|Elevation:||1,724 m (5,656 ft)||Prominence:||938 m|
|Ribu category:||Spesial||Province:||Jawa Timur (East Java)|
|Google Earth:||kml||Other names:||Kelut|
|Eruptions:||1548, 1586, 1641, 1716, 1752, 1771, 1776, 1785, 1811, 1825-26, 1835, 1848, 1864, 1901, 1919-20, 1951, 1966-67, 1990, 2007-08, 2014|
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This mountain is one of the most active and dangerous volcanoes in Indonesia. A large eruption in 1919 killed approximately 5,000 people and a more recent eruption in 2007-8 resulted in the crater’s pleasant blue lake being replaced with a vast lava dome. In February 2014, a huge eruption occurred two days after local people reported animals fleeing from the surrounding forests. International airports in Central and East Java were closed as ash rained down over a wide area. 200,000 people were told to evacuate. No surprise then that the Kelud area is often closed and constantly monitored by volcanologists.
During quiet times, it is a popular place for local people at weekends since there is a good quality road leading all the way to the crater where there are lots of small stalls, and some hot springs in the river below the crater. Most people come from the west via Ngancar from the city of Kediri – where there is a good range of hotels – but Blitar also makes a good base though the roads are slighter lower in quality. It takes just over an hour to reach the crater (1,250m) by car or motorbike from Kediri or Blitar and there are numerous signs for the mountain on the routes. The entrance fee is just Rp5,000 per person (plus Rp 1,000 for motorbike) and the entrance point is the village of Sugih Waras. About a mile beyond the village is the Volcanology Post. From here the road leads for another 10km to the crater area whose jagged outline is visible for many many miles. There are places along the way to stop for basic snacks and fuel. At the end of the road is a place to park motorbikes and a signpost for a right turn down to a hot water bathing area. Straight on leads through a dark but flat tunnel – known locally as ‘the channel tunnel’ – before emerging a few metres above the new lava dome. There is an incredibly impressive rockface on the right – Gunung Sumbing – which is a great place for rock-climbing but totally impossible for regular hikers to scale. You may notice a couple of red and white Indonesian flags halfway up the rockface – perhaps the point at which rock climbing fanatics had to turn back!
The steep and jagged crater rim is a fascinating area – the true Kelud peak is the huge vertical chunk of rock with a couple of pinnacles at the far side of the crater. According to local hiking enthusiasts, nobody has ever reached the very top of the pinnacales and bagged Kelud! It is certainly a daunting task, probably requiring expert rock climbing skills and ropes.
There are basically three main hiking routes on the mountain. From the crater carpark, beyond the tunnel, there are cement steps up to the left of the crater (in the direction of minor crater rim peak Gunung Lirang) towards a small pendopo (1,360m). This is about as far as most visitors to Kelud venture and ask them if they’ve been to the puncak – ‘peak’ and if they’ve been here they’ll probably say yes! From this small roofed structure, perched on the rim, a trail continues some way along the rim beyond a small cement pillar (1,427m) towards the true peak. After a few minor ups and downs, a small rock crag is reached (1,454m). To get beyond it, skirt round to the left of it and watch out for holes in the ground beneath the foliage! From the top of this crag the views towards the true Kelud peak are astounding – it appears as an impenetrable castle of rock with impressive rocky turrets crowning it off. The trail continues to a slightly higher part of the rim (1,518m) after which is a vast drop between this part of the rim and the next peak. Even for skilled rock climbers this would be a tough proposition and for any ordinary hiker it’s totally impossible. This hikes does, however, offer some of the most excellent views of Kelud peak, Sumbing rock-face and the crater below. It’s a short morning stroll.
There is a second approach from this side, but it is difficult! There is a vague and overgrown trail which skirts to the right below the Sumbing cliffs and then up onto a fairly flat ridge. Finding this trail is quite difficult and staff at the crater car park or office will definitely try to make you take an over-priced guide with you. It may be worth a try if you want to reach the summit area from this side.
The best approach, however, is from the east at Tulungrejo on the small road running north-south between Kelud and Butak mountain ranges. Although this route is longer, you have the advantage of being able to start at whatever time you like (instead of having to wait until the crater road gates are open) and you won’t have any hassle from staff hoping to make a quick buck from a ‘tourist’. It takes just under an hour to reach Tulungrejo from Blitar. Once in the village, take a left past the mosque and then up to the right on a road which runs above an impressive wide river. The last house is at 688m and you may be able to leave motorbikes here if you need to. Local guides are essential for the start unless you can use the GPS tracks from our GPS tracks page. Be warned that you cannot traverse the mountain and reach the warungs and crater car park from this side – so take plenty of water and snacks with you as it is a remote and rarely-visited part of the mountain quite isolated from the other side.
A small trail leads from the road to the left through pine forest (709m). After just 2 minutes, take the right junction and follow the track as it bends round sharply before continuing up onto a narrow ridge. After an hour or less you will have reached a pleasant shelter – Pos 1 (980m). The last reliable water source is near here (you should be able to hear a small river). Although this trail is not often used by hikers, it is well-defined thanks to the local farmers and hunters who use it. The biggest danger on this route is leeches – sometimes there are lots and sometimes you may pass by totally unscathed! Be sure to check your boots and socks every ten minutes or so.
Pos 2 (1,317m) is nothing more than a point on a pleasant ridge which may or may not be marked with a basic shelter made from thin tree branches. From here, the trail continues to rise gently and after about 3 hours in total you should have reached the top of outlying peak Gunung Tumpak (1,428m) which is crowned with the remnants of a wooden building (just a wooden post or two, in 2013). In clear weather you should be able to see Gunung Butak to the east and the south coast of Java. A little bit further along are more remnants of a second hut. Unfortunately, sometime in 2012 this either collapsed or was demolished. If you are lucky with the weather, you will see the dramatic vertical cliffs of the peak of Kelud beyond.
From Gunung Tumpak, the trail descends steeply before following the crest of a very narrow ridge – take extra special care here. The trail them leads upwards towards the col on the left of the vertical cliffs of Kelud, some of which are covered with a deep red lichen. From Tumpak to the col takes about one hour and the col (1,510m) has a boundary marker pillar on it. The panorama to the west suddenly appears before you and the cliffs of Gunung Sumbing are visible on the other side of the crater. From the boundary marker, it’s still more than another 200m of height gain to the true peak and according to local people nobody has truly gotten to the very top – please contact us if you have! The lower cliffs are overgrown and steep but certainly look negotiable without ropes but the pinnacles at the very top definitely require ropes.
If you wish to camp, there are one or two small spots next to the boundary marker which are reasonably flat but still rather rocky. If, like most sane people, you don’t fancy trying to bush-bash your way up the summit cliffs, it is definitely worth wandering over to the inner rim and peering over at the lava dome. A reasonably well-defined little trail leads up towards the summit cliffs (which it stays close to) and drops down into a few crevices before bringing you out after just 15 minutes on the edge of the inner rim – the real crater rim of Kelud. From here you will be able to gaze over one of the world’s most dangerous craters and – during the daytime – watch visitors emerge from the tunnels from the car park on the other side of the volcano or climb up to the little pendopo. It’s a great panorama. An alternative viewpoint is the little top just metres away from the boundary marker. It only takes ten minutes to reach the rocky little top (1,540m) and you can see the top part of the lava dome from here, as well as admire the view to Gunung Butak and other mountains to the east.
After admiring the panorama, it takes just 3 hours to descend to Tulungrejo from the boundary marker.
Bagging information by Daniel Quinn.
Origins and Meaning
(not clear, possibly) Old-Man Mountain. One of the meanings of kelud in Old Javanese is “old and decrepit” so it is possible that the name Gunung Kelud reflects a perception that the mountain is an ancient, ancestral entity. In modern Javanese kelud means “a feather duster” so it is possible (though I think unlikely) that Gunung Kelud is “that which sweeps through everything (when it erupts).” (George Quinn, 2011)