Journey to the peak of the gods, Mahameru

At the Peak of Mount Semeru
At the Peak of Mount Semeru

“You’ll never know what the mountain will teach you”

That’s a quote from some “pro-hikers” I’ve ever heard. People told me that hiking is pretty much like reflection of life. There are goals, efforts, challenges and everything. The way people face things while hiking will be most likely the same with how they face their life. So hiking is sort of life’s training I guess. For me, hiking is also getting closer to the nature. It is wonderful to see how wide the world is and how remarkable things God ever created.  Most importantly, being grateful by stop harms the environment. hehe. Oh well, I’m sooo Aristotle – far too philosophical :mrgreen:

Anyway, In Dec 2013, I got 3 weeks off – good time to plan for a great escape, rite? I looked over some trip schedules in BPI website and saw a trip arranged by I register. Pay for the trip. Book tickets. Reserve a homestay. Contact people. Done. Simple, huh? 🙂  and finally, my dream to stand at the highest point in Java Island came true. 

Here are the path I have followed through.

Semeru Trekking Path
Semeru Trekking Path with Elevation profile

For more details. Check out google earth navigation below :

Ready? break a leg, people!!

Ranu Kumbolo

Since depart from Malang station, the rain was quite heavy -unpleasant thing to begin with. For some reasons, some of us did not come on time, so we arrived in Ranu Pane at 16:00, 3 hours behind schedule. I immediately had some early dinner. Get some food prior to start trekking is very important. Looking to schedule, seems impossible to have a camp in Ranu Pane since we have limited time for the whole trip itself. We decided to go ahead whatever it takes and seems like everybody’s agree. In normal condition, it usually takes 4 hours only to get to Ranu Kumbolo even for a beginner. Guess how long does it take for us to get there? 7 hour!! :mrgreen: . I think this is the most tiring trekking from a whole trip. Night trekking in raining condition is truly a challenge. Beside, lack of light, slippery trek and the fact that quite a lot of fell tree become significant problems.  Avoid night trekking if you want easier trail with nice view. Good thing was we went in a group so whenever one of us feel tired, then a whole people would take a break. Also, I have nice conversation along the journey with my new family (at least for 4 days :mrgreen: ) that make me less-stress. Thanks buddies!

Watu Rejeng
Watu Rejeng, one of mystical place in Semeru. Beautiful though. It is 6 km from Ranu Pane, 4.5 km more heading to Ranu Kumbolo.

The rain was getting heavier as we get closer to Ranu Kumbolo. The wind was getting chiller as well. I keep eating some chocolate – food that’s considered could provide good sources of energy and Jelly to help prevent thirsty. Finally, after a super duper tiring journey, we happily reached our first destination, The Stunning Ranu Kumbolo 😯 . It feels so damn good. I immediately built a tent, cooked some instant food to get my body warm, and had some sleeping beauty. oh, so heavenly nice!

Ranu Kumbolo Lake with its camping ground
Ranu Kumbolo Lake with its camping ground

In the morning, I just have a couple hours to prepare for another 10 km trekking to the second shelter. But, I would never miss to enjoy this beautiful little heaven on earth. Looking Ranu Kumbolo from every side is amazing especially from Tanjakan Cinta. It is beautiful savanna with very tidy green-yellowish grass all around. Looks like it’s been regularly gardening (by the mothernature 🙂 ). The lake has a turquoise view with a very fresh water. Quiet. Oh, I’m in love with Ranu Kumbolo 🙂

The Stunning Ranu Kumbolo
The Stunning Ranu Kumbolo

Ranu Kumbolo is more than a camping ground. It is a water point as well. The lake has abundant fresh water. Don’t worry, nobody’s allowed to swim, pee, and throw some dirty and un-hygiene stuff into. In some special occasions, it is a favorite place for pre-wedding photo session. The place is sort of romantic, you know  :mrgreen: .

The Slove of Love :mrgreen:
The Slope of Love. Tanjakan Cinta.

Do you have romance problem? then go hiking to Semeru is good idea. When passing through “Tanjakan Cinta”, think of someone you like and don’t ever see behind. If you succeed, then that someone will be yours 😆 . If you have a spouse, just don’t look back when going up the hill, and you’ll live happily ever after 😆 . Such a silly myth :mrgreen:

Oro-Oro Ombo

Day 2 was scheduled to get Kalimati.  It is around 10 km away from Ranu Kumbolo, almost the same distance from what I had in the past day, but elevation is way more challenging. Although, It was tiring, the view, on the other hand, was incredibly wonderful. One of the most is Oro-Oro Ombo. If you have visited the Bromo’s Teletubbies hills, Oro-oro Ombo is pretty much identical. It is stunningly green-yellowish wide savanna with altitude more than 2600 m ASL. It was relaxing to be there.

Breathtaking view of Oro-oro Ombo.
Breathtaking view of Oro-oro Ombo.


Semeru View from Kalimati (picture of Ari Siaga)
Semeru View from Kalimati (picture of Ari Siaga)

The Official of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park only allow us to trek until this point. But most of the time, people are going up taking their own risk. Don’t worry, me too 🙂 . However, don’t be a fool. We still have to keep in mind that safety is our first priority. So, when things were going wrong i.e. as bad weather or physical condition, then go summiting would be a terrible idea.

Kalimati is a shelter at which victims are evacuated before a rescue team come. So, some people think that this is another mystical place in Semeru Complex. However, I did not see any weird things happen. I think such a thing is sort of personal – mindset. Some friends of mine keep telling me to bring water as much as possible when going to Kalimati. Apparently yes. Actually, there is water point named “Sumber Mani”. Sadly it is around 45 minutes away to reach. But, the water is much fresher than Ranu Kumbolo has. It tastes very nice.

After all, Kalimati is perfect place to get a group picture with a whole Semeru mount as background despite depends on weather condition. On rainy season, fogging is often staying around.

Summiting Days

Again, It was raining ALL DAY LONG. Everybody’s looks hopeless. My tent-mate decided not to go up because they pretty sure it would be dangerous. The sand was susceptible to get slide and the dense fogging were most likely to occur in the morning. If rain were encountered, storm would probably be coming and a landslide of some giant stones would be threatening all of us. I was hopeless too anyway, but I still pray for the best.  People get some sleep earlier to get up at midnight for getting the summit.

I woke up quite late, while everybody had been ready with the entire outfits and food supplies. It was very surprising that no rain was observed. The sky was quite clear that I could even see the stars and moon. It was a good sign from God that chasing summit would be possible. Yiha! Other group has been departed since 23:00 to have plenty of time climbing whereas my group started at 01:00 AM. Late for sure :mrgreen:

There is one shelter along the way to the peak, Arcopodo, which is only 1.2 km away from Kalimati. You might be thinking that it would be like “walking in the park” as you have trekked for 18 km more before. Man, If you think that way, you’re wrong because it sloped up extremely. Arcopodo is predominantly a dense pines forest with some steep valley. People are suggested to watch out their step with maximum alert. The trail is very clear with some signs along the way, hence you’re less likely to get lost. Arcopodo is in altitude of 2900 (from the sign board 🙂 ). People mostly take a break here before facing a more challenging path ahead. After trekking for 15 minutes, you will start entering a long extremely-slope sandy environment where no single vegetation left which is named Cemoro Tunggal. Welcome to the real Semeru trek, very challenging!

I think I have taken break like million times. Oh, it seriously tiring, enjoyable though :mrgreen: . Good things is I have an altimeter on my watch. It was very helpful since it constantly measured the altitude. So, I could navigate my position at all times. I turn my altimeter on, it showed 3100 m asl 😯 . Oh no, It just 200 meters height than Kalimati 😥 which mean I need to climb more than 500 ft or two times as high as what I have done. I turn my body and see the city view behind. Looking that beautiful thing is kind of mood booster for me. It was more beautiful as I get higher. Too bad, I left my camera down there. Should be beautiful to capture the view with low-light setting.

Typical Semeru Trail
Typical Semeru trek (on daylight), I was there climbing the mount at midnight. The city view was incredible.

I step on the sand and stone, almost every 15 step and take a break. Good thing when summiting in rainy season is that the sand is firm. So I think it becomes easier. Lucky me, I brought trekking pole, trekking shoes, and gaiter. Seriously, they helped a lot. I could not imagine what would happen without them, the grainy sand would be coming into my shoes easily and that would be very annoying. It is so time-consuming to clean your shoes up while summiting, rite?  So all those things are strongly recommended to bring, I suppose. Using sandal (even “sandal gunung”) to summit is such a terrible idea especially in sandy environment that a volcanoes always has. Trust me.

I left behind my entire group mate. I just can see the light of their headlamp far away down there. I accidentally get involved with other people who did not even know each other :mrgreen: . Don’t be alone there. Buddy system is a must. Climbing really need so much water. It’s easy to get thirsty. I brought pretty much water supply around 2 liters, which is enough even for sharing with others. I saw there are some people who did not bring water at all 😯 .  Man, don’t be stupid. Summit without water is a suicide.

I feel the wind was getting worse. It was chilly like crazy. I did not bring any thermometer and my sensor on my watch seems unreliable but I guess it was around 4 degC. I need to keep moving on while constantly stretching up my fingers to make my body warmer. One hour later, I check on alti again. It supposed to be 200 m more. I speed up my footstep. Oh, it was getting harder. Well, sunrise has not coming yet but it will appear in any minute. I breathed a bit hard. After reached some giant stones that almost fall down, I step further and see a sort of ground, which is flat and quite wide. Oh my God, I just reached what so-called The Mahameru 😯 . Ahhhh, congratulations and welcome to the peak of the gods!!

First thing I do when reaching Mahameru is Sujud Syukur. I did quite a while with a little bit moved, a bit crying actually. hehe. Alhamdulillah, it is the most enjoyable sujud syukur I’ve ever had 🙂 . I got some Mahameru sand in hand to get tayyamum. I laid my scarf down as sajadah and conducted shubuh prayer immediately. Alhamdulillah, Shubuh praying in the peak felt really really something. I stand up and exhale deeply enjoying some chilly air. I closed my eyes for a moment. Ahhh…So nice 🙂 . I saw a series of clouds beautifully sprawling in front of me. It was like carpet with nice blue and some blurry golden color that about to appear. I saw another side of the peak; the city light started getting dimmer. Finally, the beautiful miracle was coming, welcome Mahameru’s sunrise 🙂

Sunrise at Mahameru. Gorgous!
Sunrise at Mahameru. Gorgeous!

It was the time to take some pictures. I grab my all-weather-pocket-camera and my mobile phone. At some point, I felt terrible to let my DSLR camera in my tent but alhamdulillah, the view remained remarkable even with my not-sophisticated camera. Sunrise in the peak of mountain is always gorgeous. Indeed, God’s creatures are all beautiful 🙂 .

Beside the awesome sunrise, there is other phenomenon, which I think very cool. In the southern peak of Semeru, there is a crater named “Jonggring Saloko”. Almost every 30 minutes, it explodes smog called “Wedhus Gembel”. I guess it is lethal. Fortunately, the wind was heading to the south in morning while we were in the north. Don’t stay there no later than 09:00 AM, wind direction will be heading otherwise. Also, don’t forget to bring oxygen bottle in case there is some kind of anomaly.

Wedhus Gembel at Jonggring Saloko Crater
Wedhus Gembel at Jonggring Saloko Crater

I saw the sky was getting brighter. My friend came up one by one. I still enjoy some super chilly wind while taking picture in every side of the peak. We get some group picture then. Seems like only 9 out of 17 friend that has reached the peak. For safety reason, we need to go down again.

The Summiteers, my team-mate (picture of Elly)
The Summiteers, my team-mate (picture of Elly)
Stupid Altimeter. Need to be calibrated.
Stupid Altimeter. Need to be calibrated.

Well, I think Semeru is dream for Indonesian hikers. Beside some challenging trails, it offers stunningly natural charms that will entice anyone. Seriously, It was worth it. FYI, I brought along a-18-kg hiking backpack, a-2-kg camera bag and hand-carried a-3-kg tent for more than 20 km long (one way), but once I get the summit, there was only joy and satisfaction. It was here that most of us forget about our pains 🙂 . Indeed, everything you have accomplished after so much effort you have done will always be very sweet, trust me  🙂  . Beside that, you’ll never know what is your truly strength until push yourself to the maximum limit. hehe. I still can’t believe I have stand at the top of Java. You know how does it feel? It’s totally amazing!

So, that’s some of bunch the lesson learn I got. If you think you’ll impressed your friend after reaching the peak, well, that’s just pathetic. You got nothing but compliment. However, when you could interpret the true meaning of hiking, which is not just even chasing the summit, then you may not forget things God have taught you in the rest of your life.

Let’s go hiking some more 🙂

3 thoughts on “Journey to the peak of the gods, Mahameru

  1. Great article. Will climb tomorrow. Pray for my safety and my friends’ as well. Hope we’ll make it to the top, i.e. dengan izin Allah.

  2. Thanks buddy. Break a leg! remember, nothing is more important than our safety. Selamat menikmati indahnya ciptaan Tuhan disana 🙂

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