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Mount Kinabalu's high wire act up in the clouds

Clipped to a cable, trekkers can tackle the rockface of Mount Kinabalu and enjoy high-altitude scenery of clouds and tropical jungle

Published on Aug 17, 2014 11:37 PM

I love mountains and the roof- of-the-world tranquillity of being nearer the clouds. Oddly, I even savour the mild vertigo I always get, staring down from the gusty heights of skyscrapers and feeling like a leaf, especially in a new city.

But I do live with a lifetime of low-grade anxiety about heights and the Via Ferrata route on the sheer rockface of Mount Kinabalu intimidates me when I previewed it on YouTube.

Via Ferrata, Iron Road in Italian, is a mountain route composed of metal rungs, cables and palettes (footholds) permanently fixed to the rockface.

Terrifyingly narrow foot-bridges and beams, which are sure to conjure up images of tightrope acrobats, connect high places on certain trails.

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Background story

Getting there

I fly Air Asia to Kota Kinabalu, where I stay overnight.

The next morning, I transfer by van to Kinabalu Park, 80km east of Kota Kinabalu, a journey of 1 to 11/2 hours.

My two-day trek, including the Via Ferrata route, is booked with Adventure Quests (

The first day is spent trekking 6km up to the Laban Rata accommodation complex on the 4,095m Mount Kinabalu. Via Ferrata trekkers have to arrive by 4pm for a mandatory briefing.

The next morning, we start our summit ascent at 2.30am to catch the sunrise.

Then I have to arrive by 7.30am at Sayat-Sayat Hut, between the summit and Laban Rata, for Walk The Torq, a beginner's Via Ferrata route designed by Mountain Torq (

Those who sign up for the intermediate Via Ferrata route - Low Peak's Circuit - meet at the 7.5km point on Mount Kinabalu.

After the Via Ferrata, we descend the mountain and transfer back to Kota Kinabalu.

It is an intensive trek, and Adventure Quests will run free conditioning classes on Bukit Timah Hill every fortnight for its trekkers.

The tour price of $670 includes two nights at a Kota Kinabalu hotel before and after the trek, dormitory lodging at Pendant Hut on Kinabalu, local transfers, mountain guides, a briefing and a printed trekking guide.

My single supplement is an extra $110.