RANAU, July 9 – The heavy overcast sky pressed down relentlessly as 10 members of the media made their way to the entrance to Kinabalu Park in Kundasang, from where they would make their ascent of Mount Kinabalu.
In addition to having their names recorded in the registration book, their body temperatures were also noted before they were allowed into the park proper.
Even the guides and porters accompanying them had to have their temperatures taken before the group was allowed to proceed to Timpohon to start their ascent.
Welcome to the new normal way of climbing Southeast Asia’s highest mountain.
The media, comprising journalists and cameramen from Bernama, RTM, TV3 and Astro Awani, were there on June 27 on the invitation of Sabah Parks to cover the COVID-19-prevention standard operating procedures (SOPs) that the authorities have set for Mt Kinabalu climbers.
The 4,095-metre-high mountain was reopened on May 16 after being closed for two months since March 18 when the Movement Control Order was enforced.
Under the SOPs, only 100 climbers – and 15 to 20 guides – are allowed to climb Mt Kinabalu each day. Since it reopened, the mountain has attracted about 2,000 climbers, according to recent press reports quoting Sabah Deputy Chief Minister and State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew.