Mount Kinabalu is a mountain in Malaysia that fires the imagination of many adventurous climbers. With a height of 13,435 feet above see level (4.095 m), Mount Kinabalu is locally seen as the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, although that is actually not true. The Hkakabo Razi in Myanmar for example, is almost 6,000 feet (1.800 m) higher. Yet nobody will deny that Mount Kinabalu is a particularly impressive mountain. The Malaysians are very proud of their mountain. So proud even that Mount Kinabalu is depicted on the Malaysian banknote of 1 ringgit.
What makes the mountain so popular with climbers is that, despite its daunting size, it is relatively easy to climb. Unlike a few other large giants in its surroundings, Mount Kinabalu can be climbed without adapted climbing equipment. Any mountain hiker with an above-average physical condition should be able to reach the summit.
The mountain is climbed not only for sport, but often also for religious reasons. The locals attribute spiritual forces to the mountain and believe that the dead should be buried with their faces toward the mountain. According to them it is important that their spirits see Mount Kinabalu during their journey to the afterlife. Ten tourists from Canda, Germany and the Netherlands learned that you shouldn’t take these local customs lightly. When they took a nude photo on the mountain in 2015 and shared it on social media, a major earthquake occurred not much later. Eighteen people died in the earthquake. A heavy toll that the mountain, according to the locals, took as a result of the disrespectful photo that the western tourists had taken on Mount Kinabalu’s shoulders. The so-called sacriligious people were sentenced to three days in jail and a fine of 5,000 ringgit ($ 1,330) each.
But today, four years later, some climbers of this sacred Malaysian mountain have apparently not gotten any smarter. After reaching the summit, some wannabe influencers are taken pictures all over again that are eagerly shared on social media for a chance to win eternal fame. While smiling broadly, they hold papers on which their name is written, followed by the legendary words “was here”. There is not much wrong with this so far. Were it not that these papers are being left behind as a signature at the summit of Mount Kinabalu.
Wilson Ls Thaddeus was so shocked to find the paper “mess” on the top of the mountain that he took some pictures of it and poured out his heart on Facebook. “Whoever you are, we never know if this is a new trend for taking pictures of your names (or other people’s names) on the mountain, but please tae this with you going down next time,” he asks kindly but clearly. He thinks it is only common sense that everything that can be carried up the mountain must also be taken back down.
“Take nothing but photographs, keep nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints,” Wilson Ls Thaddeus concludes. Something we would like to emphasize. After all, we must not forget that paper needs up to three months to perish. As hikers, we all have the responsibility to consciously deal with waste and to respect the traditions of the local population.Follow us on social media