When I first thought about climbing to the summit of Rinjani, I had my doubts. This was no ordinary hike, and I knew it would be much more difficult than anything I had attempted before. Gunung Rinjani sits at an elevation of 3,726 masl, and is the second highest mountain in Indonesia! Mount Rinjani was a big step up from climbing Mount Batur, where we were able to reach the summit in just under two hours.
This is the second post in a two part series about climbing Mount Rinjani. You can read about the first post here.
I left for the hike from Gili Trawangan, an island off of the coast of Lombok, which is notoriously well known for it’s party scene. Needless to say, I didn’t have the greatest night’s sleep before catching the 7 am ferry to the island of Lombok, where Rinjani is situated.
I was also a bit unsure about attempting the climb with a bunch of complete strangers. I had no idea who I would be climbing with, as the tour agency randomly matches you up with others looking to do the hike in order to save money. I met one Swedish guy on the ferry and it was nice to have someone to share a mutual feeling of “I have no idea of what I’ve just gotten myself into”. The next few hours were filled with a general feeling of confusion and a crazy van ride to a cafe close to the start of the trek in Senaru, where we had a light but delicious last breakfast of banana pancakes.
We started the hike close to 10 am at a fairly decent pace. I had left my big backpack at the cafe in Senaru, and now had only my small 15 L backpack to carry, which I was grateful for. There was decent tree coverage, perfect for blocking out the sun’s rays, although the humidity meant that I was still already dripping in sweat from head to toe.
At our first rest stop, about 30 minutes in, we arrived at what appeared to be the “official” start of the trek.
The first portion of the hike included myself, the Swedish guy, and our guide, Morsan. We were still a bit confused as to where the rest of our group was, as we were supposed to be about 6 people in total, but then learned that we would be meeting up with them for lunch.
Our first lunch was incredible, as I had been mentally been preparing myself for nothing but rice and white bread. Instead, we feasted on vegetable noodle soup with hard boiled egg. The monkeys were jealous.
Monkeys here are known to be borderline aggressive. Don’t make eye contact. When this one got a bit too close, I picked up a stick and it scurried off. I’m guessing this wasn’t his first experience with sticks. Can you tell I don’t like monkeys?
The first day was one of the longest and hardest days of the hike, but because of the number of rest stops as well as the fact that everyone in our group was still relatively cheerful, it sped by pretty quickly. We arrived at our campsite at around 4:30 in the afternoon, on the crater rim.
We all tuckered out pretty quickly after finishing our dinner, anxious and eager for what awaited us the next day.
This was the view we woke up to.
I don’t know what it is, but something about waking up on the crater rim of a volcano really sets you off on the right foot for the rest of the day.
The second day was supposed to be our “easy day”, but because we had to walk down to the lake from the crater rim, losing a lot of the elevation gained the previous day, and then walk back up again, it didn’t feel quite so easy.
Luckily we had the hot springs and lake to make up for it.
After a relaxing few hours spent jumping in and out the of pools, we set off again at around 1 pm for the last final push up to the crater rim.
We arrived at our last campsite at about 3 pm in the afternoon. The last part of the hike was the most technical, requiring the use of all feet and hands.
The fog and clouds set in shortly after arriving at the campsite, and for the first time the rain came pouring down. We were lucky enough that our porters had already set up our tent when this happened.
And did I mention it was cold? We were shivering, sweaty and wet, but happy to have a hot cup of tea the night before climbing the summit.
Remember how I said I would be setting off with a bunch of strangers? Well, these strangers turned out to be an amazing group of people to hike with. One of the nicest things about traveling solo is that you always end up meeting the nicest and most incredible people that you would never have met otherwise.
We went to sleep (or tried to) at around 8 pm, for a last bit of rest before the final big push to the summit the following morning.
We left at three in the morning after eating a few crackers and drinking a hot cup of tea. I felt like a zombie for most of the way up, thinking of little else than “One two, one two” as I slowly made my way up the ridge. It was a solid three hours of hiking with about 1,000 m elevation gain, but since much of the trail was of loose gravel, your feet seemed to slide back with each step up. I passed so many people sitting down and resting, but every time I stopped, it got so cold that it was hard to get started again. Instead, I decided to keep going at a barely crawling pace rather than stopping for breaks. It worked, and I finally made it to the summit at about 5:30 in the morning, half an hour before the sunrise.
When we arrived back at our campsite at around 9, a hearty breakfast of pancakes awaited us. I was starving, having ate little more than the crackers at 3 in the morning and some chocolate that I had saved for the summit. Note to self: one chocolate bar is never enough!
The clouds from the night before had all cleared up and now we could finally appreciate the beautiful view from our campsite. it was spectacular.
We were all dreading the climb back down, but it turned out to be much less worse than I had expected. Since we took a different route back down (going towards Sembalu), it was much less technical and more of a gradual slope downwards. We finally arrived in Sembalu at around 3 pm, 12 hours after we had set off that morning.
Rinjani turned out to be one of the most amazing trips I have done in my lifetime, and I am so glad I did it. Although I felt hesitant and unsure of my physical abilities before attempting the summit, it taught me that the mind is the most limiting factor in so much of what we do, and if we have the right mindset, we can achieve so much more than we ever thought possible. Now what’s next?
What’s the craziest or most challenging hike you’ve ever done?
You might also like: