This is a story how of I climbed Mount Rinjani, the only mountain I’ve ever climbed, and probably the only one I ever will.
Sea and beaches? Yes. But mountain? No. I was never interested in it ever since I heard stories from my friends about how they trekked different mountains in Indonesia. I knew it must be exhausting. Climbing for a few days, and spending only a few hours on the peak, just to come back down so soon. The way down probably sucked just as much. Also, the thought of digging a hole and taking a shit was ridiculous to me. That’s what dogs do haha.
It might be refreshing up there, but why not just go to the woods where it’s just as chilly or cold and mystical with fogs and probably ghosts? They said it’s the journey that made it great. Memorable. Of course. How can you forget that time when you shit on the soil for a whole week.
So anyway, four of my friends were planning on going for an 8 day trip. The mountain stuff was only half of it. The rest was camping to Kenawa Island. This meant sea and beaches.
After some thinking, I decided to join them just because I wanted to leave office. Work sucked and I could really use some holiday. Fuck it. There’s always a first time for everything, right?
Day 1 – Bums at Lombok airport
It was already a disaster since Gandhi missed the plane with us. We were already in the airplane when he called and said that the gates were closed. Lol. The next flight was in the morning. So the original plan of arriving at Lombok airport in midnight and driving to the Rinjani trekker’s Sembalun basecamp through the night was compromised. We decided to wait for him at the airport.
We slept in the airport lounge until 3 am when the security tells us to get out. We went outside and slept at the porch of a restaurant. Like homeless people.
Gandhi arrived all smiling and shit.
Day 2 – Stamina gone
We had to find a new driver at the airport that would take us to the trekker’s basecamp. It was roughly 4 hours away. We already had a porter booked and waiting for us.
Porters are the guys that carry heavy things for you, usually food supplies and tents. Some trekkers, usually foreigners, would have their whole bag carried by the porters. Trekking with no weights sounds like fun. They cook too.
We carried our own tents and water. We had to share the load amongst us so that no one is more tired than the other. My 50L bag was 11kg-ish. The porters probably carried 30kg on the wooden plank and only on one shoulder. I tried lifting that thing. Nope. Too heavy.
If you don’t know how to cook good food with camping equipment or would like to travel light, then hire a porter.
We registered at the basecamp. I overheard the rangers talking on the phone about some malaysian trekker breaking his ankle up there and they were going to send a rescue team. Lol. First time trekking for me and hearing that scared the shit out of me.
The pickup truck drove as to the starting point of the trek. Sembalun gate. We started walking. 15 minutes in I started laughing. Then everyone laughed. I guess by laughing alone sends the message. “Why the fuck are we doing this?” Between all 5 of us, Aji and Reza had trekked several mountains and Sammy wasn’t a first timer. Gandhi and I were the climbing virgins.
We arrived in post 1 in 3 hours. I remember Sammy collapsing on the ground with heavy breath and looks of despair in his eyes. Everyone cracked up.
After a 30 minute rest, we kept going to post 2 which took 1.5 hours, and post 3 in another 1 hour. We arrived slightly before dark. We set up tent and our porter, Mang Udin, cooked dinner for us.
It was cold. I was tired. The food was great. I slept like a baby.
Day 3 – Pelawangan
The distance to Pelawangan Sembalun was not very far, but it was steep. It was just as tiring as the first day. We arrived at noon and set up tent immediately as Mang Udin prepared lunch for us. The rest of the day was used for resting because the start of the final trek to the peak is midnight.
Like on the previous camp, I whipped out my guitarlele and started singing as nearby campers looked at us having fun with ourselves. I can see them singing along so it made me happy knowing they enjoyed the songs that I was singing.
We were clearly above the clouds and watching the sunset was such a sight.
Day 4 – Trekking in darkness
We woke up at 11.30 pm. All the other trekkers were getting ready as well as I could see flashlights going on everywhere. We brought nothing with us but water and snacks for the trip. Mang Udin stayed at the tents to look out for our things.
The trek was so fucking exhausting. The wind was extremely cold. Some part of the steep was just small rocks and pebbles. Everytime I put my foot down, it would sink and slide downwards because the rocks would roll down.
Going together as five was not an option because everyone had their own pace. I ended going first because moving slow felt painful on my thighs and calves. But still, I had to stop every few steps to catch my breath.
I walked faster and I was ahead of everyone, but I would stop and wait for the guys just to check that no one is gone. But then again, when I rested a little too long, my body cools down, and the wind felt like ice. So I would always keep walking.
Believe it or not, I ended at the very top of the mountain. It was a little over 5 am and it was still dark. Including me, there were 8-10 people there. Some of them huddled together like a bunch of penguins in the pole.
I knew no one, so I didn’t want to bother asking them if I could join them. Pretty sure that they would say yes to the idea since it’ll make the whole group warmer, but I decided not to sit up there because it was extremely windy. I started walking back down to find some rocks that would shelter me from the wind.
A man stood up and adzan-ed in total darkness. If you don’t know, Adzan is a prayer call for muslims. I was compelled and awed. I don’t think trekkers or any muslim tourists would think of doing it. Who would climb a mountain just to do a prayer call. Then was it one of the porters? I wasn’t sure. I listened to him.
One by one, the guys started arriving. It took 30 minutes until everyone was there. We cuddled. It couldn’t have been any more homo, but it was the only way to keep warm lololol.
Watching sunrise coming out of the horizon was amazing. I could see the edge of the earth.
Pictures are credited to Gandhi and Aji.
to be continued…