We’ve just concluded our journey to the least climbed of the Seven Summits, Carstensz 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!