Pioneering a new route for mental health.

Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world with over 17,000 islands and with 100 endangered animals and 700 dialects it is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich countries in the world. With the country poised for a reopening in November, IGO adventures founder Bobby and his intrepid wife Lucy found themselves on a spiritual journey in the heart of the country. Read on to get a glimpse as to why this stunning archipelago should be at the top of every adventurer’s bucket list…

Mount Abang on the island of Bali is a force of nature. Quite literally it was created out of the ground when it’s bigger sister Mt Agung (the biggest volcano on the island of Bali) erupted in 1917 and created what is now the three big peaks and Caldera of eastern Bali; Batur, Abang and Agung. 

Our mission was to camp on the side of Mt Abang and climb the mountain the following day with the aim to raise money for Suicide prevention in Bali and a collection of mental health charities. There were 50 people who signed up for the weekend expedition who collectively raised over $45k. 

As an adventure planner by trade, I have done a fair few recces in my time in search of beautiful spots in nature and this Camp spot was one of the best I have ever seen. We had all been driven 2 hours from the capital Denpasar in minibuses and arrived 100ft below the ledge that was to be our home for the night and hiked the remaining path to camp as the incline and dusty track proved a little too steep for the city designed vans. As we rounded the corner we were met with the most stunning view. 210 degrees vista that soaked in the ocean in front and to our left with Mt Rinjani of Neighbouring island Lombok in the distance, jungle, tiny villages and fruit tree farms in the foreground and foothills of the mountain and the mighty Agung to our right. Everyone settled into task immediately and a collective effort soon began with vegetables dicing on the prep tables to fire making in the circle in front of the tents ready for a grand supper. With the group newly aquatinted, spirits high, chilli in the bellies and s’mores (a biscuit sandwich with fire-roasted marshmallow and melted chocolate in the middle – now the first ingredients to enter my bag for any adventure!) to finish the feast everyone bedded down under a blanket of stars and anticipation for the day ahead. 

No need for alarms! Most Balinese homesteads will have a rooster and the local fruit farmers on the side of Abang were no exception. Breakfast cleared away, rucksacks packed, briefing by the core team checked off the list and a brief stretch and we were off. It took around 4 hours to reach the top. You are only as quick as your slowest group member when safety is the name of the game. We had a great bond in the group already by this point and willed each other on up the steep and newly created path. Abang is one of the least climbed mountains on the island of Bali so the organisers had spent over 500hrs each on the mountain preparing the trails for our expedition but more importantly the locals who could use the route for future tourists and therefore a newly created revenue stream when things eventually open up again. The chilli meal from the previous night was having a strange combustion effect on some of the male participants which made for even tougher going for those further to the back of the group! But with the help of one of the local guides (Jack) musical talent, we were serenaded almost without pause, all the way to the top with his brilliant guitar playing and soulful voice to songs by Xavier Rudd and Eddie Vedder. 

The terrain changed dramatically from arid, dry, dusty and with great visibility to cloud/fog, humid, almost rainforest-like vegetation. At the top, we rested, took obligatory selfies with the summit sign, had a delicious Nasi Campur (a favourite local dish consisting of rice, meats and vegetables with a spicy sambal sauce wrapped in a banana leaf) lunch, did 30 mins of breath work, had a Balinese ceremony with the local priest who was wearing his full ceremonial robes next to a temple that frankly had us totally baffled how they managed to get all the stone to the top, then cheerfully with renewed energy set about the second half of the trek. The (mostly) down part was much tougher going than the up it turned out! We scaled a very sketchy ridge for 45 mins that had a near vertical drop on both sides and the width couldn’t have been more than 3 feet. One miss placed step and you were most likely free-falling to the villages 1000+ ft below- gulp! Fortunately for the vertigo sufferers in the group the team had fixed ropes and with slow progress we made it to the end of the ridge and with genuine elation for having made the crossing intact, started the much more gentle walk down the ‘tourist’ path side to Lake Batur below. We reached the bottom around 4 pm, 8 hrs after leaving camp, tired but in high spirits. The rain had come in hard at the top so as we reached the bottom the warmth had returned and after a change of clothes and a short boat trip across the lake we were reunited with our city minivans, happy to be on a concrete road! 

Hugs and high fives between all the participants proved just how great the collective achievement was and the feeling of doing good and raising funds for such worthwhile causes whilst supporting the mountain locals with a new route gave us a real sense of pride and accomplishment. 

Special thanks to all the Freedom summit team and local guides for the incredible effort, support and encouragement in making the mini-expedition a possibility and resounding success. I was honoured to be a part of the group. 

Total raised us: $2000 

Total raised group: $45,000

Total elevation: 2152 meters

Total distance: 15kms

Total hours: 8 

New friends made: Many

Quality of experience: 10/10

Charity: LISA. Love inside Suicide awareness. 

Bali. Bersama. Bisa. (Together We Can)