Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 2 June 2016 • Destination
“Let go!” A slightly stubby man shouted from 5 meters above me. I shouted in disagree and shook my head. “It’s safe!” he continued. I didn’t care if it was made of God’s hair and will never break till eternity. I wasn’t going to let go. I just kept on making short screams, an outlet of my anxiety so I don’t pee myself. I looked down between my legs. No pee leaking out, but a drop about 200 meters down. I screamed more. “You need to trust me!” he assured me. Who are you for me to trust? A split second, I was defensive. Then I remembered, oh right, they’re the Skywalker Via Ferrata guys that invited me, whom I trusted my life on this freaking elevated rock-climbing mess. With that, I let go.
Photo by Taufiq.
I spread my arms out, my whole body tight holding in fear, and a forced smile appeared for the camera. I hoped it looked authentic. Although, everything was really tight, but there was a slight rush that I enjoyed. Not much. Just a little.
By definition, Gunung Parang is a mountain, a form of a peak and generally steeper than a hill. Here I thought it was a hill. Crap! I climbed, yet another, mountain. When will I ever learn? Definitely, not from the last time in Banda Neira. Parang Mountain is a common practice location for rock climbers. Not only civilians, some of the military soldiers practice here, too. It’s located in the Purwakarta area, about two hours drive from Jakarta. It’s a little closer to Bandung, probably about an hour drive. It’s a bit hard to find the location on your own, so the transport service they provide is really convenient.
This is a fairly new company providing an outdoor activity, especially for Jakarta, Bandung, and nearby cities. It started in 2015 and still developing its product. It’s founded by 5 guys, with the same love for rock climbing. It’s also the via ferrata company in Indonesia. The slight stubby man that shouted at me at 200 m above the surface was Bibin, a former national rock climbing athlete, and most senior of them all.
“We kinda borrowed the slogan of an airline. Now, everyone can climb,” Bibin explained during a break, backed up to the rock. I love seeing people establish things, as these guys.
With all the effort of getting up, I figured why not enjoy the moment before getting down.I intended to soak every moment of hard work before getting down. Along with three friends, we chose the camping trip on a ledge at 300 meters above the surface. It’s a slightly new program, one of may to be developed.
The climb? Full of surprises! From the start, it was pretty much the same iron bar stairs to about 125 m. But after that, all I can say is that they mixed things up, which included vertical walks, small footings or sometimes no footing at all. Crazy! The group climbed not too far from each other and it took us a little over 2 hours to get to 300 meter. We also had to bring our personal belongings for the night, but porters are available. On this relative flat ledge, tents and the crew were ready to spend the night under the stars.
I do have to say, the view coming up was breathtaking. It wasn’t too spectacular, but a sight of Jatiluhur Lake and the surrounding landscape was unique. Mountains surrounded the villages, water body, and fish cultivation. Because the sight was pretty tight and there were a lot to see, it was a sight for sore eyes. I enjoyed it every single time I looked out, at any random height. It was a great distraction from the tiredness and fear.
It wasn’t a super serviced camping thing. It was pretty much a real camping experience where we talked with everyone there about everything, while having warm drinks. A fire wasn’t necessary as the guys had prepared a stove. Yes. A stove. OK, maybe it was just a tad bit serviced.
There were no cellphone signals at the camping spot. It was really a relaxing time for me from the digital world. I could enjoy the view, try my luck with night photography, and just enjoy the presence of my old and new friends. Naturally, I slept inside a tent. The temperature that night wasn’t too cold, so I didn’t have to sleep in the sleeping bag. It was such a nice sleep for me, compared to other camping experiences where I would freeze at some point.
Now, getting down is another story, and an unpleasant one. It was three times harder than getting up. The fear of slipping and losing your life was at every step, no matter how many lanyards were tied to me. It was a constant withheld fear and that actually pumped my adrenaline more than I thought. More stress was placed on my hands as I believed it was the only thing keeping me alive. It was more of a psychological sport than it was a physical one. Those surprises that seemed hard getting up, were actually harder to get through getting down. No footings, particularly, was hard since gravity was on our side. It was a very good brain and heart sport. Getting down, I swore I would l never come back!
Face of fear.
I made it down in one piece. Or I think I did. Once reaching the ground, I looked back and saw the next batch climbing up the rock. I realised the experience was way more scary looking from below than it was on the actual wall. My body was sore for a week because the lack of sports in my daily life and I never thought sitting on a toilet could be as challenging as climbing 300 m.
After all that pain, I realised a few things. First, it wasn’t as hard as it seemed. Getting down probably was harder because I didn’t trust the equipment as much as I should and put much stress on my body. Second, I have all the respect for rock climbers. It’s a ridiculous sport and hobby; it takes a crazy person to love it. I do have to say, moments of enjoying the view at a certain height is very calming and entertaining, which brings me to my last conclusion.
Beware of stepping out of your comfort zone, you might find a new interesting one.
Comfort zone? Maybe.
Having said that, I think I liked my experience a little more than I thought. I think I’d do it again, probably not any time soon. But, maybe I’ll be back.
Tips for a great climbing experience:
I do have to note that every participant will be provided with safety equipment from harness, lanyard, helmet and cow’s tail. I felt pretty sophisticated in the gear!
Camping 2D1N trip cost IDR 650.000 / pax, which includes transport to and from Jakarta, 3 meals, and climbing guide for the group.
The Skywalker Via Ferrata is a great weekend activity. However, for those that don’t have the time to spend a night at 300 meters, Skywalker Via Ferrata also provides a day trip package, which takes you to 125 meters and straight down for a 3-hour experience. The 125 m was a lot of fun, according to my mates that did so. This is totally doable for a day, taking to account the travel time to Purwakarta, if traffic doesn’t suddenly jams on you.
Day trip cost IDR 425.000 / pax, which includes transport to and from Jakarta, lunch, and climbing guide for the group.
Other arrangements can be discussed with Skywalker Via Ferrata such as providing your own transport and such. You can check out their website for more information here or check out their Instagram account here.
So, would you give this a go as a Jakarta weekend getaway? Or maybe make it the main destination for you travels? For those that have tried this, are you as crazy as I am and want to try it again? Leave your answers in the comment section below.