Carstensz Pyramid 2018 Dispatches

We’ve just concluded our journey to the least climbed of the Seven SummitsCarstensz Pyramid located on the island of Papua New Guinea.  About a week ago our team assembled in Bali and completed our equipment checks.  Then we flew to the easternmost province of Indonesia, Papua.  We waited in the frontier town of Timika for the weather to clear so that we could fly by helicopter over the jungle to the Yellow Valley base camp nearby Carstensz Pyramid.

We were delayed by one day in Timika as frequent the rain and thunderstorms passed by.  Then on the clear morning of October 16th we flew to base camp at 4,242 meters (14,000 ft).  From there we went on an acclimatization hike around the valley.  After lunch, we decided to climb partway up the route on Carstensz Pyramid, so that we could familiarize ourselves with the climbing.  At dinner, we discussed our climbing strategy for the following day and went to bed anticipating the climb ahead!

We awoke at 4 AM and had breakfast at 4:30 AM, then departed camp at 5 AM for our ascent of Carstensz Pyramid. As we ascended the first pitches of rock the sun rose and we turned off our headlamps. Much of the route is climbing on 5th class rock up cracks, gulleys, and rock faces until reaching the ridgeline.  By 9 AM we reached the cable crossing, an airy section where a large gap in the ridge exists.  Climbers cross by walking along a 40 ft. cable.  After that, we continued along the ridge until reaching a ‘step across’ where we hopped from one rock to the next.  We then ascended the final slopes to the summit at 4,884 meters (16,117 ft).  At the top, we congratulated each other and took a few team photos, then began our descent.

We rappelled much of the route and reached base camp at 3:30 PM.  That evening we celebrated our success on Carstensz Pyramid.  For one of our climbers, Gary Nelson, this was the successful completion of his Seven Summits quest.  Gary and I climbed Mount Everest together back in 2011, so this was a special way for me to be part of his last of the Seven Summits.  A few of the other climbers on the team are nearing completion of their Seven Summits as well, likely to finish in the coming months!

The following morning the weather cleared and the helicopter was able to fly to base camp and take out three of our climbers, however, that was the only flight for the day.  The two remaining climbers and I waited until the following day to fly out.  As we lifted off from base camp and exited the Yellow Valley we approached a thick field of clouds and fog, the pilots had to maneuver around the sky to find their way down to Timika. We were lucky as only one flight was able to get in!  The weather in Papua New Guinea is often rainy and cloudy, sometimes groups have been delayed as many as 10 days waiting for the clouds and rain to let up so that they can fly out, we were lucky!

After arriving in Timika we went to our hotel and had breakfast, showered and changed, and then went to the airport to catch our flight to Bali.  We have arrived in Bali and are reunited with our other climbers that were able to fly out a day before us.  Tonight we are celebrating our climb and planning to take a surf lesson in the morning before saying goodbye! 

While we are still awaiting some photos of the triumphant team member summits, the message from the island of New Guinea is that the team awoke to fantastic weather at the Yellow Valley base camp.  Half of the team (Richard, Joel, and Gary) were able to jump on a helicopter a day early and head back to Timika.  The timing should allow them to connect with the return flight to Bali and be enjoying the sunset from Bali’s world-famous beaches this evening!

Garrett, Jim, and Chad will follow suit tomorrow morning and met up with the others for a celebration dinner in Bali tomorrow night.

I promise pictures soon!

We received word that 100% of the team reached the summit of Carstensz Pyramid (4884 m / 16,024 ft) at 10:40 AM local time on October 17, 2018 (about 10 hours ago) and have all safely returned to base camp in the Yellow Valley!

We should have some pictures and details to share shortly.

This morning the Carstensz Pyramid climbing team flew by helicopter from the town of Timika, Papua up to their base camp in the Yellow Valley. The base camp is located at an elevation of 4285 m / 14,050 ft.  That’s quite a change from the sea-level beaches of Bali just a couple of days ago! Today the team will spend some time hiking around the area of base camp to acclimatize to the new altitude. The weather is looking favorable and everyone is ready for a great day of climbing.

At 4,884 m (16,024 ft.) above sea level, Carstensz Pyramid is the highest point between the Himalayas and the Andres. As the team climbs tomorrow, they will have views of the nearby Grasberg mine, the largest gold mine and second largest copper mine in the world.

Hello from the frontier town of Timika, on the island of New Guinea! Today we are in the easternmost province of Indonesia.  We have registered with the local authorities and obtained permission to attempt nearby Carstensz Pyramid. If the weather is suitable for helicopters tomorrow, we will fly in the early morning to our base camp in the Yellow Valley. From there we will acclimatize to the 14,000 ft. elevation and prepare for the ascent.

Wikipedia fun fact:  Did you know that New Guinea is the world’s second-largest island?  The eastern half of the island is the major land mass of the independent state of Papua New Guinea. The western half, referred to as Western New Guinea or West Papua or simply Papua, formerly a Dutch colony, was annexed by Indonesia in 1962.

pictured left to right: Chad, Gary, Richard, Garrett, Jim, Joel in the ‘climbers cafe’ in Timika, where past climbing teams have summit photos on display.

Today our team of climbers for Carstensz Pyramid made final preparations to fly to the Island of Papua, a 4.5-hour flight from Bali. It’s been a nice couple of days enjoying the Island of Bali, and we are excited to get things underway! We’ve conducted equipment checks, reviewed our logistics and itinerary, and are hoping for good weather once we get to Papua! Myself and our team of 5 climbers will join with our two Indonesian guides for our ascent of Carstensz Pyramid. We look forward to arriving in Timika tomorrow and preparing for our journey to the Yellow Valley base camp!

One of the Seven Summits, Carstensz Pyramid was developed by the collision between the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates and the rock formation that exists today is composed of limestone that rises from the thick forest below to just over 16,000′. This mountain ascent will be a exciting adventure filled with many challenging rock formations. Along the ascent the team will push through multiple glacier fields across the mountain such as Carstensz Glacier. Upon reaching the peak the summit will typically be free of ice. The team’s rock climbing ability to ascents includes mostly 5th class terrain on fixed ropes. Stay tuned as this expedition kicks off!!

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