G SUMBING AND G SINDARA – TWIN SIBLINGS
G Sumbing and G Sindara were trekked by CopiPanas in March and May 2008 subsequently. Then we did G Sumbing in September 2012 with Wanadri team. This time October 5 – 8, 2013 we trekked the 2 volcanoes at one go. For G Sumbing we chose the Kaliangkrik approach, which is not very popular due to its remote basecamp location. Our descent was to Garung, the popular basecamp by the interior highway of Central Java. Then the following day we started for G Sindara from Kledung, which is situated 2 km north of Garung. The final descent was to Tambi or Sigedang tea estate, north of the volcano.
G SUMBING (3371 m)
G Sumbing summit has many peaks with various altitudes ranging from 3200 to 3371 m. The true peak of 3371 m is accessible although not very easy. Rope is not required but we have to be very brave in climbing with legs and arms along some 30 meter high rock formation. We skipped the opportunity due to high velocity wind around 7:15 in the morning. Instead we were satisfied with the lesser peak which is around 20 meters lower than the true peak. The path between the true peak and the lesser peaks to the north crosses a dangerous passage which is somewhat difficult to do alone. A help from an experienced porter or another hiker is the best. You need a haul to the upper part of the hill, and with no firm holding rock or wood, a helping hand would be very good. Because the left or west side of the passage is a deep ravine.
The caldera of G Sumbing is actually also often regarded as the summit by the hikers although it is around 200 meters below the caldera summit rim. Especially for the hikers coming up and going down from/ to Cepit and Kaliangkrik approaches. The beautiful caldera has at least 3 entry points. One is from Garung, and it involves a steep and deep descent from the caldera rim. The others are from Cepit and Kaliangkrik, which directly bring you to the caldera after a short and less steep descent. The entry from the Cepit approach is to the sandsea at the north east edge of the caldera, and from the Kaliangkrik approach is to the rocks field at the south east edge of the caldera. Both entries offer beautiful and mystical atmosphere.
The Kaliangkrik route actually starts from Butuh village a few kilometers beyond Kalingkarik. After an overnight in the artistic house of the Butuh village chief, we started at 7:30 in the morning and directly were welcomed by a straight forward steep trek with stairs. The stairs were very useful for the villagers who went back from the hills carrying fire woods or grasses or crops. The grasses are for the cattle and sheep feeding. From where we started, G Sumbing posture complete with its summit has been very obvious and was a little bit intimidating. The slopes were yellowish brown meaning no more forest in the higher altitude.
Sparse woods were passed quickly as well as Pos 1. It was a square plot of 4 m x 4 m without sign and shelter. Then afterwards we did not know if there was Pos 2 and so on. The trek was moderately steep with dry stream crossings. The streams were supposed to be wet in the rainy season, therefore water should be available in the rainy season. But October 2013 was very dry and hot, so we did not come across any water until very late afterwards.
At around 10:00 it was already very hot and the trek forked to 2 branches. One branch is straight towards the summit, looked close but at the same time looked intimidating due to its steepness. The other branch was to the right direction, crossing a small wooden bridge. The later branch was gently ascending. Actually it was a longer circling trek but easier. One to 2 hours longer but more manageable. And we chose the easier trek. At one point we stopped at a rock formation where there were some water gullies good enough to kill thirst. The water was not very clean but should be ok in emergency. You could filter it with your clean T-shirt.
Afterwards the nice trek continued a little further then turned to the left direction ascending to the summit. It was quite steep but not extreme. What made it tough was the 12:30 pm direct sunlight. There were very few shades from trees, because there were only bushes. One or 2 trees made good shelters from the heat of the sun but they were only useful for rest breaks. And the fine sand dust completed the agony of the mid-day ascent.
By 13:30 we got to the summit area, took a lunch rest and then continued to the descending trek to the caldera. Later on we observed that the Kaliangkrik trek end or the trek entry to the caldera was actually close to the Cepit trek entry to the caldera. They were only hundred meters away but separated by a valley which was not extremely deep.
The entry to the caldera was a valley pass of some 100 meters wide (my estimation). The left side was the sequence of rocky hills as like the ones on the right side. All along the pass large stones dotted the valley. Some were very big and must weigh hundreds of tons. To the left side of the path there was the weird least known formation of Gunungsewu (thousand mountains). It was a strange group of rock cones that was said to be formed from volcanic activity. In fact this side of the G Sumbing caldera is not very well known and not visited by many. That is why the trek was still relatively clean from litters although not zero. The air along the passage was somehow serene and magical. The afternoon breeze told me that were not necessarily alone over there.
After a small hill then we got to the point or area which in 2008 I thought was the edge of the caldera. That was the Ki Ageng Makukuhan memorial where the locals pray. Some senior villagers even challenge the steep ascent to pray and then go back home. A little further was the fuming crater of G Sumbing and further to the east direction was the serene sand sea.
We camped at a nice spot protected from the winds by miniature hills. A little higher and closer to the crater, there was a rock cave where 5 hikers can sleep in it. The place where we camped was so nice and seated 3 tents. The night was warmed by campfire and our sleeps were good after the delicious dinner and warm ginger tea drink.
The morning after was a late wakeup and lazy repacking after a short breakfast. The trail to the small saddle to the true peak was close and in 10 minutes we were already there. Unfortunately the wind was fierce and its velocity was such that we aborted our plan to climb the true peak. It was only 20 – 30 meters higher than the saddle but we did not want to risk our life for the climb was not going to be easy. Literally there was no trail but all jagged rocks. Every direction you would fall into deep and rocky bases once you slip. But certainly it was doable in a good weather.
We instead turned right to the trail that leads to the Garung trek. The hill north of the saddle was not very high, some 10 meters higher but the short climb was dangerous and only experienced locals could do it well without help. There was one point where you could not hold on anything firm enough and the base for standing was slippery and less than narrow. Afterwards the trail was nice with the views to G Sindara in the south, G Slamet in the west and the caldera in the east. Further east you can see G Merbabu looming in the distance.
We started our descent to Garung on 7:40. The descent to Garung was initially troublesome with the steep descent, loose rocks and fine sands. It was so hot our exposed skins were all red. The fine sands was troublesome for them who walked behind some people else. Along the trek many students walked up, down or rested under the shade. A few parts of the trek, the views to the west and east were very nice amidst the burning sunshine. We could see the trek in the far west, the one that leads to Bowongso basecamp on the west side of the G Sumbing foot. Several lone trees were good for resting under their shades. The last 2 hours, the trek was vegetated although nowhere dense. Also it was less steep so the exhaustion did not mount severely.
By 12:45 we arrived at the Garung village where we spent some times in Kumpul (our porter) house. His family was very kind, we were allowed to wash ourselves and had a lot of drinks. The late lunch in the family kitchen was simple but very delicious.
G SINDARA (3150 m)
From Kledung village, it was some 3 km away to the trek starting point. The 3 km trail was stone paved vehicle way so a motorcycle ride will save us at least an hour. Then the trek started with a shelter as the landmark. We started at 8:00 and the trek was directly steep but fortunately cool with the trees shades. After 2 hours then the trek became more open and steeper. Some parts were so steep we had to haul ourselves up with fine sands and burning sunshine. Therefore we had to drink over and over again.
Without stopping at Pos 2 we continued to Pos 3. We arrived at 11:30, it was a wide square good for many tents, fortunately there were some shady trees so we had our lunches then short sleep. The heat from the noon sunshine was very intense our wet clothes dried after a short while. Afterwards at 13:00 we marched again towards the summit. The trek was very steep but the weather turned cloudy. By Pos 4 it was somewhat dark and cold from the cloud and mist although it was only 3:00 pm.
From Pos 3 to the summit it was actually amusing because there were at least 4 false summits. We saw a line up the trail which looked like the end of the trail or the summit, but after we arrived at the higher ground it appeared to be a false summit because there was another higher ground line up there. And so on, and finally at 4:00 pm we arrived at the true summit.
The summit peak was actually the south edge of the crater rim. The crater was wide and deep and the real crater was actually down there some 100 meters below the rim. It was active because the smoke continuously flew out of it and the hissing sound was continuous. Indeed the hiss was almost a roar. It was not like the situation in March 2008 when we were there, when the crater was very quiet.
The summit of the G Sindara was actually very wide, at least 3 x the size of a soccer field, with many cantigi bushes. The cantigi fruits are delicious, sweet and sour. Pick the black or violet for they are the ripe ones. We camped at the north side of the summit a little lower from the peak and behind the bushes to prevent the severe cold caused by the blow of the chilling wind. The night was cold, fortunately we found some woods for fire. After a luxurious dinner around the campfire we slipped into our sleeping bags in the tent.
The descent to Tambi/ Sigedang was indeed tough for it was very steep and hot. The fine sands again choked them who walked behind. Some parts of the trek we had to climb down in reverse. No wonder this trek is not popular among the trekkers. It was somewhat extremely steep, dry and hot in the dry season because practically there was nothing but bushes and grasses. Along the way there was only 1 place for camping, and it was very close to the starting point in the tea estate area. I would call it Pos 1 indeed. I could not find the small plot of camping site I spotted back in 2008. The good thing is this trek is actually short. I reckon a very fit trekker should be able to do the ascent to the summit in 4 hours. Three if you are an athlete. From the starting point at the tea estate road, the summit of G Sindara was very clear and looked close. And, definitely no false summit on the way up.
The Tambi/ Sigedang trek starting/ ending point was very quiet for the closest village is about 1 km west along the road. In the village you could find warungs and supplies although the village was also very quiet in the mid-day.
Kaliangkrik is some 25 km from Magelang and accessible by public or rental car. Rental motorbike with a driver (ojek) is also feasible. From Yogya airport, Damri public bus to Magelang leaves every hour until 21:00. Public bus from Yogya to Magelang is also frequent from the Yogya bus stations of Giwangan (south) and Jombor (north). Butuh is a few more kilometers beyond Kaliangkrik.
Kledung and Garung are by the interior Central Java highway, 2 km away one to the other. The highway is frequented by public buses from Wonosobo to Semarang v/v. The Kledung basecamp is very close to the highway, in the Kledung village office compound. The Garung basecamp is situated 1.5 km away from the highway.
Copipanas : 1) Josephine
Porters for G Sumbing : 1) Kumpul
Porter for G Sindara : 1) Sukri