Friday, May 26, 2017

Climbing Mt. Rinjani

I was on the last few days of my trip around Lombok that lasted for a little over two weeks. I was on again and off again about hiking Mt. Rinjani, because I thought that I wasn't prepared enough to do the hike. My experience trekking mountains up to that point were merely day trips to Batangas and one major hike in China. The longest and highest mountain I've been to at the time was Tiger Leaping Gorge (around 2000+++m high) in China, and the only camping experience I had was at Calaguas. The experience in China didn't have camping, I was able to sleep on a bed, use a toilet, have a decent meal and take a shower. Rinjani would be a lot of firsts, the highest mountain and the first time I'd get to camp minus certain comforts. After hearing stories from other travelers and some sweet talking by the travel agent I met, I decided to finally push through with it.


It's the Climb


Since I was solo, the agency I booked the trip with put me in a group of other travelers. I was the only Asian in the group, which consisted of two French guys and a Danish couple. We rode a van to the registration area and were taken to the jump-off point shortly thereafter.



The trek started easy enough in the first section as the terrain was mostly flat throughout, but once we got to the second station, the climb started to get difficult.



The incline got steeper and some parts of the hike were up scree and loose rock, making it difficult to balance. I often saw other hikers going down with their pants, shirts and/or shorts covered in dirt. As we got higher, the views got better, there's nothing like a bird's eye view of the surroundings.


It took almost the entire day till we finally got to the crater lake camp, from that point we could vaguely see the summit of Mt. Rinjani. I was looking forward to a challenge as it would be the highest peak I would scale (at that point).







The views from the campsite were nothing short of spectacular. The weather changed from hot to cold when the sun set. There was nothing much to do after dinner, so most people, including myself just went (I tried) to sleep. It was only a few hours until the call time to make the assault to the summit.

The night was perfect, the sky dark enough for the stars and moon to illuminate the surroundings. I wasn't able to take any pictures because we were in a hurry, but there are times when you just have to enjoy the view and keep it to yourself.

To say that the hike up to the summit was difficult is an UNDERSTATEMENT. It was by far the hardest thing I did, the first assault, as the guide said may end up being one step up, two steps back because of the scree and loose rock. My feet sunk into the trail several times going up. It didn't help that sand and pebbles went inside my shoes. The path up wasn't only hard, it was freezing.

I was unprepared for this hike, I didn't wear enough layers, had no gloves and was only wearing shorts. Most of the hikers I saw were in full gear, with warm jackets, pants, bonnet and some even had blankets with them. Our group was probably the least prepared since the two French guys and Couple didn't wear enough layers either. There were times during the hike where I could barely feel my hands.

We were supposed to get to the summit to catch the sunrise, but at my pace (I was slow), I was nowhere near the summit when the sun rose. However, I did make it to around 3200MASL, which was even higher than the highest peak back home. The guide told me it was another two hours at that point. I could've actually made it to the summit because there were several other Asian hikers who were as slow or even slower than me. I really wanted to push on, but the guide kept yapping about it's time to go down and he wanted to get the group to the next campsite. It would've taken me close to lunch time before I reached the peak and a couple of more hours going down, which would've delayed everyone else. So I decided to go down at that point.






I was disappointed that I didn't make it to the summit, but I didn't let that ruin the rest of the trip. The views of the volcano, crater like and mountain were nothing short of spectacular, especially when the first rays of the sun shone down on them, turning the darkness into different shades of orange and red.


Failing to reach the summit put things in perspective, you won't always be at the peak, but life moves on, if you do.

I'll write this off as experience for the next time I try to summit Mt. Rinjani. I'm not sure when I'll return, but if I do, I'll be ready.

Booking a Rinjani Tour

There are several agencies that offer this tour in Senggigi, I paid 1.5M Indonesian Rupiah. You don't have to book anything in advance, it'll be more expensive if you book it from another island like in Bali or further west. I suggest you get to Lombok first to compare prices and inclusions.



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