Climbing Mount Rinjani (on the island of Lombok in Indonesia) in May 2005

by backpackingbongos

In May 2005 I did a 4 day trek to climb Mount Rinjani with Corrina.  A difficult 4 days to ascend the 3,726 metre (12,224 ft) peak, the second highest in Indonesia.

Here is an extract from an email I sent home at the time with some pictures at the end:

On our first day we had to climb from Senaru village situated at only 601 metres to the crater rim at 2641 metres, which by any account is a rather long climb!  We started off going through banana plantations until we entered primary jungle for a hot and sticky ascent under a dense canopy.  Not alot to see except for lots of trees so it was head down for a few hours with short breaks to watch groups of rare black monkeys.  Gradually the jungle gave way to a surreal cloud forest with stunted trees covered in lichens and hanging mosses like old mens beards.  This also gave way to grassland and volcanic rock until we finally reached the cloud shrouded crater rim.

About half an hour before sunset the clouds suddenly parted revealing one of the most stunning vistas we have seen so far on this trip.  On one side there was the sea 2641 metres below us being revealed through a sea of shifting clouds, on the other was a huge volcanic crater.  On one side of the crater was Rinjani itself looking all high and difficult to climb, in the crater itself was a large lake and a baby volcano called Gunung Baru (it is this volcano that erupted only last feb and with a big eruption in 1994).  Altogether not a bad place to pitch a tent and have dinner cooked for us!

That night was absolutely freezing considering that we were so close to the equator.  We were treated to a spectacular display of `Bintang` which is the Indonesian word for star (and also the national beer).  The air was amazingly clear and crisp.  All night you could see flashes of lightening on the horizon coming from the direction of Java.  Bed early for a few hours of shivering!

The next morning us and the crew headed down into the crater itself.  Our crew consisted of a guide and two porters.  The porters were lovely chaps who had to carry massive loads suspended on either end of a bamboo pole whilst wearing flip flops.  Our guide was all of 5 foot and had undergone a humour extraction operation, also as is usual in Asia he took everything very literally.  Absolutely no sense of irony as this conversation demonstrates –

James said “My legs hurt, could I swap them for yours?” – Guide with a shocked and very serious look on his face replied “No”!!  There were many such gems on the trek including trying to explain that we did not want our crust cut off our sarnies, but we will leave them for another time.

The 600 metre descent into the crater was a bit of a killer and Corrina had to face her narrow paths and big drops fear.  These narrow paths were punctuated with several short rock climbs down small cliffs (about a grade 1 scramble for those who know about such things).  She did great and we arrived at the bottom in one piece.  We were treated with a soak in some volcanic hot springs and a nice cooked lunch before a nasty acsent up the other side of the crater.  Luckily by that time the clouds were obscuring the sheer drops!

Our second night was spent at the base camp for Rinjani on a rocky and narrow ridge.  Again it was freezing cold once the sun set, but to bed very early for the big day ahead.

It was only the boy who stumbled out of the tent at 2.30am the next morning all tired and fuddled.  Corrina wrapped up in two sleeping bags enjoyed a nice warm sleep.  At 3.00am James and the guide Mansor started trudging up the steep slopes by torch light to try and reach the summit by dawn.  It was three of the toughest hours of James’ life on that 1100 metre ascent at altitude in the dark.  The last hour was up near vertical ankle deep volcanic scree, where you just kept sliding down with each step – like going up a down escalator.  A string of profanaties going round his head and socks on the hands to keep warm.  Ten minutes after sunrise (bummer missed it by a few mins) the tiny summit of the 3762 metre mountain was reached by a very happy chappy.  The view was staggering – imagine being that high on a mountain in a middle of a fairly small island – the earth is indeed round!  The rising sun cast a shadow of the volcanic cone many miles across the sea to Bali and beyond.  Bloody stunning and very cold  – so a couple of mins later a descent was made.  Good fun running down the volcanic scree!  5 hours after setting off we were back at the tent to see a well rested Corrina and have a cuppa tea!

A quick kip for James and the guide and then there was still a full days trekking downhill to go.  James frequently went all wobbly and could not talk coherently but was pleased to collapse at our final nights camp (Graham and Rae may recall the West Highland way!!).  The last few hours of the trek was through a landscape strangely similar to British moorland whilst we were again surrounded by swirling mist!

Anyway we finished blah blah blah…………………………………………………

Day one

A rest in the jungle


Cloud Forest


Camp above the clouds on the rim of the crater


Day two

On the edge – descending into the crater


We had to descend to the bottom of the crater to ascend the peak opposite


Scrambling up a loose path on the other side


To arive at high level camp site, again above the clouds


Day three

I made the summit after a 2.30am start and a 4 hour slog up volcanic scree.  Corrina stayed in bed!


Summit view, the shadow of the mountain reaches across to Bali hidden in the clouds


My Guide


Descending what I had to ascend in the dark!


Hours later we hit the grasslands


To our final camp


Day four

Continuing through the grasslands


And finishing in the heat of the tropics


6 Comments to “Climbing Mount Rinjani (on the island of Lombok in Indonesia) in May 2005”

  1. A great account of the climb.

    I think I did the trip in reverse, with 2 night stops but still, the detail and the photos took me right back. Indeed a tough trip but the sunrise for me, with Rinjani mapped perfectly over the pyramid of Bali is a sight I’ll never forget! Corrina, you came so close…but that scree was a killer, as was the descent into the crater. The pain does add a sense of achievement though.

    Thanks for bring back those memories :o)

    • Thanks Peter

      It really is a great climb and as you say the sight of the sunrise is something you can’t forget. The whole trip is either steeply up or steeply down!

  2. Sounds like you had a good time. I’ll have to check it out

  3. Hi, I”m Ronie; From Rinjani Trekking Club.
    it nice to meet you hear and hear your story of Climb mount Rinjani, that really fantastic,…
    I was guide and now open my own Travel agent, Rinjani Trekking Club”
    Come and join us on our new story and expedition

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