What better way to start a photo blog than to trawl up old, forgotten negatives? These photos were taken on a trip to the eastern islands of Indonesia in early 2005, during one of those bouts of wanderlust that periodically afflicts me. I’d never climbed a volcano before and Mt Rinjani on Lombok, an island neighboring Bali, seemed as good as any for a first-timer. It was a 3-day hike up the north slope of the caldera, down into the crater and up the other side; my knees haven’t sounded the same since. I skipped the pre-dawn hike to the 3800m summit and slept in because it was freezing cold. My tent-mate Claudia made it up there and thought I was a wuss for missing out on the view 2000m down to the crater lake. I was poking fun at a group of snail-slow climbers until somebody pointed out they actually went for the summit, whereas I slept. Sometimes it’s better keep your own mouth shut…
I tried scanning these negs before on my cheap Canon flatbed and it was a disaster – blocked shadows, blown highlights, soft scans. Only recently I had them rescanned on a Kodak RFS scanner and it did a fantastic job retrieving all that detail. A little tonal tweaking and I had the look I wanted. Makes me want to shoot b/w exclusively again and ditch that digital nonsense, if only I could afford the Kodak.
From the massive and stark geology, the sheer wildness of the place (at least during the off-peak season), changing habitats from dense lowland forest to thin scrub, to the sense of camaraderie between my fellow climbers and guides – it was an awesome experience for a first climb. I went to Kelimutu on Flores later but that was more like a small hill, with even a road nearly all the way up. There’s Tambora on Sumbawa, a real monster of a volcano… for next time.
5. Cold, miserable dog waiting for us on the descent. A furious thunderstorm clobbered our camp during the night; Adil and another porter had their tent collapse in the rain so they hid under the floorboards of the roofed shelter. My tent leaked everywhere but I would’ve slept through it, probably half-soaked, if Claudia hadn’t shaken me awake. That dog followed us down the mountain even with a gaping old cut on his shoulder.
4. Adil takes a nap on the climb out of the crater, probably waiting for my slow ass to catch up. He climbed with only a pair of rubber sandals while carrying twenty kilos on a pole balanced on his shoulders. Amazing how he pushed himself to get up the mountain… I couldn’t even lift his load off the ground. He doesn’t make much from each trip but it’s a lot more than simply working for someone else. It’s a difficult country and there are searing inequalities visible everywhere.
3. Down at the crater lake. Locals spend weeks here, catching fish and drying it before carrying it out later for sale. The cloud-wreathed summit is at left, while the new dome is on the right. It erupts once in a while and steam seethes from some of its vents.
2. On the north rim, with guide/porter Adil in the middle foreground and Claudia standing. Pierre, a French guy who returned with a really bad sunburn on his bald head, snaps some pictures. Sorry mate, can’t remember the name of the guy offering cookies.
1. View from the north rim, lucky shot of the sun momentarily hiding behind clouds.