Loser Mountain

The greatest joy of researching topics for this project invariably comes from unexpected confluences. Sometimes a string of articles will arrive thanks to one investigation hole; other times a new connection to a previous subject springs forward. These overlaps provide mind-sparks that remind us everything is linked on our rocky haven of life in the unrelenting cosmos.

In our previous examination, we learned about the fantastically named Loser Mountain in the Austrian Alps. That gorgeous crag’s nomenclature has nothing to do with failing but is a happy coincidence in English. How fantastic is it that a Loser Mountain exists?

The only thing better would be if two Loser Mountains populated Earth. The mountaineers of Indonesia must have agreed with this assertion, as they blessed us with their version of Loser Mountain.

The Leuser Range on Indonesia's island of Sumatra - graphic by Kyle Stout

Sumatra is the world’s sixth-largest island, and the largest fully within the boundaries of Indonesia. In the northern reaches of Sumatra sits a small mountain range, consisting of just three peaks. This grouping goes by the name Leuser Range. In our quest for as many Loser Mountains as possible, you can see we’re already on the right track.

One of the three peaks bears the same moniker as the range: Mount Leuser, sometimes listed as Gunung Leuser or Puncak Leusuer. In Indonesian, gunung means “mountain” and puncak means “peak.” Fear not, Loser Mountain #2 does not rely on the pronunciation of “Leuser.” Another peak in the range is the bang-on Loser Mountain. Joining Leuser and Loser is Mount Tanpa Nama.

What’s going on with these names? The answer is a bit complicated and murky. First, the amount of information on this range is limited. Some sources, such as the reliable database at Peakbagger, list Tanpa Nama as Mt. Leuser. However, according to the Indonesian Survey and Mapping Agency and the authorities at the surrounding Gunung Leuser National Park (more on this area later), Mount Leuser occupies another peak at different coordinates. Many of the mountain databases have no entry for Indonesia’s Loser Mountain or Tanpa Nama, but we’ll go with the national authorities; just goes to show how much standardization is not out there for the world’s remote locations. Displaying where some of the confusion might arise, Mt. Tanapa Nama translates from Indonesian to “Mountain Without a Name.” What do Leuser and Loser mean? Once again, the answer seems to be indefinite. An author on Sumatra’s ecology claims Leuser translates from the Indigenous language of Gayo to “place where animals go to die.” According to local guides, Loser is somewhat related. A folk tale tells of a Dutch hunter, who accidentally shot his partner on Mount Loser. Porters, who spoke Gayo, used the word los, which translates to “dead.”

So, we have Mt. No Name, Mt. Where Animals Go to Die, and Mt. Dead, all in the Where Animals Go to Die Range. There will be a quiz at the end of the article.

A view of one of the mountains, potentially Leuser, in Gunung Leuser NP - photo by gbohne

These mountains all top 10,000 feet in elevation. Leuser rises 10,348 feet (3,154 meters); Loser beats Leuser, reaching 11,178 feet (3,407 meters), but loses to Tanpa Nama, whose apex stands 11,317 feet above sea level (3,466 meters).

Despite their serious elevation and inhabitation inside a park named for one of the peaks, these mountains are extremely remote and have remarkably little easily findable, photographic documentation.

The view from the summit of Loser, toward distant rises - photo by Mykhailo Pavliuk
A stitched panorama of all three peaks by Nick Hughes (click for larger view)
The peak of Tanpa Nama in the distance - photo by Nick Hughes
Sunrise at Mount Leuser - photo by gbohne

Part of the reason for the obscurity of these mountains might be the surrounding park, despite the oronymic inspiration for its title. Loser Mountain twins are not the only confluence we gain by studying Indonesia’s peaks.

If Gunung Leuser National Park sounds familiar, you might have a wonderful memory when it comes to this project’s topics (don’t get too high on your horse: if you’re reading these as they publish, it was just a month ago). Mount Leuser’s National Park is more famously known for its jungle and its inhabitants: orangutans!

This area features a preserve for the primates, one of only two remaining hotspots on Sumatra.

The gorgeous jungle of Gunung Leuser NP - photo by Ganjarmustika1904
A juvenile orangutan in the park - photo by Michaël CATANZARITI

In “Doctor Orangutan“, we learned about an extraordinary primate named Rakus, who got into a scuffle with a rival and emerged with a gash on his face:

Rakus with gash - photo by Armas/Suaq Project via Max Planck Institute

Researchers in the park watched in awe, as Rakus treated his wound with a medicine he whipped up from nearby plants, known for their healing properties. Rakus became the first known wild animal to treat himself medically.

Rakus might live near Loser Mountain, but he’s certainly no loser.

For the vexillologists out there, one more coincidence popped up. Austria’s flag is a red and white tricolor. Indonesia scrapped one red line, going for the two-tone option, instead.

OK, so the tones are different. Still close!

Does a third Loser Mountain lurk somewhere in the world? Does it have a connection to another topic we’ve already covered?

Could it be inside Indonesia’s flag-inverse, Poland? Or in the fraternal-twin-flag nation of Monaco?

For losers, these mountains have provided a lot of content!

You’re off the hook. The promised quiz at the end is canceled. Everyone wins with an A+.

Further Reading and Exploration

Leuser, Indonesia – Peakbagger

Leuser Range – Wikipedia

Doctor Orangutan – The Mountains Are Calling

Gunung Leuser National Park – Sumatra Ecotravels

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