Borneo: Mount Kinabalu Expedition
Mesilau - Low's Gully Expedition 2001
In February, NOLS instructor Brent Raymond and his North
American team began a two-month expedition on Mt. Kinabalu
(13,455 ft.), the highest point in Southeast Asia. Towering
3,000 feet above neighboring peaks, Mt. Kinabalu dominates
the lush tropical landscapes of Borneo, an island of Malaysia.
The expedition will explore previously untracked areas off
the beaten tourist trail in order to compile information
for a comprehensive climbing guide of the mountain. Brent
hopes that this guide will foster development of both local
and international climbing communities on Mt. Kinabalu.
Joining Brent for the duration of the expedition are Heather
Calvert, Aaron Sheldon, and Brandon Loudermilk. Local park
guides and Outward Bound Sabah staff will join the team
during particular phases of the expedition.
The two-month expedition will proceed in four major phases.
In the first phase, the expedition team will spend four
days hiking to and from Laban Rata (11,000 ft.) shuttling
the food and supplies necessary for the duration of the
expedition. Laban Rata is the location of a tourist guesthouse
and usually the first night's stop for those attempting
to summit Mt. Kinabalu.
In the second phase, the team plans to accomplish the first
traverse of the Mesilau Pinnacles to reach the Eastern plateau.
To achieve the correct position beneath the Mesilau Pinnacles,
the expedition team must first ascend the east ridge of
Mt. Kinabalu through thick jungle vegetation. The team expects
that the traverse of the Mesilau Pinnacles will be a technical
ascent incorporating both free and aided climbing. After
they reach the Eastern plateau, they will descend to Laban
Rata to resupply.
During the third phase of the expedition, the team will
spend 12 to 14 days rock climbing a variety of routes. The
data gathered on these routes will complete Brent Raymond's
climbing guidebook for Mt. Kinabalu. Brent will donate copies
of the guidebook to local climbers in the region and to
tourism companies. He hopes that the guidebook will help
cultivate a local climbing ethic as well as promoting Mt.
One of the Mt. Kinabalu's most prominent features is Low's
Gully, a one-mile deep canyon that runs the length of the
mountain and separates the summit into two areas. The technical
descent of this canyon will mark the final phase of the
expedition. The chance of precipitation on the mountain
is one particular hazard that the team may encounter during
this phase. Any precipitation on the mountain's upper plateaus
can flood the route through Low's Gully. Brent plans to
reduce bad weather hazards by traveling this part of the
expedition in a lightweight fashion in order to expedite
their descent. He has also allotted extra time for the descent
in order to be able to wait out a spurt of bad weather.
In accordance with the principles of Leave No Trace, Brent
and his team will return to Laban Rata to retrieve any gear
or supplies. They expect the clean up to take two to three
days. After the course, Brent will conduct training for
local outdoor guides. He will teach wilderness ethics, safe
climbing techniques, and the theories behind competent mountaineering.
Brent Raymond has an extensive background rock climbing
and mountaineering in such places as Australia, Peru, Canada,
Scotland, the United States, and Malaysia. Brent completed
his NOLS instructor course in 1998 and has worked two seasons
with the school. He has led Wind River mountaineering courses,
climbing camps in the Pacific Northwest and Wyoming, and
a semester in the Rockies canyon backpacking section. Brent
is scheduled to lead a Wind River mountaineering course
The Borneo Expedition was partially funded by The National
Outdoor Leadership School's Instructor Development Fund
(IDF). The IDF awards are given to "encourage instructors
to seek personal experience and gain skills other than those
contained within the NOLS curriculum." These instructors,
like Brent Raymond, bring back a wealth of new knowledge
and experience from their personal expeditions and explorations
to share with their future NOLS students.
For more information: www.webexpeditions.net/kinabalu.expedition.asp