Climbing Mt. Tambuyukon (part 4 of 5), 3rd highest mountain of Malaysia

Mt. Tambuyukon adventure
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Continued from Part 3…

(You may start reading from Part 1)

After spending 3 days of camping inside the forest, we go back to Monggis Substation (starting point of the climb) today. Please refer to trail map for the location.

DAY 4. Back to Starting Point


Descending to Monggis Substation

We are going home. When we worried that we needed to go through the same dreadful 10KM undulating trail again, Maik said we would use the old 13KM trail (some says 15KM), which is longer but mostly flat and descending route. We packed our stuffs and left Musang Campsite at 7:30am.

Back to Monggis substation

Maik was right, the walk on old trail is a heaven compared to previous 3 days. We only climbed over a few mildly steep slopes and hardly called these a challenge.

Jungle trekking
sunlight
In contrast to the dim new trail, there are more sunlight came in from the open canopy.

You may watch the 2.5-min video below to see the jungle trekking via old trail:

Click Here to see bigger video

Track marks and footprints of wild boars and deers are found along the way. I could hear hornbills flied over the canopy too.

Old trail of Mt. Tambuyukon
Jungle trekking

hole dug by wild boar
Above: hole dug by wild boar

Camp 1

By 11:30am, we arrived Camp 1 (altitude 578M), a large flat ground that can accommodate 6 camping tents and under a canopy of tall oak trees. There is a stream nearby for refilling our water. We had some fried rice as lunch there, rest a while then moving again.

rest at Camp 1
rest at Camp 1
Above: Camp 1 on old trail

caterpillar
Huge tree

Not a single signage is found along this 13KM old trail, so we had no idea how far we went. After Camp 1, the trail is narrower and nearly unrecognizable. The old trail is poorly maintained and flanked by dense undergrowth. During rainy season, the climbers will harvest dozens of leeches while walking and brushing through the dense shrubs. On the way, we saw a wild Agarwood (gaharu) has been cut and left to dry by thief. Gaharu is a highly precious fragrant wood, which can fetch for RM5,000 per Kg.

agarwood (gaharu) tree being cut
Above: Agarwood cut down by thief

agarwood (gaharu) cut by thief

By 2:30pm, we reached the Kinabalu Park boundary which means we are only 2-hour away from Monggis Substation.

Kinabalu Park boundary
Above: Boundary of Kinabalu Park

jungle trail

After this point, we were walking on private land and passed through rubber plantation, farm land and orchards. The trail is inside private land and not maintained at all. We trekked inside bushes and occasionally moved around the fallen trees that blocked our way. All of us made it to Monggis Substation around 4:30pm, right before the pouring heavy rain.

fallen tree blocking the trail

Heavy rain coming
Above: heavy rain coming

Overnight in Monggis Substation

Most of us have been wearing the same trekking outfit since day 1 and didn’t take shower, so everyone smells funny. We took a shower in Monggis Substation and put on clean clothing.

toilet and bathroom of Monggis substation

We are also glad that we can sit on a proper chair to rest our exhausted legs and bodies. After I settled the payment for porters and guides, I submitted the name list of climbers to Justin, manager of substation, for printing of certificates.

bench of Monggis substation

You may watch the 40-sec video below to see Monggis Substation:

Click Here to see bigger video

Monggis Substation is a two-storey administration building and accommodation of Sabah Parks. In ground floor, there is a bathroom, toilet, park office, kitchen, living room (with TV) and a bedroom.

standard room of Monggis substation
Above: standard room with bunk beds

In first floor, there is a living room (with TV), 3 bedrooms with bunk beds and one VIP room with two beds. Electricity is only available from 6pm to 11pm and powered by generator. The accommodation can accommodate up to 20 visitors for a small fee. My room has a ceiling fan, wardrobe and bunk beds come with pillow. To us, this is a 5-star accommodation compared to camping. By the way, you better close the windows, otherwise your room will be full with hundreds of insects attracted by the room light.

VIP room of Monggis substation
Above: VIP room of Monggis Substation

No, there is no restaurant here and neighborhood, so you need to prepare your own meals. The kitchen in substation is quite well-equipped, common items such as refrigerator, cooking stove, gas, cooking utensils, dining table and tableware are available. Visitor is required to pay a fee of RM50 for using the gas and cooking facilities. We had rice, chicken, curry, sardine and mixed vegetables as dinner, reminisced about our experience, then crawled to our beds.

kitchen of Monggis substation
Above: kitchen

DAY 5. Going Home


Back to Kota Kinabalu

Last day is a happy day for everyone. Climbers are happy that they will be back to civilization soon; guides and porters are happy to receive their tips. After a few rounds of photo sessions, we say good bye to Monggis and Mt. Tambuyukon. Despite the muddy road caused by heavy rain last night, it was a smooth ride to head back home.

Monggis substation

Bye bye Mt. Tambuyukon
Bye bye Mt. Tambuyukon!!!

exhausted...
Above: Exhausted climbers. Better not showing their faces or I’ll be skinned alive. :p

Mt. Tambuyukon Vs. Mt. Kinabalu

Many ask me, “Mt. Kinabalu and Mt. Tambuyukon, which one is harder to climb?”
I can tell you, though Mt. Tambuyukon is about half the height of Mt. Kinabalu, it’s 3 times harder (multiply 2 if the weather is bad) to climb. IMHO, “Mt. Kinabalu is for kids, Mt. Tambuyukon is for men.” After the climb, whenever I see online travelogue that says climbing Mt. Kinabalu is “extremely challenging”, I laugh my ass off. One advice – do not try Mt. Tambuyukon if you think climbing Mt. Kinabalu is hard!

You may watch the 5-min video below to see our climb from the start to the summit:

Click Here to see bigger video

In contrast to Mt. Kinabalu, Mt. Tambuyukon is a forested mountain. The climbing route is pure nature trail, full of leeches and no boardwalk, rope, hand rail and other support. In our team, one member stung by wasp, two got swollen finger/arm caused by poisonous plant, one suffered altitude sickness, and one got sore knees. Overall, it’s impossible to came back from Mt. Tambuyukon without any cut, wound, bruise, pain and leech / sandfly bites on our bodies.

Certificates of Top 3 Mountains
Above: Now I have climbing certificates of Malaysia’s top 3 mountains. From left to right: Mt. Kinabalu, Mt. Trus Madi & Mt. Tambuyukon.

Click Here to read Next article…

More Photos

You may check out the photo album of Mt. Tambuyukon trip for more nice pictures:
Photos of Mt. Tambuyukon trip

Photos taken in Ranau, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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By Murphy Ng
  • lost traveller

    thanks for the detail climbing info. will definitely NOT be climbing it. 🙂

  • lol yes it’s a crazy trip

  • Ben

    Even though I never climb mount tombuyukon before, I know how hard it is because I climbed mount Nombuyukon before and I can say that it was 3 times harder to climb compare to mt kinabalu. the summit can only accomodate max 5 persons at a time and we’re forced to crawl 50m all the way to the summit due to the extremely dangerous summit steps

  • Can’t agree more with you Ben. I would say Mt. Tambuyukon is the hardest climb that I’ve ever attempted. Nombuyukon Peak is a “sister peak” of Tambuyukon and both are almost equally challenging.

  • Agnesia Sapati

    Thank you for your blog Murphy!! The info really help my group of friends in our preparation for the expedition. We went to climb the Mt Tambuyukon on the 13-16th Sept, 2014. So far, this is the most difficult trek I’ve ever done!!! And yes, it’s impossible to came back from there without any cut/wound/pain,etc. I’m still scratching my leech bites till now. Haha! Anyway, I love the trail A LOT. It’s awesomely beautiful.

    “Mt. Kinabalu is for kids, Mt. Tambuyukon is for men.” AGREE 101%!!!!

  • You are welcome Agnes. You have proved that you are as strong as a man! Thanks for the kind words too. I feel great when people discover about new places in my blog and really explore them. 🙂 Have you climbed Mt. Trus Madi?

  • Agnesia Sapati

    Yes, Mt Trus Madi done & dusted 😉 back in Dec 2012 via Sinua route in Sook. That time, the Tambunan trail was temporary closed due to the renovation works. Among these 3 mountains, Kinabalu, Trus Madi & Tambuyukon, Tambuyukon is the toughest trail for me…haha!

  • Cool! Now you have the cert for top 3 mountains. I think the Tambunan route will be ready and reopen soon, planning to climb Trus Madi again, but many say the Sinua route offers better experience, so I’m thinking whether to climb from Sook instead.