I was packed and ready to go, but ready for what was to come is a whole other story. I emptied my backpack reorganizing with the bare necessities for a couple days. The clothes I was wearing, a change of warm clothes for the top, a few security snacks, camera and most importantly some extra water. I knew this would be a tough three days, not to mention my head cold in full force. In reality I had no idea the intensity I would put myself through until it was too late to turn back. My stubbornness will have taken hold as I pushed myself and trudged on, one step at a time.
Loaded into the back of a truck we drove from Senaru to Sembalun (the start point closest to the summit). Purchasing our ticket and picking up last minute provisions, we set off into the first stages of hell. The trail was simply teasing us. A slight gradual climb for the first couple hours before we stopped for lunch. The ever churning clouds hid what lay ahead. From here it looked like nothing more than rolling plains with a slow increase in altitude. The supposed fear instilling arduous climb… maybe it’s a myth of sorts. Nope.
I was keeping a decent pace, not letting the mountain get inside my head, but it was battering away at the barrier I put up. The section hidden behind the clouds showed itself as I approached. It was not just a story. 45 degrees it seemed for the remaining 3-4 hours, around 800m. The mountain was gaining ground as my muscles began to ache, my feet becoming heavy. My head cold took over. A throbbing emanated through my skull in between labored breaths due to blocked sinuses combined with overexertion. The first half was purgatory, now I was in hell.
I never once thought I wouldn’t make it to the crater rim. I knew I would conquer as I wouldn’t allow failure in this. It was relentless, never ending it seemed. This was a mental and physical battle, of the like I haven’t put myself through in years. Counting to myself 1… 2… as I stumbled forward, bit by bit. I slowed dramatically, but slow was still forward. The pulse in my head brought me to a halt every few minutes as I waited for it to subside slightly.
I could see the top officially on the last segment of the ascent. A faint burst of adrenaline rushed through my veins. A numbness overcame my body as I climbed. My eyes breached the crater rim and the vista before me clearly showed its worth. Temporary collapse was inevitable as I caught my breath. I looked down the side I somehow scaled, proud of the accomplishment and then down the other. A volcanic crater holding a pale blue lake, an active smoldering volcano surrounded by rugged walls. It was a tremendous view I had a hard time turning away from. It’s a view that is earned and hidden from the people who aren’t willing to go the distance.
Making my way to the tents for dinner, my eyes were drawn up the summit. Tomorrow mornings problem, but from here it didn’t look too bad. Looks can be deceiving and I wasn’t falling for that again. 1450m was worth celebrating before concerning myself with 1100m in the dark.
To Be Continued…
Further details about the trek, price and amenities in Part 2.