Indonesia - Lombok - Gunung Rinjani
20 Jul 2005
Three-day trekking to get to the summit of the Gunung Rinjani, the second highest peak in Indonesia.
We leave at 6.30am. This looks more like an expedition than a trek, judging by the number of porters and guides. We carry a tent, rubber mats, sleeping bags, plenty of food and water and winter clothes. After five hours uphill, we stop for lunch at an altitude of 1950m. We are surrounded by monkeys and become witnesses to the cycle of life and death when they cut the throat of a chicken right there, by our side. There you go, bon apetit! The food tastes delicious though (little did we know then that we would have noodles and rice for lunch and dinner for the following three days!).
The hours more uphill and we finally reach base camp at 2650m on the crater rim. We are so mesmerized by the view that we can hardly believe it is not a painting. A huge volcano crater and inside it, a beautiful greenish lake with a mini volcano inside. We rub our eyes and second-check that we are really seeing such beauty. Meanwhile, our tents are being built and our dinner is ready, together with a nice cup of tea that feels better than ever because it is freezing cold up there. We have dinner above a sunset of clouds and hug each other while chills run down our spines.
The sun rises behind the mountains and illuminates the lake as we descend to an altitude of 2050m in order to have one of the best baths of our lives. The waters of the Segara Anak Lake are icy cold, but everything is so gorgeous that they appear inviting nevertheless. We jump into the lake and there we are, having a bath in the crater of a volcano. Can you believe we are here?
From icy-cold waters, we go to miracolously-warm waters when we visit some cascading hot springs nearby. We are in a permanent state of bewilderment words cannot make justice to.
The hours uphill along a path used more by goats than by humans judging by the its rocky nature and we get to our second base camp, at 2800m on the other side of the same crater rim and deceivingly close to the summit of Gunung Rinjani.
It's fucking cold up here, so we put on several layers of clothing and stay very close to each other hoping to get some sleep before 2.00am when the guides will wake us up to go up to the very summit!!!
2.30am - It's pitch dark. We start the ascent to the summit with out torches on the one hand and all the energy we can gather on the other. The first our is bloody hard. The incline is 40% and we are still tired from yesterday and the day before.
3.30am - We are walking along the crater rim on a very narrow path towards the summit. It seems like the worst has passed and it's a lot easier now.
4.30am - False alarm, the worst was yet to come. The moon sets behind the mountains and it gets even colder and darker, if it wasn't for the torches we wouldn't see a thing. The incline is now 50% and the ground beneath our feet is loose like hell.We take one step forward and slide three steps backwards or downwards (depends how you look at it). It's very disencouraging and incredibly harsh. The summit is right there but it will take us another hour and a half at this pace. We are knackered. This is definitely the most physically-demanding experience of my whole life.
6.15am - We finally get there and I can hardly believe it. My parents and closest friends will have the same problems to believe that I actually climbed to an altitude of 3726m, but I did and I'm here to tell you about it.
We are now above the clouds watching the day break and it's like being in heaven itself. The landscape is so breath-taking that I won't waste my time trying to describe it when I know perfectly well that I won't even get close to it.
But it's not over yet. We still have to get down from there and our tigh muscles hurt like hell, they've been pushed to the limit. The descend is pretty fast. To climb to the top was as hard as it would be to climb to the top of a kilometer-high sand-dune and to climb down from the top is also just as fast as it would be to slide down that same dune. We get to base camp with a big smile on our faces that means "I made it!" and are welcomed by the most-deserved of breakfasts ever.
Five hours more of arduos descend to get to the village of Sembalum await us. There a bemo (local bus) will take us to Senaru. The first two hours are hard, but only because we are soooo tired and aching. The last three are much better, strolling along beautiful valleys where the grass was nearly as high as ourselves. Gorgeous!
When we get to our hotel room in Senaru, we literally fall dismayed on our bed.
See you tomorrow!
Idoia & Mikel.