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Ice found on the summit of Mt Kinabalu

Published on: Friday, January 24, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Ice was found in the summit rock pool at Km 8.5, near Low's Peak, when temperature plunged to minus 3 degrees Celsius on Mt Kinabalu, on Jan 17, fuelled by 37km per hour strong winds.

Temperatures at the summit fell progressively over three days to minus one degree Celsius on January 15 and minus two degrees Celsius on January 16 before it hit minus three degrees Celsius on January 17.

Confirming the report, Tengku Datuk Dr Zainal Adlin, Chairman of Sabah Parks, said Martin Mogurin, the Park's Head Ranger reported there were even snow at Panar Laban which is only 10,700ft above sea level, which suggests a freezing condition that hit the whole summit.

"I am trying to get some pictures of the event," Tengku said.

The weather warmed up to two degrees Celsius on January 22 when the summit was closed to tourists due to heavy rains.

"I have seen ice formation on Mt Kinabalu but not snowfall," said Dr Ravi Mandalam, a regular climber of Mt Kinabalu.

Historically, however, snow capped a huge expanse of the summit of Kinabalu during the last Ice Age, which lasted from 120,000 years ago to 10,000 years ago.

It is the glacial movements of billions of tones of hardened snow associated with the last Ice Age which scrapped off all vegetation and soil from the top and created a bald summit rock face and jagged peaks of the mountain we see today.

Last week, Sabah experienced probably one of the coldest spells in recent years due to the flow of dense, heavy freezing cold air from Winter Siberia where the January averages is minus 15 degrees Celsius, towards warm, low pressure equator with interior Keningau recording 17 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, a Sabah Parks officer at the park said ice will always form on the peak, but not snow due cold temperatures that would sometime hit sub zero degrees.

"That's normal. Only ice, not snow," he said.