It was the beginning of the dry season in Indonesia when I found myself in a sleeping bag. with multiple layers of clothing on. along with five people in a group huddle for body warmth and I still couldn’t feel my feet. That’s not the 30+ degree days I had in mind when planning my time in Indonesia.
Oh did I mention it was before sunrise 3726m above sea level? I guess that has something to do with the cold.
Yep, my two bro’s and I had decided to climb Mt Rinjani, Lombok. And while I wasn’t regretting the decision while suffering through 5 degree temperatures. I certainly was praying for the sun to come up and warm me up enough to feel my legs again. So here is a little run down of our trip to Indonesia’s second highest volcano.
Along with Ross, Darcy and I, we had convinced two of our new pals, Erik and Vanessa, to come along with us (it will be fun we said). We booked through our home stay in Kuta Lombok and until the briefing in Sennaru at 8pm the night before, we literally had no idea what we were in for. A local tour operator gave us a briefing telling us the basics of what route we would take, what to bring etc. One small warning that it would get cold but no questions in relation to our fitness levels. I guess we all looked pretty capable.
We were joined by four other group members, Laura, Rog, Aeisha and Ben. After a banana pancake breakfast and about 7 cups of coffee we set off. The first leg was an hours ride in the tray of a truck to Sembalun. The five of us had nicknamed our group the Dune Squad and it wasn’t long before the others were subjected to our vulgar ways. Luckily, they joined in. We began the hike at 1,200 m above sea level. At the base we were introduced to our guide Morsan and to the five porters. Each who would carry 40kg in wicker baskets to ensure that us princesses had enough food, water and shelter for the hike. Oh and they all did it in flip flops (I guess from this point on disregard any whining from me). We set off and the first few hours were a breeeeeze. We stopped for a delicious lunch of vegetable and egg mie gorang followed by tea and pineapple. Ross, Darcy and I were sick of walking slowly and always stopping. Instead we set off up the clearly trodden path. Not to mention there were hundreds of other hikers to follow. The second bit was much tougher, lots of vertical uphill. But we made it to the rim and were rewarded with the worlds best coconut cookies. I guess the view was alright as well. By this point it was early evening and the wind was chilly! By the time the porters set up our tents we all clambered inside and rugged up. They were two person tents but I shared with Ross and Erik to ensure max body warmth. It was seriously cold, okay! After a little nap our amazing porters brought us dinner and tea in our tents! We were joined by Vanessa and Darcy for a dinner party in our two person tent. We entered the lands of z’s shortly after dinner.
2:30am wake up, coffee and cookies.
3:15am set off for the summit. Following the string of flashlights.
3:30am Ross gets I know of us slow pokes and takes off
4am Darcy, Vanessa, Erik and I comment how easy this summiting thing is.
4:30am We eat our words.
The chilling wind picks up, the angle becomes steelers and the terrain becomes much softer and sand like. It is 2 steps forward, one step back for the rest of the way. Our lively chatting ceases and soon after we all split off and go at our own pace. I was lucky that I had climbed similar terrain before so the hiking wasn’t that hard what got me was the altitude and the cold. Growing up on the beach doesn’t exactly prepare you or your lungs to be in chilling conditions 10,000 feet up. After much self motivation I made. I found Ross and Darcy snuggled in sleeping bags and quickly joined them. I couldn’t feel my legs and had serious concerns that I was going to get frost bite (Yes, my North American and European friends, laugh all you like). Soon after we were joined by Erik, Vanessa, Rog and Laura. Cuddle puddle ensued. The sky began to lighten, we could see the crater lake below and all of a sudden it was worth it. After warming up and taking some pictures for our Instagram followers, we headed back down. Back at camp we had the best banana pancakes ever (this must have been situation dependant as they next day they were no where near as good) and took naps. While waiting for the last two to return we played a number of games of shit head and decided that the person to lose the most over the next two days would buy all the beers.
Finally it was time to set off to the crater lake. The downhill was a nice change as was walking through the clouds. On arrival at the lake we stripped off and jumped in. Okay, I didn’t jump, it was too cold for that! I did, however, jump into the hot springs which we went to after. That evening we played numerous vocal & slightly aggressive games of shit head. Looks like Erik was buying the beers.
The final day! We set off early and hiked two hours uphill. This path was much more firm and enjoyable to the previous day’s hike. At the rim we were treated with a delightful view of the summit, lake and mini volcano. Down we went, for hours and hours. We had our final lunch and said farewell to our porter pals. How they did that with 40kgs, in flip flops while smoking cigarettes and drinking arak is beyond me. The final starch was long and boring. Until we heard the beep of a scooter and saw Erik passing us while giving us the finger and yelling ‘suckers!’. Yes, he had paid a local 10,000 IDR to drive him the final section. Paying his way into the alpha male role. All was forgiven when we arrived to cold beers on Erik.
And that was that, we conquered Mt Rinjani! Time for a lot of relaxation on the Gili Islands.