I know a new entry is long overdue here, and I apologize. I have been busy at work and to be very frank I am currently enjoying my desk job. Now that is something I thought I would never say.
I meant to write entirely about my Mount Kerinci journey in a single entry, but halfway through I thought I should be describing the practical details of the trek, what could be helpful and whatnot. Eventually I reconstructed it into two parts and this will be the first. The second will chronicle my journey.
But for now I hope you guys find the details below useful; and I hope too I would do justice to you.
Unlike Peninsular Malaysia’s mountains (where you would trek up and down, hit a flat trail or go round and round the path in form of spirals which resulted in longer hikes and took you forever to reach the summit), I can safely say the trek is 95% an uphill battle. From what I have been told by friends with numerous experiences in climbing told me Indonesian mountains’ treks are like this too – straightforward and no beating around the bush.
Checkpoints are as below:
- Pintu Rimba / Post 1 (1,800 m)
- Pos Batu Panjang / Post 2 (1,909 m)
- Post Batu Lumut / Post 3 (2,000 m)
- Shelter 1 (2,225 m)
- Shelter 2 (2,510 m)
- Shelter 3 (3,073 m)
- Tugu Yudha / Yudha’s Monument (3,351 m)
- Summit (3,805 m)
Treks between Pintu Rimba to Shelter 3 come in the form of tropical rainforest; lush and luxurious green vegetations with cool shades. Things take a dramatic turn from Shelter 3 to Summit – gravel-laden trek in an open space surroundings. The air can get really dusty with sulphur-laden wind blowing on your face.
Water points are available at every checkpoints / shelters and it ends at Shelter 3. I could not locate where the water points are and it would be best to leave the job of obtaining water to the experienced guides. The water should be safe to consume and unless you have a delicate stomach or generally very anal about safe drinking water, then I do not foresee any issue.
Mount Kerinci is usually conquered between two and three days, depending on your stamina or your timing.
For 2 days 1 night trek:
- Day 1: Pintu Rimba – Shelter 3 (campsite)
- Day 2: Shelter 3 – Summit (sunrise attack) – Shelter 3 – Pintu Rimba
For 3 days 2 nights trek:
- Day 1: Pintu Rimba – Shelter 1 or 2
- Day 2: Shelter 1 or 2 – Summit – Shelter 3 or 2
- Day 3: Shelter 3 or 2 – Pintu Rimba
The 2 days trek felt a little bit rushed to me and I would recommend it for at least intermediate-level climbers if you wish not to trouble any members of your team, to trek only during the day and arrive at Shelter 3 before the Sun goes down. Extended breaks are discouraged as well.
Though I did not do the 3 days trek, from my observation I would say it is too relaxed and a waste of time. While you would definitely arrive at either campsite in broad daylight on the first day, you will have to cover the still-long distance between Shelter 2 and Summit (even longer from Shelter 1) and to return to campsite on the second day.
RISKS AND HAZARDS
Unless you are crazy enough to climb Mount Kerinci during the volcanic eruptions (hot lavae, sulphur smokes, etc), it is safe from any potential physical harm. Though Mount Kerinci is still listed as an active volcano, it usually spewed harmless puss rather than angry eruptions.
Do you believe in the parallel universe, spirits or paranormals? Then the whole ordeal of being in the woods in Mount Kerinci would definitely spooks you out. As would any other forests in Indonesia, Kerinci-Seblat National Park is replete of such otherworldly creatures. Though I have never encountered such occurrences in life, I somehow was wary about my eerie surroundings and I would definitely felt its presence. To be safe I would say try not to climb during night time.
Then there are always cases of accidental deaths and disappearance without a trace. The most famous case was Yudha Sentika, a 17-year old boy from Bandung who vanished without a trace in 1991 while descending from the summit moving towards Shelter 3. Legend has it he disappeared in a thick fog and never to be seen again once it subsided. A monument was erected in his honor at the very last point he was seen by anyone, 500 meters below the summit.
The latest case disappearance was being only about a month ago on the last week of December 2014. Setiawan Maulana, a 22-year old university graduate from Bekasi, Jakarta was reported to be seen last at Tugu Yudha by his teammates after descending from Kerinci peak. Search and Rescue (SAR) teams were assembled and sent into the woods but efforts were fruitless. After about 3 weeks, the rescue efforts were called off on 18 January 2015.
Immediately after the mishap, the Kerinci -Seblat was closed for all mountaineering events until further notice.
Come to think of it, we were lucky to make it down in one piece.
EQUIPMENTS & PREPARATIONS
Since getting into the Kerinci-Seblat National Park requires engaging local guides and their services, bulk of logistic arrangements can be left to them. Accommodations (in the form of a few 4-men tents) and meals (local dishes) are provided by the guides. For a fee, you can also have them to carry your loads (depending on weight and totally negotiable). We did not hire any guides to carry our bags, as we only carried a small daypack containing personal items for the short 2 days 1 night trip.
- Apparels: Beanie, gloves, versatile sports headwear (buff – protections against bad weather) base layers (shirt and pants, on body), jacket, convertible pants, long football socks, waterproof hiking boots
- Equipments: inflatable pillow, foldable sleeping mat, sleeping bag, personal backpack
- Gears: Heavy duty headlamp, 3L hydration system (water reservoir), personal camera
- Energy fuel: Snickers, energy tablet, mineral water
- Miscellaneous: Personal medication, Diamox, mess tin
I usually restrain myself from saying anything bad or being critical about something, but I don’t think I could just keep quiet looking at two pressing issues.
- Cleanliness – garbage is all over the place. While the situation is not dire, it is a sore sight. You would see candy / biscuit wrappers and empty water bottles on trek; and piles of rubbish too at campsites and checkpoints.There is not much consideration to actually bring down the trashes down to the starting point and eventually to the disposal centre. I am somehow puzzled how no one really cared to preserve the national park’s cleanliness – perhaps I should direct my frustration to the park’s authorities.
- Safety – it is preached, but not exactly practised. In an ideal mountain expedition arrangement, there would be a leader and at least a sweeper to assist / accompany the slow hiker(s) at the back of the line. In my case, a friend and I trekked alone at the back while the next in line was well an hour or two ahead of us. I consider myself a mountain trekker rather than a mountain tourist so this was not a huge deal for me; but this would be an issue for the latter or when injury / accident happen.
There could be various reasons for disappearances, injuries or deaths (in extreme situation) – and I definitely would say this can be attributed to the lax of safety.