Saturday, 28 June 2008

Mt Rinjani (3,726m)

We left Senaru for our three day trek up Mt Rinjani, Indonesia's
second highest peak. Our heavily overloaded Bemo – a small minibus
with bench seats in the back – had a catastrophic transmission failure
as it tried to go uphill, prompting us to wait for 30 minutes for
alternative transport. In the meantime, a crowd of school children
looked on in bewilderment. Eventually our journey resumed, halting
for a period at the local market for supplies, before we arrived at
the trekking centre in Sembalun.

Day one of the trek was a 7 hour walk through grassland and thin
forest, emerging on the crater rim for sunset. Although we had booked
our own guide and porters, we were joined by six other people – they
too were expecting a wildness experience. Many of the people in our
group had anticipated the walk would be more of a nature hike, rather
than a three day boot camp!

Day two was summit day and we awoke at 3am to wind on the crater rim.
Our guide, Same, advised us that it would be too dangerous to proceed
to the summit as the route was narrow and the winds would be stronger
higher up. This then prompted a one hour discussion amongst the
westerners, with claim and counter claim ensuing as to whether or not
the guides were just being 'lazy'. We decided to opt with the
experienced guide, rather than a cigarette smoking Frenchman in jeans.

The rest of the day two was spent feeling gutted that we had not made
the summit. The surrounding views were amazing – a spectacular 6km
crater lake complete with baby volcano. As our feelings of
disappointment subsided a French woman and German man appeared, having
made their own successful summit attempt. This, however, came at a
price. They had disobeyed our guide who had forbidden them from making
a summit bid and this put a cloud over the rest of our day. Their
successful bid only served to re-ignite our disappointment and
question our decision not to climb.

Day three was a descent down from the crater rim through beautiful
jungle. When you're in such a big group, most of the wildlife hears
you coming a mile away and disappears before you get to see it.
Despite that, we were lucky enough to see some black monkeys which are
rare to see. We also saw some weird and wonderful plants, worms and

Other memories of the trip include breakfasting with grey monkeys,
fireside chats with our guide Same and getting to know all the
porter's names (Giwek, Muna, Dian, Sutra, On and Les).

After finishing the trek, we retuned to the trek organiser's office
where we waited for transport to the Gili islands. As it was just
before noon on Friday – for Muslims the most important prayer time of
the week, everything stopped for one hour. Whilst we relaxed to the
sound of the Imam's sermon broadcasting through loud speakers, our
fellow travellers were complaining bitterly about the wait with a
staggering lack of understanding and respect to the Muslim religion.
(To put this in context, Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim
population and in Lombok, 95% of people are Muslim).

All in all, the trek was a fantastic experience and a pleasant
introduction to high(er) altitude mountaineering expeditions. As we
were very disappointed about not summiting Rinjani, we're thinking of
trying again, older and wiser!

Currently safe and well on the island of Gili Air, enjoying cocktails,
beach huts and the tropical paradise.


Anonymous said...

Sounds a wonderful trip......

ove Mum & Dad

David said...

Hope we can skype soon when you are back in civilisation!