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Apr 25, 2012
Climbed Volcanoes
High Volcanoes >3000 M
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By Handjono
Sunday morning March 18, 2012 4:00 we arrived at Makassar. The flight was so bumpy we did not sleep on the plane. Ca. 5:00 from the grotesque airport we rode the rental minibus to the north direction of the Sulawesi Selatan peninsula.

After the delicious breakfast at one of Pangkep’s famous fish barbeques restaurants, we continued to Pare-Pare, Sidrap then Enrekang. After buying a bottle of methanol for our stoves we continued to Baraka via Cakke. Our lunch at Cakke was different, it was durian lunch.

4-on-the-commodity-truck-to-karanganAt Baraka we changed vehicle to an open commodity mini-truck to Rantelemo the furthest the truck could go. The 90 minutes ride was ¾ good and then the rest was a dirt bumpy road.

5-the-villagers-of-karuajaAt Rantelemo the Karangan river stopped the truck from continuing because the water was high and we changed vehicle to motorbikes plus a horse for our bags. It took 40 minutes from Rantelemo to Karangan Basecamp passing the quiet Karuaja village.

6-the-wooden-bridge-at-karanganKarangan was a village with many dogs but fortunately they bark and did not bite. The toilet was actually a river some hundred meters away from the Basecamp and in the night it was not very attractive for city people.

The dinner was delicious and the hospitality was warming the chilly night.

Karangan (1400m) – Pos 1 (1800m)

The trek leaving Karangan was along a coffee estate. Coffee fruits and flowers along the gently sloping trek eased our march. Overall there are 4 – 5 water streams crossing with the last one using 2 logs. This last one required an acrobatic skill or you use a wooden stick for simplicity.

7-hand-made-bridgeAfterwards the trek suddenly became very steep crossing a corn field. On the top there was a hut for the farmer to rest. A little more higher we could see the coffee hill and the corn hill separated by the valley with a river down there. Later on we realized that we did not go through the trek passing the Pos 1 but did a steep short cut.

Pos 1 (1800m) – Pos 2 (2000m)

8-coffee-hill-and-corn-hillThe trek was initially steep but somewhere afterwards it became gentler but difficult. Entering the forest we heard the sound of the river from the deep valley on the left side of the trek. The trek slowly became meandering and narrow. It was wet all the way and at some places really tricky with only 10 cm strips to step on. The soil was also soft and unstable we had to be very careful not to fall to the valley. Two places we had to walk or sit and move forward on our bottoms over a 5 cm diameter wooden trunk.

9-moms-crossing-waterfallThree hours after Karangan when the sound of the river became the waterfall itself. It was not so high but you would not want to dip into the stony river bed. We could cross the boiling water by walking over the leg wetting shallow or stayed dry but walking over 2 logs with 10 m length. We chose the 2nd with the porters watching our steps as well as us.

Pos 2 was 2000 m and has a cave like niche. The niche was actually a giant rock with a shelter like at its bottom. Good enough for one tent. A little lower there was a flat rock under a more sheltering rock. It was a better place to camp for it was more protected from rain and wind. In front of the niche there was a nice place to lit a fire and on a bright sunny day dry your clothes. The river was very accessible and you could drink the pristine clear water directly. No sign of pollution. The water, indeed tasted nicer than the bottled water from the city.

Pos 2 (2000m) – Pos 3 (2200m)

Directly after Pos 2 the trek changed to become scarily very steep. Most of the times I had to hold on the tree roots or anything strong enough to help me lifting my body. I thought about the descent, it would be more difficult.

After 30 minutes of crazy crawls the trek became a little gentler and 10 minutes later the Pos 3 appeared. It was actually only 40 minutes but it drained much of our energies.

Pos 3 (2200m) – Pos 4 (2400m)

Another steep ascent although somewhat easier than the previous trek, but this time quite extended. It took us around 1 hour and we did not rest too long as the weather was cloudy cold.

Po 4 (2400m) – Pos 5 (2500m)

We marched on to Pos 5 with high spirit for Pos 5 could be our camping site for the day. The trek was clear and quite steep and the woods were real forest as I saw them. The trees were tall and covered by lichens.

One and a half hour of very quiet hike, then we arrived at Pos 5. It was about a tennis court size and there was a simple plastic shelter with a bag and a knife left by some hikers up there. We decided to camp over there for it was already 16:30 and we were quite exhausted.  Two tents for us and for the porters were erected, and we set a fire both for cooking and for warming ourselves.

The night was a troublesome one when the heavy rain penetrated our tents like floods. Water wetted us inside our tents. The porters moved to the shelter and we stayed inside with wet cloths. Luckily the rain was not very long and then we could sleep although not very well.

The morning was cloudy, and we set a fire to dry our clothes. By 8:00 we left Pos 5 for Pos 7 and beyond.

Pos 5 (2500m) – Pos 6 (2700m)

Again the trek was steep and the bushes were denser than before as well as the trees in the forest. Our courage was a little hindered by the darkness of the cloudy morning. It was some 1.5 hours from Pos 5 to Pos 6 and arriving at Pos 6 we directly continued to Pos 7.

Pos 6 (2700m) – Pos 7 (3100m)

The steep trek did not cease, the tall trees gradually changed to lower ones, The wind was strong and made the scary noise around us. Half way we started to think it was a storm and after 1.5 hours we got to Pos 7 amidst the chilling wet storm. It was 11:30 and actually the peak was theoretically still accessible. We had our lunch and afterwards decided to camp for the storm became so strong we could not stand steadily. We hoped the morning after would be bright and we could see the famous scenery from the peak.

Erecting our tents was a struggle and 1 of them was damaged. It was blown away and we collected it the morning after. The night was quite terrible with the storm rocked our tents all night long. Plus, 6 pax for the 4 pax tents. The good thing is the tent did not leak and it was warmer with more people in.

Pos 7 (3100m) – Peak (3478m)

11-beast-footprint-at-3400-maslWe left Pos 7 quite late after breakfast. The storm was still occurring and the trek was dark and wetted by the mist water drops. So was us. The trek was not steep but long and treacherous amidst the storm. The wind was tricky, sometimes it stopped for some seconds for coming back ferociously like an unseen hammer. I fell several times although not totally flat on the ground. Luckily the wind came from the left side of the trek, valley direction, so it did not push us to the dangerous side of the trek.

10-pool-at-3300-maslOn around 3300m altitude we got to the much liked camping site, the natural water pond a badminton field size. I drank several hand cups and it was not very cold like the air.

picture1It was 9:00 am and we got to the peak amidst the storm. Could barely see one each other but we got some pictures in front of the concrete pillar. Five minutes only and off we went to Pos 7 again. The ascent was 1.5 hours and the descent was 1 hour. Arrived at Pos 7 was a relief for we could hide from the storm in the tent. All of us confirmed that we did not see any edelweiss, and certainly we agreed the peak was really an experience.

Pos 7 – Karangan Basecamp

After a lazy breakfast and repacking, around 11:30 we left Pos 7 for Karangan Basecamp. The descent was really not easy after 2 almost sleepless nights. Bags were heavy, the trek was steep and slippery. I took many stops for straightening my back and stretching my legs. It was a very slow descent.

13-lichen-covered-treesPos 3 to Pos 2 was especially terrible for its steepness. More than half of the short trek (I guessed less than 1 km) was so steep you want to be very careful not to stumble and plunge into the gorge or just roll over the trek 20 – 30 meters down. Many times I walked backward as it was safer for negotiating with the cruel descent.

Pos 2 was a relief because we decided to camp over there. The sound of the waterfall became a nature symphony befriending the wary hikers into the peaceful night.

Pos 2 – Karangan was 2.5 hours involved several falls with some bruises as the result. I got a leech on my hand finger and the blood stopped 1 hour after I pulled the bloodsucking little monster off my finger.

14-cliff-tombs-and-coffins-at-barakaKarangan was cloudy and the Basecamp was lively with mothers and babies being examined by the medic. Lunch was delicious and shortly afterwards we rode the magnificent motorbikes for 2 hours along the scenic country road to Karuaja, Rantelemo, Gurra then Baraka.

15-tombs-and-statues-at-lemo-rantepaoA few minutes after Baraka we stopped to admire the vertical cliff tombs. The 100 meter cliff was carved at the bottom and near the top for tombs. This is the local Duri people ancient custom similar to Toraja. We will see more of them in Toraja Highland, like the onse in the world famous Lemo site.


16-bruise-and-scars-from-the-descentBack home the Toraja coffee soothed a little bit my aching legs and backs. The warm water shower really recharged back my energy. But the bruise on my left back thigh took 1 week to vanish. I must have got it when falling on the treacherous trek from Pos 2 to Pos 1.

Team : 1) Nungky      Porters : 1) Sinu
               2) Caca                              2) Hasrul
               3) Tatty                             3) Sani
               4) Mita                               4) Aco
               5) Handjono


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