Sunday Dec 21 2008, after 20 hours of train trip from Jakarta we finally arrived at Kalibaru station. As we getting down from the train, we were greeted in welcoming manner by one local people, turned out that he was our porter that we’ve contacted beforehand. His name is Musni, a coffee farmer who sometimes using his spare time helping hikers to trek the South Ridge of Mt Raung, our trekking destination at that time.
The highest peak of Mt Raung can be accessed from two different routes, Kalibaru route and Glenmore route. Kalibaru route was firstly opened by the Pataga’s expedition team from Surabaya and Glenmore route was explored by several expedition teams from several different universities, before the route finally “open” from the bottom all the way up to the highest peak. Glenmore route is even longer and harder compare to Kalibaru route.
Considering it’s going to be windstorm and a lot of rain in December, we decided to take Kalibaru route. Compare to now, climbing mount Raung through Kalibaru route still considered as a mountain climbing expedition, due to its difficulty, poor trek condition and no water resources along the trek.
Actually the plan to climb the highest peak of Mount Raung had been initiated for quite a longtime, but due to several reasons, the plan had been delayed for several times, even we almost killed that plan. Just because we heard about one expedition group was successfully scaled the mountain from Glenmore route, then the plan suddenly back on our table. So we gathered all the information about those two routes, maps, climbing journal from the previous teams, footage, and start re-planning our journey.
Based on the topographic map, the distance of Kalibaru route is around 20 km from the base of mountain at Wonorejo village to the highest peak. According to previous climbing journal, the trail mostly dominated by steep terrains and dense rainforest, also no water resources, with average duration 7 to 8 days expedition, from basecamp – highest peak – back to basecamp.
Those fact had prompted us to design a better climbing strategy with better logistic and water management based on the resources we had. So the ultralight climbing equipment, high calorie food, were on our packing list. But after series of discussion with team member, we decided to remove high calorie food from our list, because just like other Asian people, consuming a rice is mandatory for every meal time. So we put rendang and other dish in our packing list instead.
We hit the trail early morning on day 1, with big rucksacks on our back. We carried 58 liters water for 6 days trekking plan, for a group of 5 people, including our porter. At first, the trail took us over agriculture land, coffee plantation then climbed steadily through tropical rainforest. The treks were indeed challenging, a combination of steep terrains and dense rainforest with rattan thorns here and there, also there were two blood suckers, leeches and gnat at some places.
After a lot of hard climb, surprisingly we managed to reach the last campsite – Pos Ereng Ereng Atas- in two days, which was cheered by our porter, normally it takes 4 days to reach last campsite.
On the next morning, all team members were standing at the first peak of Mt Raung and ready for our final push to the highest peak of Mt Raung. We put on our climbing harness together with other climbing gears. Also we brought 2 set of 50m dynamic ropes, several 50 cm length-metal anchors, and hammer as well.
The sky was clear with the fair wind, and the highest peak of Mt Raung was around 3 km from our position. It’s just like vast fragile sand pyramid, rising out of the dense jungle in the Eastern part of East Java Province. So we clipped on our carabiner to the rope and started walking with moving together technique, climbed the fragile rocky path, walked along the thin crater rim with hundred meters of deep crater down there.
Critical moment was happened as we began our scramble ascent through the steep rocky ridge, when the fog suddenly came in and obscured much the landscape around us,. We decided to slow down a bit, lucky us the fog wasn’t last long, as the fog disappear soon we’re surrounded by the magical sea of clouds. I have done plenty of rock scrambles at several peaks in Java, but the one in Mt Raung was some of the most intense and elongated rock scrambling I had ever seen.
After four hours of breathtaking final push, we finally reached the highest peak of Mt Raung 3,332 m (10,923 ft), the palace of crag. We felt tremendous satisfaction at the summit and we’re rewarded by a fantastic panoramic view in all direction, also stunning view of the immense and impressive Mt Raung crater from the highest peak.
The route along the South Ridge of Mt Raung is considered one of the hardest ascents in Java. It is also longer than the normal route, from the Northern part of the mountain, of Sumberwringin. At over 2 kilometres in diameter, Mount Raung has the largest crater in Java.
Climbers trekking through the South Ridge have to traverse a steep rocky ridge, also scale sand and loose rock pyramid. They should be equipped with climbing gears, two set of 50 meters rope, harness, helmet and carabiners. For those with little climbing experience, hiring a professional guide is strongly recommended.
At that time according to our porter we’re the first team who managed to climb up and down in 4 days.
Check out package to Mt Raung at http://climbindonesia.com/mount-raung/