It has been a while I am thinking about climbing one of the most famous volcanoes in Asia. I mean “the VOLCANO”, the one that everyone is talking about when traveling in Indonesia. Forget about Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia or even Pinatubo Volcano in the Philippines, Mount Rinjani is probably the hardest in Asia. Reaching almost 4000 meters GurungRinjani is Indonesia’s 2nd-tallest volcano. To the Balinese, It belongs to one of the three sacred mountains along with GurungAgung in Bali and Bromo in Java.
After my 3-month trip in South-East Asia, I decided to end up my vacation with the best challenge I have ever done. Fellow travelers I met during my journey warned me it was a tough experience, and I was still far away from the truth…
First of all, booking my trek thru a good hiking agency was essential. I would say it’s mandatory. Tons of operators are pretending to be the best ones but only a few can bring you up to the top without any troubles. Don’t be stingy when talking about security. Climbing a mountain is not a game or something you can do easily. That’s why getting a quality guide for your Rinjani Trekking is, once again, essential.
After checking several websites and travel agencies, eOasia helped me found the best deal. The team – super professional by the way –gave me all the details in order to complete my preparation: trail map, what equipment I have to bring over as well as the stuff I have to put in my backpack for my 3-day trek.
The Rinjani Trek can be done in 2,3,4 or 5 days. I would say that 2 days are too rush and too intense, plus you might not be able to reach the summit.
3 Days / 2 nights is the best deal to enjoy the full experience, but it can be extended over 4 & 5 days for those who love being in the mountain 🙂
Ascent to the basecamp: 2700 meters
As the Rinjani is a bit far away from everything you need to wake up at 5 AM. Make sure to book a lovely place in Senggigi the day before in order to sleep well. Rest is very important before climbing a mountain. No need to say that smoking or drinking are obviously prohibited. It’s up to you but I am pretty sure you’ll understand what I say when you reach the rim of Rinjani:-)
Once arrived in SembalumLawang village my guide, who has been trekking the Mount Rinjani for over 20 years, gave me all the details with regards to the trek for the upcoming days. (See map below)
Briefing is over, let’s start hiking 🙂
The first part of the trek is not a big deal. Just keep walking at the right pace and you’ll reach the POS 1 in 1 hour. Climbing the POS 2 is a bit more difficult due to the altitude – 1500 meters -however you don’t have to use your poles yet. After a short break in POS 2, you will start ascending to POS 3. Oxygen becomes rare but keep in mind that a good lunch is waiting for you there!
What is really insane is that your Rinjani porters are climbing twice faster than you. I can’t believe those guys are just wearing flip flops and carrying 40 kilograms of kitchenware on their shoulders without taking account all the equipment related to the tent, mattress, etc they need to bring over to the top.
After the lunch break, you get to the heart of the matter. The ground is a bit unstable due to the “rocks” made of ashes. Which means that most of the time you’ll slip away from the trail. Just keep going as you need to reach the Sembalum Crater before 4 PM. Sunset under the tropics is quite early in the afternoon and temperature decrease quickly below 10 C.
It becomes really tough and some trekkers slow down their pace due to lack of oxygen. By the way, make sure to use a surgical mask to prevent yourself from ashes you might breath during the ascent.
Once you reach the crater rim at 2700 meters you realize that you walked almost 11 kilometers in one day. I was tired but satisfied to finally be there. While other hiking agencies are still setting up tents and bivouacs, yours is already done thanks to the porters. They offer tea/coffee and fruits/biscuits. They even ask you what you want to eat for dinner. It’s just like a 5-star mountain restaurant. That is the big difference between pros and amateurs. Having a hassle-free experience. Just climbing and reaching the top with all the comfort that you might need during the ascent.
Tip: make sure to stretch your legs before sleeping in order to avoid stiffness.
Clouds previously located in the valley are now stacking up each other in the crater while the sun goes down. Awesome.Rinjani looks close to me, but actually I am just 1000 meters away from it.
I have to sleep early in the evening as the climb start up at 1:30 AM tomorrow morning.
As previously mentioned rest in essential. You cannot reach the top without having a good night. To be honest with you, it was a bit difficult as I was very excited. Mount Rinjani is my very first ascent. I have never been so high.
1:30AM my phone rings the bell. It’s time to wake me up and get prepared for the ascent. My guide told me yesterday we might expect good weather conditions, but it might be a windy. He was right. It’s freezing and windy outside, probably 8-10 C. I put my stuff on, t-shirt long sleeves, pullover with hoodie and my holy wind stopper 😉
3 hours are needed to reach the top if you are a healthy guy. I have been running for a while, but I have never being doing this. So I am a bit nervous.
Everyone is lighting up their headlamps. A few steps after the slope becomes steep. The ground is now sandy, made of ashes! One step forwards, two steps backward.The ascent is very tough. I need to use my poles to remain steady. The wind lifts up some dust. I have to put my surgical mask on to move forward.
The lack of oxygen makes me feel very weak. I have the sensation to be sick, like when you got a flu. I breath fast and fitful.
Why did I decide to join this expedition? It’s exhausting.I have to stop once, twice, three times. I don’t see anything, just some headlamps that are in my back. They look like dragonflies chasing me in the night. My guide is also exhausted. I lost him 1/2 hour ago. I’m now alone facing my own destiny. I’m thinking about my life, my friends, my mom. I start crying because I remember all the bad moments I had last year. The slope is now 45 degrees. Then I decide to make another break behind some rocks to protect me against the wind that becomes stronger and stronger. F***!! I’m thinking seriously to give up and go back to the basecamp.
Suddenly I see a Sherpa next to me. He tells me that the peak is 2-minute walk away from us. I don’t trust him but after a few minutes I realize that I cannot fail. The top is so close to me… I get up once again and decide to put all my physical resources in my legs to reach it. I’m just like a robot, putting each one in the front of me, step by step. My muscles are so hard. I am crying, but I don’t want to give up. I don’t want to disappoint.
I approaching the peak. It is just 10 meters away, 5 meters, 2 meters…WOW! I made it!!
I’m one of the first guys. The sun rises over the Rinjani Volcano in a few minutes and I discover all the surrounding islands from the east part of Indonesia. I’m speechless.
I’m crying tears of happiness. What a great feeling. I will never forget this mood. Being over the canopy of Indonesia. Being proud of yourself. What I have to achieve to reach the peak. The fears and tears I had to fight to keep climbing. It’s freezing -10 c but I don’t care. I want to get and raise over my head the famous plate to formalize my ascent to 3726 meters. It’s so good.
Climbing the Mount Rinjani was a great experience. Probably the best experience of my life. It was tough, dusty, and challenging, but I have no regrets. It was once again awesome. On top of that, booking the Rinjani expedition thru eOasia was a MUST. I didn’t have any problems while others were stuck again into guide issues at the basecamp. It worth it sometimes to pay a bit more to have the safest experience. You probably will not do this anymore to get the best!
Hope this article will inspire you & Please, do share your experience, if you have been through this trek 🙂