Ascent of Gunung Semeru on 2007-06-29

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Bob Packard
Adam Helman -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Date:Friday, June 29, 2007
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Gunung Semeru
    Elevation:12060 ft / 3675 m

Ascent Trip Report

Gunung Semeru, 3676m, P

Map: None known

Stats: mH; 10+10mi

Time: ascent 3:40+2:40+2:30, descent 1:30+1:30+3:25, i.e. 15h over 3 days. This was fairly leisurely in the most part, and included a fair bit of waiting time. It may be do-able in a 12hr day by a fast hiker, but maybe not allowable / feasible.

Accommodation: the evening before, we stayed at Cafe Lava Hotel, at Cemoro Lawang. We camped 2 nights on the mountain.

Red tape: Park entrance fee + permit to climb Semeru: neither are very costly.

Guide: we decided the trail would be obvious and used 2 porters and no guide. Luckily the porters knew the way! We paid one of them a bit extra to accompany us to the summit. All this cost a bit less than $1000 between 3 of us. It may be easier/cheaper to make arrangements at the Tasrip homestay at Ranu Pani.

Water: available along the trail: (1) at Ranu Kumbolo Lake; (2) near Kalimati camp site. We (our porters) used both.

Difficulties: lots of vegetaion crowds the lower part of the trail, leading to wet feet & legs if raining; also tends to obscure the many trip hazards beside the trail. The final climb to the summit is volcanic sand: hard to ascend (but great to descend!). In poor visibility, make sure you know the way off (e.g. compass bearing). The crater is dangerous - see Summit below.

Start: village of Ranu Pani, which we reached across the "Sea of Sands" crater by jeep from Cemoro Lawu, but can also be reached from the E or W by very rough roads (at least our driver managed it). We started walking from the Tasrip homestay opposite a tiny chapel.
Route: from Ranu Pani, follow tarmac road E to ranger post: sign in here and pay fees. Continue along road, downhill, to reach track junction with sign "Lumajang 46km". Turn R here, follow track for c.500m then follow a path rising obliquely L, s/p"Ke Rn Kumbolo". After a short while is a fork with S/P "Rama ... puncak". We turned R here - shortcut apparently - but I suspect keeping L would be OK. there are no other forks. The trail eventually leads to Ranu Kombolo - secnic lake and campsite. Obvious trail leads steeply uphill from here, then descends to cross a dried-up lake, then goes thru trees, crosses a dip then reaches Kalimata campsite - wide saddle with hut. From here, the trail crosses the saddle and descends a little before entering the forest (well marked), then climbs via Arcopodo campsite to the final cone, where it is marked by frequent orange metal signs. At the top the path bears L a little to reach the summit.

Summit: wide flat area with acouple of cairns and a sign. Continuing (downwards) along the ridge it is possible to reach the crater rim, but bear in mind the thing explodes every 15 - 40 minutes, so if you must go, time your visit carefully and be brief - rocks are thrown well beyond the rim.

Trig point: none found - I searched the cairns.

27 Jun: we arrived via Cemoro Lawang to the NE. This is a tourist hotspot, justly famous for its views of the smoking Gunung Bromo. We arrived here the previous afternoon and arranged guide and porters.
28 Jun: We were collected by a jeep at 05:00 and drove across the Sea of Sands in the dark. After a steep rough climb, it was light by the time we reached the metalled road, and we enjoyed impressive views. We arrived at Ranu Pani (Tasrip homestay) 06:00, had a coffee, met our porters and sorted our gear. We also hired a room here to leave our main baggage. We started walking at 07:01, signed in at the PKHA post and paid or fees. Semeru was visible at the start, with its characteristic smoke plume. The trail, ofetn crowded in by thick vegetation, itself contours round a hill, offering occasional views of Semeru. the descent to Ranu Kumbolo lake is quite scenic: we stopped beside the lake (10:40) for some food before continuing to Kalimati where we set up camp (13:15). Mid afternoon it started raining, continuing into the next morning.
29 Jun: the rain stopped at 05:30 and we were walking by 05:50, passing thru the high-level Arcopodo campsite at 06:30. This seems the preferred site for 2-day expeditions, although with the small distance between camps and the need to carry water for cooking, it seems better to camp a little lower, at Kalimati. The final summit climb on steep sand was tough, but I suspect the overnight rain consolidating the sand made it easier for us. Too late a start for the summit and this climb is said to be much harder, once the sun has dried the sand. I was at the summit at 08:20. There were intermittent partail views, but the proximity to the Semneru crater is impressive when it erupts: an initial explosion, then the sound of falling debris. I spent a while exploring, and sneaked a look into the crater, although it was too misty for a clear view. As noted above under Summit - don't hang around here!! We headed down at 09:46; I got to Arcopodo at 10:16; we were at Kalimati 11:15, departing 13:30; arrived 15:00 Kumbolu lake and camped there (clearly we would have had time to walk out that day, but had already set things up for a 3rd day).
30 Jun:
When we awoke the lake was shrounded in mist, which had cleared by the time we departed 06:50. We were back at Ranu Pani 10:15. Luckily our driver was early, so we were able to sort our gear and make some mileage towards Gunung Lawu.

Weather: first night wet; vegetation on last morning was very wet, hence wet feet and legs (except for Bob who has a particularly effective boots/overtrousers setup).
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5749 ft / 1752 m
    Total Elevation Loss:656 ft / 199 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Guide, Porters, Tent Camp
    Weather:Raining, Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5749 ft / 1752 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 5093 ft / 1552 m; Extra: 656 ft / 199m
    Loss on way in:656 ft / 199 m
    Distance:10.5 mi / 16.9 km
    Route:trail from Ranu Pani
    Start Trailhead:Ranu Pani  6967 ft / 2123 m
    Time:1 Days 1 Hours 19 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Days 0 Hours 29 Minutes

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