Asia, Indonesia, Lombok, Travel

Snapping my ACL climbing Mount Rinjani

From Gili T we took a fast boat to Bangsal on Lombok’s main island. We wanted to climb the volcano of Mountain Rinjani as the view from the top is said to be stunning, as well as viewing inside the volcano where there appears to be ‘a volcano in a volcano’ surrounded by a sulphurous lake.

Straight off the boat, people were on us trying to get us to book their tour. I had met many people on my trip who had done this, I had a rough idea of how much I should pay. We negotiated with a couple of guys and eventually found one guy we liked and went with him to his tour office (front garden of his house down the street) to negotiate more.

We managed to get the price to 1,000,000Rp which was about £50 at the time. This included a 2-day hike, one day up, one day down, with an overnight stay in a tent at the top and all meals. Not too bad I thought. It also included a night’s accommodation in Senaru, the starting point of the hike in the foothills of Rinjani and car transportation to Senaru. Bargain!

We arrived at our extremely modest guest house room, it was freezing even just this high up and we had no hot water, but the views were amazing. We headed into the village to grab food and snacks and then got an early night ready for the trek in the morning.

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Leaving Gili T and heading to Bangsal
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Rinjani shrouded in cloud… it looked cold!
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Our beautiful room
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Local shop

The hike up to the camping point was very hard work, it was basically all steps chiseled into the mountainside and secured with bamboo or wooden slats. We were given walking sticks, but they didn’t help. Again, I was grateful that it was after I had already been travelling for 7 months, I was quite fit, but unprepared. We passed people on the trek kitted out in real mountaineering gear with proper boots (I was wearing trainers) and two proper walking poles… hardcore. I had one jumper, some cotton pants and a packet of fags… actually the cigarettes came in handy to hand out to our porters and guides who were very appreciative and chatted to us because of it! 😉

After a few hours of the steep steps, we started walking on more shallow trails of dirt and also ash and shale. It was getting cold, but in the sun it was still sweltering and by the time we reached the top I was dripping with sweat, covered in dust and my right knee was in agony. I figured a rest would help and I’d be ok the next day…

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Our group for the day; Harry and Frenchie, Christian and Mette, Me and Jer, Matt and Anna

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The sun was bright!
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Spotting the lake through the trees…
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Volcano within a volcano!
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Looking very sweaty and dusty!
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My tent for the night
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Sunset

We woke in the morning after a freezing cold night. All I had were my long cotton trousers, a vest, a t-shirt and my rubbish jumper. I also had my scarf. I was not prepared for this very well! Because of the cold night sleeping on the cold ground, my knee felt far worse the next day and I could barely walk. It was going to be a tough decent down the mountain.

The views at sunrise made up for it though, and the sky was so clear we could see all the way to the Gili Islands.

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Sunrise

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The morning was very cold!

Unfortunately, as we were leaving the campsite, we could see the remains of our stay and the impact we had. It wasn’t nice and we spoke to our guide about the porters leaving all their rubbish on the mountain… 😦 That’s when we learned that Lombok isn’t as clean as Bali.

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Rubbish left on the mountainside 😦

The walk down the mountain was so painful. I ended up way at the back of the group and had to take multiple rest stops. The guide kept putting tiger balm on my knee, but it didn’t do anything… 6 months later, once I had returned home, I went for an MRI scan since my knee was still giving me trouble. I was told that I had actually torn my ACL in my right knee and that I would need surgery to fix it…

Unfortunately, the knee injury affected everything I did from this point on. I struggled walking and swimming/snorkelling. Even when I got home I was struggling and in pain… It did slowly get better with physio and gym work, as I built up the muscles around it and other ligaments. I never got surgery in the end and 3 years later I was back playing netball… that’s when my left ACL snapped(!) but that’s a different story and I did get surgery on that one – don’t worry, both knees are now intact!

Back to Lombok…

Jer and I eventually made it down Rinjani after 8 hours of slow downhill, painful walking. Rinjani was beautiful, but it will sadly always be remembered as the volcano that broke me…

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Trying the capture the moment, not create it!
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Thanks Rinjani….

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