Three for Thirty:
Climbing Indonesian Volcanoes for my Birthday

Those of you who know me well know that I try and climb a mountain for my birthday every year. I have been doing this for quite some time now, and my aim is always to be at the summit for sunrise on my birthday. With my 30th coming up in mid-August, I’ve been trying to figure out what mountain I wanted to attempt, especially given that last year’s Kilimanjaro trip was cancelled due to bronchitis and the whole “tearing two tendons in my ankle” thing. Combing through Joanna’s Bali & Lombok guidebook whilst she was here provided me with a perfect answer: there are three sacred Indonesian volcanos, allowing me to climb one for each decade of my life.

Climbing Volcanoes in Indonesia? Let’s do this.

Here are the mountains I’m aiming for during the time before (and during) my 30th birthday. I’ve looked into climbing volcanoes in Indonesia generally but I have narrowed on these three since they are the most renowned and also happen to be within reach from where I will be.

Gunung Rinjani: Active stratovolcano 3,726m (12,224 ft) high. Disturbingly active, actually – its most recent eruption was mere months ago on May 10, 2009. As a result, I cannot summit, but can get to the first rim where there is a crater lake called Segara Anak and – I’ve been told – see flowing magma. Mmmm…magma.

Gunung Agung: Semi-active stratovolcano 3,142m (10,308 ft) high. Last eruption was in 1964. The Balinese maintain that Agung is a replica of Mount Meru, and many embark upon the arduous climb to Pura Besakih, nestled high up on the mountain and the most important temple in Bali. Climbers are not permitted to start a summit attempt until the final prayers of the day at the temple, for fear of disturbing malevolent spirits.

Gunung Bromo: Active strato volcano with a sulfur-filled caldera 2,329m (7,641 ft) high. Last eruption was in 2007. Located in East Java, it involves a dawn climb, followed by a trek across the mountain’s “sea of sand”.

I am currently on Gili Trawangan, and taking a sketchy slow boat for five days (sleeping on the deck of the ship!) to Komodo and Flores. My plan is to fly from Flores back to Mataram in Lombok and attempt Rinjani before my Indonesian visa runs out. I’ll be flying out of the country and back in again two weeks later so that I can get another 30 days to do the other two mountains. I hope to be on Agung for my actual birthday.

More to come about Bali and Indonesia after Komodo and Flores!
-Jodi