Climbing Mt. Rinjani at 2 A.M

Have you ever hiked up a 3726M active volcano at 2:00 in the morning in total darkness, with nothing but your backpack and a flash light? In Lombok?

Is this just me?


Before I get started on wildly raving about Mt. Rinjani, let me be helpful and offer some advice for anyone looking to do it:

What to Bring:
– The warmest clothes you’ve brought onto a tropical island
– GLOVES (find some or use two pairs of socks on your hands)
– Sunscreen
– One outfit, one bathing suit, one clean shirt
– Picture taking device
– A whole lotta spirit
-x1 Butang beer (or a flask of something stronger…)

Immediately after stepping foot on Gili Trawagan Island I realized it wasn’t the place for me. It’s a great place for drinking and lazing on the beach, but because I’m crazy, I told my friends: “Cya, I’m going to hike up this mountain! Be right back.” It’s easy to find a tourist centre anywhere that will book you the transportation from wherever you are to Lombok – don’t pay more than 1.2 million IDP (120$ CAN) for 3 days & 2 nights. Turns out hiking up Mt. Rinjani is an ordeal. When I say ordeal, what I mean is: it takes _DSC04173 days and 2 nights to hike. Although I set out on my own, I was lucky enough to be grouped with 6 amazing people, out of which only two (myself included) could claim bragging rights for making it to the summit. We exchanged facebook and phrases- I got “milky street” out of the Germans, trying to point out the Milky Way Galaxy, and “polkadolka” out of a Dutch girl who was trying to explain a word that describes the act of two cigarettes ‘having sex’ (lighting one butt from another.)

Here’s the low-down on this beast, which I later learned is the 2nd tallest volcano in all of Indonesia.
Height: 3726 M
Day 1: 8 hours to the crater, arrive for sunset.
Day 2: 7am wakeup, 5 hours to hotsprings, 3 hours to base camp.
Day 3: 2am wakeup, ~2.5 hours to summit, 6 hours to trailhead, home free! 

It’s really no wonder locals consider mountains to be holy (every step brings you closer to God); one Balinese in Petulu told me that _DSC0415mountains are the Ying of the universe while the sea is the Yang. After this view, I believe them.

The day after you arrive at Segara Arak, the large crater halfway through the hike, (and after peeking out of your tent and thinking ‘jesus, I’m still out here’,) you’ll head out and down, down, down where a lake and natural hot springs await. Because the adrenaline from hiking wasn’t enough, me and Sean, a new British friend, casually took a few leaps off of a waterfall for good measure (bring your bathing suit!)

_DSC0445¬†After the break it’s back to business – we continued hiking for 5 hours up to base camp, which was already far above the clouds and on par with any air plane view. Chats, dinner, and straight to bed at 7pm for an early rise the next morning.

Our guide, Dari, had been a porter for 6 years before becoming a guide for 4. He hikes up this intimidating gargantuan at least once a week, sometimes 10 days at a time… And so without breaking a sweat, he woke us up at 1:45 precisely on August 20th to commence the most demanding 2 hour climb I’ve ever endured. Every step forward took you sliding five steps back through dirt and sand. At points you had to grip a handrail and hold on for dear life, the path was nearly vertical. All we saw for a solid 2 hours were the gleaming stars above, the glimmer of the international airport to the right (at this point we were so far above the clouds we could see EVERY part of Lombok), and the headlamps of hundreds of other absolutely insane hikers (how else can you describe travellers who opted out of a beach for a 3 day trek at 2 am?) Reaching the top felt like reaching Nirvana until the freezing cold came to slap us in the face, so after watching the sunrise we promptly ran down the mountain. Only then did the light reveal all of the engulfing crevasses within the narrow pathway that we somehow managed to miss in the obscurity on our hike up._DSC0438




All in all, Mt. Rinjani was another perfect example of my life moto: if you want something beautiful, you have to work your ass off for it. I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the strength of the porters and guides who suffer through this on a weekly basis carrying upwards of 70lbs on their backs (using baskets and sticks), in flip flops (no word of a lie), while living off of a diet of white rice and fresh curry… they prove that anything is possible.


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