So I made it, climb up to the second highest volcano in Indonesia, 3,726 m to be exact. I conquered Rinjani Mountain in 3 days trekking ascent and descent with my brother. The first two days of the 3 days journey lured me into a false sense of security with its magnificent green gentle slopes that merged gradually into a steeper climb.
So we made the first step of the trekking from Sembalun Village on the eastern part of Rinjani. We stayed in a homestay one night before the trekking. Just right after sun rose on day 1, we started the trekking accompanied by one guide and two rock porters, ‘the superman’ who carried our food, sleeping mats, tents and other supplies in baskets attached to bamboo poles like they were huge dumbbells. They would also cook for us, set up our tents and gave us foot rubs (okay not this one). They amazed me endlessly with their strength, their flair in the camp kitchen, their cheeky sense of humor.
The route was gradually changing from the gentle slope into a steeper gradient. I just tried not to cease moving in long time, I keep moving forward even with a small step. We passed several climbers on their way going down who already reached the summit. After 8 hours trekking, we reached Plawangan II ( about 2,800m) on the crater rim, the last camping area to stay before continuing our ascent to the peak after the midnight. Yes, we would climb upward to get the summit at 2.00 AM to glimpse the sunrise on the summit. This heroic climb would take 3-4 hours. The temperature was getting cooler as the night darker. Physical fatigue after a whole day trekking made me easily fall a sleep.
The wake up call was 2.00 AM for those challenging climbing 1000 meters to the summit. We awoke to freshly brewed Lombok coffee and toasted cheese sandwiches. It was a little late the trail almost 3 AM, grateful for the full moon that lit our path in otherwise pre-dawn blackness. We strapped on our headlamps and warm clothing. Given the volcanic gravel, the climb consisted of regularly climbing two steps forward only to slide at least one back. It took about three hours to make it all the way to the top with freezing winds pelting me the whole way. It was a mental and physical battle to the top, to be sure. Plenty of people sit this part of the trek out. If you have the fitness level to take it on, though, I’d definitely recommend it. It was fairly steep, and quite gravelly, so I took it quite slow, ensuring I didn’t fall down the mountain in the dark with a misplaced step. The trail became thick and soupy, our feet sinking into the loose pumice stone gravel, like quick sand. Legs burned, lungs heaved and wooden sticks were pressed into the soft trail for support.
I breathed a sigh of relief as we finally made it to the large ridge of the summit, after about twohours. From here it was a relatively gradual trek on a solid path that again tricked my ego into believing this thing wouldn’t be so hard after all. I reassured myself with, “It’s just one foot in front of the other isn’t it?” refusing to believe that I might not make it to the top. And as I made my way towards the final climb of the summit, and the sun began to present itself in peach-pink streaks through the cloud, I thought to myself “almost there”, not realizing the three hours of hell that lay ahead.
Then, after almost 3 hours walking, we successfully reached the summit. The view was stunningly gorgeous. I could stare at the Agung Mountain in Bali and three Gilis islands. Above the clouds, on the rim of a volcanic crater, staring down into one of the most spectacular sights I’ve ever seen, through the pain and the exhaustion and the dread of still more of both, I felt so alive. I felt so thankful for my hard-working limbs that got me up there, above it all, looking down into that magnificent crater, complete with cobalt Lake and smoking cone. It was magnificent.
Since the temperature was getting colder below 10 degrees Celsius and the wind started to swing harder we were up there only for several minutes, taking pictures and then we continued to hike down to Segara Anakan Lake, a crater lake within the mountain. My brother covered his body with a sleeping bag as he’s walking down. The terrain this time was a bit different from before, mostly of steep rocks – requiring to go on all fours at times. The 4 hrs descend felt like forever.
Halfway through, we were almost shocked when we looked back to realize how far and steep we’ve come.
At mid day we arrived at Segara Anak. Segara Anak is a crater lake contained within Mount Rinjani . The name Segara Anak means child of the sea given to the blue colour of the lake reminiscent of the sea. The lake is heated, so its temperature is 17-20 °C. At the west end of the lake is the volcanic cone Gunung Baru, giving to the lake a crescent shape. Our guide had shared that it was formed when the volcano’s predecessor, Mount Samalas erupted and collapsed in 1257, leaving the caldera lake behind.
A recent 2013 study revealed that Mt Samalas’ eruption was felt around the world – eight times as large as Krakatau’s (1883) and twice that of Tambora (1815) – possibly wiping out the ancient Lombok Kingdom’s capital of Pamatan. The eruption probably was a 7 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index, which would make it one of the largest eruptions of the last several thousand years. The eruption may have been the cause of anomalous weather in immediately following years, and may have even been a triggering factor for the Little Ice Age. (Wikipedia)
At 5 PM when the day is getting dark was perfect time to catch a glimpse of our perfect campsite by the lake before we had to whip out our headlamps for dinner. I enjoyed the spectacular view in front of me. I didn’t feel all the pain and tiresome after 2 consecutive days of trekking.
The early morning day 3 after we had a breakfast, we started to hike down to Sembalun Village. We targeted to arrive at the village before the night. We took the same route as we ascended and gratefully we reached the village just right before the sunset. My amazing experience conquering Rinjani was finished but I still could feel the warm of the nature gives. For sure I would put my step again in Rinjani in the future.
Do it Yourself:
• Getting there: If traveling overland, public transportation is probably the quickest option. Get the bus from Mandalika terminal in Mataram to Aikmel then continue to Sembalun.
• I was climbing using trekking operators that I found on line since I didn’t know any information about the route. Actually you can do by your self by coming directly to Sembalun and find the guide and porters who also rent tents and equipment that you will need. It will be much cheaper than using trekking agencies.
• Don’t forget you can only climb during the dry season from April to early January
• Preparation: bring proper shoes and a headlamp. If you don’t have a jacket, the porters can provide one if told in advance. Hiking or running shoes and a jacket are absolutely essential and a bathing suit, hiking stick (you can grab one at the start of the trail), and mittens are recommended
• Difficulty: fitness level is important for the climb as it is steep and takes 12 hours on the longest day to reach the summit and then get back down to the bottom. Prepare your self physically.
we and our superman
E shaped path at the top (The death Zone)
dare to jump?
15 degrees celcius at the lake
any better than this?