Carstensz Pyramid Indonesia  •  16,023'  •  4,884m
Trip Report

Carstensz Pyramid 2013 Autumn Expedition

International Mountain Guides Archived Expedition Updates

Carstensz Team Training In Bali

September 18, 2013

Sometimes these Seven Summits expeditions are really hard…you might have to walk over 100 feet to get to the beach

IMG leader Dan Zokaites reports from Bali that the team has assembled and that they are getting ready to fly to Timika tomorrow. The memories of the warm beach will fade fast once they hit the jungle! This autumn 2013 trip will be the 6th expedition we have run to Mt. Carstensz. Each of our trips has been successful, and each has been different—this is real adventure travel. The plan for the autumn team is to fly from Timika to Sugapa and start trekking from there. We’ll look forward to following along with them!

— Eric Simonson

Carstensz Climbers Fly in to Sugapa

September 21, 2013

Timika Airport

IMG guide Dan Zokaites reports by sat phone that the team successfully flew today to Sugapa, the jumping off place for their trek to Base Camp. The flight was delayed in the morning due to bad weather in Timika, but it subsequently cleared up and they flew later in the day. They are spending the night in Sugapa tonight and will start trekking into the jungle tomorrow. According to the map, they have only 37 miles to get to BC, but this is going to be some tough hiking… so we are planning 6 days of trekking to get there!

— Eric Simonson

Carstensz Team: Into the Wild

September 23, 2013

IMG guide Dan Zokaites reports by sat phone that yesterday the IMG Carstensz Pyramid expedition team made it to the Camp 1 in the forest. Now they have two tough forest days ahead of them with plenty of steep dirt trails, logs, and stream crossings. After that they gain the Plateau, where it is cooler and more scenic (but still lots of streams).

The porters from the village of Sugapa were joined by their families as the gear was sorted and weighed into loads. Their primary food is sweet potatoes, which they grow locally and which they will bake each evening in their campfires. These guys come equipped with the best footwear for mud... bare feet!

— Eric Simonson

Carstensz Climbers Reach Camp 2

September 24, 2013

IMG guide Dan Zokaites reports that the team had a rugged day today, but everyone did well and reached Camp 2 in about 9 hours of hiking. Their route predominantly followed a river, and they had to climb around many landslides and logs along the way. Tomorrow they push up onto the Plateau.

— Eric Simonson

Carstensz Team Reaches Camp 4

September 25, 2013

Climbers crossing the Plateau (Jason Edwards)

IMG leader Dan Zokaites reports that the team reached Camp 4 up on the Plateau and are continuing towards Base Camp. It continues to be very challenging hiking for the team. Now they have reached 12,000 feet in this limestone karst terrain, with lots of water, sinkholes, waterfalls, and swampy areas. Thoughts turn to the famous Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer and his team who pioneered this overland route and made the first ascent of Carstensz back in 1962, If you want to read a real adventure story, track down his classic book “I Come From the Stone Age”.

— Eric Simonson

Carstensz Climbers: Next Stop Base Camp

September 26, 2013

IMG guide Dan Zokaites reports that the team had a good night at Camp 5 and are heading today up and over the 14,600 foot New Zealand Pass. This will mark the end of the sloppy hiking of the plateau; from here on they are on the rock of the Sudirman Range. Ahead are the four highest peaks of Papua: Sumantri, Carstensz Pyramid, Ngga Pulu and East Carstensz.

From the NZ Pass, they will drop down to the Carstensz Base Camp at 13,700 feet. If the weather is decent, the plan is to try for the summit tomorrow.

— Eric Simonson

Carstensz Summits!

September 27, 2013

Dan Zokaites called from the summit of Carstensz to report that the team had an nice climb today. The weather was excellent and they had great views of the surrounding peaks. We heard from Dan again later when he called to say they are all back on the ground after rappelling the descent route. Good news.

Now they just have to reverse their trek back to Sugapa over the next four or five days. The adventure is not over yet!

— Eric Simonson

Carstensz Team Heading For The Barn

September 30, 2013

Dan Zokaites reports by sat phone that the team hiked yesterday from Base Camp back over new Zealand Pass to the site of Camp 5 (sometimes referred to as Nasidoma…this is also near the place on the route where the trail from Illaga joins in). They were joined by about a dozen of the local Sugapa guys who had stayed at Base Camp to wait for them while climbing. Then, today, they all hiked to Camp 4, re-crossing a good chunk of the Plateau. The goal for tomorrow is Camp 2.5…they will be back in the forest. Everyone is getting pretty tired, but they are grinding it out. So far, so good!

— Eric Simonson

Carstensz Not Done With The Climbers

October 2, 2013

Nothing like a good fire at the end of a wet day (Jason Edwards)

Dan Zokaites reports that yesterday the team made it to Camp 1.5, requiring a couple river crossings. It rained hard all day and between the rain and the rivers, they got pretty wet. Fortunately they were able to get dried out around the camp fire with the local Papuans. Apparently the heavy rain has washed out a key bridge they need to cross today, so they have sent a number of porters ahead to start working on rebuilding it. If necessary, they have their climbing ropes and gear, so they can always do another Tyrolean traverse (like the one on summit day)!

— Eric Simonson

Carstensz Is A Wrap

October 5, 2013

The time machine in Papua (Jason Edwards)

In Papua the airplane is a time machine. Dan Zokaites reports that the team are back to hot showers and internet now. It is a long ways from the stone age where they were a couple days ago! They were planning to fly from Sugapa back to Timika, but due to flight issues they ended up flying instead to Nabire yesterday, and then on to Jayapura. Now they are just one more flight away from Denspasar (Bali) and those gorgeous beaches! Dan, however, will not be heading there right now. He is staying to do some more climbing in Papua, and we will keep you posted on that. Well done, team!

— Eric Simonson

Where In The World Is Dan Zokaites?

October 12, 2013

Dan, Steven, and Anthony ready to climb!

IMG guide Dan Zokaites called yesterday on the sat phone from Wamena in the Baliem Valley, a fertile area surrounded by the high mountains of central Papua and the traditional homeland of the Dani, Lani, and Yali tribes. There are no roads leading to this city, but there are cars and trucks…all flown in by airplane! Now Dan is moving forward for the second part of his Indonesia adventure, after the Carstensz Pyramid expedition that wrapped up last week. He has joined up with adventurer Anthony Nightingale and our Indonesian guide Steven to climb a couple of the most remote Papuan mountains. First they will go to Puncak Trikora and then after that to Puncak Mandala. We will look forward to following along with them as they go about as far off the map as is possible in the 21st century!

— Eric Simonson

Trikora Summits!

October 14, 2013

Puncak Trikora

IMG guide Dan Zokaites called to report that the team reached the true summit (15,584 feet) of Puncak Trikora today, the 3rd highest peak in Papua. From Wamena it took them four days and three camps. Dan said they needed their rubber boots on the trek and that the travel was reminiscent of crossing the plateau to Mt. Carstensz with forest, bog, mud and everything in between on the way to the high camp. The summit day took them over 14 hours roundtrip with considerable 3rd, 4th, and 5th class rock climbing (up to about 5.6) along the way. All total, they spent over 12 hours above 14,700 feet ascending and descending the long rocky summit ridge with huge drop offs on each side. The trip out will take two days back to Wamena, accompanied by their eleven porters. Well done, team!

— Eric Simonson

Trikora Wrap Up

October 16, 2013

Rappelling the mud hill

IMG guide Dan Zokaites reports that the team successfully made it back to Wamena yesterday and are now enjoying a rest day at the hotel. They will have a chance to explore the town a bit and get organized and packed up for their next climb of Puncak Mandala. For tomorrow morning they have a helicopter arranged to fly them to this very remote peak which is much farther to the east, quite near the border with Papua New Guinea. The internet is pretty slow over there, but Dan was able to send some photos they took on the Trikora climb… quite an adventure!

— Eric Simonson

Into the Wild (Part 2)

October 17, 2013

Here are a few pictures from our day exploring the villages around Wamena. One of our local guides, Nanang, lived with these guys traditionally for about 1 year. These are Dani people, and it was very cool to have him show us around. The Dani showed us how to make a fire with no lighter and cooked us sweet potatoes. Pretty cool day.

Tomorrow we fly to Mandala. We met with the pilots over dinner, and our plan is to take off at 7am. The pilots are expecting a 1hr 15min flight. It will be an exciting flight. No one on the helicopter tomorrow has been anywhere near this area, and we don't even know where we are going to land. We have a few ideas from Google Earth but will have to make a quick last minute choice. We get 350kg of total weigh including our body weight. We are planning on a 3 night trip and have some extra food just in case.

Dan Zokaites

Papuan Bushwhacking

October 19, 2013

Puncak Mandala in Papua (Indonesia) and international border with nearby Papua New Guinea (courtesy Google Earth)

Dan Zokaites reports that the team was able to spot a landing zone at about 11,500 feet and set down there in the Bell 212 helicopter. They took a recon hike after that to get the lay of the land, and then today they have pushed up a thousand feet higher. Dan reports it was thick brush and they really had to fight their way up the flanks of Puncak Mandala until they reached the timberline where they are putting their high camp. Above here it is mainly slabby rock and the route looks like it will go. We’ll be waiting to hear how they do on their summit bid. Hopefully the mountain says yes!

— Eric Simonson

Mandala Summits!

October 20, 2013

Dan says the terrain on Manndala was similar to these rocky spines seen here near Nasidoma (Camp 5) on the trek route to Carstensz (Jason Edwards)

Dan Zokaites called to report that the team reached the summit of Mandala, the second highest peak in Indonesia. Their GPS had it at 15,575’ which puts it 47’ higher than Trikora. They started before dawn and had a nice sunrise on the climb up. It took 6.5 hours to reach the summit, and by then the weather was starting to cloud in. Not long after that it was raining hard, and also hailing, right on schedule! Dan said the limestone rock was incredible, with holes and caves everywhere. It was not as technical as Trikora, but nonetheless was quite interesting climbing, with lots of exposed limestone ridges which required them to jump from rock to rock, reminiscent of the terrain above Nasidoma on the way to Carstensz. They have the helicopter scheduled to come back at 7am tomorrow morning for the flight out to Wamena, so the plan is to get up early from the high camp and descend to the LZ in time for the pickup. With any luck, they will be able to fly on to Jayapura tomorrow afternoon.

— Eric Simonson

Puncak Mandala is a Wrap!

October 22, 2013

Dan reports that he flew today to Bali from Jayapura. Now he is back to the land of burgers, beer, and beaches after a trip to one of the most remote places in the world. The trip went very smoothly, and the team was very pleased. Congrats to Dan, Anthony, Steven, and Nanang!

One correction from my last post: Anthony says that the GPS readings from Trikora and Mandala make neither of these peaks as high as Sumantri, and they may be lower than Ngga Pulu and East Carstensz too. So, it sounds like Sumantri is the second highest peak in Papua. You can read about Dan and Anthony's climb of this peak earlier this year: 2013 Four Peaks of Papua Expedition Trip Report »

— Eric Simonson