February 8, 2016
Carstensz Pyramid (16,023ft / 4,884 m) lives up to the billing!
I had been listening to our IMG guides and clients talk about Carstensz for years now and we decided it was time for me to check it out and see what the excitement was. The short answer is that it had all of the adventure and excitement that it had been rumored to provide…and then some! As always, the trip starts with a great team, and for this trip I had a terrific group of people that were fun to travel with. They knew when it was time to move yet also were aware that sometimes things can slow our progress down and force us to be patient.
Every turn along the way opened my eyes to something new and interesting. Traveling through Timika, Indonesia is not quite a hot tourist destination, but is a very good place to access the mountain. We spent several days there visiting the local sights. Then, it was time to fly by helicopter to Nasidome at about 12,000 feet on the Plateau. This is definitely the way to go! After a couple acclimatization nights on the Plateau, and a nice acclimatization hike, we crossed over New Zealand Pass to the Yellow Valley where our Base Camp was located at about 13,700 feet. The route from Nasidome was a rugged trek with a big variety of different terrain along the way. From the lakes, soggy ground and green vegetation on the Plateau to the rock scrambling and alpine desert of New Zealand Pass, there was something new and unexpected around every corner. Along the way we had great views of the north side of the Sudirman Range, and the rugged north faces of Ngga Pulu (4,863 m) and Sumantri (4,870 m).
The climb of Carstensz is a great test for mountaineers, and we were constantly offered different challenges to work through. Starting in the dark, the route was a mix of rock scrambling to steep climbing. We were glad to have the benefit of fixed ropes, but even with fixed ropes the notches along the ridge crest will keep you on your toes and make you concentrate. The new Tyrolean traverse is a blast! Plain and simple, this is a high wire walk with good protection to help your balance, with a couple thousand feet of air under you. The other two notches that need to be crossed can be done using a mix of rope work and climbing. Just don’t forget to breathe!
The weather was consistent with what I expected. It rained hard at times, especially in the afternoon. Mornings were generally good weather, so we started very early every day, with the goal to be back to camp before the rain started. The views as you trek and climb on Carstensz are amazing. My team did a great job at taking a minute to “stop and smell the roses.” I mean that we took our time and made sure to look around and take in the tremendous views of the high glaciers and the jungle below. Thought provoking is an accurate way to describe the climb of Carstensz. What a wild part of the world!
If you are fit and have solid climbing skills, then by all means consider a climb of Carstensz Pyramid. This place is truly one great adventure! We are already working on our Autumn 2016 Carstensz trip and I am here to answer any questions that might come up if you are interested.