|Elevation:||3,145 m (10,318 ft)||Prominence:||2,432 m|
|Ribu category:||Sangat Tinggi||Province:||Jawa Tengah (Central Java)|
|Google Earth:||kml||Other names:|
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This Ribu is one of the most popular hikes in Central Java, and has spectacular views to other volcanoes in all directions from the summit area. It has five calderas, Condrodimuko, Kombang, Kendang, Rebab and Sambernyowo but no serious volcanic activity has been reported here for many decades. Merbabu can be climbed from Kopeng (northern slope, near to Semerang) or Selo (southern slope between Merbabu and Merapi and closer to Solo), The best hike is definitely a traverse from Kopeng to Selo, because the climb from Kopeng is a gentler slope and there is a good source of water halfway up. This hike could be completed in a day by very fit people, but an overnight stay on one of the summits is recommended.
The Kopeng starting point is actually Tekelan village (1,600m elevation), where you are requested to register at the tiny National Park Office. The hike is called the “seven summits” based on the fact that are indeed seven summits, although a few of them are more of a small bump on the ascent. It is a long 5 to 7 hours up to the summit and you will need a sunhat and sunscreen as most of the trail is not forested. This has an upside of course – views are breathtaking, particular towards Sindoro and Sumbing.
There are 4 “pos” or shelters: 1) Pending (1,936m); 2) Pereng Putih (2,162m); Gemuk Menthul (2,330m); and Lempong Sompan (2,510m). Strong hikers should take no more than 2 hours to reach Pos 4, but your porters may need longer. After the 4 pos, there are the seven summits. The first is Watu Gubug (2,735m) and the second is more obvious and called Watu Tulis (2,900m) where there is a old radio mast. It should take strong hikers no more 3 hours to get to this point. After Watu Tulis, the path drops down before the climb starts to Summit 3. Just before the climb starts to summit 3, there is a source of good water near to an obvious geological feature – a large area or outcrop of white/yellow sulphurous clay soil. You drop down an obvious path to the right and can hear the stream below very clearly. This area is a popular camping spot for those who do not want to hike all the way to the summits over 3,000m. If you do camp here, it means an early morning start if you want to get to the summits for sunrise, and you’ll miss the best views of the sunset. Geger Sapi (2,987m) is not really much of a summit, and is more of a small hump on the fairly relentless steep climb towards Summit 4. As you reach the summit ridge, you turn left to climb the last few metres to Summit 4, Syarif (3,142m). This is a fabulous camping spot, with views of Sumbing, Sindoro, Merbabu’s highest summits and Merapi. There are surprisingly many good flat camping areas, and you may well have the whole summit to yourself, until the sunrise hikers make their way up from Summit 3.
Another great camping spots and is Summit 6, which is near the true summit and called Kenteng Songo (3,167m). To reach Summit 6 from Summit 4, you drop back down and hike along the ridge between the summits. The path actually passes around the south side of Summit 5, Ondorante (3,000m), before the final steep climb to reach Summit 6. A short hop from Summit 6 is the Summit 7 – Triangulasi – which appropriately has a pile of stones and a blue cement rock at the very highest point.
All three of the main campsite areas offer wonderful views eastwards to Gunung Lawu, northwards to Telomoyo and Ungaran and south to Gunung Merapi, but the highest peak is definitely the best for watching Merapi. On your second day, return the same way or follow the steep but well-used track down to Selo (the village nestling between Merbabu and Merapi). This will take at least 4 hours and is hard on the knees. After the steepest part descent along the eroded trail you reach a fairly flat grassy area where the trail gives you two choices; take the left (more easterly) option and drop down through some open forest that becomes a denser as you descend further. Another hour or two and you’ll reach some pine plantation and suddenly see the village that marks your exit from Merbabu National Park, and the end of a fantastic hike.
Bagging information by Andy Dean and Daniel Quinn.
|Getting there||There are plenty of flights and train services from Jakarta to both Semarang and Solo. From there, public transport is available to both starting points but it will take much longer than if you can arrange your own transport.|
|Accommodation||Available in Kopeng, limited accommodation available in Selo.|
|Permits||Register at Tekelan Park Office – take a photocopy of your passport photo page with you.|
|Water sources||Supplies usually available between Watu Tulis (2,900m) and Summit 3.|
Origins and Meaning
Ashy Mountain. The name Merbabu probably evolved from merabu or merawu which consists of the prefix mer- and the base word abu or awu. Mer- (same as the Indonesian-Malay ber-) means “to have/possess the quality expressed in the base word”, and abu / awu means “ash”. So Merbabu means “the ashy one” referring to ash expelled during the mountain’s incessant eruptions. Merbabu hasn’t erupted in recent historical times, but the name Mount Ashy may represent a memory of the mountain that goes back well beyond recorded history. See also Mount Lawu. (George Quinn, 2011)