Unfortunately, the accommodation is full at Laban Rata for all of July and August...I'm so disappointed! However, I'm determined to do this climb. Has anyone done it in a day? Is it really as bad as I've heard? I'm in good shape, I work out almost every day, but my boyfriend...not so much, plus he's a smoker (ahhh les francais). Any opinions would be welcomed...thanks!
Wow! Is accommodation booking up this quickly already?
I'm shocked! I really want to do this climb too! Are there any other alternatives?
I think the record for climbing the mountain is something like just over a couple of hours, but unless you're a complete masochist or some sort of fitness maniac, I wouldn't recommend trying to climb Kinabalu in one day. In fact, I'm not sure you'd be allowed to as you are required to have a guide, and I don't think too many of them would be too keen on doing the trip in one day. The record times are put up during an annual race they hold there.
That said, I wouldn't be too sure that the Sutera Sanctuary Lodges are all booked up. There is some strange business going on where tour groups book up all the rooms and then they release them as dates get closer in that are not filled. Upon my planning, I sent several emails to them that were never returned. So I just showed up in Kota Kinabalu and hoped for the best. When I checked into my hostel, the lady told me to head over to the Sutera offices and see if everything was booked up. She told me that if they were, then I could come back and she could sign me up for a "package", which I think would have been quite a bit more expensive (I think those packages are what books up most of the rooms).
At any rate, when I visited the office, Laban Rata was indeed filled up. But there are several other resthouses in the same vicinity and I got a space in one of those. Laban Rata has heat, which is a pretty nice perk up there, but I found the unheated one just fine (with a good sleeping bag). Plus, it had a kitchen, so we could cook food we brought with us, rather than have to pay the rather high prices in Laban Rata. Regardless, you can hang out in Laban Rata as much as you like, you just sleep in the other resthouse, and since they wake you up at about 2 am to make the climb up for sunrise, you don't get too settled in anyway.
So I guess my advice would be to just show up in KK and try to figure it out. I obviously wouldn't plan an entire trip around this strategy, but if you are planning on being on Borneo anyway, it's worth a shot. If nothing else, there is much more to see in Sabah (and Sarawek) than just Mount Kinabalu.
As for fitness level, I'll be honest. I do a lot of hiking and climbing around here at home, and my legs were pretty damn sore at the end of the two days. Then again, I brought an unnecessary amount of crap that I lugged up on my back. You're smoking frenchman should be just fine though if he's in at least okay shape. It's pretty surprising some of the people that make it to the top, not all feeling too super, but they get there.
Hope that helps!
I did it in one day last September but I really wouldn't recommend it. You have to meet the Ranger in the morning with your guide and ask permission to do it in one day. If you look fit enough you get the go ahead but you have to agree to turn back at any time if the guide insists. The difficulty of doing it this way means you don't have time to take pics etc on the way up and you lose out on the rapport with others as you just have to keep moving. Also, the clouds rise up in the afternoon so by the time you get to the top you can't see anything and pretty much have to take a quick few pics and head back down again so you're down before dark. It started raining so heavily on my descent that I couldn't see past my nose and it was dark for the last 3km so that was a bit freaky.
All in all, I am very proud of myself for doing it but didn't see it that way for at least a week afterwards when I could walk again
If you can re-arrange your dates that would prob be your best option as it's mad to see the porters walking up with seriously heavy packs of food in flip flops whilst the rest of us mere mortals huff and puff :D. Also, the sunrise at the top is meant to be rather moving....
Thanks for all of the advice. Actually, someone reminded me that while Sutera Sanctuary Lodges may not have any places left at Laban Rata, tour companies might, since they often buy out the reservations ahead of time. So checked into that, and indeed, I was able to book a 2d/1n tour to do the climb! From all the responses I had telling me it would be less enjoyable to climb it in one day, I decided to go with the tour, so for anyone else in my situation, there's always that option! However, book now, despite the tour having room for me, I still had to change my dates around, as they were very limited!