I love volcanoes and I love stepping on the Moon. It’s a great feeling and it gives me a big dose of energy. I already wrote about this while I’ve been climbing Mt. Merapi in Sumatra. And I want to feel that again!
I arrived in Lombok, a small island in the middle on the Nusa Tengara small archipelago of Indonesia. This is a touristic paradise for many foreigners which are coming to the tropical Indonesia. And it’s very close to Bali, becoming the twin island. The capital city of this province is Mataram and my friend Dragos lives here.
Of course, the beaches are fantastic here and everybody loves them, but I came here with another purpose: climbing Mr. Rinjani.
Well, this Mountain is an active volcano which soars 3,726 meters over the Sea and the island of Lombok. It is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. What is so interesting about this mountain is the massive 6km wide caldera on the top of the mountain.
Otherwise, this volcano looks like a upside-down bucket with a glass of water poured in. Within the mountain is a crescent shaped lake, the breathtaking Segara Anak (the Child of the Sea in translation) which is about 6km across at its widest point. This lake of sulfur is located 600 meters below the crater rim. Rising from the waters of this lake is a new volcano, Mt. Baru, which is a result of a series of eruptions during the 1990’s.
Dragos told me some stories about the lake, being mystical place. The Balinese come here each year and perform a ceremony where money and jewelry are chucked in the lake as an offering to the mountain spirit. This occurs usually at the end of October, so Dragos wants to be back then to catch up with those people again. But even this time he cannot accompany me, being busy with the Immigration staff..Haha..I already finished that and I’m sniggering at him.
There is a great phenomenon which occurs there almost all the time. Being situated on the Equator, as a great geographical position for the Sun, from the summit at dawn a holographic Pyramid is formed. Is a shadow of the mountain with the Sun in the back side. But, what is so amazing, is that the shadow is a perfect pyramid (or triangle) and not the shape of the mountain. Some friends of mine from Romania saw this shadow in different mountains, and the explication is just as an optic phenomenon closed to the position of the Sun.
I left Mataram at 6am to approach the mountain a.s.a.p. After waiting for different buses and pick-up cars to give me a lift there, I finally arrive with a bunch of students with the same idea. I started climbing at 11am heading up to the Col, where I want to camp during the first night. The Sun is high on the sky and it strongly burns me. Usually everybody has to hire a guide/porter for the ascent, but I got lucky being a student in Indonesia and part of the MAPALA (Mahasisa Pecinta Alam = students who love nature, the student mountaineering association) as well. Was very funny because absolutely everybody was asking me why am I alone and not with a porter/guide. My answer was simple: MAPALA!
The landscape was amazing, a massive hill rising up into the clouds, similar to a savanna with small trees widely spaced. Crossing that thick layer of clouds I arrived in the Col and I met different people, especially foreigners.
My group of friends from Bandung I started with, didn’t come at the same place, they were slowly but sure and camped under the Col. So I was on my own there, but having the Blarney gift, in a matter of minutes I mingled with the guides and the local people and I got a place where to sleep and we shared together the food.
I spent my first night in a porter’s tent, where I couldn’t sleep almost at all. The Indonesian love to smoke, and they really smoke in the tent! By the way, the percent of people who smoke in Indonesia is 99%. Of course, they love to smoke, specially the clove cigarettes. So I woke up at 2am and at 3am I started my ascent during the night to be on the top at the dawn.
And so I was, I arrived on the top at dawn, just before the sun rised up. Were some people over there shouting and saluting the Sun. It was very cold as well. So called that I had to use my socks as gloves, cause otherwise my fingers would have frozen. The weather was perfect and I could see everything what I dreamed to. The Bali’s highest mountain, Agung, the lake, the volcanic crater and the Sea with its small islands.
What was the most exciting thing is that I was able to see the holographic pyramid which I was waiting for years. I saw many natural or meteorological phenomena as Aurora Borealis, Brocken Spectre, Sun and Ice pillars, halos, sea of clouds and this one was on my to-see list. Now I got it and I am extremely happy!
Remember, I told you it was cold… I forgot how cold could it be into the mountains. I got used with this tropical climate and I mislaid my mind. Without having gloves to keep my hands warmed, I used a pair of socks. When Tatiana, am Russian-named American girl asked me to take a picture together (we’ve climbed together) I couldn’t refuse her…But I mislaid to take off my gloves. So I have a great picture from the top with socks on my hands..Epic!
Later on, I descended to the base-camp which is at almost 2700m high. There I’ve been sleeping for two hours and go down to the lake. On the way to the lake I had part of a great light and many stunning landscapes. I also met loads of people going up or down in both directions.
At the lake, a massive base-camp where all the people were fishing. They served me with some raw fish and rice.
Down, there is a place called Goa Susu, in translation the Milk’s Cave, which is a small cave with strong. Hot pot! Cool, I missed something like that. Being situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire’s Belt, this mountain has a strong geothermal area. The locals love to come here to take a bath or to enjoy spending time in this hot watersprings. I stayed all night long here, relaxing and even taking a nap. I was very tired, and I couldn’t imagine something else to relax.
I decided to camp here, to sleep in this part for the second night and tomorrow to continue my way down. Of course, the Indonesian hospitality was at a high level, so soon enough, everybody invited me in their tents, served me with some rice and noddles and I shared my food with them again.
I’ve been sleeping over 10 hours and at the first hour in the morning everybody was packing. We are leaving! So I got some guides down the mountain. If I came by myself and yesterday everybody was asking me why am I alone and with no guide, today I got 10 guides! I’m sure the other tourist I met on the way down considered me very rich 🙂
After 5h of descending I barely felt my legs, I was very tired. But I couldn’t complain at all, cause I saw on that path many women walking and scrambling with baskets on their heads and on the bare feet. And the road wasn’t easy at all!
Down in the village, I got an ojek (a motorcycle taxi) lift to the bus terminal, where I missed the bus with just 20 minutes. A nice man came to me trying to help out, and he proposed me to go with him to the next village from where I can hop in the bus. And he wanted just 1$ for this (10.000 rupiah), but being very tired I understood 10$ (100.000 idr), because in Indonesian the word are pretty much similar. (Sepuluh – ten; seratus – hundred) and I started arguing with him cause I’m sick and tired of getting ripped off.
Later, I was hitchhiking and I got a lift by some ppl from Singapore, and then I realized what mistake I have done. Sorry for that!
I finally arrived back in Mataram and I met Dragos. What an amazing experience to see Indonesia from above. And that pyramid as well!
20-06-2012, Mataram, Lombok, Indonesia