Sunday, 6 July 2008

Gunung Rinjani Returns (3 - 5 July)

On Thursday, we travelled back to Senaru from Gili Air. Unfortunately, our transport on the way was hijacked by a group of ignorant Brits. However, Awenk, who had organised our return to Rinjani, managed to rustle up a taxi for us. The afternoon was spent visiting the two very impressive waterfalls in Senaru. A great opportunity for a fresh water shower after the cold, salt water washes in Gili Air (zoom in to see the bottom of the waterfall).

We left Senaru at 6am on Friday morning with Sam, our experienced guide from the week before. We made a repeat of the walk in from Sembalun, arriving at the high camp at a around 2pm. After an afternoon siesta and our evening meal, we had time to meet up again with the Brits who had taken our transport (see first paragraph), an arrogant Dutchman - and some very pleasant people too.

One Brit – looking dapper in a white office shirt, blue t-shirt and bobble hat combo – exuded the mountaineering confidence of Reinhold Messner, even though this was his first ever walk above 200m. He lectured us on the nuances of Gunung Rinjani weather, even though he had never been here before. Although we found him very amusing, we couldn't listen to him for more than 10 minutes and made our excuses.

During the night we slept restlessly, as at times, the wind outside our tent picked up, making us worried that the high winds would deny us of the summit for the second time. We have never before been so gripped by summit fever – a combination of a desperate desire to summit and a fear of failure. However, to our great relief, we woke up at 2.20am to clear starry skies and only light winds.

Our summit attempt began at 3am on Saturday morning. Walking by torchlight, we first climbed the steep 300m to the upper rim before making our way along the gentle ridge. We rested around 4.30am to shelter from the biting wind and then began the crux of the route. The last 350m in height to the summit is loose gravel. Lighter people manage to walk on the surface, but Andy was like a distressed dog on all fours, swimming in a sea of sand making minimal progress for what seemed like an eternity. It was absolutely exhausting. Eventually we summited just in time to watch the sunrise. At last, we had conquered Rinjani (3,726m)! On our descent, we smiled wryly as we passed the Brits, who had only just reached the bottom of the gravel hell.

Returning to camp for breakfast, we then made the long walk out back to Sembalun. A pleasant journey made all the more entertaining by meeting a group of Australians. They were on a luxury trip, accompanied by the company head who was busy overruling his own guide's judgement. They had made slow progress and it was doubtful they would make the high camp before dark. They had the porters carrying their rucksacks, cooking chips and making club sandwiches too! There was almost a coup though, when our Michelin star quality local cuisine lunch appeared. Moans of disappointment could be heard when they complained about their white and bitter pineapple compared with ours which was yellow and ripe!

Today (Sunday 6 July) we are resting in Sengiggi where we'll be for the next three days.

For those wanting to visit Gunung Rinjani, Awenk runs a very slick operation based in Senaru (email:, phone: 081 7577 3678). Sam, our guide, works for Awenk and can be contacted on 081 9331 71455. For an idea of prices, we paid 2.6 million for two people with transfers Padangbai – Senaru - Gili Air, and 2.371 million with transfers Bangsol – Senaru - Sengiggi.


Anonymous said...

The waterfall looks really good.

Like the summit picture as well.

Glad all is going well.


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