Mount Kinabalu Challenge

On Saturday morning, 5 October 2013, a group of 22 excited Symphonians and friends departed for Kota Kinabalu (KK) in Sabah to climb and discover the fascinating Mount Kinabalu, the highest Mountain in South East Asia (4,095m).  They trained for seven long months to be mentally and physically fit for this challenge. As it always is at Symphony, where there’s fun, there’s also community work to be done. A CSR visit to a children’s home was also part of the itinerary.


The flight to KK took two hours and upon arrival, the group tried out local food for lunch. After regaining their strength, they were taken to Sunny Supermarket in Tanjung Aru to purchase food stuff, groceries and stationeries for the home visit. They were divided into six groups and each group was given RM 50 and a shopping list. The money was part of the collection from the Breakfast @ Symphony initiative in July 2013. The participants were generous as they added more items for the children using their own funds.

Home Visit & Checking in

With the excitement of the shopping spree behind them, they now embarked on a scenic journey from Kota Kinabalu to Ranau which took approximately two hours. Their first stop was Kinabalu Park in Kundasang where they registered for the climb. They then proceeded to Rumah Putera Harapan in Ranau to hand out donated items such socks, groceries, toiletries and stationeries and spent some quality time with the children. The house shelters 25 children ages 7 to 15. and provides the children education supported by the local NGOs, private organisations and individual donations. Symphony Group Chief Executive, Tan Sri Azman Yahya donated RM500 in cash to the home. After spending an hour with the kids, the group made their way to Mesilau Nature Resort for dinner and a much needed rest before their climb, the next day. The spirit of giving back to the community made the journey to Sabah even more meaningful.

Mesilau to Laban Rata

As the sun rose the next morning, the hikers geared up for the task ahead. The chilly wind outside was fresh and rejuvenating. At 8am, after a full breakfast, the team of 21 was briefed by the mountain guides and the climbing commenced. Advancing to the Summit Trail, from Tambang Gate via Mesilau Route to the second checkpoint; Laban Rata, they scaled up and down challenging and scenic terrains. The 8.5km climb was magnificent and picturesque as they crossed mountains, steep hills, waterfalls and lush vegetations. The birds were chirping happily, squirrels dashed up trees and branches. What a beautiful morning!

The exquisite scenery, flora and fauna made the climb to the next checkpoint delightful. Around 5pm everyone arrived at Laban Rata Resthouse (3272m) tired and hungry. The air was even colder at this point and after dinner, they  climbed another 150 meters to their dormitory at Gunting Lagadan Hut. They jumped into bed for a good night’s sleep to be ready for the scale up to Low’s Peak, early next morning.

Laban Rata – Sayat Sayat Checkpoint – Low’s Peak

It was an early morning for all and after a short briefing with the mountain guides at 3am on 7 October, 18 of them set out on their journey to the summit. Three team members had to stay back due to poor health.

Although they were dressed accordingly, the group had to adjust to the cold and windy weather high up in the mountains. It was dark outside and only their headlights provided some light as they climbed further up the tough terrain. Sadly, the weather turned for the worse as it began to drizzle and the wind picked up speed pushing temperatures down. They persevered and continued. An hour later, the rain poured heavily causing them to slow down as visibility was bad and the wind was now pushing them from different directions making ascending up the sheer rocks difficult as everything was wet and slippery. Even the route they were walking started to become a cascade as the rain continued to pound heavily on them delaying them further. They reached the final checkpoint, Sayat Sayat and proceed further despite all the challenges. 500 meters ahead of Sayat Sayat, the guides advised the group to turn back as the weather had worsened and it was too dangerous to proceed. The group was disappointed as it was less than 1km to the peak. By then a few people had suffered altitude sickness and they took the decision to turn back to Laban Rata with Steve, Khaidhir and Shin taking the lead to ensure everyone’s safety.

The Champions

All is not lost as five Symphony Ironmen, who arrived 30 minutes earlier at the Sayat Sayat checkpoint managed to proceed further despite the wet weather. Their will power kept them going and they arrived triumphantly at Low’s Peak with Karu at 6:00am, followed by Siva and Taranjit at 6.15am and finally Asri and Zali at 6:30am. Bravo to them for their remarkable record. Although the rest did not make it to the top, they still successfully reached 3,800 metres which was vertically just 300 metres away from the peak (4.095m). Now that too is an achievement.

Descending to Timpohon Gate

The first group arrived at Laban Rata Resthouse to a hearty breakfast. They regrouped and celebrated the success of the five who made it to the peak. Slowly, they began descending to Timpohon gate via Timpohon route which was shorter in distance compared to the Mesilau Route but steeper. After eight hours being on their feet in soaking wet clothes, they finally arrived Kinabalu Park for a late lunch. Happy, tired and hungry the group ate their meals and shared their adventures of the day.

Friendship & Bonds

The two short days in the mountains created a strong bond between the climbers. New friendships were forged as they recollect the times they depended on one another and helped each other through an adventurous and at times dangerous journey. This unforgettable trip will be etched forever in their minds.


That night they slept soundly in their rooms in Marina Court and on the last day, they wandered around KK shopping for souvenirs for family and friends. The time came for them to depart and during the flight home they shared more exciting stories and promised to return next year for another adventure.