The usual standard route that most climbers used to get to Mount Kinabalu is through the Timpohon trail, that will take you from your starting point to your first day destination at Laban Rata Hut.
Assuming that you start your journey at 9am, you will reach Laban Rata Hut between 3 to 4 pm. We went on our journey to climb Mount Kinabalu at the end March. It is recommended that you start your journey during March or April where the weather is ideal for a climb. We reached Laban Rata Hut from our starting point at Timpohon trail after 6 hours worth of walking time.
The Laban Rata Hut lower level contains the dining hall, kitchen and utility rooms. There are 2 shower rooms, for ladies and men respectively, and 2 unisex toilets located here. We had to use the unisex toilets during our time here since the men’s shower room was being renovated. There were more men than ladies at the rest house. To say that the queue was very long is an understatement. There was neither hot water nor toiletries and towels in the rest house. I suppose hot water is only available in the shower rooms, since the rest house website did advertise the availability of hot water. We had to change immediately into our fresh clothing without bathing, which was disgusting!
The Laban Rata Hut rest house provides food all day, with buffet dinner starting at 5pm. Some seasoned climbers would use the opportunity to get some short sleep before dinner when they arrive at the rest house. We, however, chose to talk with our fellow climbers and ate a light meal. You are welcome to have a sleep and rest if you are able to. As for me personally, I would be too hungry to sleep!
During this time of month the temperature outside the Laban Rata rest-house was around 12 degrees Celsius. There isn’t much to do after a well needed dinner. So what can you do here? Well, you can head to the balcony, admire the breathtaking mountain view and take some pictures of the clouds underneath the rest house.
Laban Rata’s upper level contains 16 bedrooms, with 4 double decker beds in each room. You would want to take the lower deck bed since climbing up and down your bed is most likely the last thing you want to do after climbing all day. With the rest house’s limited capacity, it is unsurprising that Mount Kinabalu is not as crowded as many would expect.
Those who have studied and lived in boarding schools would probably get used to the conditions in the rest house. The natives working in the area would congregate in the dining hall for their meals and social time. Most climbers would try to rest and sleep in their bedroom at around the same time before waking up to continue their night climb at 2am. So it gets very noisy in addition to the vibration you feel due to people walking outside your room.
You are stuck with 7 other climbers in a room at Laban Rata. Imagine what it would be like. You cannot control the light switch and snoring sounds of the other sleeping climbers. An eyeshade and a set of earplugs would be a good idea I however doubt that it is advisable to wear them. If you decide to wear earplugs, you better make sure that you have someone to wake you up if you don’t want to miss the night climbing.
You and your teammates should be awake and ready to leave Laban Rata Hut for the night climb at 2am. You are allowed to leave some belongings in the rest house. You should only bring the important equipments. You should fill up any small water bottles that you bring along in the dining hall. Do take a hearty breakfast and don’t forget your camera. Good luck with the climb of Mount Kinabalu!