Climbing Mount Trus Madi, the 2nd highest mountain of Malaysia – Part 1 of 3

Climbing Mt. Trus Madi
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(Note: The trail & accommodation have improved a lot after 2014. Please check out my latest Guide on Climbing Mt. Trusmadi.) God really blesses Sabah, because the top 3 highest mountains of Malaysia are in Sabah. I guess the highest mountain, Mount Kinabalu (height: 4,095M), is no stranger to Sabahans. Many even climb it more than once. But most of us haven’t tried to climb the second highest mountain of Malaysia, Mt. Trus Madi (height: 2,642 Meters or 8,668 feet).

Map of Mt. Trus Madi

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Lack of promotion is responsible for lack of visitors to Mt. Trus Madi. Another reason is – the climb is so challenging that someone even call Trus Madi “Terus Mati” (mean “Die Straight” in Malay language). Of course it is only a joke, as accident in climbing Mt. Trus Madi is rare. Though 1,453 Meters lower than Mt. Kinabalu, Mt. Trus Madi is harder to conquer. Some say if the trail to Mt. Kinabalu is a highway, Trus Madi trail is a countryside road then. The climbers have to be reasonably fit. Personally I would not recommend people younger than 15 years or older than 60 years to challenge the real “mountain power” of Mt. Trus Madi.

Mt. Trus Madi

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Earlier this month, I climbed Mt. Trus Madi with 5 ladies and all of us made it to the top, despite the poor weather. Thanks to the Internet, I can bring my photos and experience to your screen. I strongly recommend Mt. Trus Madi to hardcore hikers and nature lovers. You will be dearly impressed by the pristine conditions of Mt. Trus Madi. At least you will be proud of yourself for conquering this mountain.

About Mt. Trus Madi

The name “Trus Madi” is originated from the Dusun words “pinotorusan Madi”. Pinotorusan means Hunting Ground and Madi is the name of a hunter who was used to hunt in Trus Madi. Due to higher altitude, the temperature on the mountain is about 10 to 25 degree Celsius. The flora of Trus Madi is very rich and unique. About 600 species in 160 families of plants were recorded in forest here.

Mt. Trusmadi

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Mt. Trus Madi encompasses 5 different types of vegetations, i.e. lowland mixed dipterocarp (427-600M), hill mixed dipterocarp forest (600M – 1,500M), lower montane forest (1,500M -2,000M), upper montane forest (2,000M – 2,500M), and summit scrub (2,500M – 2,640M). You will pass through all these vegetation zones during the climb. The hybrid vegetation of montane forest and summit scrub is so unique that it is not even found on Mt. Kinabalu!

The Itinerary

The climb will take 3 days 2 nights. The climb starts in Tambunan (90 KM away from Kota Kinabalu). You can choose not to overnight in Tambunan town, but you need to move early at 6am from Kota Kinabalu, to drive 1.5 hours to meet the tour operator in Tambunan town before 8am. Below is the standard itinerary:

5:00pm Depart to Tambunan (from Kota Kinabalu city)
6:30pm Arrive Tambunan town & overnight there
7:00am Breakfast
8:00am Briefing and preparation
8:30am Depart to Mt. Trus Madi’s Starting Point by 4-Wheel
9:30am Arrive Forestry Check Point Gate & Register
9:45am Proceed to Starting Point
10:30am Starting climbing Mt. Trus Madi (3.4 KM). Lunch enroute
5:00pm Arrive Cabin
7:00pm Dinner
9:00pm Overnight at cabin
2:00am Wake up call
2:30am Breakfast
3:00am Ascend to summit (1.5KM)
5.30am Reach summit to view sunrise
7:00am Descend to cabin
9:00am Arrive Cabin. Tea break & Packing
10:00am Descend to Starting Point
4:00pm Arrive Starting Point and proceed to Kota Kinabalu
6:30pm Arrive Kota Kinabalu

For the first day, I stayed in a resort in Tambunan. Its service sucks so bad that I don’t want to mention its name here, coz I don’t want to promote this stupid resort.

Day 2

The next day I wake up around 7am to get prepared for the climb. After I had my breakfast at 8am, the guide and porters met us at the resort. After a short briefing and loading my bags to their 4-wheel, we headed to the starting point of the climb at 8:30am.

Going to Starting Point

The road, mainly gravel and muddy path, to the starting point is about 30 KM away from Tambunan. The mud is the soft, sticky, smooth and slippery yellow clay soil, so the road is only accessible by four-wheel drive. The engine of our 4-wheel roared and tried really hard to catch very bit of the almost inexistent fiction.

Muddy road to Mt. Trusmadi

Muddy road to Mt. Trusmadi

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On the muddy road, the car was like gliding and skiing on the mud, and swing violently in zig-zag like a wild bull. The steep slope with loose pebbles also posed a challenge. Our highly-skilled 4-wheel driver shifted gear quickly back and forth, to fight for every inch forward. To be frank, I was freak out. I held the handler so hard that as if I was giving birth a baby. May be I can call it an adventure.

going to Mt. Trusmadi

going to Mt. Trusmadi

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After 35 minutes, we reached the gate of the Forestry Check Point, where everyone was required to register. We also used the “tree” toilet there. It is a man-made structure, not a real tree.

Forestry Checkpoint of Trus Madi

register for Mt. Trus Madi

Toilet at checkpoint

Muddy tyre

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After taking a group photo at the gate, we continued our 4-wheel journey to the starting point. After the checkpoint, the ride was not that bumpy. But then I was terrified when the driver attempted to cross the river. I started to have horrifying imagination of our car being swept away by the river. My worry was needless and we crossed two rivers without any problem. Only now I truly realize the power of 4-wheel drive. Since 4-wheel is meant for adventurers, I wonder why those old aunties and uncles drive 4-wheel in city only and keep it so clean?!!

Group photo at the gate of Forestry Checkpoint of Trus Madi

crossing river by 4WD

crossing river by 4WD

view outside window of 4WD

crossing river by 4WD

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After 40 minutes, we arrived the starting point of the climb. There is nothing there except a “4900 M” signage, which means we are 4.9KM (4,900 Meters) away from the summit of Mt. Trus Madi. 4.9 KM sounds like a short distance on flat ground, but it is not the case for the rugged terrain. They say this is a new starting point, which cut down the distance by 2 hours (about 3 to 4 KM). Many say we would see many blood-sucking leeches at the Starting Point, but luckily we didn’t see any.

gravel road to Starting Point of Trusmadi

Group photo at starting point

4900M signage

Start of climb

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Read Next Article (Part 2)…

Photos taken in Tambunan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo