A trekking to Mount Rinjani

Porters on their way up Mt Rinjani @ Reinhard Kuchenbäcker
Porters on their way up Mt Rinjani @ Reinhard Kuchenbäcker
4:45 o'clock to get up in the morning. This fits not to the location. Yesterday evening I was relaxing at the pool bar and then sitting in butter-soft sand of Senggigi Beach, with a good Cuban cigar, enjoying the sunset over the sea. But now utterly alone, I sit in the hotel lobby on early morning, waiting for the driver from the Rinjani Trekking Club who pick me up. Everything had been arranged from Germany via Internet and email. Outside it is pitch dark. Will they come? Yes, it works. At 5:30 a taxi arrives. A Russian couple already sitting in the car, with the same goal. She wears a short ruffled mini skirt. Nice legs. Beside his Canon EOS sow my EOS 450 looks like a pocket camera. Regardless, the two I've never seen again. Probably they booked another tour. Arrived at the Rinjani Trekking Club Senaru, there is a welcome and a breakfast. Coffee and banana pancakes, which I will learn to appreciate over the next few days. I am a little surprised when the trip continues after breakfast. Another 1 hour drive to Sembalun. From there we finally start.

On the journey I meet Aril for the first time. He will be my guide for the next three days. Actually a nice guy. But what is this? From the first meter of Aril sets a pace I had not expected. I am training for a marathon and have been walking in the mountains since my 6th year of life. But this pace I will not hold out indefinitely. I'm doing a photo break. The mountain is just so beautiful. After my short break Aril presumably has the desire to get in the lost time by running even faster, I follow behind. Push me up with my walking sticks on each step, as if I want to jump up. Slowly I get warm. And behold, suddenly my guide stopped abruptly. Anyway, I'm not doing slower and pull over. Now he is panting after me. A wonderful feeling. After about 2.5 hours we have a long rest. Lunch break. I've now also got to know Martin, our porter. Martin is an angel. With his slippers on his feet he carries for three days eating and drinking for three people, two dome tents, three sleeping bags and camping mats, cooking utensils and all sorts of accessories up the mountain. Aril and Martin immediately begin to make a small fire to ignite. "Tea or coffee, Sir?" This question is the guiding principle for the next three days. It does not take long and a completely overloaded plate with fried noodles, rice, omelette and rice crackers stands in front of me. This can't polish off a human being. Although I want to be polite, I only manage half. Then there are cookies. Martin probably likes to get rid of some weight in the beginning. Now I have to carry my full belly up bear.

Grocery at Mt Rinjani @ Reinhard Kuchenbaecker
Grocery at Mt Rinjani @ Reinhard Kuchenbaecker
After lunch break the terrain is getting steeper. My speed guide Aril and I have adjusted our pace now and together we are making good progress. Just before the base camp, we go over a relatively wide ridge on approximately 2,600m altitude. We are now amid the clouds, which meanwhile came up around the Rinjani. Then I can see through the fog two Indonesians sitting on a blanket on the floor. Around them are all sorts of drinks cans spread out, a bottle of Bintang beer and cookies. On a handwritten cardboard is written "SALE". This is definitely the highest grocery store in the whole of Indonesia. They are doing here a business out of everything and everyone has to sell something. And these two guys have chosen a very specific niche. Shortly after we arrive in the base camp. And there I also see the highest garbage dump of the whole of Indonesia. What in the lowlands runs this way is not different up here. They just throw their garbage down the slope. However, I have to defense my two companions, Martin and Aril. I've never seen during the three days that something was just thrown away. Quite the contrary, all the empty bottles were carefully collected and taken back. Apparently there is now at least for more professional trekking organizers some insight regarding the protection of their business base.

Base camp at Mt Rinjani @ Reinhard Kuchenbaecker
Base camp at Mt Rinjani @ Reinhard Kuchenbaecker
As we arrive very early in the camp, Aril can choose the best place for the tents. When later that night a strong wind comes up, our speedy ascent was valuable, because we did get hold of one of the few sheltered places. But even before the tents are, Aril again sparked a fire. "Tea or coffee, Sir?". By late afternoon the clouds are back a little so that we can first see the summit of Rinjani and later the crater lake below the camp. My request to cook less for dinner is not answered. The plate bends again. Again I have to leave back half of the meal, expressing my regret and with a lot of praise about the cooking skills of my companions. It is getting cold. I put on everything I have in my rucksack. Three pairs of trousers one over the other. I still feel cold. Aril tells me that he will wake me up by 2 clock in the morning. Once it gets dark I go back to my tent and try to sleep. It remains largely an attempt. Meanwhile I am spoiled. I hate tents and mattresses. Hard bottom, sleeping bag clip, no pillow. Well, it is only for two nights. Aril has not to wake me up, I'm all by myself as soon awake and crawl out of my tent. While I was frozen in the tent, a little movement in my limbs brings warmnes back in by body. I feel much more comfortable outside the tent. "Tea or coffee, Sir?" The fire is already burning, of course. Shortly thereafter I get a "small" breakfast, which again I can not eat all. At 2:30 clock, it starts then, towards the summit of Mount Rinjani.

The climb is harder than I have thought. On the Internet I read about an arduous climb in boulder fields. In the Alps I have often been walking in boulder fields. The ground gives way a little, so it's not easy. But this is not boulder, it's dust. Some volcanic-ash-lava-dust stuff that not only yields a little, but slips the whole move back down. Aril accelerates. My lungs pump. Aril passes all the other groups. I remember a book by Reinhold Messner, in which he wrote that he had in the ascent to some 8000 after each step taking a break. Back then I thought: What nonsense. After each step, a pause. He'll never arrive on the summit. So, now I'm thinking of just this one book and acquire new knowledge. I do two steps, then hang in my crutches and struggling for breath. Regardless, we are in front of all groups. Later on Aril clarified me why he wanted to go ahead of all others. What I had kept in the dark in the light of my headlamp for condensing air, was this lava-dust-volcanic-ash stuff that was kicked up in the air by the many shoes, laying in the air like fog. And in these dust clouds Aril didn't want to walk. Clever guy.

Summit ridge to Mt Rinjani @ Reinhard Kuchenbaecker
dusty path towards Rinjani @ Reinhard Kuchenbaecker
The higher we walk, the colder it gets. On exposed parts of the summit ridge it gets really rough. Slowely I get problems with my hands. Everything there, but no gloves. I try to keep my fingers warm in my pockets. No success. In the light of my headlamp my hands are extremely red. Well, at least not black. I guess the temperature to 0 degrees Celsius. Can one get frostbite there? Then I discover the meaning of this double zippers, such as are commonly found on mountain sports clothing. I've always been puzzled about the meaning. Why you need to be able to open a jacket from the bottom up? Now I know. So one can push his hands under the warm jacket just before they freeze off. And that helps. Wonderfull, this pain in my fingers when blood starts to circulate again.

All the running up has meant that we are too early. The aim was actually to be at the summit for sunrise. Now we are just below it, and it is still pitch dark night. We use a large rock on the summit ridge as a windbreak, and wait there 20 minutes. I drink a little and eat a few biscuits. And that does wonders for the last quarter of an hour to the summit. I am back in top shape. Once the sun comes up, it seems also as if it immediately gets a little warmer. Photo session at the summit. Someone has left a shield on the summit: "Puncak Rinjani 3726 MDPL". Everyone wants to be photographed with this sign. Aril makes three photos of me and cut off my legs each time. OK, he cannot shoot photographs. I'm not one who sits around on summits for a long time, and so we make ourselves soon back on the path to decline. So really there is not much to see. On one side of the sunrise over a closed cloud cover. On the other hand, it is still dark night. The next high mountain is Mount Agung on Bali. But it is about 100km away. So, no stunning mountain scenery. We're on our way back. Now in daylight I can see the dust clouds that every climber drags behind him. Although we were always gone before the others, but I'm still completely covered in dust, including the Canon EOS. I'm a bit worried about the device, but it has coped well with everything. Only had to wipe the lens in front of each photo, as there had always dropped off within a few minutes a considerable layer of dust on the lens. Arrived back at the ase camp, ... na? That's right. "Tea or coffee, Sir?" Martin, our driver was not with us at the summit and has prepared the second breakfast of the day. Then I brush my teeth for the first time since the beginning of the tour. An urgent need. After that I feel much better.

Then we continue the descent, but from the base camp in a different direction, namely the side of the ridge down to the crater lake. There is then a long lunch break scheduled. I use the time and swim a few strokes in the crater lake. The water is warmer than anticipated, so around 20 degrees Celsius. Now I feel clean again correctly. The summit enveloped in clouds now, unfortunately, and is no longer seen the rest of the day. No more summit photos. I'm a bit offside of the actual location to have my peace. Aril followes me with an overloaded plate for dinner. Service is perfect.

Mount Rinjani Summit @ Reinhard Kuchenbaecker
Mt Rinjani summit @ Reinhard Kuchenbaecker
After the extensive meal for lunch is digested a bit, the tour goes on. Now it's on the other side of the crater lake up to the top of the caldera rim. That's about 500 meters ascent. After the success of the summit's done, I'm actually in rather pleasant disposition concerning my walking speed. When I think about Aril I fear worse, when it comes to a very happy encounter. Aril and I meet Marie. Marie is a tall, slim, handsome, 18-year old Danish girl. Aril sets his-self into slow motion mode. His eyes can simply not get solved from Marie's butt. He offers his help at steep passages. At this pace I can relax a little. Once at the top of the crater rim we meet Maries parents, who had been waiting at their tent. From the parents I hear that not all of the Rinjani trekking organizers are professional. The family was with two guides, but the two had for themselfes neither a tent nor a sleeping bag. And at night it is really cold up here. The family is at a loss, as their tour will go on. Aril spontaneously offers his help and says that he will take the two guides of the parents into his tent for the next night. From now on, our group has increased. Shortly thereafter, Aril has the next great idea, and I'm really glad to have learned by now to know this boy. He suggests not to camp at position 3 as planned, but continue to a camp already up. So we not only had a clean camping area without mountains of garbage, but were also on the second night above the clouds and were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset after a wonderful day. After the usual "tea or coffee, Sir?", there was also the first time a normal portion for dinner. Probably now, inventories tend to an end.

The following day is quickly told. There are about 4 hours walking to descent, the path leads further and further into the tropical vegetation of Lombok. It happens several monkeys were swinging from tree to tree, which I previously knew only from television. Finally, we come to the Rinjani Trekking Club in Senaru, where already a car and driver waiting for me to get me back to the hotel again. Our porter Martin I've not seen for 2 hours. Strictly speaking, since I had pressed his well-deserved tip into his hands. The farewell by Aril falls out fairly shortly. A handshake, a thank you, and then I get into the car, back to the butter-soft sandy beach of Senggigi Beach, back to the bar and my Cuban cigars.

See more at my Rinjani Trekking Travel page.

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