venerdì 26 aprile 2013

Lombok-Rinjani: Fighting my Volcano

"Why are you climbing Rinjani?"
"To see the real Bali"
(A guy we met on the way up)

[First Part: Reaching the Summit]

You do not want to wake up at 5.50 am while you are on holiday. Unless you know that your base camp is 9 hour far from your hotel.

We had an energetic breakfast. Banana pancake, banana and pineapple.

At 7, after the last briefing we sit in the pickup, thrilled about our new adventure. I slept for the following hour.

A very last briefing about how not to fall in the crater and we are ready to go.

We had one guide and two porters. Straight from colonialism to the XXI century. We had to carry only our personal things. Everything else, from stoves to camping chairs, was on the porters' shoulders.

Yes, we had chairs.

We left at 1000m above the sea. By the end of the day we were at 2700m above the sea. One long way up.

Now, those who have read "The Freaking Volcano" here on Piovono Runners already know that height scares my ass off.

I love mountaineering, just it would be better if mountains were flat.

So why do you climb volcanos? Someone may ask. Well, first for the fatigue. The work out. The sense of completeness you experience when every little part of your body hurts.

Second, the challenge. We will see who wins the fight, if the scared man or the scaring volcano!

When my friend and I decided to climb Mount Rinjani, we knew what we were going to face. She is not super fit for climbing. As for me, my body is fit. Just the mind does not follow (or lead).

To challenge ourselves, and to see paradise (see pictures below) we agreed to went through hell. Four days, three nights of climbing and camping. At least we had de luxe service. Which means we had chairs.

When we reached the top, the very first day at 6 pm, paradise was there, before our eyes.

Segara Anak Lake, 2000m above the sea, the huge crater of Mount Rinjani.  Astonishing it's view from 2700m above the sea, where we were. You just pass the rim of the volcano and the crater with the lake is there.

We just passed the rim and I started freaking  out. We camped on the rim, our chairs facing the lake. Dinner and quickly to sleep at 8 pm. At 2 am we had to wake up and start the further climbing up to 3726m: the summit.

When the alarm rang I was awake. Smoked two cigarettes to relax. Had breakfast. Started the climbing.

The moon was almost full and enlightened everything: our trail, the summit above, the crater below. 5 minutes of walking and the trail has a hole. I needed to do just one long step to overcome it. Easy for everyone. If it weren't for the 800m jump on the right.

I had to take a quick decision. Seven hours of that mental pain to reach a summit from where I will not be able to see anything? Or I go back to sleep?

Under my request our guide shouted at one of the porters. And the porter came to pick me up.

I was shaking when we reached the tent. But sure about one thing: I quit, I will not move forward. I take a porter and go back to the hotel.

[Second Part: Decisions]

My friend showed up at 4am. She also could not make it. What the guide did not tell us was that 2/3 of the climbing was on the sand. Two steps forward, one step backward.

She had to take a quick decision. Seven hours of that physical pain to reach the summit? Or go back to sleep?

We skipped the sunrise and slept until 8. We had our second breakfast and I explained the guide my decision.

The second day we were supposed to camp by the lake. To go down from 2700 to 2000m above the sea, along the steep wall of the crater. The third day all the way up to the other side. Two days of hiking facing the void. I could not make it. I had to go back.

He understood. But immediately clarified it was my decision, my fault, and I had to pay for that decision.

A car had to pick me and the porter up at Sembalung, and I had to pay the accommodation for the extra days in Senaru. He mentioned some figures. With the bargaining I could get to 50USD.

Should I risk my life going down and up from the crater? Or should I just pay 50USD and sleep in Senaru until my friend comes back?

At 10 am we took the way down to the lake.

Three hours of pain before me. I kept praying "Padre Nostro" (christian prayer from the gospel) and figuring positive thoughts. All the way down.

Half way the enlightening moment. I looked at my right and felt no fear. It's gone, it's over. I can do it, I will not jump in the void this time.

I asked the guide if there was only one trail. Yes, he said. I ran down happy as ever, jumping on rocks and avoiding last second turns.

The lake was just amazing. We fished, read, took a nap. Just relaxed and watched that magnificent view.

The third day, when the sun was already up, we visited the hot spring. Had a quick swim and got ready to climb up.

It was worse than expected. The trail was slippery. Some parts were walls of rock that required basic climbing skills. Easy for everyone, if it weren't for the 600m jump on the back. All the way up had the left side straight to the crater.

My fear was just equal to the patience of my companions. Three hours of that hiking, but I never stopped. I paused, but did not stop.

Passed the rim everything was easy. A steep trail down from 2700m to 1000m. But the first part was in the cloud. And the second part in the forest.

We stopped for the night at the beginning of the forest, at 2000m above the sea.

I could not sleep for the excitement. And when I did, my friend could not sleep for my snorting.

The final day was pure poetry. The sounds of the forest, grey and black monkeys, jungle trees the blocked the view of the mountain.

Half way I asked the guide how long we had to walk for. Two hours, he said. One trail? One trail. See you at the arrival.

Forty minutes of run and the journey was over for me.

Time to wait for the others. Time to think about life and death. Time to take important decisions: should I order a beer now, or wait to be in Sengigi to celebrate?

2 commenti:

  1. Thanks God you're a lawyer and not a writer :P.

    But congrats for your accomplishment :)
    Pictures look amazing :)

    kisses Julia

    1. and of course I am very proud of you guys !