- Elevation: 1,377 m (4,518 ft)
- Prominence: 1,090 m
- Ribu category: Kurang Tinggi
- Province: Maluku Utara (North Moluccas)
- Google Earth: kml
- Other names: none
- Eruptions: 1911, 1998-99, 2001, 2004-05, 2008-09, 2011-13, 2019
The truncated summit of Gunung Ibu stratovolcano on the NW coast of Halmahera Island has large nested summit craters. The inner crater, 1 km wide and 400 m deep, contained several small crater lakes through much of historical time. The outer crater, 1.2 km wide, is breached on the north side, creating a steep-walled valley. A large parasitic cone is located ENE of the summit. A smaller one to the WSW has fed a lava flow down the western flank. A group of maars (a broad flat volcanic crater formed by a single explosive eruption) is located below the northern and western flanks of the volcano. Only a few eruptions have been recorded from Ibu in historical time, the first a small explosive eruption from the summit crater in 1911. An eruption producing a lava dome that eventually covered much of the floor of the inner summit crater began in December 1998 (Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program).
We climbed Gunung Ibu in September 2011 when it was in eruptive stage 3 – Siaga (High Alert). The floor of the crater had risen to about 100 ms from the rim of the inner crater. Three lava domes, each about 100 m across, billowed enormous plumes of smoke every 10-15 minutes with ash being deposited on the surrounding forest. Fumaroles emitted gas continuously with ear-deafening screams. An amazing display of “fireworks” would have been visible at night from the rim as well as from the Desa Goin, which is directly below the breach in the crater on the northern side.
The outer crater rim has two high points, one to the NE (which is apparently the summit) and a second to the south. Because the track emerges onto the crater rim on the western side, it would be near-impossible to reach the summit on the opposite side of the steep-walled valley. The second peak could possibly be reached but not without extreme effort cutting through dense ferns and cane grass and dead, burnt trees from the 1998/1999 eruption that cover the upper slopes of the crater and the outer crater rim.
The track starts from the Desa Duono (108 m ASL); however, it is possible to drive about two kms into the coconut plantations and start the trek at 200 m ASL. Plantation tracks then pass through nutmeg and cloves before entering the forest at about 600 m ASL. A broad track, formed from villagers skidding logs down the slope, continues for another 200 m or so (vertical). Thereafter, the track is virtually non-existent known only to local guides. The vulcanology sensor station is passed on the right at about 900 m ASL. Beyond this point, the track is very rarely used and overgrown. The remaining 300 m (vertical) or so becomes progressively steeper and the ferns/cane grass becoming increasingly dense, requiring continuous slashing to forge a way through to the crater rim.
The track emerges on the western side of rim at 1250 m ASL with spectacular views into the crater, but not of the surrounding country due to tall, dense vegetation. Despite a total ascent of only 1050 m, the climb was very slow in the upper reaches and took over six hours. The descent, by comparison, took only about three hours. A guide is essential; be prepared to pay a premium because of the large amount of slashing required. The ascent time could be reduced considerably by requesting the guide to cut the track prior to the day of the climb (but, of course, at additional cost). Our guide was Pak Coyo, whom the vulcanology staff employ when servicing the equipment on the mountain. His house is located on the right hand, back corner of the alun-alun (village square/football field) in Desa Duono.
Bagging information by Nick Hughes (September 2011)
- Getting there: There are plenty of flights to Ternate island from Jakarta (usually via Manado and/or Makassar). From Ternate, take a speed boat from the Dufa-Dufa boat terminal just north of the airport, to Jailolo on mainland Halmahera. Arrange a hire car from Jailolo to Desa Duono, Kecamatan Ibu. Public transport is infrequent and unreliable.It is advisable to stop en route at the Pos Pengamatan Gunung Api (Vulcanology Post), Desa Gamsungi, for latest information on the eruptive status of Gunung Ibu. This Pos monitors Gunungs Gamkonora and Ibu.
- Permits: None required but take a photocopy of your passport photo page just in case. Check the eruptive status of Gunung Ibu at http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/ The vulcanology officials are obliged to “close” the mountain to climbers when Stage 3 – Siaga (High Alert) – is reached.
- Water sources: None known – take sufficient supplies with you.
- Travel insurance: We recommend World Nomads insurance, which is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities including mountain hiking.
Local Average Monthly Rainfall (mm):
Origins and Meaning
‘Ibu’ means mother. So, “Mother Mountain” might be a reasonable translation.