A Day in the Life of the Sulfur Miners of Ijen Crater, Java (my photography)
Down at the base, vent pipes direct the molten sulfur to pool on the more accessible side and base of the crater.
Got a couple of broken ribs from poor Jeep drivers on Mt. Bromo which made hiking up and down into the Ijen crater a bit uncomfortable. It's a treacherous place, though my 35lb camera bag paled in comparison to the 175lb loads of sulfur these miners collect and haul up the crater 2x per day netting them perhaps $15USD depending on the prevailing rate of sulfur.
Using simple tools, the exaction process is slow and more difficult when the plume engulfs the entire area. You cannot see your feet, so you just hunker down and wait.
The miners start around 2am and try to finish two loads by sometime mid-morning - he's holding about 3lbs of sulfur, only 172 more to go. The orange pooling areas is the fresh sulfur, as it cools it turns a color between orange and yellow... and finally yellow as it cools.
There are moments when you are completely engulfed by the sulfuric gas plumes for minutes at a time. People are hacking their lungs out with only rags clenched in their teeth for lung protection. My acid rated respirator even let through enough acid fumes to make my throat quite uncomfortable. Your eyes just gush when hit with the sulfuric gas... never mind, the lake at the bottom of the crater is a sulfuric acid lake so don't go washing yourself in that.
Once out of the crater, they switch over from baskets to wheeled carts which have brakes on them as some sections are steep, muddy and full of tourists to dodge.
Atop Ijen crater, a rare photo of myself.
For more images & posts, click here for my blog page and hit the