KOTA KINABALU: One of the two new trekking routes to reach the summit of Mount Kinabalu from Laban Rata is now ready for use, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun announced yesterday.

He said alternative routes which would replace the old single trail leading to the peak, where several climbers and mountain guides were killed during an earthquake in June, would enable Sabah Parks to fully reopen the mountain to climbers by Dec 1 as planned.

“To meet our plan to reopen the mountain by December, we will use one of the two trails first, which is the Ranau Trail. I am very happy with the works that have been done on the trails, which were carried out professionally with the assistance from the American, Canadian and Japanese consultants.

“The construction of the trails was carried out by the mountain guides, porters and local villagers themselves. They are the most suitable candidates for the job as they are the ones who know best the needs and challenges faced by the climbers,” he told reporters after launching Google Maps Street View imagery of Sabah’s local attractions.

Masidi informed that the other trail, named “Kota Belud”, was still being constructed and would open to climbers once fully completed.

However, he said there was no confirmed completion date yet for the trail, which would offer climbers a more scenic view from the face of the mountain facing the Kota Belud district.

“I can describe both trails as ‘beautifully challenging’ and visitors who appreciate nature and its beauty will find the experience of trekking these trails very enjoyable.

“We avoid the old trail, which was badly damaged during the earthquake. So, now climbers will ascend to the peak from the two new trails, one is located east of the old trails and the other is to the west. Booth trails will meet at Sayat Sayat,” he said.

Asked if the new trails were more challenging, he said no special climbing skills were needed for the new routes as they were not that much different from the previous trail in terms of difficulties.

He added that anyone with reasonably good health and fitness could still climb all the way to the peak of Mount Kinabalu just like before.

He also informed that despite two news routes were now available from Laban Rata, compared to only one previously, Sabah Parks had decided to maintain the number of visitors allowed to ascend to the summit daily at 192.

On the trail from Mesilau to Laban Rata, which was damaged much more severely by the earthquake as compared to the Timpohon trail, he said the route would remain closed for now and that no decision had been made yet as to whether it would be repaired and reopened.

The mountain was closed to all climbers after a 6.0 magnitude tremor disconnected climbing trails and killed 18 people on June 5.

The World Site Heritage was partially reopened on Sept 1, with climbers allowed to climb up to Laban Rata via Timpohon.

However, discouraged by the fact that the summit was still off limit, less than 100 visitors climbed the mountain that month. SOURCE: THE BORNEO POST