Mount Kinabalu (京那巴鲁山)
Explore the Wonders of Sabah Malaysia
Mount Kinabalu is a prominent mountain in Southeast Asia. It is located in Kinabalu National Park (a World Heritage Site) in the east Malaysian state of Sabah, which is on the island of Borneo in the tropics. It is the 4th tallest mountain in the Malay Archipelago. In 1997, a re-survey using satellite technology established its summit (known as Low’s Peak) height at 4,095 metres (13,435 ft) above sea level, which is some 6 metres (20 ft) less than the previously thought and hitherto published figure of 4,101 metres (13,455 ft). The 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. The main peak of the mountain (Low’s Peak) 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. Significantly, Mount Kinabalu is well-known worldwide for its tremendous botanical and biological species biodiversity, with high levels of endemism (i.e. species which are found only within Kinabalu Park and are not found anywhere else in the world). As an example, it has one of the world’s richest orchid flora with over 800 species, over 600 species of ferns (more than the whole of Africa’s 500 species) of which 50 are found nowhere else, and is the richest place in the world for the Nepenthes insectivorous pitcher plants (five of the thirteen are found nowhere else on earth) which reach spectacular proportions (the largest in the world being the endemic Nepenthes rajah). The fact that the mountain covers a wide climatic range from near sea level to freezing ground conditions near the summit, the jagged terrain and diversity of rocks and soils, the high levels of rainfall (averaging about 2700 mm a year at park HQ), and the climatic instability caused by periods of glaciation and catastrophic droughts which result in evolution and speciation. This diversity is greatest in the lowland regions (consisting of lowland dipterocarp forests, so called because the tree family Dipterocarpaceae are dominant). However, most of Kinabalu’s endemic species are found in the mountain forests, particularly on ultramafic soils (i.e soils which are low in phosphates and high in iron and metals poisonous to many plants; this high toxic content gave rise to the development of distinctive plant species found nowhere else). 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. The present landform is considered to be a mid-Pliocene peneplain, arched and deeply dissected, through which the Kinabalu granodiorite body has risen in isostatic adjustment. 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 ( named after Hugh Low) 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.