Climbing Rinjani in Indonesia

The summit of Rinjani above the clouds with the lake and Mt Baru on the right.

The summit of Rinjani above the clouds with the lake and Mt Baru on the right.

Rinjani is the highest point on the Indonesian island of Lombok and a very popular trek, the summit sits at 3726 m.a.s.l. It sits on the crater rim of a volcano that now holds a lake full of fish. Thanks to a new volcano in the middle of this lake, Mount Baru, that was formed in the 90’s during some eruptions there are hot springs to renew the tired body on a trek to the top.

The view from the camps on day one.

The view from the camps on day one.

Day two you descend into the crater and head to the hot springs for a bath. After lunch you head back up out of the crater directly under Rinjani. Dinner comes early as does bed, as you try to fit in eight hours sleep before you get up at 2 AM to summit in time for sunrise.

Waking up in the freezing cold after night on the hard ground can be tough, but it’s worth being on the trail before everyone else as the climb to the first ridge gets pretty full. By the time you hit the crater rim you are steaming hot from the climb. The next section is one of the nicest sections of the trek. Walking along the narrow ridge with the lake on one side and the lights of the coastal towns 3000 metres down on the other. We were lucky enough to do this on the full moon so had plenty of light to see down into the crater.

The ridge line section between the camp climb and the summit

The ridge line section between the camp climb and the summit

You’ll know when you finish this section for two reasons. One the ground gets very steep all at once, sloping up on loose shale rock. Two your freezing cold again and no amount of climbing is going to warm you up again. This is the hardest but shortest part of the trek and the views from the summit are well worth it. If you time this right you’ll get there in time to see the sunrise, too early you freeze, too late and you miss the show. We ended up shivering on the top for an hour but I did manage to get a few shots of the stars above the clouds.

Before the dawn we watched the lightning in the clouds below the stars

Before the dawn we watched the lightning in the clouds below the stars

The crew celebrating topping out.

The crew celebrating topping out. Our guide Andy in the front.

Pre-dawn shot into a misty crater.

Pre-dawn shot into a misty crater.

After that it’s all downhill to breakfast and then to the pick up point. All in all this was a pretty challenging trek but very doable. Well worth putting on the list of things to do while in Indonesia.

The climb down is a rush, just 'ski' it and dodge the late comers trying to climb in the heat

The climb down is a rush, just ‘ski’ it and dodge the late comers trying to climb in the heat

The dark side. For most trekkers you’re going to be shocked by the state of the mountain, there is rubbish everywhere and no camp toilet infrastructure. With a few hundred trekkers on any given day and hundreds of locals mainly coming to fish the lake it’s no longer a pristine wilderness. Try to bump out any rubbish you bring in and don’t leave it to your porters as you can’t be sure that they will take it to the end. Also be kind to your porters, unlike somewhere such as Machu Picchu there is no regulated pay or conditions. They are humping up to 30 kilo’s up the mountain in thongs! These guys are absolute machines and yes we tipped them. I have tried to see if there is a foundation that is trying to take care of the park or build infrastructure but I couldn’t find anything, if anyone out there has please leave a link in the comments as I would definitely donate some money to help clean up this beautiful place.

A monkey raids a 'bin'

A monkey raids a ‘bin’

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