Indonesia: Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi

Volcanos: Krakatoa, Slamet, Lokon, Karangetang

     June 2009  

in deutsch



Volcano Slamet


After Karangetang was sparly active, the Slamet should pay for it. The volcano Slamet reaches a height of approximately 3428 meters o.s.l. About 1900 meter has to be ascended from the base to the summit. The mountain is technically not too difficulty, but however much exertive. Normal passages could be found hardly. You have to climb muddy and narrow ditches, sometimes you can't step with one food beside the other.


Campground on 3200m height. My tent is my castle….

Endless often you have to cross such passages and you can be sure that a section between is laced with slippery roots, or the flora is such as copiously that you must check with a stick before, whether you don't want to drop into a hidden loam dump. If one masters these difficulties up to 3200 alti meters, the summit will bring loosen lava rubble, which requires an extremely slip resistance. Briefly said, you can apply after such a mounting confidently as an acrobat in the circus.


However, each effort is worthwhile because right after reaching the northern summit an impressive panorama is presented over the whole volcano platform. The aggressive continuously roaring of the middle vents could just be heard with an immense volume from this place. Persuing the recent reports, the volcano Slamet ejected glowing ash and rocks up to 700 meter high the weeks before. After last week the high activity level decreased, the risk of a fatal injury by ejection bombs lowered to an acceptable level. For hours Martin and I observed the activity, and so we decided to get in position on the front rim. This observation place permitted a deeper sight and more detailed views to the ongoings inside the crater. From the acoustic point of view, you got the impression immediately creating your vacation on an airport runway. This ear-deafening noise was originated as we noticed from the two vents in the middle of the 100 meter wide cinder cone.


An unicum at the volcano could be observed here. Each eruption had a similar character. At the beginning aprx. 5 meters high green-blue gas flames which were progressively brideling up to a height of 20 meters, in the further process they became intensivly red. Now if a certain energetic point was exceeded, the whole mixture exploded and partly rich lava fontains were forced up to 200 meters.  Occasional the second pipe was activated.

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Now the photographic challenge began. And promptly, the first astonishment. It was unbelievably difficult to expose the eruptions in the center. The main reason were the gas flames compared with the fog, which let the center burn out completely because of the strong luminosity.

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Thunderstorm cell with cloud-cloud lightning

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Not only the ongoing howling of the volcano scared us, also the constantly ascending thunderstorm cells. If the summit was clear and not in clouds, it was windless and pleasantly warm. If clouds drew over the summit plateau the temperature dropped rapidly, with the light drizzle, violent gusts of cold wind arose. This situation ended for five mountain climbers 2003 to a deadly calamity. On the memorial plaque is written, that undercooling (hypothermia) was the reason. A sufficiently thermic protection should always be taken with you, because bad weather can share you suddenly serious problems, also on an equatorial situated mountain.

By finishing this dark chapter, I'm sure that each halfway experienced mountain climber might probably have no problems with this weather conditions.




After a cold shivering night new details were shown up with the morning light. The eruption behavior changed now appreciably. Stronger ash clouds as well as more powerful lava ejections could be observed.

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Nice to regard, but also a criterion for the technical knock out for photo- and video equipment. The always toward to us drifting ash mushroom after an eruption. The right picture shows during the sunrise, the mountain shade of the volcano. 



Meanwhile Andi and our porters joined with us at the rim. Tensely they watched and listened to the volcanic events, when suddenly and abruptly a strong thunder bang from the internal crater could be heard. This exceeded every observation which took place since our summit staytime.

Over 400 meters lava shreds were ejected. Such an enormous bang could not be heard the last 48 hours at all. Like stuffed dummies we stood perplexed at the rim, and a first thought attacked us immediately, - could this be the beginning of a new violent eruption phase. If so, let's get out of here immediately. However such an event did not recur in the next six hours, and we accepted this as a personal parting greet. Bye Bye!



 Vulcano-trio in fog. On the right the smoking Merapi

On tour: Th. Boeckel, M.Rietze

More at ALPE, images by M.Rietze

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©2009, Photos and text from Th. Boeckel, M. Rietze, last modification 24.06.2009

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