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!
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!!
Lead guide, Sid Pattison, provides this expedition recap of summit day:
Well another great Kilimanjaro trip is in the books, our entire team summited at 6:45am on August 4th. It was a cold morning but we all kept moving and stayed warm. The sun crested the horizon as we made our final steps to Uhuru Peak, the third and highest of Kilimanjaro’s three summits.
Getting here had been a great trip through the many wonders that Kili has to offer. As we started in the rain forest on the lower flanks of the mountain we ate lunch with monkeys playing above our heads, curious as to what brings us here. The next day, as we climbed up and out of the thick jungle into the stunted trees of the Erica zone, this zone allowed us gorgeous views across the mid flanks of the mountain and up to the summit! This would be our first view of the mountain, from the mountain. There was a palatable shift as we gazed up at how much we had to climb. Undaunted and undeterred the team pushed on, through the hidden moorlands, up to the Lava tower to acclimatize and past Barafu camp to the higher Kosovo Camp. From here we prepared for our midnight rise and early morning summit.
We rose at 11pm on August 3rd and quietly readied ourselves for a big day. Bags packed, boots tied, headlamps ready we were off. Up we went, switch-backing our way up the mountain, rock and scree gave way to snow and ice as we approached Stella Point, where our crew looked across the crater, standing above and across from Africas only glaciers. From Stella Point the crew had to dig deep to finish the final 1.5 hour climb across the crater rim. Together we climbed slowly but surely, “Pole Pole” (pronounced ‘Polay Polay’ it means slowly, slowly in Swahili) as our African guides would say to the summit. Upon arrival hugs were shared, handshakes of appreciation and ultimate feelings of satisfaction. The funny thing about any summit is that always accompanying these feelings is the tempering understanding that we are only half way, we still must get down, and it generally isn’t easy.
As we made our way down from the summit, back to Stella point we watched people digging hard like we had just been doing, their slow steps, the looks in their eyes telling the story of giving everything the have hoping the summit comes soon. After Stella Point, in the sun we shed layers, drank water were finally able to relax a bit before the final descent to camp. As we walked back into camp our staff sang and congratulated us on our climb. We relaxed and drank cold juice. It was then time for the big 18km, 10,000ft descent. Pulling into the Mweka gate at 6:00, we were greeted by many of our staff.
Today my legs are sore but I’m always happy to have another successful climb under my belt. Thanks again to our local staff of guides, porters and cook staff. They really do a great job and make the experience on the mountain amazing!
We got pretty lucky with the weather — except for it trying to blow us off the summit ridge! And then after we descended the fixed lines (that are installed annually to protect against a fall on the steep terrain) we hit some white-out conditions, but just for a bit. Aside from that, I guess you could call it a beautiful day on the mountain!!! Which it was.
We started with a bit of help from a snow-cat at 02:00 AM moving up the lower part of the climb.
After a few hours of climbing, we were welcomed by a beautiful warming sunrise. We were fortunate to witness the very unique sight of the mountain’s shadow being cast on the horizon by the rising Sun. The beautiful hues of pinks, blues, and greys were enough to take your breath away. Or was it because were were working so hard at 17,000’? 🙂
The team did a fantastic job taking care of themselves and climbing strong. On the last bit to the top, the wind was blowing so hard that the team gathered even more strength to crawl to the summit! We hunkered down for a quick couple of photos.
Everyone did an awesome job heading down safe, healthy and yes, a bit tired!
Spring is here! Our Everest & Lhotse climbing team is packed and heading off to Nepal to climb Everest and Lhotse (4th highest). An exciting change for us this year is that our team is involved with the rope fixing from Camp 2 all the way to the summit of Mount Everest, as our local agency, Himalayan Guides Nepal PVT LTD has secured an exclusive contract with the Expedition Operators Association of Nepal for this project. Our expert team of sherpas will be leading the effort in finding the best route and placing the fixed ropes up the Lhotse Face, across the Yellow Band & Geneva Spur to the South Col high camp, up the Triangular Face to the Balcony (27,500′) and onward to the summit! We are excited to “lead the way” up the mountain and prepare the ropes so that our team and others can ascend safely on Mount Everest. We aim to complete this project earlier than in past seasons so that more time is available for teams to make a summit attempt during the good weather window in May. By controlling the rope fixing we can control our climbing schedule better than before.
Check back soon for more photos and video as the expedition prepares to launch!
Our Mount Vinson Expeditions concluded yesterday when our second team made it back to Punta Arenas, Chile, after a successful climb of the highest peak on the continent of Antarctica. We are thrilled to announce that Madison Mountaineering was the only company leading multiple Mount Vinson Expeditions with 100% climber success overall, this is unmatched by the other guide companies on the mountain this year. We credit this high level of achievement and safety to our commitment of thorough climber screening and preparation beforehand, our leadership on the mountain, and building cohesive teams of climbers that are very powerful. Our first team of Mount Vinson climbers comprised of Garrett, Peter, Richard, and Sharon reached the summit of Mount Vinson on January 7th, and our second team of Mount Vinson climbers comprised of Garrett, Keith, Annie, Mei, Jeff, Tamas, and Maria reached the summit of Mount Vinson on January 17th after first having skied to the South Pole!
Each of our Mount Vinson expeditions were very fortunate to reach the top of the mountain with fantastic weather, clear skies and only a little wind, very pleasant summit days indeed! We now will head home to our families and friends, and for some of us begin preparing for our next big expedition, Mount Everest beginning in early April! Please enjoy the photos below of our recent climbs in Antarctica! For climbers looking to climb Mount Vinson or other peaks in Antarctica for the upcoming season (December 2018), its important to start planning soon!