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Long-Distance Walks with Mark Moxon

Gunung Rinjani: Day 3: Vicious Monkeys

A sunset view from Rinjani's second rim at 3000m
The sunset from Rinjani's second rim at 3000m; you can just make out the tip of neighbouring Bali to the right of the sun

We were up at 2am on the morning of the next day, and after some tea and biscuits, a group of us set off for the top, to catch the sunrise at 6am. This climb of over 700m was as close to hell as you can get; the first stage up to the main ridge was hard, the second stage along the top of the ridge was reasonable, but the last 100m or so was terrible. Imagine trying to walk up a big mound of coal, or a pile of sand, and you might get close to imagining the summit of Rinjani; it's one step up and three steps backwards, clawing with your hands to maintain a grip in the freezing winds as dust fills your eyes and stones fill your shoes. This kind of volcanic rubble is called scoria, and it's an absolute killer.

Mark on the summit of Gunung Rinjani
On the summit

Monkey Business

The main crater, Gunung Rinjani
Looking into the crater from the descent

Every park has its pests, whether they're rats, mosquitoes, dingoes or sandflies, but in Rinjani there are two especially annoying pests, namely monkeys and humans. The humans are only irritating for the rubbish they leave behind, but the monkeys are as annoying as Fraser Island's dingoes; they will open your tent (yes, they know how to operate zips), steal your food and throw the rest of your stuff around, if you don't keep guard. I never left my tent alone, and when I hit the summit one of the guides stayed behind to guard the camp, but occasionally you come across a territorial monkey who's got an attitude.

The hot springs
The hot springs, where I was attacked by a monkey with attitude