The last place you want to be when a storm rolls in is probably on the mountains. And being out there, at the mercy of nature, not being prepared for whatever’s thrown at you is the last thing you want to do.
Apparently, I am an all-or-nothing kind of person. It’s either we go all in or go home.
So here is yet another adventure-turned-misadventure!
27 October 2016. I decided to celebrate my 22nd birthday by trekking the highest and holiest mountain in Bali – Mt. Agung. 13 hours of a near-death trekking experience (no biggie) to catch the birthday sunrise.
First off, Mt. Agung was, by far, the craziest thing (and most technical hike) I’ve done in my life. And, to be honest, I thought I was gonna nail the hike despite the difficulty but I guess shit happens and things just really don’t always go our way. Looking back, the shit-scared face is all I see. One wrong step could send you to death in just a blink.
Why Mt. Agung?
With a handful number of things to do, hiking in Bali remains to be one of the best excursions when visiting Indonesia. Although it presents risks, connecting with nature is still the best one there is and taking a hike up Bali’s highest mountain, Mt. Agung, gives you that opportunity.
Now you could be asking me why not Mt. Batur instead. My answer to that is simple — it’s the HIGHEST mountain and the MOST CHALLENGING trek. So how can someone so hungry for adventure say no to that? Also, Mt. Batur is very touristy.
Plus, women should always go for the best! *pun intended*
Know Before You Go
By any chance, would I go and hike Mt. Agung again? 80-NO, 20-YES. It really is an arduous task, a serious adventure, not for the faint-hearted, and definitely not recommended for unfit people. In fact, not everyone who hikes up makes it to the summit. Not even 50%! Am I kidding? NO. Says who? Our guide and locals around.
So, to help you make up your mind, here is a list of things you should know before you decide to hike up Mt. Agung.
- Mt. Agung stands 3142 above sea level
- Trekking the mountain is FREE and no permits are required. But please don’t hike without a guide! There are guided tours available but I highly suggest taking a local one instead.
- It’s an overnight hike — you are bound to start the hike at 10 PM to reach the peak between 4-6 AM. Descent starts around 7-8 AM
- Best time to go: April to September
- Make sure you have slept enough to help you get through the long hike
- Short trek: 8h (up and down) in normal speed
- The peak of Mt. Rinjani in Lombok island can be seen from this point
- Most popular one
- Highly recommended for mountain beginners
- The new alternative route to the summit: Starting from Pasar Agung Temple
- Duration hike: 12h (up and down)
- Via Besakih Temple: The longest trek to the summit
- Duration hike will take around 14hrs in normal speed (more if you’re unfit)
- Not recommended for inexperienced hikers
Our guide was Wayan Darha and he was awesome!
Phone: +62 85 237 008 513
Whatsapp: +62 85 237 008 513
What to bring?
- Camera (you can’t miss the incredible view)
- Solid trekking shoes (not running, please! and solid enough to save you from falling)
- Windproof jacket
- Warm clothes/layered clothing (it gets really freaking cold)
- Drinking water (min. 2 liters)
- Chocolate (endorphins!)
- Gloves (YES!)
- A STRONG WILL TO FINISH!!!
From Besakih Temple
As mentioned above, there are other options but if you aim to experience the real hike and you want to reach the actual summit with flying colors, then this is the route you need to take.
The first 4-5 hours is a consistent uphill climb in pitch black. If you are unfit, then expect a much longer time. Everything was thrice as hard. Mostly was climbing on all fours, no ropes, and struggling not to slide back down. Being physically fit isn’t enough. One must seriously show pure mental strength to keep pressing on.
The sight of reaching the end of tree line will eventually show up and there you have bigger rocks and gigantic boulders waiting for you to be climbed over.
Unfortunately, a storm starts rushing in just after we got out of the tree line. This was when I started to freak out. I used to believe it was rather a shower of blessing as it was my birthday but the wind was telling otherwise. I can even barely stand, I was literally being blown off by the strong wind.
We couldn’t sight other hikers, it was pretty much empty around. Perhaps we didn’t get the memo. Perhaps just a bad luck. The situation was getting more serious. The fog was getting pretty thick. It was freezing cold. And my hands were extremely numb that I could barely hold myself to rocks. We stopped, sat, and waited for the weather to calm down. 10 minutes later, our guide asked us if we’d still want to reach the summit. He suggested saving the summit for next time as it was extremely dangerous. But because we were roughly 20 minutes from the summit, I was persistent enough to say “No, let’s do this!”. Although part of me was saying I was making the worst decision of my life.
As we continue our suicidal hike, the wind got even stronger and rain started to pour down. In my mind, “Yes, I am definitely making the worst decision of my life. No doubt.” A hard rain along with the vast wind… on a mountain. Best birthday indeed.
At the time, we had three options:
- Continue, almost is never enough, and most likely die
- Wait again til the weather calms down, which seemed like a long shot
- Cry for a moment, savor every minute of it, and start the descent
So then I thought it’d be nice to celebrate more birthdays so we started the descent.
The way down is arguably harder than the way up. Even harder as you hike down into the tree line. Having no ropes to help you through the steep slopes and slippery sand, prepare to tumble every couple meters. It was definitely more dangerous and technical than ascending.
Most parts of the descent were basically me rolling over, slipping down, taking deep breaths with my game face, just making an effort not to tumble off. My mood suddenly had a 180-degree turn. Man, it was hard and I couldn’t help but dwell on how miserable I felt. (HAHA) Shoutout to our guide who was always looking after me, giving me a hand nearly all through.
Suddenly it was nice to be walking in a flat range again but the pain started to kick in. The rain didn’t ease up and, as far as I can remember, it was raining the whole day. We made the right call, I guess.
Sure it made me feel bad for not reaching the summit, but I guess no matter how much resilience you have in you, you can’t go against mother nature. Despite not having the birthday sunrise, the hike was pretty incredible and the landscape was just cracking craaaazy. Oh, I survived a storm buildup on a mountain. A cherry on top, hey?
We can’t have control over certain situations yet we can for sure control the way we react. That day, I treated myself with my favorite Nasi Goreng and slacked around a beautiful villa in Ubud to soak my tired muscles. It was pretty tight but EPIC still!
MT. AGUNG IS A MUST FOR EVERY ADVENTURE-SEEKER OUT THERE.
Again, due to the damaged hard drive drama, I don’t have my photos anymore!