The legend of Kurt Sorge and the volcano

The Nelson native spent three days in January filming his adventures riding around an active volcano in Indonesia.

Nelson's Kurt Sorge spent three days in January filming his trip around an active volcano in Indonesia.



It was no simple trip getting to the volcano.

Access to Indonesia’s Mount Bromo was blocked off in December after ash clouds began rising from its crater and the ground shook intermittently with tremors. The 2,392-metre active volcano, which has erupted every few years since records started being kept in the early 19th century, was in no mood for visitors.

Kurt Sorge was undeterred. Nelson’s star mountain bike rider, who previously won his second Red Bull Rampage in October, was set on seeing the volcano during a January trip to visit his sponsor, Polygon Bikes. So up he went, with a photographer and cinematographer in tow, for three days of filming around a volcano that has killed people as recently as 2004.

“It actually takes quite a while to get up to that elevation,” said Sorge. “It blew my mind because I haven’t really spent too much time around volcanos and they are pretty much down at sea level. I think it was a three or four hour drive to get all the way up there. You go from really hot and humid down low to actually pretty cool temperatures up there.”

The party made camp on a peak that overlooked Bromo. Below, the Segara Wedi, or Sea of Sands, surrounded the rumbling volcano. The site is a nature preserve and holds religious significance for the Tengger people.

One legend recounts the tale of a prince and princess who, unable to conceive children, prayed at Bromo for the gods’ help. Their prayers worked, but only on the condition the last child born be sacrificed to the volcano. When it came time for the couple to take their 25th child, they relented and the volcano erupted. To save their land, the prince and princess tossed the child into the crater. Ever since the annual Kasada festival has been held, in which crowds gather to appease the gods by throwing food, money and even chickens into the mouth of the volcano.

Sorge didn’t need to make a sacrifice to stay safe, although he joked he would have tossed his bike into the crater if need be.

“We kind of lucked out for most of the days we were there,” said Sorge. “The wind was taking the cloud plume away from where we were. But everything pretty much we were riding on was covered in a layer of ash and killed a lot of the farmers’ crops.”

Sorge never made it to the crater. His team couldn’t find a route past security — a feat snowboarder Keow Wee Loong accomplished in February — so they settled for a video of Sorge riding around Bromo instead.

Video has always been an important part of mountain biking and other action sports such as skateboarding or surfing. Sorge, who attended a GoPro event in Australia earlier this month to learn about filming, remembers making his own videos as a teenager before they were easily distributed on websites like YouTube.

“Capturing video is kind of my favourite,” said Sorge, who explored another volcano in Bali after his trip to Bromo. “You get to go to new places and build unique and creative stunts and trails. You get to spend time with the filmer and photographer to collaborate on something cool to hopefully get people stoked.”

Now that he’s back home, Sorge is now preparing to leave the Kootenays again. There are more sponsor events, a return to the freeride FEST Series and a trip to Utah where he’ll help plan the next Red Bull Rampage event.

His volcano trips, however, will be hard to top.

“It was a really wild experience. It was really cool.”

Photos and video courtesy of Kurt Sorge.

Just Posted

Freezing rain warning in effect for B.C. Southern Interior

Environment Canada issued the freezing rain warning for most of the Southern Interior Tuesday morning

LETTER: Message to dog owners on Mountain Station Trail: Clean up!

Dog owner says she wants to be part of the solution

Genelle ‘vehicle incident’ under RCMP investigation

Regional firefighters respond to car fire Sunday night

Nelson commits to 100% renewables by 2050

This makes Nelson the sixth city in Canada to join the worldwide initiative

RCMP: Mailboxes being targeted for theft

Nelson RCMP say several thefts have occurred in the last week

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Ryan Cooper steals spotlight for Nelson Leafs at KIJHL Prospects Game

Cooper was named the Kootenay Conference’s MVP

Nelson CARES reaches $690,000 fundraising goal

The three-year campaign will help renovate Ward Street Place

Kootenay Music Awards set to go, with changes

There will be new categories, a new voting method, and a new venue

COLUMN: MP Stetski says stop the attack on workers’ pensions

MP Wayne Stetski says not enough is being done to protect Canadians’ pensions

LETTER: Former candidate takes aim over Site C decision

Controversial decision draws criticism

LETTER: A poetic plea for pets from a cat owner

Poetic support for the small pet population

Canada excludes Kinrade from Olympic roster

The Nelson native took part in tryouts for the Winter Games hockey team

Nelson Sports Council to hand out $33K over three years

Max grants of $1,000 are available three times per year through 2020

Most Read