How to get there:
This excellent web-site on climbing Indonesia peaks should always be consulted.
One needs to approach this mountain from the south, a village named Kalibaru. There is another trailhead (north), but that one will not get you to the true summit. The city of Banyuwangi may be a good point of departure. Take Hwy. 3 east to Kalibaru, then go north on a pretty rough (still ok for normal cars) to the area with the park office as well as several local guide quarters.
I used Raung Trips, located at S08.25037, E113.98617, elevation about 650 meter. I had contacted a local guide, Simon, in advance and booked a 2-day trip with him. His contact details are, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and Whatsapp messages/phone: +62-877-5875-1298. The name of the guide was Simon. An alternative (private?) email is email@example.com.
Here is a summary and quick reference to the climbs on this trip.
The registration for climbing Raung is right across the street from Ranung Trips. The standard procedure is to use an ojek (motor-bike) from here to Camp 1. This distance is more than 5 kilometer and about 250 meter higher. This ride is rather entertaining as it runs on a trail rather than a road. The Camp I area is dominated by growing coffee. This location is at S08.20366, E114.00134, elevation about 900 meter.
The trail runs gently uphill with coffee bushes on both sides, then gradually enters more general jungle. Quite soon, you walk along on the top of a ridge, this will continue to be the case until you climb the last slope before the summit of Raung. The distance from Camp I to Camp IV is about 6.5 kilometer, the path is generally very pleasant and easy all the way.
After Camp IV, the trail gets steeper as it keeps climbing the ridge. This ridge is generally steeper on your left side than on the right, this will become very evident after Camp VII. Camp VII is by far the most popular place to spend the night. Some parties stay 2 nights there on a 3 day climb, but also 2 day trips tend to camp here. Camp VII is at location S08.14015, E114.03748, elevation just below 2600 meter.
After Camp VII, the trail becomes even more steep as it keeps climbing the ridge. The left side of the ridge turns into a steep drop and offers some views when the trail at some points runs very close to the edge. You pass Camp VIII and then arrive at Camp IX. This camp is very close to treeline. For a 2 day climb, the best option would really be to stay here, possibly at a slightly higher cost, see my comments below.
Shortly after Camp IX, the trail exits from the vegetation and you will see Puncak Bendera with a flag at a very short distance uphill. The ridge and path from the end of trees to Bendera is broad and easy. From Bendera you can see almost all the rest of the route to the summit.
First, descend on a good climbers trail towards the first small saddle on the ridge. Soon, there is a somewhat narrow section of the trail, however, still an easy walk. Descending a bit on the right, There is a single spot on this trail where you bypass a rock and a careful climbing move is required. The trail levels out and moves right under a cliffband that blocks access to the slope of Puncak 17. This is the crux of the route. Move right on a ledge that narrows, but grants you access to a sloping rock with many good holds and even a big flat foothold halfway up. The climb is (YDS) class 3, but there is considerable exposure. The climb is only 3-4 meter, then you gain easier ground with several rusty anchors. After this, ascend on easy ground towards the next local peak on the ridge, this one is called Puncak 17. Go as high as convenient, then follow a goat trail that traverses around the peak on your right hand side. You need to make a few steps down about half way. The trail follows a narrow, but flat ledge. Again, this is completely straightforward, but there is exposure and normal care must be exercised. The best way to visit the summit of Puncak 17 is ascending it on a climbers trail from the side you are on after completing this bypass traverse.
The route now continues with a second, horizontal narrow passage on top of the ridge, the path is wide enough for normal walking. You next arrive at the upper end of a gully that connects to a final small col before the terrain slopes uphill towards the summit of Raung. This gully is not very steep, but quite loose. Scramble down and exit right at the bottom. The route continues with a short descend off the ridge to your right, in order to connect into the local face that extends uphill almost to the very top. There are small variations, the route is easy to follow as it generally heads uphill and right. There are several flags that show the general direction. Near the top there is a fork and the recommended way is to ascend left ignoring one flag (which is directing more right). You traverse some big boulders, the easy path is around on the outer side, then what remains is a short stroll gaining the small summit ridge and leading to the highest point. The view of the crater is quite impressive. From here, one may also look back at most of the route along the ridge from Puncak Bendera to the final slopes of Raung.
This was my last ultra on Java. It could not be climbed in 2015 due to an eruption. I had contacted Raung Trips and asked about a 2 day ascent, it seems most people take 3 possibly even 4 days. Thus, it was agreed that I would climb the mountain on the weekend August 10/11. Heidi and I had established our last "Base Camp" at the small hotel Bangsring Breeze on the east coast of Java. I first went on to climb Argopuro, then enjoyed a couple of rest days at the hotel before heading off for Raung.
When asking about what time to meet, Simon suggested 0700. I organized a car to take me from the hotel, leaving at 0445. The drive took 2 hours, I arrived at Raung Trips, the place is called Base Camp Pak Yayan, at 0645.
Simon was having breakfast and I briefly talked with another guide that also would go up the trail today with 5 people from Singapore. We got ready and departed on two ojeks. The ride was rather fun as we drove on a trail rather than on a (bad) road as is normally the case with ojek transport. We stopped at Camp 1, while our porters (we had 2) got a ride a bit higher, essentally until the trail became unsuitable for motor-bikes.
We started walking from camp I at 0815. The trail was pleasant and we soon caught up with one of our porters. Simon said that we should stop and spend the night at Camp VII. I realized that this would be a short and easy day indeed. I had told my driver to be back to pick me up for a return drive the next day (Sunday) at 1500. Thus, I suggested to Simon that perhaps it would be better to walk all the way up to Camp IX today, then getting a slightly easier day tomorrow. However, it quickly became clear that this was not an option. Simon had agreed and paid our porters for going to Camp VII only. He said the trail above Camp VII was difficult and that the porters would not carry up there. OK, I surely could have left Bangsring after breakfast, we could have started the hike up to Camp VII closer to noon etc. No big deal, but the way things were organized seemed less than optimal.
I arrived at Camp VII at 1145, so 3.5 hours to here. Lots of tents. A group from Singapore had left for the summit at 0200, they eventually returned around 1600, so 14 hours. More people (also from Singapore) would arrive in the afternoon with the guide I had talked to in the morning. Not much to do, but look at the nearby terrain and talk to various people. Dinner was served early evening, lots of good Indonesian food. I was pretty firm to cancel any idea to leave for the summit between 0100 and 0200, I suggested that we might leave sometime before 0500. Simon agreed to this, he was still somewhat surprised that we had hiked up to this camp in less than 4 hours.
Our porters arrived with 2 small tents. A bit later the other guide from Raung Trips arrived with porters and 5 visitors from Singapore. They used 2 larger tents, one for the clients and one for the support team. It was a fine evening and gradually the light faded and stars dotted the sky.
I did not bring a sleeping bag, the temperature typically stays at 10 C or more even at night. A warm fleece and some wool underwear would keep me warm and comfortable. Good sleep, but obviously a bit interrupted by all the noise when the other party started out between 0100 and 0200. Having a different camp than VII would also carry the benefit of avoiding the noise from other parties in the middle of night. I woke up sometime after 0400, we got ready and left at 0445. The hike up to treeline is steep, but not very long. As it turned out, one of our porters came along and he did not keep up. I first waited at camp VIII, then more waiting at the summit of Puncal Bendera. It was a nice morning and it was interesting to look at the route onwards to the summit of Raung. The team that started several hours ahead of us were climbing Puncak 17, the next peak along the ridge. As soon as Simon and his porter joined me, we continued down the ridge to the crux part of the route. Simon started out, attached a carabiner to a permanent bolt high on the rock before the climb, then climbed up, while I belayed him from below. He signaled that he had established a secure position and I started up. However, I soon noticed that Simon was not taking in any rope. I asked him to do so, but it now turned out that he did not have an ATC. Rather, he assumed that I would climb along a stationary rope using a jumar! Well, too late to do anything about this now, the rope was slack and I was almost up. I finished the scramble and joined Simon. He had anchored the rope to two different rusty iron pegs, at least this part looked good. The porter joined us and we could continue.
Traversing around Puncak 17, put us in front of the other team, since they had visited the small summit. I proceeded across the narrow ridge and down the gully before Simon caught up. It seemed that he had expected to use the rope in the gully as well. Soon, we were on our way up the broad face, easy going. Our porter had fallen behind. We arrived at the summit at 0815.
The Raung crater was certainly impressive. The rock walls that formed the crater rim, likewise. Mainly clouds around us, but the nearby scenery compensated well. I walked to the opposite end of the summit ridge, verifying that the summit location was indeed the highest ground. I left the summit at 0840, starting the descent. Halfway down the first slope, we spoke to the Singapore team that would soon make the summit. The return hike went smoothly, when we arrived at the crux, I told Simon that I would prefer to just downclimb the step rather than setting up an abseil. Having both a good anchor and the rope, Simon would belay me from above while I climbed down. (I do not know how he did this, using his figure eight or using a carbiner, it did not really matter.) As soon as I was down, I took in the rope using a figure eight that I had borrowed from Simon. I had sort of forgotten that the ATC on my harness was for half-rope only. The rope we used was too thick to pass through it. Thus, this was the only place were a rope was used and one could really have done the entire route without it.
We were safely back on Bendera at 1000, then I descended to Camp VII at 1115. Our man by the tents had prepared a good meal. Simon arrived 15 minutes after me, he was definitely hungry having left without breakfast about 6 hours earlier. We continued the descent at 1145, reaching Camp I at 1415, so 2.5 hours down. Simon had told me that organizing the return trip by ojek would be easy. Not so. Initially, he said that ojeks were on the way, should be coming in 15 minutes. However, when some ojeks finally arrived, they were reserved for another group descending. After more than one hour waiting, we started hiking down the trail from Camp I. Shortly thereafter our ojeks finally showed up. A good ride down the trail and we were both back at Base Camp shortly before 1600. My car was waiting. Goodbye and then an uneventful drive got me back to Bangsring Breeze arriving there around 1830.