Hiking Rinjani with “The Elites”

“Dude, watch Frans closely. Do you realize that he rarely drink during the summit attack?”  Those were my words with one of my hiking buddies when we were pushing ourselves to the top of Rinjani mountain, it seemed that Frans’ water bottle hadn’t lost a single drop, he even shared his water to me. I was talking about Xaverius Frans (Frans), one of the first Indonesian seven summiters. The other seven summiter in our team was Sofyan Arief Fiesa (Ian). Frans was a quiet, reserved guy, while Ian was a devil-may-care guy with lots of smile and laugh.

For you little kids who have no idea what the hell seven summiter is, well…it’s a “status” for anyone who have conquered the seven highest peaks in the seven continents: Kilimanjaro, 5895m (Africa); Elbrus, 5642m (Europe); Carstenz Pyramid, 4884m (Oceania); Everest, 8850m (Asia); Denali, 6194m (North America); Aconcagua, 6962m (South America); Vinson Massif, 4897m (Antartica). Seems awesome, isn’t it? Yeah it is, but many have tried, many have failed and died, only few succeeded. Precisely, among 7 billion inhabitants of planet Earth, currently, there are only 230 seven summiters.  Both Frans and Ian are now considered as “the elites”. Well, they are practically the rock star of the climbing world, but for having such  great achievment and status, they are really humble.

Guided by two of the most accomplished climbers in the world was one rare experience. For them, hiking Rinjani was more like a backyard picnic while I had very hard time catching my breath during 9 hours of slow walking to Plawangan Sembalun campsite. In our small talk at the camp, Frans and Ian shared their experience conquering the seven highest peaks in the seven continents (they completed it in 2011). The Indonesian Seven Summit core team consisted of 4 persons and all of them were still in their twenties when they finished the task, that made them among the 18 youngest seven summiters under 30 years old. Frans told me he almost failed to scale Aconcagua known as the Devil’s Peak, because based on the doctor’s examination, he wasn’t fit enough to climb. But the next day he was considered fit to continue the climb, and the rest was history.

One of the most memorable events in the Indonesian Seven Summits expedition was happened at Elbrus. The Indonesian team chose to climb through the north track which was longer, difficult, and needed more complicated approach than the easy south track. The Indonesian decision to scale Elbrus via north track resulted a new route and thus made a history that Elbrus Rescuer honored it by naming the track “Indonesian Route”.

Although there are many mountains in Indonesia, most of them are active volcanoes and below 4000 meters, there is only one mountain in the seven summits category. Although it’s the smallest among 6 other peaks, it’s not easily accessible: Carstenz Pyramid in Papua, the most conflicted region in Indonesia. So, when four guys from a hot tropical country with only one snow-covered mountain, conquered the highest peaks in the seven continents, A.K.A. seven summits, you have to admit, they are special, they are outliers.



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