Ok so it’s pretty obvious what I got up to this morning but I have to share a few things.
This was kind of a birthday present for myself.
I have for many years had a fear of heights.
I thought a great way to face my fear was to take the hardest path up the steepest part of Bali’s highest mountain/volcano, Mt Agung.
I took inspiration from the legendary Nadine Champion and wore her shirt on my trek to help keep me focused.
I am 100% serious when I say this.
It was without a doubt one of the toughest things I have ever undertaken in my life (the hardest was fighting world kickboxing champ Chris Johnson many years ago).
I spent considerable time researching this trek on sites such as Tripadvisor.com and was often met with a variety of responses from ‘it’s easy’ to ‘it’s very challenging’.
Let me tell you something from my own experience. It was torturous. My two hours sleep the night before definitely didn’t help. The top of the volcano is 3100 metres above sea level but the trek actually ends up being about 6km up and 6km down due to all the traversing you have to do. You begin at 1am to get to the top by 5am to ensure that you see the sunrise. You get no respite. None.
Now I’m a fit guy but this volcano served me humble pie in doses. I had my own guide and there were only 4 other tourists on the trek that night. I was without a doubt the slowest.
I was seriously struggling. At the bottom I’d take a rest about every few hundred metres then every 100 metres then every 50 and the last few hundred metres I was taking a break about every 20. It was tough. Very tough
I had about an hour head start with my guide from the others and was overtaken by a young French couple about 1/3 of the way in.
Then the other two, a Czech guy and a Korean woman both left me for dead. I was blown away at how well they climbed up and down the volcano (although the Korean chic definitely struggled in the decent).
The top third of the trek had me seriously considering pulling the pin. It was so sketchy and so hard to breath I was exhausted with every step ( can only imagine what Everest is like).
Going up took over 4 1/2 hours. You begin in the jungle in the dark and proceed up till about the 2000 metres mark where there is no vegetation, just jagged lava. At this point I was literally crawling on all fours as I was paranoid about losing my balance and falling.
If going up was bad going down was way worse. I was so beaten both mentally and physically that I hit a wall not once, not twice but at least 6-7 times. I just kept thinking ‘no one can help you here. You gotta keep going’.
From the commencement of the decent (took approx. 5 hrs) I struggled until over 10 hours and approximately 45 thousand steps later I reached the bottom from start to finish.
At the top I felt sick from the adrenalin and lack of oxygen, at the bottom I felt sick from pure exhaustion but I made it. My legs are fucked from my ankles and hammies (going up) to my knees and quads from coming down. My lower back is aching but I never quit. The images shown above are of me with my amazing guide Ketut at the top of the caldera or volcano rim. The other post of me wearing the gi is about 20 metres below the rim where we had the best view of the sunrise.
With regards to the guides, wow what can I say. They are hardcore. They do this trek every day sometimes twice a day. Massive respect. And I’ve also now earned a massive respect for the people the world over who are serious trekkers. If you don’t believe me then I’ll pass you Ketuts details or contact my friend Aris Ponggar and you can try it for yourself one time. Just make sure you get more than the two hours sleep I had prior to undertaking this monster.
In truth I felt so insignificant up there.
Humbled and loving it. Bucket list ticked. Faced my fear but I’m done with climbing volcanoes. I’ll just stick to surfing and choking people out. At 43 years of age I think it took this experience to make me realise that eventually Father Time does catch up to you.
Still I finally got my Monkey Magic moment ??