“After midday, we entered the “Heart of Darkness” The jungle, every bit as geography books described it with long, thin tree trunks reaching up for the sun and, in the gloom below, a tangle of ferns, creepers, and spiky palms. It became apparent that jungle traveling is quite difficult, especially where there was so much rain, making it muddy and swampy in places and difficult to walk through the tangle of creepers.”
—Doug Scott, quoted in Seven Summits: The Quest To Reach The Highest Point on Every Continent, by Steve Bell
Looming above the jungles of Iryan Jaya is Carstensz Pyramid (locally known as Puncak Jaya), the highest peak in Australasia at 4,884m (16,024ft) above sea level. It appears like a giant limestone slab and features hundreds of meters of technical vertical ascent. Though it is glacier-capped, scientists estimate that the mountain’s ice will have completely disappeared by 2015. Of all the Seven Summits, Carstensz is by far the most of an “adventure,” as it has the least technical and logistical support of all of the peaks.
By far the most technical of the Seven Summits, Carstensz Pyramid is also one of the most inaccessible. It requires a 5-7 day, 100km (62mi) hike from the nearest town, Timikia, through dense, wet jungle. The traditional route goes up the north face then follows the summit ridge. Only 30-50 climbers attempt Carstensz each year, making it the least climbed of all the Seven Summits.
- When hiking to the mountain, climbers encounter native tribes whose traditional clothing is comprised of a penis gourd and whose first interactions with Westerners were in the 1970s. Many of these tribes were recently (or still are) cannibalistic.
- There is a large copper and gold mine located at the base of the mountain, but climbers are not allowed to utilize its road to access the mountain.
- Carstensz Pyramid is the most disputed of the Seven Summits, with the vast majority of Seven Summits climbers (70%) choosing to do the much easier Mt. Kosciusko in Australia instead of Carstensz.
Cason reached the summit of Carstensz Pyramid with Adventure Indonesia at 7:28am on August 22nd, 2012.
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Carstensz Pyramid in Pictures…
So upon reflection I’ve decided that the most effective way to recap Carstensz Pyramid is to do a very picture-heavy blog post. This is what I’ve come up with. Hopefully you’ll get a good sense of what our adventure was … Continue reading
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Sugapa to Timika to Bali (a.k.a. Civilization!)
And we’re back in civilization!! We got up early (around 5am) to be at the airstrip in case our plane arrived early to Sugapa. Since we were all eager to get out of the jungle, no one complained. We actually … Continue reading
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Day 12: Camp II to Sugapa
True to form, the expedition ended on a difficult and stressful note. Ed and I, eager to drink a soda, hurried on with Poxy and made good progress towards Sugapa. We were attempting to make it through our initial first … Continue reading
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Day 11: Camp III to Camp II
I like to think of the penultimate day of something as the “last” day, because the actual last day is generally pretty easy to complete (psychologically). This harks back to a lesson I learned from my high school cross country … Continue reading
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Day 10: Camp V to Camp III
Today was a hellishly long day. We combined two of the days from the hike-in and the result was an epic 9-hour slog through hail, mud, and jungle. The day started well enough; the weather was fine until around midday. … Continue reading
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Day 9: Base Camp to Camp V
Though we had hoped to make it all the way to a camp between Camps IV and V, we were pleased to at least make it to Camp V. It was a surprisingly tough climb up and over New Zealand … Continue reading
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Day 8: CARSTENSZ SUMMIT DAY!!!
I don’t know if I’ve had a more exciting summit day than today… I actually can’t even think of the best place to begin. I guess I’ll go chronologically: The “day” started during the night. We woke up just before … Continue reading
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Day 7: Camp V to Base Camp
We’re finally here! Phase one of the expedition accomplished. It was a pleasant five hour hike up and down the rocky granite Jaya range. We went over New Zealand pass and down to the base of Carstensz. The mountain appears … Continue reading
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Day 5: Camp III to Camp IV
I write this at Camp IV, within sight of the Pyramid. Seven hours of long, arduous trekking and we can finally see our goal! Today’s terrain was markedly different from the dense jungle we had walked through the past three … Continue reading
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Day 6: Camp IV to Camp V
It was nice to have a solid five hour day after the agony of days three, four, and five. It was a rolling day, first down into a winding valley and then slowly up the valley to the base of … Continue reading
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