Its tough at the top

Trip Start Apr 16, 2008
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Trip End Apr 15, 2009


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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

After 4 days of rigorous training on the beaches and bars of Gili Trawangan we felt ready finally for tackling the highest mountain in Indonesia. So we left the comfort and tranquility of the Gili islands and took a boat back to mainland Lombok where we met our contact. He loaded us into a van with the bags on top and we headed across the north of the island towards Senaru.
Once we were settled into our base camp at Senaru we were given a briefing by none other than Mr. T. His real name was something a bit more difficult (which I have forgotten) and so he told us to call him that. He told us about the route which we would be doing (which had be changed from the standard route - more later), what to bring and what food we would get. Once all the questions we out of the way it was time for bed as we would be rising early the next day.
After a short hop in two very crowded jeeps, we started our trek just up the road from Senaru at a point which is usually the end. Mr T had made the change because at that end there is tree cover most of the climb to the top and he didnīt want to subject his guides and porters to climb 2000m in one day in the sun during Ramadan. The Ramadan fast is from sunrise to sunset and even rules-out drinking water - I donīt know how they did it.
After a tough climb of 2000m and a burst of rain we arrived at our first days camp near the rim. We chilled out (both in terms of activity and temperature) while the porters prepared dinner and also set up our tents. I ended up wearing everything I was carrying and still felt cold but it was all worth it when we saw the sunset. For 45 mins we were treated to an amazing show of the sun from above the cloud level. Absolutely unforgettable!
The morning of day 2 was a bit easier as we had only to climb 100m or so to the rim. We were then treated to our first view of the summit and the task ahead of us. After just enjoying the view for a while we headed off down the inside of the crater to the lake 600m below. A bit tricky but not too tiring. Once at the bottom it was time for a quick, cold swim in the lake before getting some natural spa treatment at the nearby thermal waterfall. Bliss for a long showerer like me. Unfortunately after lunch there was the unfortunate matter of a 700m climb to our second camp. The refreshed feeling after the thermal shower disappeared fast and the group strung right out like the field in a tough alpine mountain stage of the Tour de France. But everyone made it to camp two and after some more fried rice (you gotta love it here in Indo) and another great sunset it was time to settle down for a few hours kip before our 3am start on day 3.
Getting up at 3am is not so hard when you are awake from the cold anyway. We huddled around the fire for an early breakfast and then set off towards the Summit still another 1000m above us. From the start the going was tough as we hiked up steeply on loose sand or gravel and once again the group strung out along the ridge to the summit. Dawn broke while I was about 30 minutes below the top. I stood there by myself (panting with the effort) and watched and the sun illuminate a huge panorama across the island and cast an enormous shadow. After some more considerable effort I and a few other reached the peak and boy was it worth it. I really felt top of the world. It was honestly one of he toughest things I have done physically and the relief of making it coupled with the amazing view almost brought a tear to my eye...not. We could only hang out at the top for 20 minutes or so due to the cold (the socks I wore on my hands only did so much) and so we headed back down.
In the end all but three of our group made it to the top so there was a good spirit back at camp while we packed up and took some final photos. Then, unfortunately for my blistered feet and my weary knees we had to start our 5 hour decent down to the bottom at Sembalun Lewang.
Overall I had some amazing moments, finished my biggest climb ever and made some new friends along the way. 
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