Two years ago, I climbed my first mountain, Mount Bisoke in Rwanda. A 3711m volcano, and home of the Mountain Gorilla. It was one of the most incredible and challenging things I’ve ever done.
That day on Bisoke ignited something in me, and I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since. It’s addictive, standing on top of a mountain, high above the clouds. Knowing that your body (and mind), got you there. Every feeling is magnified and your mind is clear.Gunung Rinjani is an active volcano on the island of Lombok. It’s the second highest volcano in Indonesia (3726m), with a 190m deep crater lake, Segara Anak (Child of The Sea), named after its ocean-blue colour.
Day one – We began our climb in the cool hours of the morning, hiking across the foothills. It didn’t take long for the sun to heat things up. For the next few hours, we walked, mostly in full sun, with an occasional break from passing clouds.We chose to climb with Green Rinjani as our guides, based on their environmental, low-impact focus. Green Rinjani is one of only a few companies that bring their rubbish back off the mountain – which is pretty sad really. The amount of rubbish along the trail and at the campsites is horrible. With an estimated 90,000 visitors per year, you can imagine just how bad it gets. Another company worth checking out is Rudy Trekker – I’ve heard good things.
The hike got harder after lunch, as we moved up the steep mountainside into the forest. The temperature dropped off, and there was no end to the uphill climb in sight. Just as we reached the peak, and what we thought was the end, the mountain stretched further up into the clouds.
When we did finally reach Base Camp though, it was all worth it.
Day two – We woke around 2.30am to begin the summit climb.
I had read a few blogs on the climb. I had read stories of the narrow ridge – with sheer drops on either side – pitch blackness and crazy winds. Millions of stars in view, we set off in the 3am darkness. The sight of climbers and their head torches, silhouetted by the moon and trailing along the ridge to the summit, was out of this world. My fears were quickly replaced with wonder.The photo below sums up the next few hours…About halfway up, our guide disappeared, lost in the groups of people huddled along the trail – smoking, sleeping (yes, sleeping) and sitting around small fires to keep warm.
We eventually gave up looking for him, but we’d already lost time. We didn’t make it to the summit for sunrise, just before, but the views were pretty incredible from where we were.The deep, loose stones and dirt made the final summit push hard. Everything I’d read was pretty accurate – one step forward, two steps back. One guy was playing Feels Like We Only Go Backwards by Tame Impala from his phone. It was perfect. For the next half an hour, we just focused on our feet, stopping to take in the views. The hard work paid off.
Read more – Indonesia / Climbing Rinjani: Day Two