Climbing Carstensz Pyramid
|Originally when the Seven Summits were first climbed, Mt. Kosciusko was chosen as the peak for this region since it was the highest in mainland Australia at 7,310 feet or 2,228 meters. As a Seven Summit, Mt. Kosciusko was hardly a challenge with a parking lot serving as its base camp and the summit reachable in only a few hours of easy hiking. The difficulty though is irrelevant; being the highest peak of Australia Kosciusko had earned its title, but this title didn’t very last long. Soon after the Seven Summits were first conquered, climbers began to consider the entire continent of Oceania which added such places as New Zealand, New Guinea, and countless other Pacific Islands instead of simply mainland Australia.
With Carstensz Pyramid more than doubling the height of Kosciusko and more importantly being the highest peak in Oceania it became one of the Seven Summits. While the far majority of climbers agree with this choice, there are still a few who like to argue. Some dislike the idea of the Pacific islands being part of a continent and hold on to Mt. Kosciusko as the true summit. A ridiculous few even accept the island of New Guinea to be part of Oceania, but say that since the western half is politically occupied by Indonesia which is an Asian country, Mt. Wilhelm in the eastern side of the island is the true summit of Oceania.
Too me Carstensz Pyramid is the obvious choice as the summit of Oceania for the following reasons. Geographically the island of New Guinea is located on the Indo-Australian plate, which makes its location in the continent unquestionable. Taking it a step further, the land is culturally native not to Asians but to Papuans who are descendants of aborigines from Australia. The final argument about the western half of New Guinea being part of Indonesia can be solved easily with a few examples. First off, Indonesia has only occupied western Papua as they call it since the 1960s. Indonesia’s presence here is relatively new, especially when you consider that Carstensz Pyramid has existed for hundreds of thousands of years. Using this ridiculous logic though, Carstensz Pyramid would have been the highest mountain in Europe prior to 1960 since the Dutch controlled western Papua, and the Netherlands is a European country. Even if you did agree political boundaries the locals do not consider themselves Indonesians and instead Papuans. Only days before this trip, several tribes had banded together and once again declared independence from Indonesia which resulted in martial law and nearly caused my entire trip to canceled. Each to his own of course, but I personally feel anyway you look at the matter they all point to Carstensz being the true summit of Oceania, and with that in mind I set off in October 2011 to attempt what would be my 5th of the 7 summits.
|Click here to see my trek through the Villages|
|For those that do the real climb, you’ll begin in one of the villages dozens of miles from the mountain itself. For me, the adventure began in the village of Sugapa where we were went through nearly a dozen road blocks and were forced to pick up locals to join our expedition.|
|Click here to see my trek through the Rainforests|
|The rainforests of West Papua are some of the wettest places on earth. The rain storms came everyday giving us lots of mud and suffering in the already difficult terrain.|
|Click here to see my trek through the Highlands|
|The highlands are still deep with mud, and just above freezing so you’re not going to avoid any rain. The terrain is a bit flatter and the vegetation is much shorter so you can take in all the interesting views. At this point in the trek you’ll climb higher than the top of Mt. Rainier.|
|Click here to see my summit of Carstensz Pyramid|
|The final push to the summit! Beginning very early into the morning, the near vertical climb up Carstensz Pyramid to the summit begins.|