Sabtu, 30 Maret 2013

Climbing Mount Kerinci - The Highest Peak at Sumatera

Dear Readers,
Here's a note on Mount Kerinci climbing by guest writer Paman. Enjoy his Kerinci moment as well as admire spectacular view of Mount Kerinci's peak. 
I'd like to thank Paman for contributing to, 
appreciate so much your detailed information about climbing Mount Kerinci
hope it will benefit our readers !!

About Mount Kerinci

Mount Kerinci is loacated at Jambi Province, Sumatera, and considered to be the highest mountain in Sumatera, with its peak’s height 3805 meter ASL (above sea level). Mount Kerinci is an active volcano,  last erupted in 2009. Mount Kerinci exists in the area of Kerinci Seblat National Park, which is the sanctuary of Sumateran tigers.

How To Get To Mount Kerinci

Despite its location in Jambi province, an easier access to Mount Kerinci is from Padang, the capital city of West Sumatera Province. On our journey several months ago, my friend and I departed from Soekarno-Hatta (Jakarta) airport at  19.30 local time (GMT+7), arrived at Padang at 21.30 (after 30-minute flight delay). We joined 3 other friends at Padang and continued our journey by rented cars. Unlike in Java where intercity/province rented cars are dominated by high capacity cars like Mitsubishi Elf,L-300, Pregio, here in Padang they use Avanza. With total 8 persons including a driver, this small car was crazy full. Well, we had to stack our single-door-refrigerator-sized carrier atop of the car.

At 22.30 we headed to Kersik Tuo Village, Kayu Aro Regency. Once the journey started I soon understood why they use small-sized cars. The road is narrow with many turns !! So that fat cars like L-300 or Elf will be less frisky to maneuver, especially when they meet other cars from the opposite direction.

Road condition is quite good (actually I was dead asleep so maybe there’re some not-so-good road part during my sleep :-D), and there’re road repairment at some points . During the journey we stopped twice at a warung (small restaurant), for a total 1 hour. These warungs  are used as rest area for cars passing through this route. The second warung has a simple hostel next to it.

Around 06.00  we arrived at Kersik Tuo, headed straight to basecamp “Jejak Kerinci” to meet our porters and guides. 7-hour journey really exhausted us, but still better compared to others who traveled from Jambi took 10-12 hours to reach Kersik Tuo…OMG!!!
Oh yes, you can reserve in advance this rented car by phone, the fare is IDR 125.000/pax,- from Padang’s airport to Kersik Tuo . They’ll pick you at the airport. Or if you opt to start from Padang city center, the fare is IDR  85.000.

Climbing Preparation

Kersik Tuo village in Kayu Aro Regency is a village at Kerinci’s foot that’s commonly used as a start point/ base camp for Mount Kerinci climbing. The village, sits on + 1400 meter ASL, has fresh cool air , and surrounded by tea plantation. You can buy logistical preparation here, and there’s a lodge if you need to spend a night or two.

A pretty suprising fact was there’re many Javanese reside in Kersik Tuo. When a lady in the market spoke Javanese language, I was really surprised. Later she told  me that their ancestors were mobilized from Java to Sumatera by the Dutch (during Dutch colonization in Indonesia- between  17th to 20th century), and were employed as workers at the tea plantation or tea factory. After generations, they still use their mother tongue.

At 14.30 all carriers were stacked once more atop of our L-300 car, ready to transfer us to the starting point. The driver was skilled enough to arrange 16 giant carriers on the car’s roof rack. After, the 18 passengers got straight into the car, filling each and every space available. Uuh, you can imagine how hard it was just to take a breath! Luckily, in 20 minutes we arrived in the middle of a field : the starting point !

Climbing the Kerinci

Day-1, Friday Nov 17th  2012.

All 16 climbers from ELKAPE Team, with 2 porters Sutriandi and Heru gathered at 15.00 , started with a prayer, asking for God’s guidance and protection in this hourney, and that He gave each of us strength and spirit to help each other. Mount Kerinci climbing route starts with Pos Awal (starting post),   Pintu Rimba (Jungle Gate), Pos 1, Pos 2, Pos 3 and then Shelter 1, Shelter 2, Shelter 3 and the Kerinci Peak. Bright shiny weather brought positive ambience among us, boosted to  reach our first-day goal : Shelter 1.

Trekking path from start point to  Pintu Rimba is dominated by farm. As we entered Pintu Rimba.. the wilderness of Sumateran forest ambushed us all at once. Tall dense trees block the sunlight, makes every rock and trunk’s surface covered with moss. Disturbed by our presence, monkeys up on the trees squealed anxiously. First day trek was relatively sloping, we passed through Pos 1 to Pos 3 slowly and without any major obstacle.

Finally at around 20.00, we arrived at Shelter 1 , as it began raining. We quickly built tents for that night. Shelter 1 is located at 2225 ASL, at which height will rarely found babyrousa, deers dan other mammals, including their predator the Sumateran Tigers. This is the main reason why Kerinci climbers should  not build a tent and spend overnight before Shelter 1, to protect themselves from the King of the Jungle.

We spent the first night resting in the tent. Heavy rain outside prevented us from exploring outside the tent. Honestly, going into a jungle where wild sumateran tigers live gives a certain pressure to me. At night, when the emboweling  task is calling, we have to find a safe place to dig for a jungle toilet. We don’t want to be followed by a tiger. I silently whispered, please don’t attack me, as my meat is already hard and bitter L.

Day-2, Saturday Nov 18th  2012.

 We finished packing our logistics and tent at 08.30, ready to start our journey today. Our target is Shelter 3. The team was complete today as our guide Johan joined us. The trek was steeper than first day’s, and the heavy rain last night  had turned the track into mud and significantly slowed the whole team up. At some points we had to crawl the steep slippery mud track holding on some roots or anything we could hold to balance each step made.

The surroundings was still the same with previous day : tall tress with moss on the trunks. The ray of the sun couldn’t penetrate dense trees. Some tracks were eroted deeply by water from the rain, forming a V-shaped alley of ± 1 m height that’s  wide enough for us to walk through.  The wall of the alley was damp and covered with moss.

After Shelter 2 the track became steeper. The “V” got deeper and higher, mostly 1.5-2.5 m height. Despite walking on the water-eroted steep lane, we had to walk on the upper side of the track, holding on any root, branch, trunk, anything . I knew well the risk of doing this: got slipped or wrongly hold on a broken tree branch and fell into the bottom of water lane 2.5 m down, with 15 kg carrier on the back !

As we approached shelter 3 the surroundings was getting sandy, the plantation was dominated by 2-3 m height Cantigi, a species that grows at certain height ASL. Also seen was Edelweis. It was 14.00 WIB and  thin mist came down accompanying our steps. As we took out our camera and snapped some pictures, we ignored our exhausted feeling for a moment.

At 14.30 we arrived at Shelter 3, a plateau at 3300 ASL with sandy soil . Platations are rarely found. And again, it’s raining as we built our tents. Soon after the rain stopped, the mist fell around the surroundings, brought cold air. Not much to do that night, only card playing, joking around, then took a rest to adjust our bodies to the height, and preparing for summit-attack on the next day. 

Day-3, Sunday Nov 19th  2012 : Stepping to The Peak of Mount Kerinci

03.30 before day, team’s got ready to climb Mt. Kerinci’s peak. But..outside our will, it started to rain, so we decided to wait till it stop. Luckily, the rain stopped at 05.00. We hurried up gather and pray, unite our spirit and ask for guidance dan protection from The Lord. In ten minutes, in the darkness of the dawn, our team was seen as a line of flickering   flashlight, moving together to the peak.

The route was dominated by sand and gravel, there’s no plantation grow at this height. We followed through the existing sandy trek. Once you step outside the trek, you’ll feel the ground avalanching under your feet. It’s more than 3000 meter ASL there, and the oxygen density is low – making it exhausting to take one single step. Stopped for a while and turned my eyes down the valley, I saw the light of the sun emerged among the mist. Vaguely on the distance, the green of the forest came into view. 

After walking for more or less 2.5 hours, we finally reached Mt. Kerinci’s peak. Strong wind current pulled the temperature down to 8o C amid the sunny day. The peak of Mt. Kerinci is only a thin track of ± 2 m width, with canyon on the left and volcano crater on the right. We got to step very carefully to prevent from slipping into one of those position. From the top of the Mount Kerinci, we could see the crater distinctly, its magical green color with thin white smoke. And would you be careful, on crater side looked brittle and I saw crack on some positions. 

puncak kerinci

The view from Mt.Kerinci ‘s peak was incredibly breathtaking ! Bukit Barisan mountain range on the north, the Indian Ocean on the west, with white cottonball-like cloud floating in the air. Comparing to other mountain’s peak, Mt. Kerinci is relatively similar to Mt. Merapi in Central Java. Both have narrow peak with canyon on the left and right. While, Mt. Semeru’s peak is a flat rocky sphere.

puncak kerinci

One thing captured during climbing Mt.Kerinci was the cleanliness of the track. Unlike mountains in Java at which you’re guaranteed to find litter such as instant noodle packs, mineral water bottles, etc, Mt. Kerinci is very clean and we hardly saw any of those inorganic rubbish. Maybe, it’s because less people climb Mt.Kerinci compared to those at Java. But as I noticed, our guide and porters were all very concerned about such thing, and they consistently cleaned any trash and brought them back down the mountain. Highest appreciation for the porters and guide !!
After almost 1 hour taking photos at the peak, we started to go back, following the same path. We took advantage during this down track, by stepping outside the existing track and let the avalanching sand slide our body down. Thus, not much energy was drained and we reached Shelter3 in 1.5 hours.

Reaching the tents, we quickly packed up, collecting inorganic trash to be brought back down the mountain. At 12.30 WIB the whole team started to move down through the same path. We got different challenge on the way down : it’s not much energy-consuming as when we went up, but we had to maintain constant step, and as it began to rain the path became more slippery.

During the journey down, we took only twice stop at Shelter 1 and Pos 2. Dense rain  pushed ous to keep on moving so that body temperature could be maintained to counter low temperature. My palms got stiff, so I crumpled up my hands, made movement by opening and closing my fingers towards my palms, hoping it could keep fluent blood circulation and prevent from hypothermia.    I did it all the way down and it finally felt my finger tips warm again.

For almost 3 hours we  walked in the rain, until it finally stopped, leaving muddy tracks behind our footsteps.  We kept moving, and at 18.30 (total 6 hours trekking) we arrived at our destination, the same point where we started our journey. Our car had been waiting for us to take us back to Kersik Tuo Village. We thank God for His guidance and protection during our journey, so we all could finish Mount Kerinci climbing safely.

Follow on how Paman conquer the Carstensz Pyramid - the highest in Indonesia, and one of the seven summits with various high-level challenge : tropical forest, swamps, savannahs and steep cliffs. 

Tips for First Timers to Mount Kerinci:

·         Use local guide/porter service, as this will provide greater safety
·         You can get logistics at Kersik Tuo, don’t bother bringing them from Jakarta/Padang
·         Don’t leave inorganic trash at the mountain, bring them back with you as you go down.
·         Obey your guide and show respect to what locals say about safety issues
·         Consider to bring a small size Personal Oxygen System, it might help during summit attack.

puncak kerinci

by: Paman – a nature devotee