PHOTOS: This Story of Friendship & Struggle Will Make You Want To Climb Mount Kinabalu

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Climbing Mount Kinabalu Tips - Read this before you climb!
source: The Family Freestylers

Mount Kinabalu is the tallest mountain in Malaysia and is considered one of the most prominent mountains in the world.

While it is a far cry from Mount Everest, climbing Mount Kinabalu is still considered a challenge and it has been an attraction for lovers of adventure and thrill seekers for years.

That is why a local photographer, Yong Chuan, decided to embark on a journey to climb to the summit with his friends and his view at the top was absolutely breathtaking.

Take a look at these pictures:

r/EarthPorn - Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia [OC] [4000x5333]

r/malaysia - Me and the Bois successful climbed Mount Kinabalu. It was amazing with breathtaking view on top

Posting to Reddit, the photographer immediately garnered the praise and attention of many Malaysian users – since it is an achievement that is on many’s bucket list.

So, we decided to have a little chat with Yong Chuan about his experience as inspiration for more people to attempt this climb and appreciate the culture it offers along the way…


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A post shared by classic_銓 (@yong.chuannnnn)

When and how did the idea to climb Mt Kinabalu take place?

One night, one of my friends invited me to play badminton with him. While we were playing, he asked me, “Hey Yong, want to go to Mount Kinabalu with us? John, Vince, me and you?”

I was like, “Huh? You guys sure or not about Mount Kinabalu? It’s challenging and needs lots of leg training before going up.”

He says, “It will be okay. We’ll all go up together, and we will train together one month before going up.”

At first, I declined the trip, but I told him I would consider it.

Not long after, he created a Mount Kinabalu trip Whatsapp group on 15/03/2022 with 4 of us in the group.

Provided by Yong Chuan

How did you and your friends prepare to climb Mt Kinabalu?

First, we talked about what we needed to prepare before going up, such as physical training and equipment.

Before that, we signed up on the Mount Kinabalu website as a climber. That’s our priority because there are a lot of climbers, and the slot was almost fully booked for that month and for the upcoming month too.

After we booked it and gave the deposit, we told ourselves, “That’s it, boys, we are officially going to Mount Kinabalu on 26/05/2022.”

 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | AllTrails
Ketumbar Hill (source: All Trails)

The next thing we started to prepare for was leg training. We promised that each week we would go hiking hills. It turns out we did less exercise than we expected. But I did some training for myself, such as jogging, participating in 7 km marathon, and hiking Bukit Ketumbar together with my backpack.

For Ashton (the friend that invited me), he did gym exercise and hiking.

As for Vince, he hurt his ankle one month before going to Mount Kinabalu, so he didn’t do much physical training but he did hike Sungai Long Hill with Ashton.

Lastly, for John, since he was in Singapore; he did biking and walked a lot there, so that’s considered part of his training.

Decathlon: Sewing on an Empty Stomach | ZEIT ONLINE
source: Die Zeit

For the equipment, most of our things were bought from Decathlon. They did sell most of the hiking equipment. So that’s a plus for them.

Why Malaysia's Mt. Kinabalu is So Sacred
source: Culture Trip

Climbing Mt Kinabalu is becoming quite common for adventure junkies. From a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the difficulty of the journey? What was your experience?

The journey was very challenging for my friends and I.

At the beginning of the hike at 10:12 am, it was fun and relaxing. Not long after, three of my friends began to feel tired and wanted to rest up.

As for me, I kept walking and climbing with a hiking stick, which helped me a lot throughout the journey. It just felt like walking up the stairs of Batu Caves.

Panalaban Base Camp | Mount Kinabalu Accommodation Booking Centre | Mount Kinabalu
Panalaban Base Camp (source: Mount Kinabalu)

At 3:08 pm, I arrived in Panalaban. I was the first to reach the resort, and it felt like an accomplishment, not because I was the first to get there but because I didn’t even notice that I was tired af until I arrived.

While at the resort, I had a cup of hot Maggie and waited for them. Not long after, Ashton walked in followed by John. I was happy to see them. While we three sat down and waited for Vince, we wondered if he would make it; at last, he did.

We four happily sat down outside and talked about our journey while drinking Sabah hot tea and preparing for the next day’s 2:30 am journey.

Mount Kinabalu climb experience - what to expect
source: Notes of Nomads

The next day 2:30 am 27/5/2022, I walked in front, followed by John and Ashton. Lastly, Vince and our tour guide, Neil, followed him. We all prepared for our journey to the summit.

The wind was blowing hard, the weather was cold, the night was dark, and a headlamp was my only best friend. It shined the pathway along the white rope. I couldn’t feel my fingers because the weather was freezing.

Climbing Mt Kinabalu via the old Mesilau trail - The Mango Road
source: The Mango Road

Along the way to the summit, I was hungry and wondering when I would arrive. As I walked along the white rope, suddenly I reached a rough path which I needed to climb and came across a boulder. The white rope disappeared.

I was panicking and wondering if this was the right road. I waited for a while at the side because I was alone. Not long after, John was at my side and I told him that I couldn’t find the white rope. I remember feeling scared.

Thankfully, someone came down from the boulder and we saw the white rope. The journey continued.

As I climbed first, I saw the Summit sign. I was excited, and the feeling of cold and freezing were all gone. I kept climbing up, and I finally reached the top at 5.30 am.

I was proud of myself that I finally reached it after all the struggle.

r/EarthPorn - Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia [OC] [4000x5333]

We stayed for 30 minutes at the summit before Ashton finally arrived. He was exhausted and wanting to give up, but we cheered for him and he finally did it. We three stayed on the top for another 15 minutes, it was cold but totally worth it.

After the clouds and fog cleared out, the view on top was magnificent and breath taking. Not long after, Vince arrived despite struggling with his ankle.

Overall I would rate the experience a 9/10.

What was the best part about reaching the top?

When I was a kid at the age of 12, I flipped through the textbook and saw a picture of Mount Kinabalu.

After that, one of my friends said his dad went to the Mount Kinabalu summit. I was wondering, How can someone reach so high up? It must take a lot of energy to reach it.

Throughout my studies in high school, I kept seeing Mount Kinabalu with the iconic pointy mountain shot.

Finally getting to see it with my own eyes was the best part of all. Besides that, touching the signboard felt very cool too.

Sabah quake: Bomba says remains of all victims recovered | The Star
source: The Star

Before climbing, did you research or ask for any tips on how to make it to the top? Are there any myths about climbing the mountain?

Two days before going, I was worried that I might not be able to reach the top. Luckily, I have a friend experienced in climbing Mount Kinabalu. He told me not to worry and that I would make it. He was right.

Not sure if you still remember the earthquake on Mount Kinabalu at 2015? When I was going down, one of the climbers said that the place we passed by was the earthquake stone.

It felt tragic.

The pictures you took and uploaded has gotten a lot of attention on Reddit. What camera did you use?

The camera I used to capture was a Nikon D7200.

As a photographer that has been to many places, name some of your favourites.


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A post shared by classic_銓 (@yong.chuannnnn)

Great Ocean Road 12 Apostle, Melbourne, Australia.


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A post shared by classic_銓 (@yong.chuannnnn)

Sand Dune, United Arab Emirate.


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A post shared by classic_銓 (@yong.chuannnnn)

CBD Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.


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A post shared by classic_銓 (@yong.chuannnnn)

Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malaysia.

Greenland (above) China (below)

Are there any destinations that you have yet to check off your bucket list?

The next trip we are going to go on is Greenland or maybe China. Soon, we’re going to plan to visit some other epic places.

For more stunning pictures and possible new adventures with Yong Chuan and friends, follow him on Instagram.

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