Travel Journal: The Race to Mt. Rinjani

Our friend Richy Whillas of WG Trunk Co shares his latest adventure with us:

Such as it often is with WG Trunk Co adventures, our decision to trek to the summit of Lombok’s Mt. Rinjani – the second highest volcano in Indonesia – was a spur of the moment. We began our trek at the registration centre at 1500ft, taking a narrow path to a gentle, rolling savannah with views of the volcano and the summit we would be on top of at 6am the next morning. The incline steadily increased and the reality of the trek became obvious– it was only going to get tougher. 


One of the things that kept my mind off the intense walk up was one of the the most mind blowing things I have witnessed – watching the porters. Lugging up to 60kgs, these thin, wiry locals not only beat us to the camp site, they did it in flip flops whilst chain smoking in the rain. 

Pushing past the pain, we made it to the crater rim before sunset and it was magical, almost surreal. We felt like we were above the clouds. The camp site was a welcome respite. We put in a good effort that first day but reaching the summit would be something else entirely.

 

We woke up at 2:15 AM to a tin cup of strong thick java coffee and a banana pancake. It was pitch black except for the spotlight from my headlamp and the others in front of us. The next few hours were up there with the some of the toughest I have experienced to date. 

There were three distinct sections of the trek, each more challenging than the last and would cover the remaining 1,800 meters to the peak. The first section was like a treadmill of quicksand, each step felt like you sunk in before you could make the next. The ground was mercifully solid in the second section but the climb was steep and long. 

It was the final section however, that really tested my limits. I found myself marching on loose shale with total darkness on my left and right, following only the light beaming from my headlamp as we raced the sunrise to the summit. The 60-degree incline was a frustratingly slow two steps forward, one and a half back. It was tiresome but we were relentless. At the summit – 3,726 meters above sea level – it was euphoric, a combination of visual bliss, satisfaction of achievement and deep physical pain.


The next few days after the summit were a walk in the park, comparatively. We hiked down into the crater and bathed in hot springs that ranged from 25 to 70 degrees. We traversed around the multi-hued lake as we gazed at the small active volcano inside it.

 

Our final reward for having finished the trek to Mt. Rinjani was witnessing one of the most breathtaking sunsets from our campsite on the last night. The perfect vantage point above the clouds, it felt as though our camp floated near the stratosphere and when the sun went down we sat around a makeshift campfire, laughing and reflecting over our adventure. 


I’d never really understood or appreciated the reason for epic treks, but after climbing Mt. Rinjani, I had a better perspective. It wasn’t about speed but endurance, of the mind and body, the pain of climb immediately supplanted by the view from the top. The world is captivating,my goal is to see as much of it as I can.

-RW