Indonesian flag
Stat bar
Carstensz Pyramid, aka "Puncak Jaya" indicated on map of Indonesia
(map courtesy of CIA World Factbook)
We rented this plane from missionaries to carry our team to our staging point near the mountain lakes at Enarotali.
Helo lift off after depositing first chalk at Zebra Wall landing zone
(four hours trek below base camp)

Oceana’s highest peak (and the highest peak between the Andes and the Himalaya) is the Carstensz Pyramid, which rises to over 5000 meters (16,067’) on the tropical island of New Guinea. Politically, this limestone mountain rests within Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua (formerly called Irian Jaya).

With its pinnacle being a sharply defined, 2,500 foot rock face, Carstensz Pyramid is also noteworthy for being the tallest mountain on any island on the planet.

Despite being merely 4 degrees from the equator, the New Guinea highlands are both high and wet enough to support some small glaciers. With no roads and surrounded in part by unexplored rainforest (with sections believed to be inhabited by tribes continuing to practice headhunting and cannibalism), the area is tough to reach under the best of circumstances.

Recent guerilla activity by the OPM rebel group, seeking Papua’s independence from Indonesia, has made the situation more difficult. Sensitivity is heightened further by the enormous and secretive Grasberg gold mine situated between the mountain and the off-limits town of Tembagapura. Owned by a U.S. corporation (Freeport), the Grasberg mine has become a flashpoint in the independence struggle, with the natives maintaining that the mine is polluting and imperialist.

After years of waiting, to finally reach and climb Carstensz Pyramid in July of 2005 was by far my most exotic expedition.

[click to enlarge any photo]

Carstensz Pyramid Carstensz
Making new friends in the New Guinea Highlands. Ascending summit ridge with
Grasberg mine visible through clouds in background.
Highly exposed rappel into notch along summit ridge (15,000’)

Carstensz summit
JPC Summit--July 8, 2005
Carstensz Pyramid
Carstensz Pyramid big wall viewed during close reconnaissance on day prior to summit bid.
View of Lakes Valley base camp with Carstensz Pyramid behind intervening ridge
© 2006-2008 by James P. Clarke.  All rights reserved.