Mount Raung – Overcoming the Angry Giant

Each tear is a poet, a teacher and a healer – Rune Lazuli

Mount Raung is a volcanic mount which is famous for volcano trekking. Located in Java Island, Indonesia, one can get to witness an active volcano when hitting this trail. The dimensions of the caldera of Mount Raung ​​alone are 750 m x 2.250 m, or 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) in width, and there are active smokes all round within graying rim – though the rim color can vary depending on the volcanic activity.

Description

The elevation of this volcano is 3,332 meters, which is 10,932 feet above sea level.  It is the tallest volcano in the cluster of volcanoes in its region. The valleys that lie between the volcanoes have fertile, ash-enriched soil that sustains agriculture, though the land available is fairly limited. Mt Raung has centers built along its NE to SW line, where Gunung Gadung and Gunung Suket stratovolcanoes are also present.

Interesting Facts

Indonesia has about 130 volcanoes that are active and Mount Raung is one of them.

The strip where Mount Raung resides is called the “Archipelago” and it is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity as it lies in the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” The Ring of Fire is a series of fault lines that run throughout the Western Hemisphere to Japan and up until Southeast Asia, then around over to North and South America.

It is one of the most active volcanoes on Java Island and the angriest among all its brothers, including the more famous Kawah Ijen. Clearly meant for only the bold and bravest, get yourself ready for goosebumps when you attempt to conquer its peak and hear its roar.

The wide circular peaks found atop the mountain are a sight to behold and many love it for the ethereal and scenic beauty.

The Tropical Rainforest is old, but humans haven’t been able to venture into it – not for the lack of trying though!

History

The earliest recorded eruption of Mount Raung was back in 1586 and there were fatalities. There were a few more eruptions between 1586 and 1817, with about five that were deadly. Back in July 2015, there was an eruption and airports had to shut down flights in the area. Many were asked to vacate from the surrounding areas. Things are back to normal now.

Our Trek Itinerary (by Adventures Unlimited)

9 Feb
Land at Surabaya Airport
10 PM pick up bus ride to Kalibaru, Banyuwangi (10 hours ride)
Reache basecamp I of Raung

10 Feb
Take ojek (motorbike taxi) to pondok Sunarya
start trekking to camp II, ~5-6 hours
Set campsite, rest

feb 11
Trekking from Camp II until Camp VI, ~5-6 hours
Briefing and training on basic mountaineering (good if you know some basic beforehand)
Set campsite, rest

Feb 12
Summit attack, early morning 04.00AM
Camp VI-> Camp IX, Puncak bendera, set up harness & safety equipment
Rappeling to go to Puncak Tusuk Gigi (false rim peak)
Raung Sejati Summit (True Peak)
Descent back to Camp VI
Overnight at campsite

Feb 13
Camp VI back to Basecamp Raung
back to Surabaya

14 Feb 2017
Transfer to airport
​Back to Singapore

Suggested Packing Checklist

When you are hiking Mt. Raung’s trail, water is one of the most important essentials you should stock up. Besides that, the usual toiletries, clothing, basic essentials like sunscreen, bud deterrent, snacks, food, etc. Our packing list for the trip:

1. Backpack 50-60L
2. Day pack of 20-30 litre for summit attack, preferably simple in design.
3. Windbreaker jacket
4. Raincoat
5. 2 set of hiking clothes, preferably long sleeves and pants to prevent scratches and itch
6. Sleeping clothes
7. Warm clothing if you are prone to cold, note that summit day coldness is similar to rinjani. We will be trekking on open ridge, wind left and right
8. Extra Socks
9. Gloves (essential for abseilling up and down)
10. Headlamp and Spare batteries
11. Two liter of water
12. Sleeping Bag and Mat(mat is optional but do bring for comfort, this is 3 nights jungle/volcanic ground camping)
13. Toiletries
14. First aid kits and personal medication
15. Motivational/Extra food
16. Power banks (camping all the way)
17. Hiking poles (optional)

Climbing Season

The ideal months for climbing are May-August. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area during these ideal months, and even locals love Mt. Raung for the unique experience and scenic beauty.

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Pictorial Journey

“Facing Your Giant”

Admittedly, I am no fan of camping. I dislike the idea of being stuck in a tent and going without a bath for days. I prefer teahouse treks in which I can refresh myself at the end of the day and get served with a hot cup of coffee. I like meals served on a plate. This explains my love for trekking in the Himalayas, especially Nepal.

When the invitation to join in the Mount Raung Expedition came, it took me several weeks to make a decision. It didn’t help when the description stated “an angry volcano” in Java awaits the bold and fearless. I can still remember the perilous cliffs of Mount Agung that left me jittery way back in 2015.

That was the last time I trekked in Indonesia.

The thoughts of facing this angry giant, however, also inspires me to confront it. Mount Raung stayed on my mind for weeks, refusing to let go of my thoughts. It reminded me of the Biblical story of David and Goliath. Goliath, who was at least 6 feet 9 inches tall and the largest human that anyone had apparently seen, taunted the Israelite camp for 40 days and nights.

I thought to myself, “What is this mountain that interferes my dreams?”

I decided to sign up for this expedition, defy my fears, and confront the giant, like David did.

16602754_1346822902050237_1709777128999632828_nOur team of 6 arriving at Surabaya International airport. Shibao, the 7th member, would join us later.

The board at Base Camp offers visitors an immediate reality check. There are 14 camps to trek through, starting from our first post at 971m, all the way to the summit at 3324m. I can hear Goliath coming out to taunt me. He knows my past encounter with Mt Agung and my weaknesses. I decide to focus on my previous victories on Stok Kangri – that I am an overcomer. If you focus on the big picture, you lose sight of the small irritants in your life. That’s how Goliath can be victorious.

I will not allow Goliath to be victorious. Not today.

Arriving at basecamp (570m), the local guides and porters got busy with the preparation of logistics and climbing equipment for the next 3d/2n hike.

From Base Camp, we took a 30 mins ride on an ojek (motorcycle) to Post 1. It was a thrilling ride and you can’t help but admire the skills of the drivers as they maneuver through bumpy humps and muddy water puddles.

In the days of the Old Testament, I highly doubt that the Israelites approached Goliath with motorbikes. David confronted Goliath with a sling and was laughed at. We all have tools that we use to confront our giants. Some may laugh at those tools, but in the right hands, anything can provide a victory.

There is a total of 9 camp sites to trek through before the summit attempt. Nine opportunities where there is an opportunity to turn around and let the giant win. I can hear Goliath laughing at us with every opportunity. His laughs are designed to create fear. Little does he know that his laughter drives the team forward with even more ferocity.

It was a typical rainforest hike during the first 2 days of trekking with thorns, spines, and prickles pretty much everywhere. Feeling the prick sensations on my skin dampened the mood for me. I was so exhausted from having trying to maneuver through these irritating obstacles that, at certain times, I became increasingly frustrated with why I signed up. There were also fallen trees that we had to climb under. Good thing is that we did not encounter leeches until the final day during our descent.

Goliath laughed again. This time I am not so sure.

Day 2 – Reaching Camp VII (2200m). The night before the summit attempt, it rained non-stop from evening until dawn. It was so cold (recorded temperature 10 degrees + wind) that everyone was reluctant to even leave their tent. We couldn’t get to sleep for most of that night. As we lay there on the cold, hard mat within the confines of our tents, trying to avoid the wetness of the tent sheet. we could hear Goliath’s laugh grows louder.

I couldn’t find the answers to my questions. Soon it was 4am. We literally had to drag ourselves out of our tents to prepare for the morning climb to the summit.

Image may contain: one or more people, mountain, outdoor and natureI found my answers on the mountain through the challenges presented, such as abseiling myself 50m (not once but twice!) up with ropes and climbing gears. Like David, who was the youngest son, I would be last one to be on such a mountain expedition like this if you had known me from years ago. I didn’t and had not asked for a life like this (seriously!) Maybe the One up there saw what no one else saw. All I need to do now is to take one final stare into the eyes of my giant.

Who is laughing now, Goliath?

I can picture David staring down Goliath. The mixture of fear, faith, and confidence must have had his adrenaline spiked through the roof. It was his moment. Would he trust in the One? Or would he trust in the butterflies that were fluttering in his belly that were telling him to run away?

With great risk comes the potential for a great reward. In staring down my Goliath, the reward is a most impressive view and the knowledge that I was able to conquer this challenge.

I laughed. Not at Goliath, but at my own uncertainty from the days before.

Walking on top of this 300m long ridge requires absolute concentration and focus. One wrong slip could send you stumbling to the unknown depths and spelling certain death! 

Each choice we make defines us in some way. We can choose to face Goliath. We can choose to be conquerors. We can take great risks and come away with great rewards. And, in doing so, God or Fate or Mother Nature may still say, “No.”

“No” does not mean we give up. It means we continue on. To stare down the next Goliath that comes along. To face the next challenge with courage.

Taking down Goliath. After trekking and climbing non-stop for almost 7 hours, we finally made it to the top! The odds were defied and our success were cataloged on the 12 February 2017, 1145hrs.

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoorSummit picture of the team taken at the true highest point of the crater rim, Puncak Sejati. We kept slinging until we hit the target. Well done guys!

a3d40819-2f6e-461b-b860-64052ac8edc2Live Openly and Expansively!


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