KOTA KINABALU: Standing majestically at 4,095 metres above sea level, Mount Kinabalu has not only gained attraction among local and foreign climbers but also family of thrill seekers.
Recently, netizens were in awe after a mother from Peninsular Malaysia brought along her three-year-old daughter Sofia to scale the peak of Mount Kinabalu on Jan 28.
Detailing the mother and daughter adventure on her Facebook post, 29-year-old Siti Aminah Borhan said the climb would not be made possible if it was not for the help of a fellow climber, who is a medical doctor, and their mountain guide.
The fitness instructor detailed how she and the medical doctor took turns in piggy riding Sofia using a child carrier from Timpohon Gate to the Panalaban base camp.
At times, Sofia would scale on her own. The team started their climb at 10am and took eight hours to reach the base camp.
From base camp to the summit, their mountain guide helped to carry Sofia so the family could reach the Sayat-Sayat check point in time to continue their climb up the peak. They started at 3am and managed to reach the summit at 5.55am.
This is not the first time Mount Kinabalu received a young climber. Just like Sofia, there have been several occasions in the past, where parents had brought along their young ones to the peak.
Speaking to New Straits Times, Kinabalu Mountain Guides Association deputy chairman Richard Soibi said he and other guides have actually guided families with babies countless time, but such is not known to the public as they choose not to viral the experience.
"Moreover, there was no smartphone in the past. Personally, I've guided a family with their six-month-old child. The mountain porter helped to carry the baby.
"I've also seen a two-year-old climbing the mountain. He would walk on his own and sometimes the child's father and their guide took turn to piggy ride the young climber," he said.
Soibi also said a woman, who was six-month-old pregnant, had also climbed Mount Kinabalu but did not continue to the summit. She scaled until the Panalaban base camp, where most guesthouses are located for climbers to take a rest.
He said families bringing young children to the mountain were nothing new, adding that many of such family climbers are Europeans, who are used to the alpine climate.
"Of course, guiding young children is a challenging experience. For those wishing to bring along their young ones to the mountain, I advise parents to hire special mountain porters to carry their child.
"This is because the task of mountain guides is only focused at monitoring the safety of climbers. If in bad weather, I will not encourage climbers with young ones to continue their scale to the summit," he said.
Soibi also stressed that climbers should take note the fees to carry a child and injured climber would be higher compared to carrying the usual loads such as backpacks.
Local mountain guide Safrey Sumping also noted that in his 16 years’ experience guiding climbers, he had guided a European family with a five-year-old boy.
“What is important is to make sure the children are fit and have the necessary training. A personal guide is highly recommended to help look after the young climber.
"Sure, there were few occasions where parents brought their months-old baby too. However, I personally don't encourage bringing babies. Health is utmost important when climbing the peak and there's no clinic on the base camp if there's an emergency," he said.
Currently, there is no age restriction being imposed to climb Mount Kinabalu.
Climbers climb at their own risk and for those below the ages of 15, the parents or climbing group are required to hire additional guide(s).
In the past, netizens were astonished and amazed when a photo of 10-month-old Angus Benjamin at the summit went viral over social media in August 2017.
The photo also showed the baby posing with his parents and their mountain guides.
Four-year-old Wyatt Maktrav from Philippine made international headlines after holding the title of the youngest Filipino to ever scale Mount Kinabalu in May 2017. The boy climbed the mountain with his parents.
In 2011, two-year-old local Edgar Scout Davy from Keningau also made headlines for attempting to conquer the mountain.
Headed by his father, the toddler was among 14 climbers participating in Merdeka Mount Kinabalu Expedition at that time.