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Semeru Volcano Summit Climb - 3,676 meters (12,060 ft)

July 23rd, 2008 - Indonesia

  • As part of my 2008 Indonesian volcano exploration, I just had to climb to the top of Semeru volcano. It is the highest peak in all of Java and is a very active volcano as well. It has been in a state of near constant eruption since 1967. Getting to the top is not easy. We trekked from Ranu Pani village, the closest settlement and camped at the base of the mountain where we then got up the next morning at 12:30 A.M. to begin the summit push. The ash cone is so loose and unstable that each step upwards was accompanied by a slide backwards. This made it a lot harder than a normal mountain of the same height.
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  • Just after sunrise, we made it to the top and were greeted by many spectacular eruptions. The summit region can be a very dangerous place and many people have died there by getting too close to the active crater. The volcano can be unpredictable and you never know when a larger eruption could occur.
  • Climbing the Exploding Semeru Volcano

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    An eruption above the huge ash cone of Semeru.

    This was my first real glimpse of Semeru in the distance as we approached Ranu Pani by Jeep. It was intimidating.

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    Our porters organizing the loads of food, water, camp supplies and camera gear.

    The view from near our campsite the day before the climb.

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    Although the climb to the top seemed like it would never end, the payoff at the summit was worth the pain.

    Admiring the view from just close enough to not get flattened by the eruptions.

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    The view to the east towards Bali.

    Another big eruption.

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    The eruptions were an amazing sight to behold and they were so close, I had trouble photographing them, even at wide angle!

    It's a good thing we climbed when we did, the next morning, the mountain was capped in cloud and the visibility at the summit would've been almost zero.

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    After descending the mountain, we travelled to the other side of the volcano and camped out on a dam that was built to direct any lahars (volcanic mudflows) from Semeru away from the nearby villages. From here, we could see blocks of glowing lava tumbling down the side of the mountain at night.

    The morning light illuminating the ash cloud during a sunrise eruption.

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    What a view!