Mt Kinabalu prides itself on cleanliness


Keeping clean: A mountain guide collecting rubbish along the trail. — Pic courtesy of Sabah Parks

KOTA KINABALU: As popular mountains around the world such as the Himalayas are strewn with garbage and human faeces, Malaysia’s Mount Kinabalu appears to be an exception to the rule – the most common trash found on the trails to its peak is cigarette butts.

This is thanks to the mountain park’s rangers, guides and porters who run a tight ship when it comes to supervising climbers, numbering up to 60,000 every year before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Parks director Dr Maklarin Lakim said with cleanliness being one of their top priorities, strict rules have been set and imposed on all guests pertaining to hygiene on the 4,095m mountain.

“Our rangers, mountain guides and porters play a pivotal role in maintaining the cleanliness of the Mount Kinabalu summit trail.

“The rangers and guides brief and remind all climbers of safety, rules and regulations, including cleanliness when in our parks and on the mountain,” he said.

Maklarin said rubbish bins are placed at all offices, hostel buildings and shelters along the mountain’s trail.

Sabah Parks staff and guides bring down with them all the trash at designated collection points.

“The bulk of trash from the Laban Rata Resthouse, restaurants and hostels are brought down by the porters and we pay them accordingly,” he said.

In comparison, authorities in charge of Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse said climbers would now have to bring down their own faeces in specially purchased bags as parts of the world’s highest peak have become an open toilet due to mountaineers defecating out in the open.

The presence of so much human waste on the 8,849m mountain has made people ill said Mingma Sherpa, chairman of Pasang Lhamu rural municipality that manages Mount Everest, as reported by the BBC.

The large number of people climbing Mount Everest has led to overcrowding and pollution with National Geographic Magazine dubbing it the “world’s highest garbage dump”.

But on Mount Kinabalu, climbers have so far followed hygiene rules, said Maklarin, adding that toilets with proper sewerage systems have been erected along its trail.

“Of course, there is some loose trash such as cigarette butts that we do have to collect along the way but the situation is strictly under control,” he said.

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