Thursday, August 22, 2013

MERAPI: Nothern Flank of Most Active Volcano

Merapi has some trailhead route heading for summit zone:1) Trailhead route of northern flank at Selo.2)Trailhead route of Western flank at Babadan.3)Trailhead route of southern flank at Kinarejo.4)Trailhead route of eastern flank at Deles.After huge eruption on year 2010, only the northern flank trailhead route that's recommended and considered most safe than the others. Some trailhead routes join each other at Pasar Bubra, except via tailhead of southern flank. Below the description of northern flank route plus basecamp and campsite that's we normally passed through many time:

Hiking trail typically straightforward, we walk through village, soily path of local farmland and mountain forest plus stony path and boulder along sub alpin ecosystem. As we enter to part of mountain forest, the route get steeper and more narrow where trekking pole is no maximum work and using hand to keep balance become more essential.

As we hike hiker over 2200 m, the ecosystem dramatically changed as well as route. The route get more stony and more unstable, extra careful and concentration on trail become more and more important. After 3 hours of actual hike, we then arrive on altitude 2400 m, a more exposed slope where surrounding view plus sunset are well visible. Our camp site will be below the slope, an flat area with grassy surrounding and accommodate 2 tent (4 - 6 person capacity), more protected spot from wind. For better angel of view surrounding, we may go around for better spot.o.

As we hike higher over camp site along the slope, the route get more stony and more unstable due to volcanic gravel existence. The trail also  exposed and normally more windy while on our left and right sides are valley. As we arrive on memorium plateau, the cone of Merapi is totally visible in front of us, while below us is old Merapi crater Pasar Bubra at wide area of saddle between top of Merapi cone and the top of plateau we stand on (+- 2600 m).The trail to new crater rim is more sandy, some unstable rock along the trail and more solid boulders on sides of the trail. Hiking further distance to new crater rim is very depend on alert level of the volcano as well as latest recommendation and or safety policy issued by the authority at the time.o.

Descent is harder for our knee, and therefore our descent could be via alternative available route from around altitude 2400 m heading down and cross the slope. The route more flat and less stony path but more narrow and will join the same previous main ascending route below 2200 m heading for basecamp.

There are many basecamps at Selo, they could be home of the local family or homestay around altitude 1500 m - 1600 m, the homestay mostly below 1600 m. There is one building between local farmland on around 1700 m that's normally functioned as basecamp by local hikers / trekkers as well.
Local hikers / trekkers used to stopping by and taking rest at home of local family, while foreign ones normally stopping by and take rest at available homestay prior to hike / trek commencement.o.

There camp sites available along side of the route, they are normally the flat ones and could accommodates at least one tent 4 person caps.The most popular is camp site of Pasar Bubra, but after huge eruption 2010 and on rainy seasons, it's considered more safe to have camp site below Pasar Bubra. On rainy days, it's highly possible the running water could push down the volcanic material down to Pasar Bubra.Merapi also could spew out ash / dust due to increase of gas pressure any time even on alert level I, and cause the spot in extremely dusty.o.