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No compromise on Mt Kinabalu safety

Ranau: The"malim gunung" or mountain guides continue to emphasise on safety aspects when climbing Mt Kinabalu. Among the security measures carried out include providing briefing and reminding the climbers to adhere to the regulations and instructions of the mountain guides. According to Rasinah Rasin, 40, one of the 12 female guides of Mount Kinabalu, she and her friends always took precautionary measures and were prepared to stop the ascent to the summit of the highest mountain in Southeast Asia if conditions did not permit it. "For instance, if it rains, the climb would be discontinued. Thus, the climbers need to accept the decision and listen to the instructions of the 'malim gunung' for their own safety," she said at Taman Kinabalu, in Kundasang, Monday.

Rasinah also pointed out the importance for climbers to equip themselves with essentials such as jackets, food and medication as early preparation in the occurrence of an emergency midway of the ascent. She added that the Mountain Search and Rescue (Mosar) was always ready to provide emergency assistance to climbers as well as helping them to climb down until Timpohon Gate. Mosar was formed by the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department following the occurrence of an earthquake in Ranau measuring 5.9 on the Richter Scale, on June 5, 2015 that had taken 18 lives, including four mountain guides who were on Mount Kinabalu during the incident.

Monday marked the second anniversary of the tragedy. Meanwhile, according to another guide, Randi Hasanuddin, although memories of the disaster still haunted him even after two years, business was as usual now and there were more climbers at the mountain ever since the opening of its new trek to the public. "For this year alone, from January until now, I have led more than 100 climbers to Mount Kinabalu," he said, adding that the new trek was more challenging and scenic. Meanwhile, there are no plans to design another trail up Kinabalu amid concerns that the new route to the peak of the mountain may be too slippery and dangerous.

Sabah Parks senior manager Maipol Spait said the new route, which is at the 6th to 7th kilometre of the Ranau Trail that was newly opened following the June 5, 2015 deadly earthquake, fulfilled the safety features required for mountain climbing. The 6th kilometre is the Panalaban checkpoint while 7th kilometre is the Sayat-Sayat checkpoint and the remainder of the route is the original trail. "We are constantly monitoring and assessing our trails and routes as the safety of all climbers is our utmost concern and priority," Maipol said when contacted yesterday.

He told the Star, Sabah Parks would not be rerouting the trail for now. As for the concern that the new route was too slippery with the increase in the number of injuries sustained by climbers since it was opened in December last year, he said that was not the case. He said from what they observed, those who slipped and injured themselves as well as those who suffered acute mountain sickness while trekking up the mountain were actually under-prepared. They underestimated the challenge and were not adequately prepared, often due to their over-excitement as well, Maipol explained. He said as recorded, the average mountain-related incident including falls, slips, cramps and acute mountain sickness were about 40 per year. 

(Source : Daily Express)