Utah native among hundreds of people trapped on a volcano in Indonesia shares harrowing experience

BALI, INDONESIA – A Bountiful, Utah native was one of hundreds of hikers trapped on top of Mount Rinjani when an earthquake struck.
Craig Chilton spoke to Fox 13 from his home in Bangkok, Thailand about the harrowing experience.

While working in Bali, Chilton had some free time to do some exploring. He set his sights on Mount Rinjani, the second tallest volcano in Indonesia. But what was supposed to be a thrilling adventure took a dangerous turn on Sunday, July 29.

“It's just a grueling, grueling, trek up to the top of the volcano,” said Chilton.

He took a two-day trip with a guide up the volcano. They camped overnight on a crater, then hiked up to the summit the next morning. That’s where they joined hundreds of other hikers to watch the sunset.

“While I was waiting to take a picture, I felt like I just got shoved to the left," Chilton said.

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Lombok, followed by several aftershocks and landslides.

“As soon as the earthquake started, everything started crumbling around you. There were people that were falling off the top. I was hanging off the cliff kinda with my head. The earthquake went for about 10 seconds,” said Chilton.

Chilton managed to get his footing and followed those running for their lives down the hill. They helped stranded hikers along the way.

“One of the individuals was buried up to the waist in rocks and boulders and so we dug her out," he said.

Luckily, Chilton found his local guide, Mayot. They rushed down the mountain. Most of the trail had been washed away or fallen into the crater.

“It took about nine hours to get up to the top, on the way down, since we were running so fast, it took about three hours to get down,” said Chilton. “It was pretty terrifying experience."

Craig was relieved to find out days later, no hikers were among the dead or injured. While he’s always looking for the next adventure, Craig says he’ll stay on solid ground for a while.

“It’s crazy. There were 10 seconds of the earth rumbling under your feet. The sound of rocks, everything falling and people screaming. At the same time, there was a period of time that it was slow motion. It was silent and you’re just trying to digest what’s happening and thinking about your loved ones.”