Batu Lawi

Bukit Batu Lawi is an impressive rock spire located remotely in the Kelabit Highlands. It has two distinct peaks separate by a saddle: The smaller one called Female Peak or Wife can be ascended by non-technical (class 4) climbing. The inspiring Male Peak or Husband however, can be only ascended by technical rock climbing.

How to Get Here

The trip to Batu Lawi is an expedition by itself. Two shelters were built in 1991 which then cut the return trip from Bario to 4 days. As of 2016 the easiest access is by 4X4 using the logging roads.

3°52’10.2″N, 115°23’10.8″E

Natural Conditions

Due to the elevation the Kelabit Highlands are moderate in temperature. At (Elevation 1000m) Bario the average daytime high is about 20°C and nighttime low is 15°C. The base of Batu Lawi is at about 1500m elevation while the Male Peak is 2046m and hence, temperatures will be 5-10°C lower so conditions can be rather chilly. In addition rainfall is plentiful and can be very heavy as it is common in the tropics.

Sector and Route Description

Of the the two summits the smaller one is called Female Peak, which can be reached by non-technical scrambling. The larger and most prominent feature of the mountain is the Male Peak. In addition there are major walls on the eastern and western slopes along the ridge, which may hold additional potential for great multi-pitch sports routes.


This great sandstone spire has been the object of desire for rock climbing expeditions so far.

– North Ridge

The first ascent of Batu Lawi Male Peak was by a team of British Army climbers from the North Ridge after unsuccessfully attempting the more difficult South Face. They even had helicopter support from the RMAF! Probably Bruno Manser did a solo ascent in 2000 (using rattan for abseiling!) before his disappearance. A mixed team lead by Haji Ruslan (Brunei) and Olaf Wünderich (Germany) and including the first two female climbers also climbed this route in 2002.

The base of the route can be reached either from the saddle by traversing the west face along the tree covered ledge as done by the British Army team, or by ascending the north ramp, which as done by the Rudlan/Wünderich party.

Pro First Ascent
Nyimat Ayu 5a 100  4 pitons,
Johnny Beardsall, Eamon Ross, Trevor Jones, Kevin Fletcher, Dave Workman, Stuart Lythogoe
January 1986

– South Face

This this side of the Male Peak is facing the Female Peak so can be easily seen from there. Also most of the ascents have been done here including the failed one 1986 by the British Army climbers who then opted for the North Ridge.

# Name Grade
Pro First Ascent
All Elevations Unknown 6a+ 250  8 trad Sam Lightning Jr., Scott Morley, Volker Schöffl
March 1999
Indonesian Variant
6a+ A3 ? ? trad,
2 bolts
Rendy Apriyando, Ajie Tri Hutama, Fahmi Arif Maulana
November 2013
 ④ Queen and Country 6a+ A0 ?  6 trad Ian Brown, Tom William
September 1993
 ⑤ “Malaysian Route”
 ? ? 9 trad Sharin Hashim, Syahrul Nizam Abul Azis, Mohd. Razis Abdul,
Asrul Izwan Yusof
August 2007

– East Face

The east face is an impressive 400m or so slightly overhanging wall. So far (as of 2016) there has been one serious attempt to climb it using aid climbing technique by Sam Lightning Jr., Scott Morley and Volker Schöffl but they eventually gave up due to time constraints. The Indonesian Team also reports on attempts to scale the east face using trad climbing.

Batu Lawi East Schoeffel

Pro First Ascent
“East Face”
7c A3 ?  2 pitons, trad,
Sam Lightning Jr., Scott Morley, Volker Schöffl
March 1999

One thought on “Batu Lawi

  1. Awesome! I really moved by the efforts of environmentalist mr.bruno manser. Been following his life as a penan. Thanks for mathias manser for the enlightenment . I was in the kapit and baram interiors and realized heartfelt sadness to see the devastated rich landscapes which were publicized in untrue version.

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