The inspiration for Gunung Bagging was varied, but mainly came from the fortuitous meeting between Daniel and Andy on a hike to climb Gunung Lawu in East Java in June 2009.
The wonderful country of Indonesia offers the adventurous hiker an enormous variety of opportunities, including world-famous high mountain summits such as Puncak Jaya in Papua, active volcanoes such as Krakatau and Central Java’s fearsome Mount Merapi, to idyllic treks along the coasts of the thousands of tropical islands, and rarely-explored remote forest areas of Kalimantan (Borneo).
Prominence and Peak Bagging
The concept of prominence in landscapes has been gaining considerable popularity. Globally, there is the concept of “Ultras”, an analysis of peaks worldwide that identified those with a minimum elevation drop of 1,500 metres on all sides. In the United Kingdom, there are many local prominence based lists of hills and mountains to climb, such as the Marilyns with an elevation drop of 150 metres on all sides. In Indonesia, the Ultras are a great place to start when planning to hike the mountains and volcanoes around the region.
Based on the Ultras criteria, too many wonderful Indonesian peaks are not included. For example, the vast mountainous area in West Java known as the Parahyangan highlands, surrounding the city of Bandung, has only one peak with a prominence of over 1,500 metres (Gunung Cikuray), yet several fascinating summits that have a prominence of 1,000 metres or above. Each country, or region, demands its own tailor-made list as determined both by the nature of the landscape and the intangible ‘feel of the place’. For example, since England is a relatively non-mountainous country, 150 metres prominence works well for the country. We believe 1,000 metres is the right height for identifying particularly prominent peaks in Indonesia and that’s why we created The Ribus. Of course, a few interesting mountains are still excluded, so we created the “Spesial” Ribu category for them.
Exploring Off the Beaten Path
Admittedly, some of the peaks listed here are rarely-climbed. This might be because they are hard to reach or because it’s hard to find the right sort of information about them. If enough people are interested in climbing the Ribus and using Gunung Bagging, it may help improve information and access to less well-trodden parts of Indonesia and contribute to the local economy. We hope you will enjoy using the site, and exploring the incredible landscapes of Indonesia.
Recent innovations in IT and mapping technology have allowed humans to access detailed geographical information like never before. Of course, lists are only a means to an end. Hopefully the Ribus will provide some motivation for you to visit places you’d otherwise perhaps never have gone to. Such a large number of peaks may seem a little daunting to many people interested in hiking in Indonesia. But it’s entirely up to you to decide your own personal goals. You could always climb the highest, or most well-known peaks first, or you could focus on a particular area or province of the archipelago. Perhaps you want to reach the summit of all of the Ribus in West Java.
2018 – An Update to include Malaysia’s Ribus (and more of East Timor!)
Since the very beginning in 2009 we listed the Ultra-prominent peaks in Sabah, Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo) and East Timor, because the areas share land borders with Indonesia and the mountains are quite obviously fantastic treks in interesting regions. But we only listed them as Spesials rather than Ribus (a term initially limited to peaks within Indonesia).
In 2018 we agreed to add the peaks of Peninsular Malaysia (West Malaysia) in order to cover all of Malaysia and slightly redefine ‘Ribu’ as a peak with 1,000m of topographic prominence in any country (not just in Indonesia). This makes perfect since there have recently been lists of Ribus in Europe published according to the 1,000m topographic prominence definition and it is now even recognized by the Relative Hills Society (of the United Kingdom). Additionally, mountains in Malaysia are also called ‘gunung’ so it seemed right for a site called Gunung Bagging to cover all of the lands where mountains are gunungs!
We took this opportunity to add a few less prominent yet special (‘Spesial’!) peaks across Malaysia and in East Timor too. Whilst we are yet to write trip reports for many of the Peninsular Malaysia peaks, it is hoped we will visit many of the mountains in 2021.