Carstensz final post.
Carstenz Pyramid (aka Puncak Jaya, 16,024 feet) the highest mountain in Oceania. Carstenz is also the highest point between the Andes and the Himalaya, and the highest island peak in the world. It is also arguably the hardest of the Seven Summits 62-mile jungle trek approach which now is replaced with a heli ride in and technical rock climbing. Carstenz Pyramid wasn’t climbed until 1962 when the famous Austrian climber Heinrich Harrer joined forces with the New Zealander Phillip Temple (who pioneered the approach) to scale the rocky north ridge to the apex.
First contacted by the Dutch explorer Hendrikus Albertus Lorentz in 1909, the tribes practiced cannibalism and headhunting until well into the 20th century and they have a wary attitude toward foreigners to this day. In 1961, Michael Rockefeller, son of Vice Presidential candidate Nelson Rockefeller, was part of the Harvard-Peabody anthropological study sent to the region. Michael disappeared and some speculated that he was killed and eaten by Asmat tribesmen
I spend 2 more days in basecamp in the rain and snow. The average rainfall is 7 meters (276 inches)a year, the wettest place on earth. I think half of this happened the last two weeks. I am starting to see why the rebels are so angry. We are also told by our Papuan camp manager that there is a band of Papuan separatist are making plans to pay us a visit. They are unhappy the climb outfitters quit using their services. The political environment here is complicated. The climbers used to trek up using the natives as guides but fighting between tribes and competition led to hostage taking and robbing climbers forcing the outfitters to fly in and out avoiding the jungle and negotiating with tribes. The other conflict Papuan vs Indonesian, Christian vs Muslim, rebel’s vs army. the largest mine in the world is at the end of the valley it has stores a hospital and a road from Timika but will not let climbers through either. If you get caught crossing the mine property you get locked in a container without food for days. We have a local Papuan guide Justinus he is allowed to walk through the mine property if we were to run out of food he is our life line. The Papuans want independence and the mine is mostly owned by Indonesia and they will not give it up.
It is Sunday and the forecast is bad until Wednesday I am giving my family the bad news on my sat phone when we get a call at 7am the heli is loading and quickly pack look down the valley and we can see the gate is open, 30 minutes later land in Timika and 4 hours later in Bali. I have used up all of my contingency days, plus extended my flights for 4 days. The permits expired and we are the second to last group off the mountain.
I have had several trying days, eaten by mosquitoes in the malaria belt, basecamp cold and damp, probably closer than I thought to Papua rebels, didn’t get to surf, miss my family, and I ask myself is 30 minutes on top of a mountain worth it? And I go through the same drill that answered the question why I climb, so lets do a inventory. I got two days in Bali exploring their culture, learned a lot about Indonesia, found some coffee I will have fun serving friends, wore a dress 2 times in a Hindu temple, danced a war dance with the Dani tribe, met another group of friends that love adventure, saw the brightest full moon set over Carstensz, and a lava red sunrise from the summit ridge, learned a lot about how to climb rocks, stood on the highest point in Oceania, completed #6 of the 7 summits. Looking back I packed in a lot in and made the most of every second of my trip within my control. If I only been able to accomplish half of this it would have been worth it.
Lesson to Grandkids
Live for the seconds. Our life is measured by a span of time counted by seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years. There are the seconds in your life you will remember for ever. Events like first memory, your first kiss, first job, your wedding, kids birth, a big accomplishment, conflicts, and death. They are embedded in your memory and time cant wash them away. Some events are outside of our control but most are intentional and self generated. I want you to measure your life in the seconds of the the events that you create.