Daylight is peeking over Sumatra. I am just three degrees south of the equator, but high on the slopes of Mount Dempo, it is bitterly cold.
A sharp breeze is cutting through a sky streaked with clouds. Far below, the city of Pagaralam and the rest of the Pasemah Highlands are a creamy haze, while the dark hulk of Mount Patah looms over the tiger-haunted forests to the south.
It has been almost four hours since we started our climb, struggling upward through a tangle of roots and creepers, but now we have broken free of the tropical forest. Stunted bushes strewn with the gray-green lichen known as jengot angin, or “beard of the wind,” dot these stony slopes. We pause for a moment to watch the sun slip swiftly over a vast cloudscape.