PENAMPANG: The earthquake-hit Mount Kinabalu will be reopened on August 8 with 88 climbers expected to test a new trail to Laban Rata.
The mountain has been closed since the deadly 5.9 earthquake on June 5 claimed the lives of 18 climbers and mountain guides besides causing serious damage to the originaltrail.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun said that while repairs and restoration work had been carried out over the last couple of months, safety assurance is the utmost priority, hence the test climb.
“The purpose of this Saturday’s soft launching is to assess the condition of the repaired trail and secondly, to ensure that it is truly safe.
“The trail from Timpohon Gate to Laban Rata is practically intact, except at certain areas that still needed to be improved for safety consideration,” he said when met at his ministry’s gathering and Hari Raya celebration.
The rest of the trail, however, is still undergoing repair and upgrading, considering that some of them were no longer passable, he said.
“The real challenge in our restoration efforts is the extent of damage between Laban Rata and the peak, some parts of which are now non-existent, full of rocks that we simply can’t move because doing so could trigger further movement or even another rockfall.
“It is not final, but I presume that after all the repair and restoration work up to the peak had been completed, the routes will be even more challenging, due to some changes,”he said, adding that the number of climbers allowed to scale the mountain however, will be reduced by half of its previous capacity, for better safety assurance.
Despite this, the projected time to officially open the mountain for climbing is still the first week of September.
“If there are any changes that are beyond our control, I will make the necessary announcement,”Masidi said.
Meanwhile, Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais said that the climb to be opened to climbers is only a day-climb, which would require climbers to descend on the same day, to “ensure hundred per cent safety of everyone.”
“We need to install rockfall barriers first to avert the possibility of mountain rocks falling, and to truly make sure that there is no possibility of rocks falling,” he said, when met at the same event yesterday.
He added that the Sabah Parks would impose charges for the day-climb. The amount has yet to be confirmed until it is proposed to the Parks’ board of trustees.
Jamili also said that they are currently still studying when the climb up the summit will be opened to climbers, as they are now collating the reports and recommendations by experts in mountaineering, earthquake and other natural disasters experts from Canada, Italy, Spain and Japan.
source: Borneo Post