Mount Arjuno may only be the second highest peak in East Java but given its location, this mountain is a top pick for the vista it presents once conquering its heights.
Arjuno, whose name derives from the most flamboyant character from the Mahabarata, stands 3,339 meters above the sea level.
The highest mountain in Java, Mount Semeru, is next to Mt. Arjuno, and East Java’s other high peaks poke out from the clouds.
Several climbing routes are available; Tretes, Lawang, Purwosari and Batu-Selecta.
Eight of us took the Sumbergondo wild track, starting out at around 9 p.m.
The track is gently sloping but the overgrowth makes the trip quite a struggle.
We did plan for a night trek so that we could return to Sumbergondo village the next afternoon. Trailing up Arjuno usually takes around 5 to 6 hours.
Tired and sleepy, we decided to stop at a rather bare plain at midnight, unfolding a flysheet and sleeping bags, and agreed to set out again at dawn. Despite the cold, we fell asleep quickly — no one woke up at dawn.
We re-started the trail at around 9 a.m., aiming to reach the top by 2 p.m. But we were late, either because we walked too slowly or the forest seemed to have no end.
Arjuno is known for its eerie forest Lali Jiwo (literally means loss of consciousness). Earlier this year, two climbers got lost in the mount during a bad weather. They did not survive.
We finally reached a vegetation border at around 4 p.m. The border, according to our Sumbergondo friends, was called Kebutren, which is less than an hour’s slow walk from Arjuno’s rocky peak Puncak Ogal-Agil.
At the border, we put our bags nearby and only brought a daypack of mini stove, instant noodles and some water, with the intention that we could walk faster and reach the peak at sunset. Again, that was only a plan and we ended up enjoying the sunset and a dinner at Kebutren’s highest spot.
"Arjuno is known for its eerie forest Lali Jiwo (literally means loss of consciousness)."
We reached the 3,339 meter-high peak at almost 9 p.m. The night scenery was stunning as the Milky Way was above the sea of residential lights heading toward the cities, such as Malang and Surabaya.
It was sad to see the natural big rocks covered in graffiti.
Also interesting to see that under the Ogal-Agil rock was a bunch of flower petals, which seemed to be an offering locally called Sesajen. Earlier before the trip, we were told that a traditional ceremony, locally known as Ruwatan, was performed for Arjuno.
The downhill stretch wasn’t easy, thanks to branching paths and a lack of foresight when hiding our bags earlier.
We avoided Pasar Dieng, a plain where some there are memorials to missing climbers, so instead returned to Kebutren.
But we could not find the bags we had left at the border because a thick fog had settled on the area. One of our friends from Sumbergondo said: “Fellows, before we started this trip, I talked to the elders, who said that today was actually not your good day to climb this mount.”
Perhaps, telling us this before we left would have been more timely.
So we had to set up camp, around 3,000 meters above the sea, with no tent, no flysheet, no sleeping bags, no enough food and only drops of water. Should it has rained, we would have been doomed.
Despite the hardship, we did get to enjoy the sunrise and without the fog we were able to find our bags.