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KOTA KINABALU, Jan 19, 2016:

It seems that Mount Kinabalu is back in business with climbing schedules fully booked from March till the end of the year.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the overwhelming response showed climbers’ confidence had been restored.

“I was told by Sabah Parks director Dr Jamili Nais about the overwhelming bookings, with more foreigners than locals, and I am happy that we are back in business.”

He said this to reporters after re-launching the Mount Kinabalu Via Ferrata by Mountain Torq service here today.

He said the reopening of the Mount Kinabalu’s side activity, the via-ferrata (fixed steel cable climbing route), after seven months of closure due to the earthquake, was a signal that it was business as usual.

“Last year, there were many predictions (that) it was going to be a long haul to get back where we were.

“But climbing activities restarted on Dec 1 last year and today with the via-ferrata relaunch, we have restored the confidence of climbers, especially regarding safety on Mount Kinabalu.”

The number of climbers had fallen to 135 from 192 previously, he disclosed.

He also noted that a RM10 million restoration fund from the government, which was delivered in less than 10 days after the announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, reflected the commitment from all parties to bring back Sabah’s pride to its normal state.

He added the minor aftershocks after the quake were normal and did not jeopardise climbers’ safety.

“We have been getting a lot of assistance and even mountain experts from Canada, Japan and America offered their expertise to restore and find new routes for Mount Kinabalu.

“Even a Singapore company (Mountain Torq) is bringing back primary school pupils and other climbers from Singapore to climb Mount Kinabalu, and many are keen.”

At the launching event, Mountain Torq introduced its new improved safety feature on the via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu, called the “Aeroligne System”.

The system, launched in France in 2014, is the first of it kind to be introduced in Asia.

It allows the climber to be in continuous connection with the safety cable.

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