Some 1,000 climbers are expected to celebrate New Year’s Eve on the peak of Mount Slamet in Purbalingga, Central Java.
According to the organizers, more than 700 people had registered as of Friday to climb the biggest volcano in the province. More were expected to register on Saturday, when they will begin the challenging trip.
The number of people to celebrate New Year’s Eve is predicted to be three times more than in previous years, following a reduction in the alert status of the volcano.
“For the last two years, Mt. Slamet has been closed to climbers. Now that it is opened again, the number of climbers is three times as many as before,” the head of Purbalingga Culture, Tourism, Youth and Sport Agency, Suyitno, said at his office on Friday.
The 3,428-meter Mt. Slamet had been put on the third and second highest alert status for two consecutive years before it was recently deemed back to normal by the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG).
With a normal status, climbers are welcome to climb to the peak of the volcano.
“Yet, precautions still need to be taken. Climbers are required to register at designated posts and are strongly advised to follow instructions for the sake of their own safety,” Suyitno said.
He said climbers would start climbing on Saturday from Bambangan post in Serang subdistrict, Karangreja. “We have prepared security officers and guides to lead climbers to the peak,” Suyitno said.
The regency administration, according to Suyitno, had also coordinated with a search and rescue team and locals in preparation for the worst, especially because it is the rainy season. “Climbers are also prohibited from making campfires near bushes to avoid forest fires,” he said.
Toto, a regular climber of Mt. Slamet, said that celebrating New Year’s Eve on the peak of the volcano was impressive.
“The peak is so vast, like a desert. It’s appealing. It’s really something to enjoy the first sunrise of the year from the peak,” Toto told The Jakarta Post.
Dery of Purwokerto, who has climbed Mt. Slamet three times, expressed the same sentiment, saying that he preferred to enjoy the beauty of nature when celebrating the new year rather than attend a party. “This time I’ll climb in a group of five,” he said.
Separately in Padang, West Sumatra, the municipal administration will greet New Year’s with a colossal rendang cooking festival on Saturday. Rendang is a Padang specialty made of meat stewed in spicy coconut milk.
Padang Mayor Fauzi Bahar said more than 10,000 kilograms of meat would be cooked by delegations of the municipal’s 104 subdistricts. Each team will cook 100 kilograms of meat in a contest offering a car as the grand prize.
“The festival is aimed at making rendang well-known worldwide,” said Fauzi on Friday, adding that the festival was expected to be recorded as the biggest rendang festival by the Indonesian Museum of Records (MURI).
The festival, he said, would be held in the middle of the city’s main street, Jl. Bagindo Aziz Chan, which would be turned into a long kitchen where contestants would cook using firewood stoves.