Which lenses should I bring up to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu? Tripod?


Nov 14, 2008
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#1
Which lenses should I bring up to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu? Advice from previous Kinabalu climbers is particularly welcome. Is it practical/doable to climb up there with a back-pack (Lowepro AW Slingshot 200) full of glass? I thought a tripod would be a must-have to catch the sun rise up there. Opinons? Thanks in advance.
 

Mar 17, 2010
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#2
there's accomodation at about 11000 feet before you wake up early the following morning to do the climb to summit. for the climb to summit and back down to 11000 feet, you can leave your things in your room / the mountain hut. but if you're leaving any photography gear in the room, best to check for any safety issues.

for your photography gear, I recommend you bring only what you need as your backpack of climbing gear coupled with the slingshot of photography gear can be pretty heavy combined for the entire climb. the tough part would be carrying all that for the climb from the foot to 11000 feet, and then from 11000 feet back down to the foot.

a tripod would be good for the sunrise at the summit. :)
 

Daoyin

Senior Member
Nov 25, 2008
2,808
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West
#3
A tripod on Low's Peak is always nice. But finding a vantage point amongst the boulders and mass of trekkers huddling from the wind will be tricky. Good luck on your trip.
 

Dec 5, 2008
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Woodlands
#5
Which lenses should I bring up to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu? Advice from previous Kinabalu climbers is particularly welcome. Is it practical/doable to climb up there with a back-pack (Lowepro AW Slingshot 200) full of glass? I thought a tripod would be a must-have to catch the sun rise up there. Opinons? Thanks in advance.
I think a wide angle lens would be good cos you would have lots of vistas and scenery to capture, unless you want to take photos of the fauna on the trail then you take a zoom lens. (Trust me, you would be damn tired to really notice of the animals).

Low's Peak is rather cramped and packed especially if you climb in the peak season so i guess a tripod is out of the question. Furthermore no really suitable area to set up and you won't have much time before you let other people take their place on the top.

Have you decided which route you'll take? I suggest you go up by the Mesilau Trail (you need to travel to the starting point in kundasang, a nearby town) and come down by Timpohon Gate Trail (the normal trail) or vice versa. The Mesilau Trail is an additional 2km long with ups and downs but the scenery is damn solid. Timpohon is just like jungle trail. The Mesilau trail would join the main trail at Layang-Layang so you won't get lost. Accomodation at Laban Rata is heated but higher up at Gunting Lagadan hut or Panar Laban hut is cold and miserable. I don't suggest you leave any valuables there. Anyway, you could hire a porter to carry your luggage from the start to Laban rata area and then you leave your luggage overnight. Next morning when you climb to the top you would not want to bring more than a light pack (slingshot should be ok i think), some water, Power bars etc - the last bit is quite steep.

Try to reach Low's peak by 5.30 am or earlier cos depending on the time of the year, sunrise is pretty early. It's usually bright and sunny in KK by 6am.

Good luck on your trip and hope you enjoy it ya. My first climb i was cursing all the way up and down and swear i would not want to go up again but i did for another 2 more times and i simply love the mountain.

Take more photos ya. Along the way from Kota Kinabalu to Mt. Kinabalu, you would have nice vistas as well especially after Tuaran town. (you just bypass that town). The various peaks on Kinabalu Massif are also quite spectacular especially Donkey ear's Peak.

Lastly if you have time, drop by Kundasang and the Poring hotsprings for some R&R :)
 

Nov 14, 2008
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#6
Thanks for this advice! I was planning to use my ND grad filter for the sunrise (hence the tripod) but it looks like I may need to forget about it and simply go for wide-angle handheld shots at the summit. May be try some for HDR. I guess the rest of the glass will have to stay at Laban Rata (safe?) Is it really so many people up there? Hmmm.... I hope I won't regret this trip.... :confused: I've rented a service from a company (Incredible Borneo ... or something like that), so I'll have a guide for myself all the way up. We are going up from Timpohon, I think. Don't know if I can change that. May be the guide can help me carrying some stuff, or else a porter. I heard one can hire porters all the way to summit. Not true? Thanks again!
 

Dec 12, 2009
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#7
Depending on your fitness level, I would suggest you don't bring too much stuff at the 2nd half of the journey because the slopes are steep and it's super tiring to me. Near 0 deg in morning and air was thin. When I went there was many people at the peak and people are just squeezing to take pic with the Low Peak's sign. It's difficult to find a space to even stand at the peak, let alone say setting up a tripod.

Yes you can hire porter to carry your stuff but usually people left their stuff at the rooms in midway and go up to summit with minimum items. I didn't expect the climb to be tiring (i am not well trained) and I was freezing and didn't have the energy to really compose and take nice pictures too.

I brought just 18-200mm. Might attempt it again once I train up. The biggest regret was I couldn't take very nice photos.

Oh ya, the wind was super strong when I was there and the heater wasn't working. So I was freezing when I bathe and it rained at night. Super cold.
 

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May 11, 2010
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#8
You may wish to take the minimum gear up with you. I grant you have a guide all to yourself, but I don't know if he is to double up as your porter.

As other have mentioned, the air is thin and there is not that much oxygen, so if you carry a tripod, maybe you would consider a light mini-tripod for your scenery shots.

Have a good, safe and enjoyable trip.
 

Oct 31, 2007
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#9
Which lenses should I bring up to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu? Advice from previous Kinabalu climbers is particularly welcome. Is it practical/doable to climb up there with a back-pack (Lowepro AW Slingshot 200) full of glass? I thought a tripod would be a must-have to catch the sun rise up there. Opinons? Thanks in advance.
For myself, i didn't even bring my camera up, no thanks to a fellow male climber (he had been up there once) who insisted that i will not be able to take any photos at all without removing my gloves in that freezing temperature. Totally regretted it.

But of course, after i went up, i realized that was total CRAP!

I think tripod is not such a good idea. With the amount of people up there, u won't be able to set up your tripod at all. Furthermore, if your tripod is the huge kind, you will find it very troublesome to carry it especially from Laban Rata to the peak. The way up is really quite dangerous. You have no idea. Best is to have both your hands free.

There are a few sections during the climb to the peak where u will need to hang on to rope for assistance. You wouldn't wanna fool around in these sections at all, especially in the dark, freezing cold and extremely windy condition.

Also, i find that having a good compact camera hanging around your neck comes handy especially at hazardous areas where you just can't whip out your DSLR to take photos.

If i were to go up there again in the future, i'll bring 2 cameras - a dslr with a zoom lens (most likely 18-200mm) --> in a backpack and a good compact camera --> hang around my neck or in the pocket inside my jacket.

Hths!
 

Dec 5, 2008
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Woodlands
#10
Thanks for this advice! I was planning to use my ND grad filter for the sunrise (hence the tripod) but it looks like I may need to forget about it and simply go for wide-angle handheld shots at the summit. May be try some for HDR. I guess the rest of the glass will have to stay at Laban Rata (safe?) Is it really so many people up there? Hmmm.... I hope I won't regret this trip.... :confused: I've rented a service from a company (Incredible Borneo ... or something like that), so I'll have a guide for myself all the way up. We are going up from Timpohon, I think. Don't know if I can change that. May be the guide can help me carrying some stuff, or else a porter. I heard one can hire porters all the way to summit. Not true? Thanks again!
I think you would have to initially book your accomodations at Laban Rata and then on the day of the climb go to the front office to sort out your guides and i think your routes. IIRC, i told the office i want to start at Mesilau and back at Timpohon.

The guide will not help you carry your stuff. You would have to hire a porter to do that. The porters will only go up to Laban Rata whereas the guide will follow you up to the summit. Are you going to reach the park early in the morning and straight up for your climb? it's a 2 hour drive from KK. I think if you reach the park around lunch the day before and you start your climb the next morning, It's better cos :

1) you get the afternoon before the climb to walk around the park office. There's loads of trails ranging from easy (30 min) to hard (Liwagu trail - 3 hour) and no need guide. You may stumble upon some fauna and nice scenery of the mountainside on the trails. sort of like a light warmup before the climb la.
2) You get to see the park itself and enjoy the evening & night.
3) there's a daily briefing at the restaurant in front of the park office every evening, cant' remember the time.
4) You get to take your time to wake up and eat a hearty breakfast and go toilet before your climb. (trust me, you'd want to go toilet for a big one before you start your climb. I had the unfortunate luck of having an impossible stomachache just before my climb at Mesilau and the guide ask me to anyhow go off the track and in the bushes. :bsmilie: luckily the pain go away and i didn't feel it until i reached Laban rata in the afternoon.). There are of course shelters along the way i think every 1km or so for you to catch a breath, refill your water from the taps (not sure what water but boh chup) and go toilet but i don't think you want to do your business there...
5) stock up on last minute things at the park shop e.g. choc bars, etc. but they're much more expensive then in KK.

There's LOADS of people climbing up Kinabalu - you'd be surprise. If you climb up at night on the last stage and look down upon Laban rata and up at the mountain, you'll see a long line of headlamps and torchlights. I'm not sure if you are able to see if the night portion of your climb coincides with a full moon or not (15th of the lunar month). If it is, you're in luck and you won't need your headlamp. It's bright enough. If not, too bad la. hehe.

SIgh...talking about kinabalu brings back memories.

Are you just in KK to to Kinabalu? or you have other activities lined up?
 

An drew

Senior Member
May 27, 2005
3,920
9
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#11
The air is thin. Some parts of the climb is technical and you will need both hands to climb. Forget about the tripod unless you are doing for stock photography. A wide-angle lens will do, something like your 10-22. I had to breathe really hard to get to the top, so I would just bring my S95 if I were to do it again.
 

sinned79

Senior Member
Jun 18, 2009
10,868
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Singapore
www.aboutlove.sg
#12
i just went last year May.

did not bring my tripod (even though it is light) cos initially i intend to carry all my stuffs up myself but in the end after trekking about 10m, i paid my guide to help me carry :x (the guide usually dun mind helping u carry your stuffs if u pay him, cos its extra pocket money to them). my setup is just 17-40 + 5DMKII (did not bring extra lens to save weight)

if u are thinking of bringing your tripod, make sure is a very light weight tripod (less then 1.1kg minimum) else you will "die up" there lugging your heavy tripod. its not a must.

note that the some part of the ascend towards the summit, is very dangerous. so be very careful. dun push yourself too hard (especially during the ascend at wee hours and dark surroundings), safety first!

this path during the dark is very dangerous, cos its very narrow, u can only move one feet at a time not two feet:


more photos to share with you-


ascend to Laban Rata:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=172777&id=688242522&l=ba0b3dcb9e


ascend to Summit:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=172783&id=688242522&l=c82cfdbf7c
 

Sep 15, 2008
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#13
i'll go also next May..and will bring my 450D+ 10 22 only.
ahahha
 

Nov 14, 2008
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#14
Thanks for all feedback!

@sinned79, those were great pictures! Now I have a better idea of the whole thing. Thank you! I see that you did not have too heavy clothing going up to the summit. Just long pants, sweatshirt and gloves. Good to know! With all the pics you took, no wonder that you were a bit late to sunrise ;) How about the ascent to Laban Rata? Didn't you miss having some longer glass with you?

@Balckgoddess: I will try to get the option to do Mesilau on the way down. Since it is longer, I risk missing the obligatory ferrata training if I take Mesilau on the way up. Yes! I am plannning on doing a ferrata session on the way down. Has anyone done this and been able to shoot from there?

@tuwinkk: I also go for my 10-22 on the 7D for the summit. For the ascent to Laban Rata, I am considering taking the 24-105 as well. My 70-200 f/2.8 may be a bit too heavy:think:
 

sinned79

Senior Member
Jun 18, 2009
10,868
3
0
Singapore
www.aboutlove.sg
#15
Thanks for all feedback!

@sinned79, those were great pictures! Now I have a better idea of the whole thing. Thank you! I see that you did not have too heavy clothing going up to the summit. Just long pants, sweatshirt and gloves. Good to know! With all the pics you took, no wonder that you were a bit late to sunrise ;) How about the ascent to Laban Rata? Didn't you miss having some longer glass with you?
its actually a jeans not pants :p but i am wearing another 2 layers inside... my boxer and a shorts. i am wearing 2 t-shirt and a normal jacket. It is not really that cold actually. just 10-20 degrees... the summit is 8-9 degrees. my gloves torn during my way up... so my hands are rather cold thru out. i miss out sun rise cos i am slow... safety first mah :p i dun miss longer lens cos i am a non zoom person. :) you can view the ascend to Laban Rata in the first photo link. It's mainly forest trails (i went via Mesilau) then rocky paths.
 

Nov 14, 2008
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#16
Aaahh, Mesilau. That's why it looked so empty! I heard Timpohon is much more crowded. I will be going up one way and down the other.
 

Feb 22, 2004
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#17
Just bring one camera body like the 7D and the 24 - 105 L Zoom. Remember to bring spare battery - fully charged of course.
 

ziploc

New Member
Jan 17, 2002
4,576
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0
Snoopyland
#19
Hi cfibanez,

Please wear loose pants and not jeans... jeans is thick, heavy and unflexible, and is a no-no for trekking cos you'll be spending lots of your energy fighting with them instead of actual climbing. If you're afraid that the loose pants are not warm enough then wear a layer of thermal underneath.

Summit temperature varies, at times it can be quite warm (above 10 deg) but other times it can be very cold (below 0), so do prepare warm clothings just in case. Use multiple layers instead of one thick piece, cos then you can add/remove layers as needed according to the temperature.

One other thing to be aware is condensation - I've been there several times, and one of the time it was cold up the summit and warm and humid near Laban Rata, so my lens fogged up while descending from the summit. You might want to consider bring a ziploc bag to put your camera in after summitting.

Cheers and have fun! :)
 

Last edited:

An drew

Senior Member
May 27, 2005
3,920
9
38
#20
You might want to consider bring a ziploc bag to put your camera in after summitting.

Cheers and have fun! :)
Now I see why you call yourself ziploc. By the way my hobby is also to collect ziploc bags, I have like 10 different sizes of ziplocs at home. Sorry OT.
 

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