IMG Carstensz Pyramid 2012 Expedition
International Mountain Guides Archived Expedition Updates
Carstensz Pyramid Team Ready To Go
July 4, 2012
IMG guides Jason Edwards and Dan Zokaites report from Timika, Papua, Indonesia that the Carstensz team is all together and healthy, and that all their baggage has arrived. That's the way we like to start a trip!
Jason reports that the weather is mixed, with clouds and some rain in the afternoons and evenings. This morning the team did a complete equipment check and got all packed and ready for the flight to the jungle airstrip at Sugapa village tomorrow morning. For the afternoon today, they are doing some shopping, eating, swimming in the hotel pool, and final packing.
Everyone is excited and ready to begin the jungle trek to the most elusive of the Seven Summits!
Carstensz Team Goes TIM – ZGP Without Issues
July 5, 2012
IMG guide Jason Edwards reports on the sat phone that after a one day delay in Timika waiting for the flights, today the team successfully flew in to Sugapa. This is good news, and they are now on their way. They will be hiring their porters there, and then heading out into the jungle. Weather in the morning was OK, but in the afternoon it looks like rain!
The Jungle Awaits
July 7, 2012
IMG guides Jason Edwards and Dan Zokaites report that the team and porters are heading into the jungle. The overland route to Carstensz will take 5 days and is very rugged hiking, so this will be a big challenge. Long days on the trail, tropical heat, mud, rickety bridges, wading streams…in the footsteps of Heinrich Harrer and his 1962 team. This is real adventure travel!
Carstensz Climbers Reach The Plateau
July 8, 2012
IMG guide Dan Zokaites reports by sat phone that the team completed their third day in the forest, and that it was the toughest yet. They did 7.7 miles on the map in 9 hours of hiking, with 5000 ft gained and 2000 ft lost! At the end of the day they broke out of the forest and climbed onto the Plateau. Now that they are out of the forest the walking will get better, though it is still quite challenging terrain. The weather has been good, with no rain today. The Plateau is representative of karst topography, with many sink holes, caverns, and small streams along the way. The local porters are doing a great job the team is looking forward to their first views of the Sudirman Range and Mt. Carstensz.
Carstensz Climbers Getting Close
July 10, 2012
IMG guide Dan Zokaitas reports by sat phone that the team has now crossed the Plateau and is at the foot of New Zealand Pass. Tomorrow they will climb up and over the Pass, and drop down into the Mt Carstensz Base Camp. Weather has been good and the views have been great, now that they are up out of the forest.
Carstensz Team Approaching Base Camp
July 10, 2012
IMG Senior Guide, Dan Zokaites, called in a bit ago. He's ready to finish the approach to BC today with the team. Leaving in about a half hour. There’s nothing easy about the approach to Carstensz but the team is hanging in there. Their plan is to take a shot at the summit the following day if weather/strength allows. If either is problematic, he does have one contingent day on the schedule to possibly use. So, if comms allow, we should hear from him again tomorrow afternoon, our time. We’re wishing the crew the best of luck.
Carstensz Pyramid Summit!
July 12, 2012
Success! Summit! Dan Zokaites called in yesterday evening to let us know that the team was on top. Weather was super. Even better, he called back in the evening (Seattle time), to let us know they were off the climb, back on the ground and about a half hour from high camp. The trek out begins today. Getting out is about as hard as getting in so there’s still work to be done. However, my guess is that there’s going to be a little extra energy in everyone’s step as they now have the summit in their pocket. Well done, Dan and team.
A little extra piece is associated with this climb – climber Carol, who’s been with us many times before, is now not only the oldest female to have made the Seven Summits (Kosciuszko list) she is also now the oldest female to have completed the Seven including Carstensz. Well done, Carol. More than a little impressive. You’re not supposed to discuss a woman’s age but, in this case, I don’t think Carol will mind. Think 65.
Summit Smiles As Carstenz Team Departs BC
July 12, 2012
IMG senior guide Dan Zokaites reports on the sat phone that the Carstensz team is getting loaded up right now to start hiking from Base Camp, on their homeward journey. They are shooting for a 4 day trek, but if necessary they can take a 5th day. Their porters all want to be back to Sugapa village in time to vote in the local elections coming up in a few days, so they are motivated to make it happen! Everyone is doing well and is looking forward to heading out. The weather has been great and the team are hoping it continues!
Carstenz Team Retracing Steps
July 15, 2012
IMG guide Dan Zokaitas reports that the Carstensz team put in a solid 10 hour day yesterday, and managed to go from their Camp 5 to Camp 3, completing the crossing of the Plateau. Today they go back into the forest, and are heading to the Camp 2. This was the day on the way in with 5000 ft up and 2000 down, so on the way out it will be reversed, which will be a bit easier. After that, they hope to reach Sugapa tomorrow with another long day from Camp 2. Everyone is hanging in there, and looking forward to getting back. The porters are all fired up to get back too, with the big Papua Bupati elections coming up — they are looking forward to getting back in time to vote!
Carstensz Team Has A Plane To Catch
July 16, 2012
IMG Guide Dan Zokaitas reports that the team has safely returned to Supaga, after two more solid 8 hour days of rugged forest hiking. Fortunately, the weather has stayed pretty good for them, with little rain. The climbers are excited to have finished the trip strongly, and now they are waiting for a flight back to Timika. Hopefully the weather holds a couple more days!
To The Beach!
July 18, 2012
Dan Zokaites and the team all made it back to Timika safe and sound. After a trip to the Stone Age, they are all back to the wonderful world of airplanes and internet, and were able to send us a summit shot. The porters were all happy because they got home in time to vote in the election, and the climbers are happy because they are on their way to Bali for a couple days on the beach. What a great way to wrap up a trip. Congrats to the team for hanging tough and doing a great job.
Trip Report: 2012 Carstensz Pyramid Expedition
by expedition leader Daniel Zokaites, August 22, 2012
Carstensz Pyramid is truly a unique and desirable adventure. It is what I imagine the previous generation of climbing expeditions were like. Things usually have the potential to go sideways, and you never know what type of obstacle you will face the next day.
Our adventure began not at the trail head, but in the tiny Timika airport where we learned the meaning of Papuan Time: “things won’t happen until they happen and you can do very little about it”. We were delayed by a day because a plane on the dirt landing strip in Sugapa had a tire problem and was blocking the runway. In order to fix the plane a spare tire was flown to the nearest village and carried on some poor soul’s back to the Sugapa runway. When our mud boots finally touched down in Sugapa, Jamie, one of our local guides, welcomed us “to the other side of nowhere”. We were informed that there was going to be an election rally the next day in Sugapa and that we should keep a low profile and get on the trail as soon as possible.
We trekked into the jungle through freshly cleared corridors that really couldn’t be called trails. Although it was raining, the day was still hot, and it was dark when we finally reached Camp 1: a surprisingly welcome sight of a small wooden hut that we all piled into, relieved not to have to set up tents in the dark.
In the morning we gained more porters through an elaborate process that continued through just about every village we passed. The local Papuan porters all traveled through this rugged terrain in their bare-feet, the ultimate Carstensz footwear. Their bare feet dried instantly when the trail was dry and had dexterity unknown to us westerners that allowed them to grip slippery logs and rocks with their toes. Every night the porters would build a stick A-frame over which they stretched large tarps and secured them with tree roots they found on site. The Papuans did not bring bedding so they slept huddled together inside their tarp huts with two fires burning all night.
On Day three it took us 9 hours to go 7 miles due to the challenging terrain. As dusk fell we walked out of the jungle into the high grasslands of the plateau. We were relieved to finally be out of the jungle and excited to see smoke from the fires burning in camp. Just before camp we reached a stream and it was all I could do to convince everyone to cross it before ditching packs and tearing off muddy boots and splashing off our mud caked bodies.
Day four we learned that in Papua “plateau” was actually another word for marsh. The soggy land had the ability to keep steep hillsides wet and pull the rubber mud boots we wore off our feet any time it wanted.
On day six, the final challenge of the trek was getting over New Zealand pass, which involved some vertical mud climbing, rock scrambling and steep hiking. This brought us to Base Camp at 13,800 feet. Because it had been raining all day, we had our summit talk with the assumption that we were going to climb to the top of the mountain in sheets of rain.
I woke up at 1:50AM, 10 minutes before my alarm went off, and the whole tent was lit up by the moon, and in my sleepy state it took me a few minutes to realize what it was or its significance: the night was clear i.e no rain! In this moonlight world we started upwards to the summit of Carstensz Pyramid amazed at our good fortune to have a dry morning. The terrain narrowed into a rocky gully and we started up the fixed lines. As we were still only in moonlight, the pre-trip training really paid off. When we gained the ridge the sun slipped above the horizon, lighting glaciers, and as each member of the team saw the view we were equally stunned. Carol, the oldest women to complete the Seven Summits, who calls herself the Silver Fox, let out one of her namesake howls, and many of us joined her. At this point there was an unspoken expectation that we where going to make it to the summit, and all our toil in the mud and jungle was to be well worth the reward.
When we reached the tyrolean traverse I was impressed by how well our team handled the 2,000 feet of exposure. This is an experience you are definitely not going to have on any other of the Seven Summits. After negotiating some more technical terrain higher up the ridge, the entire team reached the summit in perfect sunshine with fantastic views of the Arafura Sea, the largest gold mine in the world, and glaciated peaks. Our way down was blessed with continued good weather, and then minutes after taking a post climb photo, the skies unleashed the heaviest rain we had experienced yet, as if to let us know how lucky we were to have had a sunny summit.
The next day we where back to the normal rain, rain, and more rain. The way out seemed significantly easier as our jungle skills and balance had noticeably improved and we strode confidently across slippery logs with raging rivers below that we had tentatively scooted across on the way in.
As we reached the outskirts of Sugapa, and the end of our trek, we feasted on passion fruit, the best sweet potatoes I have ever eaten, elephant fruit, and sugar cane. As the group joked and tossed fruit to one another and my stomach was filled with simple tasty treats, I felt the simple rewards of life in a natural state. Summiting Carstensz is a combination of many unexpected experiences, and is a rare adventure that can only be found in a few isolated corners of the world.