Type: Trad, Alpine, 600 ft, 6 pitches, Grade III
FA: James Garrett, solo, 4 July 2008 FFA: Chris Thomas and JG, 8 July 2008
Page Views: 2,524 total · 20/month
Shared By: James Garrett on Jul 5, 2008
Admins: Andrew Gram, Nathan Fisher, Perin Blanchard, grk10vq

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Access Issue: Private Property now at the entrance to Bells Canyon. Details
Access Issue: Private Property now at the entrance to Bells Canyon Details


The crux may very well be making it to the base of the climb. Kinabalu is a very wild and remote granite area in Sabah, East Malaysia. Get off the beaten path in Bells Canyon, and you may feel you've been transplanted to Kinabalu.

No pictures of this beautiful Dome appear in previous guidebooks and the multiple domes and massive amounts of rock east of East Bell may lead to some confusion.

Pitch #1: From a sandy ledge on the west side of the Dome, climb beautiful green patina passing 3 bolts to an easy roof and into a chimney. Now climb up the widening crack to a prominent huge detached apex of granite gaping to the south. Stand on the apex and find a two-bolt belay. 5.7, 32m.

Pitch #2: Climb the slab above to a bolt eventually trending right on knobs and chickenheads passing more bolts to a tenuous ramp feature and excellent granite to a two-bolt belay. 5.10, 30m.

Pitch #3: Climb the left facing dihedral until it ends. Traverse left on small knobs passing several bolts and cruxy, slab problem solving requiring skills to another nice left facing dihedral and mega sized chickenheads. Pass another bolt to a left trending crack and a few fixed pitons which ends at a pin/bolt belay ledge. The cash pitch... Chris wins the lottery! 5.10 A0 or 5.11, 30m.

Pitch #4: At this point, it is crucial to find the base of the next pitch....traverse/scramble up and left to the most arete appearing feature. Some schrub cleaning here may mark the spot. Some parties may opt to move the belay over to this ledge. Climb more delightful patina and big holds to a bolt and continue past another bolt to a two-bolt belay on a water-sculpted ledge. 5.9, 30m.

Pitch #5: Continue up the spur of rock passing several bolts and climb through a shallow u-shaped bowl. Climb through another easy overhang to some more fixed protection to a two-bolt belay. 5.8, 30m.

Pitch #6: Slab up the water groove past a bolt and fixed piton onto the spur. Huge chickenheads and cruising low angle leads to a puzzling bolt protected step and the final two-bolt belay. 5.7+, 30m.

A short 50 foot scramble will lead to the ridgeline.

Rappel the route.


QDs, 70m rope works best for rappels or take two ropes, Set of Camalots from C3s to #3.


The top of the first pitch is the most recognizable landmark to find direction. A detached pillar, to the right of a massive right facing corner, topped by a rounded pointy apex is visible almost from anywhere in the upper canyon.
This Dome is actually two up from East Bell. Two distinctively separate domes sit above and east of East Bell. This is the second one (farthest east), above and northeast of the waterfall.

NOTE: In 1985, together with good Swiss friends Res von Känel and Koni Hari, we climbed Pilz Grind which was located, as far as I can recall, on the next Dome east of East Bell. The route Kinabalu is on the next Dome further to the east than Pilz Grind.
Thanks for the work James. Let us know when you are done.
Question about the rating... This has been free climbed at 5.10?
Luke Jul 5, 2008
No rush to climb it or free it. Just excited for another new multipitch route.(In my slab range) Let us know when yer done. Thanks for the work!

Were is the best place to get RB's? How many do you typically take on an FA?
Luke Jul 5, 2008
Nice work on finding that line up there. It sounds long too. This is why I'm jealous of your lifestyle. All that time to climb!

That's cool about the RB's. Know how to contact RK?
on, and there is granite in wadi rum too? crazy place. Jul 5, 2008
Sandy, UT
notmyname   Sandy, UT
Heads up, the rope and gear at the base aren't there anymore - thanks for letting us use the rope James - and great route. It'll clean up real nice and be a classic for sure. It's a bit spicy in a few spots, but mostly really well protected. I would not do it without either a 70m or two ropes to rappel - it was really really close with a 65m rope.
We only brought up to a #1 red camalot, but a #3 would have made pitch 5 a hell of a lot safer. Kudos to freeing the 5.11 pitch - especially in hot weather. Bring a hard brush for some cleaning on that pitch. The grades were right on, definitely not soft. It would be better than Arm and Hammer if it had a Zion Curtain pitch. Bring a double legnth sling for pitch 6 to sling the giant chickenhead to avoid the run-out between the pin and the last bolt.
James, if I was to add any gear, I would fix a pin on the 5.11 approach corner. A fall there would really f'up the belayer.

Pitch two is the best on the route and a ton of fun! Sep 8, 2008
Very impressive solo James...how heavy was your pack? !! Oct 5, 2008
James Garrett
James Garrett  
on the Heavy side of life for sure.
jg Oct 8, 2008
I tried to climb this yesterday. I bailed after the 1st pitch, which was really good. The next 2 pitches do some traversing and look pretty intimidating. But the main reason I bailed was the potential of falling back onto the spike of rock at the start of the second pitch. While standing on the anchor bolts I could not reach the next bolt. I was about 2' short of making the clip. So with my slab skills obviously not up to par, we bailed. I would recommend bringing a short stick clip. I guess I should of taken the golf club at the base as a hint that I may need it....hahaha.

Looks great and the setting is awesome. Jun 17, 2009
James Garrett
James Garrett  
That is a hard move, maybe a shoulder stand would have worked in a pinch?! I know, I know... who wants to be stood on? Jun 17, 2009
Fun line, good rappells semi new cordelette at belay stations, as of 7/11/2010. You might consider bringing some new cordelette to back up the older stuff. Jul 14, 2010