg....partly cos i had a bottle of champaigne in it..

Any tips for packing Chindiana mountain man?

Chindiana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chindiana said...

18KG!!! Wah - the Mountain Man from Melaka!

Um.. besides the champaign bottle, try to get the guide to carry some for you (there's 2 of you on the trip rite?) - ask him carry your water (2 big bottles), maybe your heavy jackets, and small things which add up - chargers. etc. just maybe 'kheng' the price la.

Can save space in pack by wearing the pants, and tying bulky jacket and wind cheater outside of pack. i can pinjam you the elastic ropes to strap them in.

Distribute the weight of the pack to shoulders and waist (this one i think you already do i think) - the pack high and waist strap firm and not loose.

If you carrying a lot of camera equipment then susah la - you need to make a call cos serious photogs camera equipment already 10kg!.

C. Andres Alderete said...

Duct tape. You can bandage wound, repair tears in your stuff, cover foot blisters, and make a mean cord with it. Great post. Way to make me slobber with laughter.

Chindiana said...

Thanks Carlos! Hmm.. good one. I was wondering what I would need to cover up cuts and gashes besides sissy plasters.

ghoul said...

My friend is going up Mt Kinabalu in a week. This is good advice :) Thank you

word verification: comer

Chindiana said...

Ghoul i forgot to mention - tell your friend to take up a flask of hot coffee or milo - will be the best ever at the peak!

Nex said...

And if you're cheap like me, pack some 3-in-1 milo, hot chocolate, nescafe drinks are NOT CHEAP at Laban Rata, but I'm not sure if they're included now that food is included in the price of the overnight stay. We used to be able to buy a cup of hot water for RM0.50, and just add our own stuff...

This post made me laught out like a mad man because it reminded me of Reuben's comment when he casually asked me what one should bring for a Mt Kinabalu climb. When I gave him basically this list, he said, "come on, HOW COLD can it get? We're in the tropics!" WAH HA HA HA!!!!