It took four different bus rides to get to Selo, the town closest to the summit of Mt. Merapi. At 2911m, Merapi may not be the highest volcano in Java, but it is one of the most active. From our guesthouse we could see the steep ridge that climbed and twisted its way to the smoking summit. Teaming up with a French tourist who had been turned back a few days before by rain, we hired a guide and started the ascent at about 2am. The paved road soon gave way to a narrow trail that wound its way through vegetable and tobacco fields. Soon even those were left behind, and we encountered stunted pine forest. Looking back, we could see the lights of Selo in the dizzying depths. Where the forest ended, we arrived on the shoulder of the volcano. From here we picked our way over the rough volcanic rock to the final ascent. After three hours of climbing, we arrived at the summit just in time for sunrise. Yellow, sulfurous rock and steaming vents were scattered around the top. It was too cloudy to see Yogyakarta and Borododur below, but we could enjoy the peaks of the other volcanoes nearby. Far in the east we could see the smoking cone of Mt. Semeru, the highest volcano in Java. After munching on a few crackers, a cold wind started to blow. Shivering and hungry, we decided to descend. Waiting for us at the guesthouse was a breakfast of hot banana pancakes.