Rano Pani - 21st September
Well, I've climbed Semeru! Left yesterday morning at 6:30am and got
to our camp-site at about 3:30pm. Not very strenuous - this
included an hour spent lying around at Rano Kumbolo, which is a
very pretty lake almost untouched by signs of civilisation, and a
side trip to collect water from a spring. From what the guides say,
I'm a lot faster than the usual walker, though I don't move fast -
it must be because I don't stop for rests often, I think they were
a little surprised when I did the first 600m climb without
This morning we climbed Semeru itself, leaving at 4:00am and
getting to the summit at 6:30 (we camped just below the treeline).
The climb is only 600m up and 1km horizontally, but it's on a
gravel slope where it's literally one step up 1/2 a step back.
Going back took just 40 minutes! but we spent an hour and a half on
top and walked over the crater. The view is just awesome - we could
see most of East Java - and I wish I'd had a telescope or
binoculars on me. The crater is like the gates of hell - a freezing
cold wind was blowing, and every so often a small eruption would
occur and smoke and sulphur would billow out. Semeru isn't so
beautiful as Bromo or Batur, but it is far more awe inspiring (we
had the summit to ourselves for an hour, before the other party
climbing it that day got to the top) - it really is the sort of
place you'd expect to meet the Gods.
Much of the forest has been destroyed by fires (some trunks were
still burning as we passed) and it must have been much more
beautiful before, but it's still lovely, and well worth a visit.
(I got to sleep in the open at 3100m, but unfortunately there was
a full moon so the stars weren't so great).
When I got back (at around 2:30pm) I ate and then sat by the lake,
with a nice view of Semeru, lots of children playing soccer,
Arabic chanting form the mosque, and my book, and read until it got
too dark. I'm writing this by a dim globe, so please forgive
Everyone thinks it's really cold, but I'm quite comfortable in thin
cotton trousers, thin cotton shirt and thin cotton jumper. I did
all the walking in shorts and shirt - my guides were all rugged up!
(They didn't have sleeping bags, though, and had to sleep huddled
together by the fire for warmth. Brrr)