Mt. Sibayak: Psychology of trekking up an Active Volcano

Atop the steaming peak of Mt. Sibayak, an active volcano in Berastagi, Indonesia, the only signs of life were those of the humans who’d trekked up there. No wildlife, no vegetation, only people; deliberately poking their noses and limbs into fuming, sulfurous crevices. No other animal would ever do that. I couldn’t help but be amused and conclude that the age of humans was surely the result of some evolutionary mishap. And here I was on an active volcano trek.

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An island shaped by countless calamities, Sumatra is a geological souvenir of our beautiful planet’s tumultuous tectonic antiquity; Earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and volcanic disasters that changed the course of this planet’s history. Indonesia’s largest island is dotted with relics of those catastrophic events that define the entirety of its territory, of which the volcanoes are the most fascinating.

There are currently thirty-five active volcanoes in Sumatra. 35! After that sinks in, consider this — The island is home to a Supervolcano, known to be the deadliest in the history of planet’s existence that spans nearly 5-billion years.

The last time the Supervolcano erupted, it resulted in the death of most of the human beings alive at the time. The genetic legacy of the human race was altered forever and the planet was engulfed in a ‘volcanic winter’ that lasted several years. Ashes from the eruptions have been found as far east as Lake Malawi in Africa. And yet, volcanoes are a strong part of Sumatran life. Mt. Sibayak is one of two active volcanoes that overlook Berastagi. It’s close neighbour, Mt. Sinabung recently came alive in … the rest here

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Header picture by Jean-Marie Prival

Originally published at

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