Volcano Climbing Lombok Style

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October 21st 2005
Published: October 31st 2005
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Satellite view of Rinjani

Zoom out or in to gain more detail and discover Lombok's location.

Looking south-east from the tropical island of Gili Trawangan the Rinjani Volcano towers disturbingly, dominating Lombok. Clouds gather around it early each afternoon, shrouding the summit from view, thunderstorms rumble and flash distantly, forbidding trespass. The summit of Rinjani is a large crater, remnants of a prehistoric eruption that took the volcano down from heights of around 8,000m to today's 3,726m. Still impressive, and still very high. Nearly 3 times the height of Britain's highest peak. (Ben Nevis 1,343 m)

I'd asked everyone I'd met on Gili Trawangan about climbing the volcano. The few that wanted to climb it conveniently had other commitments. Maybe hanging out on a beach is not the best place to meet adventurers prepared to spend three days climbing a very wet and very high volcano. I went across to Lombok alone determined to get to the top some how. The village at the base of the volcano Senaru has no other real purpose except to act as a starting point for trekking. Most of the employment in the area is related to it; guides, porters, small hotels. On reaching Senaru, I asked at a small hotel about the volcano, was given a reasonable price for
Cooking up a feastCooking up a feastCooking up a feast

those hardworking very tough porters also cook.
everything, porters, a guide and all the equipment and food needed. I was told that they'd find a group going up and add me to that. Nine Belgian adventure holiday makers were to be my companions.

The trek began at 6am the next morning, at 7.30am the first few upward steps towards Rinjani's summit were taken, in sunshine and heat, starting out into the jungle. Trekking through the forest at 600m was fairly easy, progress interrupted by a few downpours and the porters cooking up a fried rice or noodle feast on small bonfires. The vegetation slowly changed, broad leaved tropical trees to start, gradually replaced by narrower leaved trees festooned with mosses and air plants, eventually these ended only pines scattered sparsely amongst the rocks and grasses. As the altitude increaseed the air became thinner, the going harder work, breathing and heart beat increasing, attempting to compensate for the lack of oxygen in each breath.

For most of the first day the path was easy to follow, it became trickier and a lot steeper at around 2000m, as we left the tree line and ascended the rim. With ten in our group plus 7 porters and a
Wet JungleWet JungleWet Jungle

Day one - morning
guide, inevitably we were spread out a little. Each porter carried around twenty-five kilos in baskets on bamboo poles, over one shoulder, going roughly twice our speed and wearing only flip flops (thongs) on their feet. Tough guys, they really earn their pay (unlike the parasitic touts of Sengiggi and Bangsal). The guide's job is to make sure everyone gets to the right points and inform the trekkers of interesting facts, such as “the lake in the crater is 230m deep”.

The crater rim is at 2600m, and was our first camping point. The whole camp was put together by the porters, who with practised hands had all the tents up and started cooking in about 20mins. The view down to the lake, the other side of the crater and the small volcano peak in the centre was obscured by the clouds and the dark. Rinjani volcano is still active, last erupted in 1994, smoke and steam leach out continuously.

On day two, we headed down to the lake shore, descending the inside of the crater, we visited a series of hot water pools and climbed back up to 2,600m on the opposite side for the second nights
Tough PortersTough PortersTough Porters

Day one - Lunch time
camp. I spent the day chatting with the Belgians, who were all really nice, went to bed at 7pm and slept fitfully until 2am when the ascent for the summit started. We had to leave so early to ensure that we could make it to the top for 6am and sunrise.

2am is not a time for waking, a time for going to bed after a nice night in a bar. 3am is not a time for climbing, a time for being fast asleep in blissful slumber. 5am is not a time to be trudging up and slipping back a steep and never-ending scree slope, desperately hoping that the summit is just out of view in the clouds. One foot in front of the other until I reach the top. Glad to have a head torch.

But 6am was a perfect time to be sitting 3,726m up and waiting the final few minutes for sunrise. 6.15am a very weak sunrise, a lemon yellow disk rising slowly behind the cloud, providing no warmth, but an odd sort of satisfaction in having got to the top of Rinjani in time for sunrise.

6.30am - too cold! Started walking down
Near the crater lakeNear the crater lakeNear the crater lake

Day one - afternoon
to the camp in order to find breakfast and warm up. Mountains on the equator are cold too.

The rest of the day was spent trekking mostly through grasslands in the rain. The small village we ended the trek in had a cold Bin Tang (Indonesian Beer) waiting for each of us, and a bus back to civilisation... well, Sengiggi.

A few facts on Rinjani.

Height: 3,726m
Best seasons to climb: dry (May-September) - can be dangerous when slippy.
Cost: between $80-160 (US) for the three day trek, depending on number in group.

See: John's Adventures for more details, other operators also arrange tours, though many in Sengiggi or Trawangan are on commission only, getting to Senaru in order to arrange the trek will work out cheaper.

Additional photos below
Photos: 20, Displayed: 20


Volcanic LakeVolcanic Lake
Volcanic Lake

Day two - lunch time
Hot waterfall and poolsHot waterfall and pools
Hot waterfall and pools

Day two - lunch time

Day two - evening
From the RimFrom the Rim
From the Rim

Day two - evening
Volcanic SunsetVolcanic Sunset
Volcanic Sunset

Day two - evening
Volcanic Sunset 2Volcanic Sunset 2
Volcanic Sunset 2

Day two - evening
Capturing SunsetCapturing Sunset
Capturing Sunset

Day two - evening - Kond the Belgian guide taking a shot of the amazing sunset.

Day two - evening
Night HikeNight Hike
Night Hike

Day three - some uncivilised hour
Rinjani SummitRinjani Summit
Rinjani Summit

Day three - 6am
Rinjani SummitRinjani Summit
Rinjani Summit

Day three - 6am

Day three - 6.30am
The DescentThe Descent
The Descent

Day three - 7am
From the mistFrom the mist
From the mist

Day two - evening
The BelgiansThe Belgians
The Belgians

Memory test time! Left to right, Fredrick, Joss, Niko, Mia, Guy, Henny, Mareka, Guy, Kond...

29th October 2005

your pics look incredible!
31st October 2005

Hey Ali! You told me you took some nice pictures of our climb and I just wanted to see if you were right or just showing of. I must say they look amazing, I almost can feel the atmosphere again. Maybe you can contact Mel Gibson about this. I bet he would be excited to produce a movie 'climbing the Rinjani' in this scenery. Make him promise only to play a fifty year old though, just to avoid frustration ;-) I'll try to follow you a bit by reading your website. It's a shame we could not talk some more about your travels. Enjoy and good luck for you, Henny
17th November 2005

Ali, were are you? We haven't heard from you for quite a while now. You must be having a heck of a good time!! We are all patiently waiting for more blogs! Thanks for all the great journals up to now. What a great idea you had starting this site. It's too bad it wasn't around when I was travelling.
19th February 2007

Memories of a great day
I my self have climbed this volcano back in 1992/93 when I was with my parents, we started climbing the volcano around Eight o’clock and reached the summit around dawn in time for breakfast the views where spectacular!!!! And it was definitely something I will never forget, we went up the volcano with an experienced guide/sharper anyway glad to here that your expedition went equally as well although we only had 1/2 days on the volcano. I am now 26 years old/young at the time we summated the volcano I would have been 12/13 years old, the experience is definitely something you just have to experience for your self to believe. Posted on 19th February 2007 at 10:10am GMT local time (England)
31st March 2009

to be witness and conquer! awesome mates.!
22nd October 2009

I just read your story and browsed through the pictures, and i am so happy knowing that i am going to do the excact same trip in july 2010. Thanks for sharing!
1st April 2011
Wet Jungle

pz hola yo les quiero desir q pz tanciquiera pongan donde se encuentra si me sirven estas fotos pero nesesito esa pregunta donde se encuentra la selva huummedda :O sin ofender
7th May 2012

Oh Chrissy, What an achievement, I thought Snowdonnia was a big achievement but 3 days, Hope you got a medal or at least a certificate.

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