Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Indonesia Triple Crossover Climb Series 3: MT. IJEN CRATER AND THE BLUE FIRE

Mt. Ijen was the last mountain of the 3-mountain series we climbed on May 14. We had to travel some 7 hours from Mt. Bromo using the Malang highway to Banyuwangi where we stayed at a cozy Arabica homestay. We arrived in Sempol Banyuwangi early in the evening and took a good dinner in preparation for another very early Mt. Ijen assault. It took us 45 minutes van travel from Arabica homestay to the jump off point where we started trekking at 3:00 AM.

From the trail head we hiked an uphill 3-kilometer of wide trail to Mt. Ijen summit and another 15 minutes decent to the sulphur vent and the popular blue fire. The elevation of 2,799 was hardly a factor for us to survive the climb because for the second time, we did it effortlessly.

As an active volcano, Ijen features an active crater where sulphur deposits are in abundance. Porters in Ijen volcano earn a living out of sulphur mining. They usually carry their sulphur from the crater to Banyuwangi and sold it at an unreasonable price. To be honest, I pity the porters who do the mining because to me it was another form of slavery, them being allowed to carry 70-80 kilograms of solid sulphur in exchange of a little payment. The wide crater lake of Ijen volcano is considered as the most acidic crater in the world and the smoke coming from the sulphur vent is deadly.

One interesting characteristic of Ijen volcano is the presence of the so-called Blue Fire, a blue-colored flame only visible in the evening. According to our guide, this is one of a kind in the world that catches the interest of National Geographic. Since then, tourists flocked to this place to see the blue fire. Other people tend to fall in love with taking selfies near the blue fire rim and the sulphur vent without knowing that it could harm them anytime. Pare Dockie and Josephine had the same experience.

The sulphur smoke was getting wild and we could no longer bear the noxious fumes we decided to head back to the summit. We stayed for an hour in the summit and commune with some residents in Banyuwangi selling souvenir items in there. Josephine had some good buys but unfortunately the authorities of Surabaya airport never allowed us to travel with that stuff as sulphur are naturally flammable.

Nonetheless, our Ijen climb completed the Indonesia trilogy. It was very successful we had some exceptional experiences.  Thank you very much Indonesia. Thank you very much Pin and Dockie for the great outdoor memoirs. 

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