Two years ago, I hiked Rinjani at the end of the year and faced a very strong wind on a summit attempt. This year, at the peak of the dry season, I predict the wind is gonna be crazier. It turns out that it isn’t crazier. It’s just batshit insane.
Normally, people should get enough rest before a summit attempt –a grueling task that requires almost all of your energy–, so a good night sleep is mandatory. But I find it’s bloody difficult to shut my eyes because of the overdosed caffein intakes before, during, and after trekking. I stay awake all night.
At 3 AM I don’t feel tired at all despite spending the night without sleeping. I feel good, really good. After having a quick breakfast, I start to walk in pitch black with Fauzan and two guys from IMOSA: Huda and Bengbeng, I watch the dance of other hiker’s headlamps in the distance, lining up like a neon-colored snake along the trail to the summit.
Battling the wind
Small “hurricanes” hit Rinjani this morning. As the terrain changes from the treeline to volcanic rock and sand, the brutal wind smashes everyone on the trail with formidable speed without slowing down, I stab my trekking poles deep into the sand to prevent falling.
I stop at the big rock 100 meters before the summit. Catching my breath, cleaning my dusty glasses, and having a Snickers bar. It’s almost frozen solid, but I can chew the whole bar with great struggle. I remember at this exact spot two years ago when I lost the strength to proceed to the summit, two Snicerks bars helped me walk again with full strength. I lost count on how these wonderful little bars helped me in many summit attempts.
10 minutes later I walk toward the peak. With current speed, I can reach it in an hour. As the sun rises, the wind is getting stronger, I watch Fauzan in front of me crawling to avoid the unforgivable wind.
A small corridor with the shape of a half tunnel before the peak amplifies the wind, creates a small nasty whirlwind, forces me to stand still for almost 2 minutes. The wind is howling like a thousand crying banshees, so loud that I don’t hear anything except the wind.
I reach the peak at 7:40 AM, there are only a few people, unlike two years ago where there was at least 20 people, lining up to take selfies. The foul wind at the top making me uncomfortable, since there is no fence or any barrier, one big push from the wind could send me into the abyss. I stay for 10 minutes then heading back to the campsite.
Run Forest, Run
The temperature is 450 Celcius, I take my outer layers off then continue walking while photographing along the trail. At 9:19 AM, there’s a Singaporean couple with two kids walking toward the summit, the younger one is sitting uncomfortably on the father’s kid comfort backpack. They are still halway and I think in this heat, it’s really a bad idea to reach the summit, especially with little kids. The couple struggle real hard and I can see that they’re about to giving up.
At Plawangan, the porters are giving us sandwiches for late breakfast. After that I rest for awhile then immediately packing. At 11 AM I walk in the front with Bengbeng. We’re walking so fast that we’re almost running. If it isn’t because of my heavy leather boots, I’d be faster.
Dust is everywhere covering up all our faces and filling our shoes. I arrive at shelter III in 2 hours, then continue half-running to shelter II in 45 minutes. Bengbeng pulls his mini Trangia then boiling water for coffee and tea break (again), 20 minutes later Fauzan and Huda approaches the shelter. It turns out that Fauzan has a bad case of blister, that’s why he’s lagging behind. We rest for an hour then continue walking. At 3:30 AM we arrive at the village, I buy a big bottle of isotonic water, I’m so thirsty that I’m emptying the bottle in less than half a minute.
One night at Rinjani is a new experience for me, it seems that everything is in a big hurry. I walk to the camp, hit the summit the next day, back to the village and finishes the hike. But hey, I’m being paid by Outlive to do this anyway, so no complain.
Six days after I finished the hike, Mount Barujari –located in the crater lake of Segara Anak, just east of Mount Rinjani– erupted, and the mountain was closed for almost a month. Phew…that was close.
- Sembalun Village (shortcut trail)-Shelter I: ± 1.5 hours
- Shelter I-Shelter II: ± 45 minutes
- Shelter II-Shelter III: ± 30 minutes
- Shelter III-Plawangan Sembalun: ± 3 hours
- Plawangan Sembalun – Rinjani Summit: ± 3-4 hours
- Plawangan Sembalun – Sembalun village: 4.5 hours (3.5 hours if you walk non-stop)