The next stage was torture. In the next 80 minutes, we seemed to climb almost vertically. I had to stop, several times, because my body refused to function. After our last rest, Pandi told us that it would take 45 minutes to reach our destination.
Twenty minutes later, we were extremely relieved to stumble into our camp site. We were the first group to arrive. Other climbers, with various degrees of apparent fitness, dribbled in until well after dark. The porters pitched our tent on some black grit, in the shadow of a basalt shelf. The peak of Rinjani loomed 600m above us.
With another litre of spring water, we found some bushes to wash and change behind. We sat on the edge of the precipice and finished our flask of whiskey. We looked down to the lake, 1000m below, and across to the 3000m-high Mt. Kondo. The valley we had climbed from looked like a fantasy world.
As the sun set, it became very cold. The boys rustled up some tasty nasi goreng, which we ate in the dark. We were the first into our sleeping bags and talked for a while whilst others finished their evening preparations.
We had decided not too attempt the peak climb. The starting time, 3am, would be the coldest time of the night, and we judged that climbing in the dark, while exhausted, was not worth the risk. (And all the other climbers had climbed for two to three hours less than us for the day.) It was freezing and the air mattresses self deflated again. Everyone else woke us, at 3am.
We dozed, fitfully, until 6am and raced out of the tent to catch the sunrise. Breakfast was delicious banana pancakes and fritters. We couldn't eat them all, so the most aggressive of the growing band of monkeys had some. The dog chased them away from our spot.