Doggy climbs volcano

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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1. View from the north rim, lucky shot of the sun momentarily hiding behind clouds.

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One response to “Doggy climbs volcano

  1. woah. these are great shots man. love the doggy photo. kodak scanner u say..hmm…

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