Taste of Storm in Mount Raung
By Jufri Mantianto
Mount Raung (3332 M) is located at East Java, but it sinks below the famous mountains in the area like Mount Semeru and Arjuno. Actually, this mountain has the largest crater in Java (2 km width with a depth of 500 m), even second largest in Indonesia after Mount Tambora.
In fact, to reach the real peak of Raung (3332 M) will take about 5 days through the southern access. The normal route from Sumber Wringin only takes 2 days, but we can only reach the lower rim of the crater with the altitude of 3180 M above sea level.
Plan The Journey
CopiPanas has already planned this trip in 2008, but the team has just got the time to make it happen in March 2009.
We planned to have 2 days for this climb that means we just take the normal route with the highest altitude only 3180 M. We arranged this trip by getting a help by Fenny (Fefe) as a trek-coordinator. One of us met her when climbing Mount Slamet, in January 2009.
Jufri, Masood, Phil and Luki choose airplane to reach Surabaya. Handjono and Agus took the train to Surabaya. Through CopiPanas website, we have 2 friends joining us in this trip, Ron and Van, both from US but currently working in Surabaya.
Start the Journey
All together we met at Surabaya Juanda Airport on 25 March 2009 morning. Fefe chartered a minibus for us to reach Sumber Wringin. It took 7 hours from Juanda Airport to the base-camp at Sumber Wringin. The base camp is a unique old building, a precious heritage from the colonial Dutch era. We met Bu Parman the manager, and also a group from Semarang that planned to start hike in the afternoon by walking from the base-camp.
Took a rest for a while and enjoyed the atmosphere around the base camp. Our eyes directed to a building that looks like a place for swallows to make their nest inside. We also saw a warung nearby that sells tobacco. Tobacco is a specialty crop in this area, as well as coffee; already planted over there since the colonial time.
Came the night, we had a meeting for the next day. We decided to ride a truck from the base-camp to Pondok-Motor at 5 o’clock. It will be about 1 hour, then start walking to Pondok-Angin, and the following day will be the summit attack early in the morning. Looks like a great plan, hope it works well.
We were already on the truck at 5 o’clock. Felt cold but pleased, on the country road to Pondok-Motor we passed the coffee plantation. Mount Raung was vaguely seen in the distance. “Hi….. Watch out!!” everybody shouted….. small branches from the coffee trees nearly stroke our head. We need to be alert to anticipate the sweeping branches when standing on the truck’s open back-carriage. Woouu, some water drops from the branch wetted our clothes, made our body feel fresh in the morning.
At 6 o’clock, we arrived at Pondok-Motor (1150 M), took a team picture for a while then started the hike to Mount Raung. We passed a thick forest made our trousers wet due to some dew from bushes. But the tracks gave us some “bonus”, go up but not too steep, then go down. Can be said it’s an easy track and good for warming up. On the way we took some rests for whiles and off course some pictures. The voices of the black monkeys from the top of trees were so loud we stopped for a while, but quickly we lost the sight of them swinging on giant tree branches. The schedule looks great we could reach Pondok-Sumur (1800 M) at 10 o’clock. But some problems happened to our porters, they were still far away behind us. So we were there just waiting and eating snack. We were afraid they had trouble, and our experience when hiking the mountain, dictated us to keep waiting until we knew their condition then arrange another strategy. The porter came at 11.30, and it was right they had problem with their carriers which were too heavy, due to some water jerry cans. We help them to bring some jerry cans, hopefully would help them. Then ate some fruits and brownies, afterwards at 12:30 we continued to Pondok-Demit (2400 M).
From Pondok-Sumur to Pondok-Demit (Demit means Ghost) the track was sloping up ward, and no bonus any more. The forest still thick, we had to take a breath after every 5 meters high hike. Then Pak Masood and Pak Phil passed me, also Pak Handjono, Pak Luki, Fefe and Agus. From that moment we didn’t see Pak Phil and Pak Masood any more until the following day at the vegetation limit. This is the enjoyment when you hike the mountain, chat while take a look for the great view, take some pictures and burn the fat in our body…. He..he.. (Just valid for me and Agus actually). We reached Pondok-Demit after about 3.5 hours hike, but before Pondok-Demit there was Pondok-Tonyok (tonyok means “tuyul” or child-ghost). In Pondok-Demit, we took a longer rest longer about 30 minutes; Fefe took out her cooking stuffs and began to boil water for a hot coffee, then we also cooked some packs of instant noodles. Hmmm.. yummie.. our power was restored right back after that… taste great and Pak Handjono said, he would not want to barter this moment with a free voucher to stay overnight at Nusa-Dua Bali… sounds hyperbolic absolutely.. hehehe.. If the offer was real, I was sure I would choose to stay overnight at the hotel… Fefe waited for her friends (porters) and we decided to go up to Pondok-Mayit (Mayit means corpse or dead body).
It took about an hour to get Pondok-Mayit (2600 M) from Pondok-Demit, the track was still sloping up ward and the vegetation looked rare, just big pine trees and bushes, so it was good to take pictures between them. The air became cold because the wind was very strong. No sign in Pondok-Mayit, so we didn’t know if we already reached Pondok-Mayit. We only thought that we ought to wait the porters because they brought our tents and sleeping bags. It would be a problem for us, if we kept in front of the porters without the tents and sleeping bags. So we waited for Fefe and her friends at Pondok-Mayit. When she arrived at Pondok-Mayit, she strongly suggested not to continue to Pondok-Angin as agreed before to camp up there, because there were still 2 more porters far away from Pondok-Mayit, and it was already dark. We only had one tent; because the other tents were brought by the porters that were still striving to reach Pondok-Mayit. We erected a tent and got dinner, after that just slept earlier (5 persons in 1 tent, sure it was a very cramped space for all of us but felt a little bit warm). The next morning we should do the summit attack at 4 o’clock. In that afternoon Pak Masood and the gang already reached Pondok-Angin, fortunately they had 2 tents inside the carrier that was brought by Pak Ron. By midnight the wind roared spooky… hiiii… No wonder this mountain is named Raung, because the wind does always “meraung-raung” (roars) there.
We woke up at 5 o’clock then ate some bread and after that ready to do the summit attack. After 1 hour walking, we arrived at Pondok-Angin, (2800 M) and saw there was a tent, it should be Pak Masood’s tent, but Pak Masood and the gang already gone for the peak. Continued hike and we reached to the vegetation limit, where there was the memorial stone for Deden Hidayat who was lost at Mount Raung in 1992.
The weather became terrible when we started to hike into the rim of crater. Pak Handjono at the front line then us followed him. But the weather became really bad; we could say that was a storm. But Pak Handjono already gone and passed the first stone bridge, which is famously called “sirotol mustakim” bridge. We just stopped at ± 3050 M and had no guts to continue going up. We decided to wait for about 30 minutes, if the weather became good, then we started to hike, if not we went down.
There are 3 parts of “sirotol mustakim” bridge, the bridge with wide only 20 cm in the right and left side is ravine, absolutely it’s very dangerous to pass this bridge in the storm, our soul as the bet. After waiting for about 30 minutes the weather still bad, then we decided to go down. We contacted Pak Handjono using the radio, and told him that we would go down. Absolutely, this made us disappointed, but we should think logically in this situation “Safety First”.
Pak Handjono met Pak Masood and the gang that who were just descending from the rim (3180 M), they advised and convinced him to go down because it was not worth to catch up the rim of crater; there was no view that we could see, all was closed by fog. Then all of us just went down and back to our camp at Pondok-Mayit and had our breakfast all at once with lunch. At 11 o’clock we went back to Pondok-Motor.
Nothing special when we descended to P. Motor, it took about 6 hours to get to it from Pondok-Mayit. Then we waited fur the pick-up to bring us back to base camp. Do you know??, We still have dag… dig… dug… in our heart, when we saw the pick-up car that would bring us to base camp because it looked like a very old car that was already 50 years old might be…, with 15 persons on it, and also the track, if I could compare it looked like off road trail. Thanks God finally we could get base camp safely.
Team: (above, left to right) Luki, Handjono, Van, Masood, Agus, Phil, Ron, (below, right to left) Jufri, Fefe and the Gang.