Volcanic mission. But Dad, I cant see Rinjani. Climbing on FAITH.
Rinjani from near the Trailhead, long way.
My map / photo just in case :)
Park ticket / required guide / porter — “The Boys!!”
Yeah, humbling, amazing. Love these guys.
A meal on the budget package
Straight up to the rim (pics from the next day descent)
Camp eve before the rains, and smoking’ out
I don’t sleep well, a little nervous about well, everything. As mentioned in prior posts I’ve been having Gunung (Mt.) Rinjani (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Rinjani) dreams for most of the last 5 months, wondering if I can figure out how to get on it when we’re in Lombok. Given we leave Lombok on the 16th (3 days!), it is now or never. A 2 day mission, by all accounts “Intense” to go for this thing in 2 days.
The fam is posted up w/ the Garner’s at the posh digs of the Novotel while I head for the otherside, deep roughing it I think. As John said, great call to go suffer on some mountain instead of chilling at this resort. Well, I have no regrets, seen plenty of resort buffets and cultural resort joke imports and white people the last few days. That is not why I’m here, ready to balance w/ some adventure. And the Novotel will be that much more cushy to me when I get back!!
Packing the prior night was hilarious, picking amongst my “tropical/backpacker” wardrobe for what to climb a 4,000 meter volcano w/ freezing temps and nuking winds and nutty rainstorms and cloud insanity/etc. . . . no kidding here is the packing list :
a. “hat/headwear” = wild cherries cotton cycling cap + a cotton bungee head wrap
b. gloves = hope guide comes through no gloves
c. socks = pair of bike socks + pair of $1 “flip flop” split toe knee high stockings we bought in cambodia way back
d. on top = 2 cotton t shirts and 1 cotton hooded sweatshirt
e. on bottom = a pair of surf trunks / boardshorts, a pair of polypro briefs, a pair of way thin 2XU compression tights that are 3/4 destroyed, a pair of cotton cargo shorts (bought in thailand)
f. i bring our backpack (one of my ski packs)
g. my 20 oz water bottle
i. mini headlamp we’ve been traveling with super small/not bright
j. a few travel / hotel packets of nescafe instant coffee
k. my cotton sarong
At least the pack is light!! You have to hire a “guide” to climb Rinjani + pay a $15 park fee to get in and supposedly they (your guide) will supply at a bare minimum a tent, sleeping bag, coat/jacket, food and water, legit hand torch (flashlight) or headlamp. However the stories are legend of this not really being the case and of course I’m going budget and solo-ish because I have a tight window and really am paying for a park fee w/ a “guide” attached so I get it. So, I’m nervous about all of it . . . and don’t sleep. Will the alarm go off w/ kooky time zone stuff, will my ride be ready at 5am, will he deposit me w/ a legit guide/guy i think i hired, will we get good or bad weather, whatever.
At 5am I get in the car w/ my transport. Check. Some stress off and I zone out for 2 hours as calls to prayer bray about through full open windows (no AC) but I actually kinda sleep for an hour or two. Driver stops for prayer at 6am, and I glimpse Rinjani for the first time in the early light. Will I be on top in 24 hours for a clear sunrise, the Piece de Resitance a la Rinjani? We are both in the Musholla!! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musholla)
At 7am the road goes destructo and crazy ups and climbing and I rouse up — to a stunning landscape of green volcanic mountains and verdant ‘lowland’ farming and the air is decidedly so cool and fresh and mountainous and . . . dry? . . . It is a whiff of home in the land of tropics and I am grokking being on the east side of the Lallace line now here in Lombok amazing. We whizz by (gasp!!) strawberry farms and I smell also garlic — am I in NorCal / Gilroy area?
We arrive at “the spot” whatever that means it is a cheap guesthouse in Sembalun a small village on the flank-ish of Rinjani and beyond that the Chamonix of Lombok I must say, just jaw dropping volcanoes and peaks all around this valley village.
The standard muddling though of transactions goes down. Driver will stay in cheap guesthouse and be here when I return tomorrow (I hope?). I will leave a change of clothes and random giblets I won’t need on the mountain in a plastic bag stuffed under a chair I hope it will be here when I get back. At the last minute I bring the Kindle as much as anything because I don’t want it stolen . . . critical decision I will come to know.
I think I meet my “guide” but am laughing cuz it looks like a 14 year old boy. He is Iman, he is 19. He is my “guide” His buddy is Tejan, also 19, he is the “porter”. Thereafter known as “the boys”. Combined I am older than these cats.
All good, my Indonesian is about as good as their English, but as I’ve learned w/ climbing and surfing the language of nature is universal so don’t sweat it. I’m about to get what I paid for, which is a challenge and an adventure on Rinjani, no more no less. If it all works out I’ll roll 30 miles and 10,000 elevation gain in the next 24 – 36 hours. [Now, back to metric system for rest of post(s)]
Stoked. We roll at 8:30am, and I have surprisingly good legs and ‘fitness’ for trekking and climbing. I feel bad but just going at my own pace I drop the boys on the 10k gradual rolling across / traversing the flanks kind of approach to “Position 3 / Pos III”. I am there at 11am, 2.5 hours of walking up and down/rolling across the insane lava ravines and gradual climbing, and wait 20 minutes for the boys. Fortunately some of their more senior peeps and have seen what is up as the gap between my strength and theirs is too great. All good. We meld/team up a little with a more senior and luxury outfitter w/ a super cool Thai couple . . . I sort of barnacle onto them.
At Pos III the “traversing/gradual climbing” comes to an end and you go straight up to the crater rim. The madness of “going up” groups having a break/lunch and “coming down” groups is all at an intersection here. And coming down is a sea of knee buckling/suffering shell-shocked white people. Like rubbery and dusted, coming off a battlefield or something. And these are the strong ones!! Making it “back” to Pos III by noon or 1 . . . it really is insane seeing the folks coming down, they are DUSTED!! I am feeling good, curious what 24 hours will bring.
So what do you get on budget game for food? Bananas, boiled eggs, and coconut biscuits (cookies) processed style. Indo oreos. For me.
Whatever, down it, chill and rap w/ the crew of guide and porters and marvel and their “mountain steeze” (no Jetboil– burn some green wood, heat heavy pots/pans, carry “regular” food including full veggies and fruit heaviness?) and watch the madness and talk to blown out white peeps coming back. See other groups where people have chairs fold up style to sit on and hot food and whatever. The guides and porters to a man are so full of stoke, laughing, joking, loving it . . . just like the surf guides and boatmen . . . the spirit of nature and surroundings fill these guys. Why wouldn’t it.
Clouds and rain roll in as the crazy juxto of winds and tropics and altitude change take hold. At 1pm we head out and I climb steeply now on the muddy track, feeling good. Porters are going up with 25kg of supplies for big groups carried on a pole on the shoulder w/ bamboo baskets laden on either side, in hoop trunks and flip flops. They are suffering but going. Each one I pass I watch for 100 steps, where and why and how they step. Many do this stretch every day!! Their calves are insane btw. Like they might weight on average 125 pounds and 50 of that is calve and the rest is wraith. Amazing. I climb in a cloud, a fog, literal and figurative. It is rad, a zone on all fronts. I love climbing. Flowing uphill.
I’m at the rim, a bit further on, in the camping zone, 2 hours later (3pm). A porter from one of the “nice” packages is posted up. I know I’ll have to wait now. But even in the misty conditions the spot is mystical. We smoke and rap a bit and enjoy the 3,000 meter rim spot w/ the crater interior lake/lava/mini volcano insanity going on w/ clouds ripping all over. Bizarre, but I guess his Indo cigarrete is my recovery meal today. Yeah, like I said, we have a smoke. When in ROME.
Dudes w/ my food are fasting for Ramadan. No joke. And they are dusted. I finally go looking find Iman on the ridge 200m back about 45 minutes later I’m yelling his name and asking others and he is seriously just arrived and laid down plastic and passed out in the bushes. All he can say is “fasting” while groaning. I’m sort of half ok w/ his excuse . . . he can eat until 5:30am and then not until 6:30 pm . . . 13 hours is not a big deal (my kids finish eating at 7pm a lot of times and don’t eat again until 8am and that is 13 hours . . . ). But all based on how he usually rolls, which is probably 5 small rice laden meals during those exact 13 hours so he is suffering.
So I tease out more of the “class” system whereby the premium $400/day programs also have the prime camp spots and I am sort of in the janitor closet but the whole thing is rad and these guys and I bond mountain style I am clearly a free agent/freak up here not standard tourist ok — hey I blew doors going up and now sitting in my Indo squat under a tiny tarp w/ a smoldering fire trying to get going and barking guides/porters and smoking cigs and the rain is kicking in and wow here we go what is in store!! I’m just making more friends hoping I can find some rain protection for me/my stuff and maybe a hot meal and a real headlamp and start making deals and throw a few bones here and there to the folks who are more turned on :)
Our tent (for me and the boys) is pitched on horribly slanted spot and the rain fly not staked out and the storm comes in and net is the tent is flooded and my shoes were under a main leak while I squatted w/ porters and guides in the “social” area of my overall camp area so I get back there and am so bummed. I know the whole next day /night summit bid is about having my limited clothes/shoes at least be dry because I don’t have enough to be “warm” and wet will = fail. So I go into focus dry the game zone and re-stake and re-position the tent and teach the boys how and why you do stuff to manage for rain and wet. Yes, I am training the “guide” at this point :)
The storm is on btw and it is getting dark and nuking rain inside this cloud and my “dinner” of more bananas and an offer of “new” cookie bag is getting tough. I trade some of my new relationships for some hot nasi campur (mixed rice dish). I am eating w/ my hands off a plate in an Indo squat under a tarp that is 2 feet off the ground and haze of fire and cig smoke. I am trying to get my shoes dry wow, could dust me. Hey if the weather doesn’t clear we’re all dust anyway.
I end up in a dark and wet tent and lame sleeping bag and hungry BUT with a grinding/not happy stomach at 6pm and not tired and just nowhere to go done w/ the guide/porter huddle and just trying to optimize for dryness of things clothes and camera (iphone) and kindle and yeah, this is where the kindle comes in.
Headlamp, soggy stuff, shivering, and a good book on the Kindle. I KNOW the dudes sleeping under a tarp and w/ a fire at the mouth are WAY more comfy than I am right now and I’m officially a victim of ‘we know what westerner wants you need a tent and sleeping bag, blah, blah’. No, I want to be warm and dry, like you :)
All good, I read into a stupor on hard and wet conditions and pass out w/ stomach rumblings. Iman and Tejan have come in, we are all suffering and frozen and wet. We do that man snuggle thing unspoken amongst frozen mountaineers but again transcending culture/religion/language or whatever. Me and the boys huddle together and pray for warmth and dryness. Like, literally pray. Iman sets up for his prayers Islam style w/ direction and what not and have you ever jacked your tent position around for this it is wild . . . I don’t bogart his prayer set up I’m not Islam but I say my own prayers with him to my family and others . . .
My thoughts focus on Aili, who burst into tears at learning I was going for Rinjani. Because she can’t SEE it — the mountain — from the Novotel — not like when I went for Agung and it dominated the view from Side by Side homestay. I think of being Aili’s age, with my bro at my Grandma and Grandma Nastos place in Seattle while my Mom/Dad are on a ski weekend w/out us . . . and me/my bro missing our parents my Grandma Nastos pointing out to the Cascades and saying look I see Mommy and Daddy tumbling down the mountain can’t you see there they are. And yes, I do see, and I get it, and thank you Grandma :) It worked for reals. And so now Aili’s commentary makes all the sense in the world, and I love the connections across four generations. Ton of inputs, but Aili’s never lost it for me doing a business trip or mountaineering trip before . . . how much is age, how much is current bonds. Come what may, Rinjani. Aili, I’m coming back, all good love. Thank you for keeping me warm and safe tonight.