The people of Duri, who live in Enrekang, the place of Latimojong mountain range, give a special name to one of its peaks: “Rantemario”, the highest peak in Sulawesi and one of Indonesia Seven Summits. The name consists of two syllables: Rante means flat ground –The peak is actually a wide open ground–, and Mario means happiness. Peak of happiness, eh? Those who have climbed the mountain know that the struggle is on the farthest opposite of anything resembles a word “happy”.
A good rest on the second post was crucial, because the day after was the ultimate challenge: Trekking to the last post (3262 m) before sunset. We started at 8:00 AM, our faces were gradually changing from “happy-go-lucky-smiley” into “grumpy-cat-look” as we begun to scramble for 39 minutes to the third post due to the fact that the track was almost vertical. My trekking poles had no use and limited my movement. After hours of exhausting walk, we arrived and had lunch at the 5th post at midday. The place was quite spacious and it was an alternative campsite for those who wanted to summit Rantemario at midnight.
The variety of the plantations changes after the 5th post, it’s easy to spot mold-covered trees along the track, making it uniquely beautiful. The 7th post is a valley, most climbers build their tents here, because it’s covered from wind and storm although the water source is quite far from the post. Alternatively, there’s an 8th post, during the rainy season there’s a pond near the camp, making it the most favourable campsite than the 7th post although it’s more vulnerable to the wind and storm because it’s a wide open space with only small trees and shrubs.
I made it to the 8th post at 4:30 PM. That was 8.5 hours for pete’s sake! Three fastest team members with the speed of squirrels had already arrived at the campsite more than one hour before to set up the tents. Light rain begun to fall, some were sneaking into the tent to warm themselves, the rest were preparing dinner.
As night begun to fall, so was the temperature. I had a near-frozen experience as I walked outside in the middle of the night, at 2 degree celcius, to take a leak while holding an umbrella. I wore only my baselayer because I didn’t want to risk wet my down jacket. Then came the wind blew over while I took a piss, turning my balls into a pair of ice spheres inside my pants. Great…
The rain had stopped in the next morning after pouring our tents for more than 9 hours. I slowly opened my eyes at 5 AM then dragged myself outside the tent to have a quick breakfast. ½ hour later I started to walk to the summit. The trail was wide, clear, and relatively flat with a couple of hills. It took only 45 minutes, no wonder our guides insisted on reaching the 8th post/pond yesterday, it was quite an easy hike to the summit from there.
Rantemario Peak was a wide flat ground with a triangulation pillar at the middle, the funny thing was there were some altitude signs with different numbers on the pillar: 3443 m and 3478 m, the correct one of course was the last one. Unlike the mountains I had climbed, in Latimojong, the altitude signposts were more than one, especially on the 1st until the 7th post where plenty of signs were nailed on the trees by different organizations that I think there was a “put-your-signposts-on-the-trees-and-triangulation-pillar-then-decide-which-one-is-the-cutest” competition.
Luckily for us, it was a bright morning with clear blue sky. Even to our guides who had climbed Rantemario like a thousand times, a bright sunny day at the summit was pretty rare.
As I stood at the highest peak in Sulawesi, feeling euphoric while enjoying the beautiful surrounding, there was a little voice in my head whispering: “Dude….it’s just half the journey, don’t forget the grueling trip down.”