No decision yet on Kinabalu trail


KOTA KINABALU - Authorities are still studying whether to maintain the 8.72km trail to reach the 4,095m Low's Peak of Mount Kinabalu or open up a new route.

For many Kinabalu mountaineering experts like Sabah Parks chairman Tengku Dr Zainal Adlin Mahmood, the earthquake hit route was still the best and safest for ordinary climbers.

"The problem area of rocks falling is only about 300m between Donkey's Ears and Tunku Abdul Rahman Park,'' said Adlin, adding that was the central problem to the route.

The problem, he said, could be addressed by putting in place rock fall "breakers" similar to the "avalanche breakers'' in the Swiss Alps.

He said assessments on the actual damage to the mountain had already begun following the June 5 earthquake that killed 18 trekkers and guides.

Adlin, who has scaled the mountain from its various faces, said there were potentially two other routes from Kg Kiau in the western side and the other from the northern side, but both routes are longer and steeper.

"We have to look into all angles before a decision is made on any possible change to the routes,'' said Adlin who found the current route the safest.

He said damages to the current trail could be repaired and reinforced.

Sabah Minerals and Geo-science Depart­ment has suggested a new trail in view of rocks and boulders that had piled up between Gunting Lagadan Hut and Sayat Sayat hut.

The department's chief Jontih Enggihon feared that the unstable condition of the rock and boulder slides caused by the earthquake could fall further due to aftershocks.

Enggihon said the earthquake had also caused cracks on the mountain's slopes and his department was prepared to co-operate with Sabah Parks to construct safer trails.

Sabah Parks director Dr Jamil Nais had on Saturday said Mount Kinabalu summit area was still intact but part of the western lobe of the Donkey's Ear and portions of Tunku Abdul Rahman Peak were damaged.

After going up to the summit on Saturday to inspect the damage, Dr Jamil said climbing from Laban Rata to Sayat Sayat was still dangerous.

Mountain climbing has been suspended for three weeks though the Kinabalu Park on the base reopened to the public a week after the quake.