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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu is a prominent mountain in Southeast Asia which is a famous World Heritage Site. The details about Mount Kinabalu is given in World tour guides here. It is located in Kinabalu National Park in the east Malaysian state of Sabah, which is on the island of Borneo in the tropics a tourist attraction site. It is the 4th tallest mountain in the Malay Archipelago after Indonesian Papua's Puncak Jaya, Puncak Trikora and Puncak Mandala. In 1997, a re-survey using satellite technology established its summit known as Low’s Peak height at 4,095 metres or 13,435 ft above sea level, which is some 6 metres or 20 ft less than the previously thought and hitherto published figure of 4,101 metres 13,455 ft.

Mount KinabaluThe mountain and its surroundings are among the most important biological sites in the world, with over 600 species of ferns, 326 species of birds, and 100 mammalian species identified. Among them are the gigantic Rafflesia plants and the orangutan. Mount Kinabalu has been accorded UNESCO World Heritage status. The main peak of the mountain can be climbed quite easily by a person in peak physical condition. If not fit enough, though, the climb can be very hard despite there being no need for mountaineering equipment at any point on the main route. Other peaks along the massif, however, require rock climbing skills.

Mount Kinabalu is well-known worldwide for its tremendous botanical and biological species biodiversity, with high levels of endemism. It has one of the world’s richest orchid flora with over 800 species, over 600 species of ferns of which 50 are found no where else, and is the richest place in the world for the Nepenthes insectivorous pitcher plants which reach spectacular proportions. The parasitic Rafflesia plant, which has the largest single flower in the world, is also found in Kinabalu. Endemic annelids number less than a dozen known species but include the Kinabalu giant red leech that preys on various earthworms, including the Kinabalu giant earthworm. There are some 326 species of birds in Kinabalu Park and some 100 mammalian species, including one of the four great apes the orangutan.

Mount Kinabalu is essentially a massive granodiorite which is intrusive into sedimentary and ultrabasic rocks, and forms the central part, or core, of the Kinabalu massif. The granodiorite is intrusive into strongly folded strata, probably of Eocene to Miocene age, and associated ultrabasic and basic igneous rocks. It was pushed up from the earth’s crust as molten rock millions of years ago. In geological terms, it is a very young mountain as the granodiorite cooled and hardened only about 10 million years ago. It is still pushing up at the rate of 5 mm per annum. During the Pleistocene Period of about 100,000 years ago, the massive mountain was covered by huge sheets of ice and glaciers which flowed down its slopes, scouring its surface in the process and creating the 1800 m deep Low's Gully on its North side. Its granite composition and the glacial formative processes are readily apparent when viewing its craggy rocky peaks.

Climbers must be accompanied by accredited guides at all times due to national park regulations. There are two main starting points for the climb: the Timpohon Gate located 5.5 km from Kinabalu Park Headquarters, at an altitude of 1866 m, and the Mesilau Nature Resort. The latter starting point is slightly higher in elevation, but crosses a ridge, adding about two kilometres to the ascent and making the total elevation gain slightly higher. The two trails meet about two kilometres before Laban Rata.

Mount KinabaluMount KinabaluAccommodation is available inside the park or outside near the headquarters. From there, climbers proceed to the Timpohon gate at 1866 m or 6,122 ft, either by minibus or by walking, and then walk to the Laban Rata Resthouse at 3,270 m or 10,728 ft. Most people accomplish this part of the climb in 3 to 6 hours. Since there are no roads, the supplies for the Laban Rata Resthouse are carried by porters, who bring up to 30 kilograms of supplies on their backs. Hot food and beverages, hot showers and heated rooms are available at Laban Rata. The last 2 km or 2600 ft, from the Laban Rata Resthouse at 3,270 m to Low's Peak at 4,095.2 m, takes between 2 and 4 hours. The last part of the climb is on naked granite rock.

Given the high altitude, some people may suffer from altitude sickness and should return immediately to the bottom of the mountain, as breathing and any further movement becomes increasingly difficult. There are two stories that led to the main beliefs in the origin of the mountains name. The first derivation of the word Kinabalu is extracted from the short form for the Kadazan Dusun word Aki Nabalu, meaning the revered place of the dead. The second source states that the name Kinabalu actually means Cina Balu. Due to the lingual influence among the Kadazan Dusun of Sabah, the pronunciation for the word cina was changed to Kina.

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