The highest mountain of Oceania. An approach which I thought was going to be straightforward became one of the most difficult expeditions in my life. It took me 2,5 years of preparing, cycling, rowing and walking to get to the base of the mountain. Or at least close by…
Trouble in paradise
Carstensz pyramid is centrally located on New-Guinea, the second largest island in the world. Before my start I looked up many different ways to get to the base of the mountain human powered. On the south side there is the very controversial grasberg mine. This whole area is off limits for non-employees and extremely well protected. I tried to get in with some very good connections, but failed. On the north side I had found a possible way to get human powered to the mountain. An extra 1000km by rowboat over treacherous seas and then 1500km of cycling/walking over the island. Something never happend before in human history.
Going the extra mile
I rowed and cycled this extra distance and succeeded 99 percent. To know more about that, please click here and read the linked blogs. I managed to go all the way up to Enarotali, but was stopped by the police there. While cycling I already heard the news that rebels killed 30 Indonesian soldiers in that area. Because of that the police stopped me from going further and the whole region was off limits for tourists. I was already joining an expedition (adventure Indonesia, I can recommend them) for permits, logistics etc…, and they had a helicopter to transfer the members to base camp. I did the same since I already payed for all logistics and the situation was unlikely to change soon. I have cut off a distance of 80km, which I’m still determined to cover one day because it involves some serious jungle trekking.
The helicopter takes you to base camp which is immediately to a bit more than 4000m. There you are surrounded by sheer rock faces and the impressive summit wall of Carstensz Pyramid. This helicopter ride gives me lot’s of mixed feelings. I’m very sad that I could’n (yet) complete this last part but I’m aware that I did everything I could to get there.
The climb itself is beautiful and with great rock. There are fixed lines all the time but I don’t use them to “jumar” up. Lots of them are worn out and I don’t want to hang too much on them. I’m only using the lines for a self belay and head up. The climb is amazing and spectacular with some easy rock scrambling/climbing. Because of getting there human powered I’m in great shape and it feels all very good to progress. I was climbing with Ilina Arsova and Anthony McLaren, but once on the summit ridge I decide to go my own way.
One last obstacle is the tyrolean traverse. Not very difficult when you’re and experienced climber. After a couple of hours climbing I reach the summit alone. Mainly because I first wanted to cherish this moment myself. I had spent 2,5 years, every day of my life to get to this final moment and it was an emotional one! After about 5 minutes of crying, the others come up and we celebrate new year on the highest peak of Oceania.
The descent is a bit tricky because of the snow and rain, but there are enough fixed lines to hold on to. Once in base camp I realise what I’ve done and I experience a huge relief. It took a great amount of effort to get there and it’s all over. The next day the heli picks us up and while going over the jungle I’m still thinking to come back one day and finish this off completely.
From there I flew back to Belgium and started preparing for the 4th summit, 20.000km cycling and kayaking to Mt Kilimanjaro!
Very thankful to my sponsors who support me to get this project done