Climbing the sacred Mount Lawu

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Besides having three peaks, Mount Lawu has also a number of past heritage objects that are no less beautiful to explore such as Sukuh Temple, Cetho Temple, and many more objects. (photo: IO/Haris Winarto)

IO – Climbing Mount Lawu was our choice to train stamina before we, In­dependent Observer climbers climbed one of Indonesia’s seven Summits like Mount Binaiya in the Manusela Na­tional Park, Island Seram, Maluku Province later this year. Located on the border of Central and East Java, Mount Lawu has an altitude of 3,265 meters above sea level and is one of the highest mountains in Central Java, and the 10 highest mountains in East Java that have long been in­active from volcanic activity.

We decided to go to Mount Lawu Climbing Gate by bus. Departing Thursday around 1:00 p.m. from Pondok Pinang bus terminal in South Jakarta, and we reached the Cemoro Sewu Gate around 3 o’clock the next morning.

Mount Lawu which is located in three regencies namely Karang Anyar regency, Ngawi regency, and Magetan regency and is the bound­ary between Central Java and East Java, has three climbing routes, namely the climbing route through Cemoro Kandang, Cetho Temple, and Cemoro Sewu. Due to our varied interests, we decided to split into two groups. One group will climb through Cetho Temple, and another through Cemoro Sewu.

After a short break, the Cemoro Sewu group headed straight to the Ascent Gate. While the Cetho Tem­ple group must return to the Cetho Temple Gate which is about 12 kms. Cemoro Sewu Gate was still closed when we started ascending. The track is known to be more steep, es­pecially after post 1. The advantages of the Cemoro Sewu line are neatly arranged rock paths like steep stairs that takes us about six hours to reach the top. The heaviest route is from post 3 to post 4 but treats the beautiful scenery below us, Cemoro Sewu Village and its rice fields and fields makes us forget the fatigue and our panting breaths.

Independent Observer group of climbers who are also members of ‘Manpala Jaya’ celebrated the success of reaching the peak of Mount Lawu. (photo: IO/HarisWinarto)

Luckily, the cool air of Lawu Mountain and the thick fog covered the midday sun during the dry sea­son so we didn’t sweat much. After passing post four, we took the time to drink from a sacred water source known by many people, Sendang Drajat. Maybe due to dry season, the water in the water source was not so clear. This water source is located not far from ‘Warung Mbok Yem’ which is famous for being the highest food stall (warung) in Indonesia. In this Warung, we are waiting for the arriv­al of friends who climbed through the Cetho Temple gate.

The hiking trail through Cetho Temple is famous as a long lane with stunning views of grasslands. The gate is located just to the left of the Cetho Temple. Unlike the Cemoro Sewu line, which is dominated by rocks that form steep climbs, the Cetho Temple path is dominated by a more gentle slope with grasses and other denser vegetations such as pine and trees similar to Lamtoro. There are five posts on this line be­fore we arrive at Gupak Menjangan in the form of a vast savanna area and abundant water sources form­ing a beautiful lake that reminds us of Lake Ranu Kumbolo on Mount Semeru. From Gupak Menjangan, we must pass through Dieng Market before reaching Hargo Dalem. Dieng Market is also known as the ‘Setan Market’ (Ghost Market) which has many mystical stories.

There are three peaks on Mount Lawu, Puncak Hargo Dalem, where Warung Mbok Yem is located. The other two peaks are Hargo Dumiling Peak and Hargo Dumilah Peak, which is the highest peak. Puncak Hargo Dumilah is located at an altitude of 3,265 masl which can be taken about twenty minutes from Warung Mbok Yem. Marked a monument that stands firmly in the middle, Puncak Hargo Dumilah is surrounded by quite a lot of tall trees so the scenery is not very open. To enjoy a wider and more beautiful view, we head to Har­go Dumiling Peak which is located not far from the highest peak. At the peak of this peak, in addition to the vast sea of clouds, we can also enjoy the peaks of Mount Merbabu, Mount Merapi, Mount Sumbing, and Mount Sindoro whose peaks rise above the sea of clouds as if inviting us to visit it.

After staying overnight and enjoy­ing a cup of coffee and the sun rising on the tops of Mount Lawu, the next day we went down together past the Cetho Temple Gate. We were lucky because it turned out that our trip was quite fast so we still had time to visit Cetho Temple and Sukuh Tem­ple which was located not far from Cetho Temple, and also Pringgondani Hermitage the next day. (Haris Winarto)