Arjuno – Welirang
By Luki Tjahjadi
It was never in my plan this year to hike to Arjuno (3,339 m) and Welirang (3,166 m). The plan was to climb Argopuro or Semeru with other CopiPanas hikers, initiated by Handjono, AKA ‘Beh Han’, — one of CopiPanas most experience member –, on Mid Dec 2010. Having to know the growing list of interested folks to the trip, I got a Garuda return air ticket to Surabaya based on the schedule set by Beh Han.
Time went by, than one afternoon I received text message from Beh Han that he is going to Arjuno and Welirang and he asked me if I could to join the trip, there were hundreds of good stuff about Arjuno and Welirang he tried to explained, but my answer was a big no.
I continued to give no answer whenever Beh Han tried to persuade me, until he forwarded me a news that Argopuro was closed due to bad weather until further notice. Well, February is not a good timing to hike to any mountain in Indonesia, because we could not predict are we going to have a dry and fun trip or soaking wet and chilled one.
Anyway with the air ticket on hand, constant temptation, provocation from Beh Han, but mainly because I tried to be logical that Argopuro is officially closed, I decided to hold my wish for Argopuro and swing the plan to Arjuno and Welirang.
By the way, if you don’t know where Mount Arjuno and Welirang , they are located on North West of the city of Malang at East Java- Indonesia.
Until d-1, members of the trip were, myself, Beh Han, Imam, Mita and Sandra Friedel. Imam is the youngest member. We worked at the same company as my self and Beh Han. What I like from Imam based on my previous hiking trip with him and this is repeated on this trip, that he was never complain, cheerful, he easily blend with others and he likes any kind of food.
Mita is an architect who is also a lecturer at one of private University in Jakarta who happens to be Beh Han’s class mate in university. Mita also a member of Wanadri, the oldest organization engage in outdoor activity in Indonesia, and Sandra Friedel, who works at one of the giant chemical company in Singapore office
Day 1 (Feb 1st 2011)
For the trip to mount Arjuno and Welirang near the city of Malang, East Java, we took airplane from Jakarta to Surabaya. We were not in the same flight except for Sandra and Beh Han. Mita came to Surabaya one day earlier, followed by Imam who took the morning flight, and my self on the 2 pm flight, then Beh Han and Sandra on the last flight at 8 pm from Jakarta. It tooks about 1 hours and 15 minutes flight from Jakarta to Surabaya.
My flight was 15 minutes late, but it didn’t bother me it since there is nothing to hurry. I was more interested on the weather, luckily it was clear sky, so during checking in, I specifically requested for window seat, away from the wing, on the starbord side. The girl at the check-in desk told me that there is one seat at row 24 available. Perfect ! This is for one reason : photography. I was hopping that, that was the perfect position –after the pilot and co-pilot seat off course — to watch rows of beautiful mountains on Java Island.
Boarding time ! I set my camera until I realized that that was going to a boring flight. I cursed my self for not checking the seat number I got. It was 24 A, meaning I sat on the port side/left side, so I will expect half of the trip I will see blue sea from my window. I burried my plan to take pictures of beautiful Java mountains that are marching all the way from west to east, instead, I just pluged-in the head set and started to watch Indonesian’s comedy movie of ‘Bebek-Belur’ from the in-flight screen.
I landed on Juanda airport of Surabaya on 2.30 pm. From there I took a Damri bus that cost me 15,000 rupiah to Bungurasih bus terminal to meet Imam, who was given very important mission to buy some logistics to the nearby supermarket. Thanks to Beh Han who had prepared meticulous list of stuff to purchase. My self and Imam, spent the time to bought additional stuff needed.
In the evening, I got an SMS from Mita, checking the position of my self and Imam, as Mita was coming with a rented van. We have never meet Mita before, so we were waiting anxiously at the lobby of the supermarket with mountain of stuffs. It was not long until Mita showed up in a silver 7 seaters-Korean van. Mita looks a lot younger than her age. I was very impressed with her spirit on the outdoor activities. She has a lot of experience in hiking of many mountains inside or outside the country, including Himalaya.
After small introduction, we rushed to Juanda airport to pick up Beh Han and Sandra. This was also my first time to meet Sandra. She is Germany who loves travelling and outdoor activities, She is very smart woman who got Phd and good position in an international company at young age.
Finally, we all rounded up at the air port, but we could not immediately leave the airport since the van had a starter problem, so all the boys in the team pushed the van to get the engine running with ‘muscle starter’. We left the airport at around 10.30 pm heading to Santoso hotel in Junggo, a village at Batu resort area in Malang.
All of us were sleeping all the way to Junggo. We arrived at the hotel very late, it was 2 am on Saturday. We quickly unloaded our stuffs from the van, checked-in, set the alarm clock and slept.
Day 2 (Feb 12nd 2011)
We woke up at down (that was the quickest time slipping in on hotel’s bed on my whole live). I started to familiar my self to the hotel room. It was an art-deco old villa, probably built in 1950-ish, all furniture in the hotel probably were the same one since the hotel was built, it was strong, big and rounded-shape-wooden furniture.
When I opened the room’s window, a brand new – two story- minimalist hotel showed up next to Santoso hotel. As the sun rises, green valleys slowly appear from a distance, covered by slight fog. I can assure you that this might the view that 99% people in Jakarta would like to have it from their bedroom window.
I packed, and repacked, and repacked ( this is not a typo, repacked was typed twice, because this is exactly what I did, I realized that I am having this kind of ‘repack syndrome’ just to make sure that I put all the stuff on the correct order and position and nothing left behind. Talking about the volume of logistic — or more precisely — the food that we were bringing, every body was scratching their head when we realized what we have bought. We were planning for 3 days and 2 night trip for 9 people. The food, especially bread that we bought, perhaps enough for three times longer. But like the old saying, ‘better more than less’, we decided to bring everything.
Our guide leader, Sam met us at the hotel. Sam speaks simple English quite well. At 7.30 am, we departed from the hotel with ‘an angkot’, it is a small 5 seater van that was converted to take 10 passengers. It took about 30 minutes to reach Pertanian Gimbo or Pura as the starting point. It is a farming area.
On the way to Pura, we picked up our porters, I was told that we are hiring 4 porters including Sam for our trip, but we had 2 more come into the van, the later were a young man and a mid age man with big mustache and black Mexican-like hat carrying a long air riffle. I tough there were hunters that asked for a ride in our van, but finally I realized that they were part of our porters.
The first one hour from Pura was a 45 degree ascends of bushes and trees with dense canopy, than the sun was coming out as the tree started to lessen. The tree formation started to change to pine tree, and the track was less steep.
Beh Han and Sandra took the lead, than followed poor porters who carried most of our load , Mita, Imam and me. There are about 200 meters of flat but narrow path on the ridge, that I and Imam, tumbled down the slope. The path was not an easy one, it almost a constant 50-60 degree ascent, with barely any flat path to relax the tension of our foot muscle. So I did the 7-2-7 rules : walks seven steps, than stop for 2 seconds, continue walks seven steps and so on.
After 3 hours of walking, rain started to came. We put on our rain jacket and bag pack’s cover to keep our self and the bad dry. At 1.30 pm we reached a place we called pos Pananjakan, it is located on a clift. Beh Han, Sandra has already set a small bivak and they were taking their lunch when Mita, my self and Imam reached the place.
From far away, we could see the summit of Welirang, covered in cloud, slowly when the cloud dispersed, the steaming sulfur slope revealed. It was so magnificent sight. Our porters setup a fire. I was amazed to know that they could easily setup a fire in a wet condition. The fire was very helpful to heat up Mita who could not felt her fingers, due to cold. We also use the fire to dry our hat and gloves. They were dry very quickly, but the flip side was, it smells smoky. It has similar smell of smoke fish. 30 minutes later, we continued the journey. I positioned my self behind Mita and Imam, with my smoke fished smell hat on my head.
In general, the path to mount Arjuno was not so visible, most of the paths were covered by grass, this was because not many hikers visited the mountain, so I do not recommend hiking at night, and if you have never been there, a guide is a must.
The next part of the path was walking under pine trees, still with 50-60 ascents, with breezing cold wind welcoming us. Despite of the cold, short breath and screaming foot’s muscle, all were paid off when I saw Sandra, Beh Han, Mita and Imam marching up on a wide savanna of the mountain slope, awesome view! On the North-West, our left side, the Welirang top is already below us. Welirang was waving to all hiker to reach it.
At 5 pm, we reached Puncak Pertama (first summit). This was the place we targeted to spent the night. We could not spend more time to enjoy the scenery as we immediately needed to set the tents, because rain started to come. Once the tents was set, every body quickly went inside and lied down flat, no body wanted to do anything except to sleep.
You were right! It was not even 6 pm and we all went to sleep.
I woke up at 9 pm because of hunger and cold, so I toke some snack and tried went back to sleep, it was not an easy to sleep because of cold. It was 3-4 deg C and wind blow roaring hard. It was a bit spooky to hear the wind that constantly blows all night long. Despite of the cold and wind, our porters were remain happy as I could hear them chatting and laughing inside their bivac.
Day 3 ( Feb 13rd 2011)
At 5 am, I woke up, felt a lot fresher. It was still cold but the wind did not blow. I went out of the tend and an amazing morning view given by the God to me. Mount Bromo still erupting big cloud of ash could be seen from the place where I was standing. Further to the right, stand Mount Semeru, that also releasing some smoke frequently, I could not say anything except thanks to God what the God given to us.
Imam and Beh Han prepared breakfast of fried rice and toast with cheese and a cup of coffee. We toke the breakfast slowly, we enjoyed it very munch. Our breakfast was better than the best breakfast you can get from any 5 star hotel, at least that was our opinion. Some one said that even if the president of our country come to us, we will not bother him/her since we were to busy with our meal.
At 7 am we all packed up and started heading to the summit. The track to Arjuna’s summit was not so difficult, as we already had tough ascent all the way from the tree line down at Pura. We reached Arjuna summit , the place called ‘Jagabilawa’ @ 8.45 am. The peak is 4×4 m flat area. From the Arjuno peak we could see the erupted Bromo on the East and to the right going clock wise, the magnificent Mount Semeru, Mount Kawi, Kelud, Wilis, Mount Raung, Merbabu, Kususan, Welirang, an Mount Penanggungan.
Mount Arjuno has no creater. I used to have less appreciation to mountain with no creater, but once I saw the dramatic scenery of mountain surrounding Arjuno from its peak, it has changed my perception and appreciation on mountain with no crater. I was speech less and feel very-very lucky to see the beauty of nature in my live.
We spent 30 minutes to do what every hiker do on the summit: take as much as photograph as we can. Beh Han and Sandra continued to walk to the South East peak called Ogal Agil or ‘Unstable Peak’. I have been told by Sam, that the place we stood was the highest point, so I decided not to follow Beh Han.
Enough with all the excitement after reaching the first peak, @ 9.30 am, we went down to the North West heading to Mount Welirang. About 200 meters down from the peak of Arjuno there is a spot called Pasar Dieng, there are memorial site of 4 hikers who died. I didn’t know why they died and if they were the same group of climber. On of them was Benny Refliansyah who died on 27th Feb 1999. We stopped for a while to pay a respect to the man or woman who passed away on this mountain.
We started nice descent toward north east to Mount Welirang. All our porters headed the way. They walked very fast, until we could not see them. Reaching pine trees, the path started to be covered by grass. My self, Sandra and Mita were in one group. Mita walked in small steps, slowly but sure. On her age, I consider she is very strong woman. Beh Han, Imam and Sam were behind us. Trough out the trip, my self and Beh Han took different formation, some time a head with Sandra, some time walked with Mita and Imam at the back.
Fifteen minutes descending we started to loose track, and the path was steeper, so we slowed down. I started to blow my whistle, to track attention from porters or Beh Han’s group, there were no respond, so the three of us walked down very carefully and searched for any sign of left garbage. We finally saw a clear track, than we walked down under the pine tree. We completed thedescent at Curah Jero. The wind started to blow, we took a quick stop to refresh while waiting Beh Han and the gank to regroup.
We continued the jurney along Mount Kembar (twin mountain) #1. It was relatively easy track with slight ascend. All the pains, the cold, and sweat were paid off by beautiful scenery of natural golf course like layout with green grass and groups of trees on the right side of us under the shade of pine tree along the way. At 1 pm, we reached Sumur Kembar (Twin Well), they are two small-dry crater-like hole that are situated in between the 5 meter wide path, which is located exactly in between Mount Kembar #1 and Mount Kembar #2. Our original plan was to take a lunch stop at Lapangan Kotak, which is only 1 minute from Sumur Kembar, but we decided to take the lunch at Sumur Kembar, because it was shaded from a strong and chilly wind at Lapangan Kotak.
With the cold wind, while waiting for Imam and Mita, I spotted an unique fallen tree. The fallen log, the lighting the surrounding that was very attracted to me, so I could not wait to take some pictures.
For the lunch, me and Imam despertly wanted to have a hot Indomie noodle with beef cornet, but we could not set the paraffin block to cook, so we gave up and take the bread with cheese and ham, as Beh Han took. it was ‘maknyus’ or super though. The desert was fresh green Malang Apple. Mita was very quite, Sandra choose to take a short nap on the ground.
With stomach full of bread, ham, cheese and apple, we marched to the next camp site which is Gua Sakri. From Lapangan Kotak, we went up to Mount Kembar #1 (3,052m), a stiff ascent than went down a stiff hill. After than we walked at a nice flat track toward the sulfur mine to Gua Sakri.
Sandra and I headed the way. Sandra is very strong woman. In the entire trip she led the way; this hike was very easy for her athletic posture and well trained body. What I noticed from her, was I rarely saw her drink when she was walking, unlike myself who frequently takeout the small mineral bottle I hung on my chest.
At the last corner we decided to stop and waiting for the rest, because the fog started to come, and there were multiple paths. We started to talk about our family, our country, cultural differences, not very long we realized that we took the wrong way as Sandra spotted that the rest of the folks took the right turn before they reach our place, so we had to move back to regroup.
At 3.30 pm finally we reached Gua Sakri (Sakri Cave), to me it was a not a cave, as it is only a slight overhang clift with a flat area aprox 8 x 4 m , with natural fence at the front, however it was very good place to take cover because we were very well protected from rain and wind. Tents were setup.
Imam was volunteering to prepare our earlier dinner; also he prepared very nice hot coffee. I didn’t take the coffee, because I didn’t want to add my complication of having difficulties to sleep. After dinner, Beh Han and Imam went a head to Arjuna summit. I decided to wait inside the tend. On the other tend, Mita and Sandra were sleeping. Not very long, I could heard Beh Han and Imam came back, I didn’t have enough energy to asked the reason why they came back very quick.
Actually our tends were warmer compared to the other night we had in open area, however it was still very cold for all of us. Later we knew that the temperature was 1-2 deg C outside, no wonder!. Same as the first night, I could not sleep well. I frequently woke up due to cold. At 4 am, I started to made noises to wake up people. Imam was again very nice to prepare hot coffee and break fast. He gave me the honor to eat the first toast he prepared.
At 5 am, my self and Imam, guided by Sam went for summit attack. I was very anxious to go to the peak, as I didn’t want to miss the sunrise. It took only 15 minutes to reach the North West slope, it was vertical cliff down, it was relatively easy. Again, wind blows very hard. I recon, the wind speed on the uncovered area was about 30 – 35 knots.
Than we moved to the South rim where the sulfur smoke came, a place called Kawah Plupuh, the view from this place is very spectacular, it was breath taking view of the magnificent Mount Semeru, mount Kawi, Kelud and Wilis. We spent only 30 minutes, than to rush back to our tent to pack.
Our next target was to go to the sulfur mine, it was not so far from Gua Sakri, it was only 15 minutes walk. This is the source of smoke that is visible from satellite images. We spent 15 minutes over there for another pictures and take small pieces of sulfur stone for souvenir and than start our 5 hours descent down.
We stopped at Pertigaan Wlirang (2500 m). It is the junction to Welirang, Lapangan Kotak and Mount Kembar. The next stop is Brak Seng. Brak Seng is the last stop at the end of the tree line, on farm land. Brak Seng is the named for small huts with zink roof.
We stopped for lunch. Our porters were very nice to share their last white rice covered in banana leaves. Some cold rice with beef abon and smoke beef was enough to stop our hungry stomach from complaining.
Upon finishing the lunch, we walked down the hill; it is a wide farming area of carrot, cabbage and potatoes. It was very nice scenery for everybody. Farmer were happily harvesting cabbages, some girls were very shay when they noticed we were taking their picture. On one of the farm land, we met a very nice lady named Genuk, who was supervising the workers on her land, she let us hick hike on her 4×4 Jeep.
The nature never running of her beauty to impress us with stunning scenery of terace of land.
After 15 minutes, at 1.30 we reached the hot spring recreation area . All of us except Beh Han, took a nice hot shower. Beh Han was very responsible person, while we were taking a nice hot shower, he was arranging our transportation back to Surabaya. This is what I like from beh Han, he took care of everything.
At 3.30 pm we left Canggar, to Juanda airport of Surabaya via Pacet-Mojokerto, Mojosari, and Sidoarjo. It was 6 pm when we reach Surabaya. We stop by at one food stall to try traditional sea food.
Overall, it was very nice trip. I quoted Sandra ‘It was an extreme nature’. I need to confess that before I went through all this wonderful experience, I underestimated the beauty of Arjuno and Welirang. This is one of the hiking destinations I recommend.
Here are some additional information:
Sam’s (guide) phone number : +6288803322095
Porters and guide rate : IDR 500,000 per person trip
Hotel Santoso : IDR 750,000 per night (two big rooms)
Rental Van : IDR 500,000 per trip Surabaya – Junggo