Carstensz post 4
I flew back to Timika with another team mate we had so much fun in Wamena and took in so much in 3 days. It was good to be out of the rain and in the mountains we even got a training day in at altitude. We returned to Timika as we left it, dreary rain overcast, we rejoined the team and waited. We got a small extension to our permits but missed another two days. Finally, for the first time in weeks, teams were being released to fly. We were now next team to fly and half the team got released leaving just me and one other climber left to wait we show up at 5 am and wait while the rain and fog roll in the drill is wait until 11am and then all flights get canceled. Getting use to it but at 8am fog breaks and we fly through gaps in the clouds through a narrow valley between to mountains call the gate. it is either weather in Timika or the gate is closed or both. We arrive basecamp unpack and do a gear check and practice with Bruery a local climber.
We plan a 2am departure to go for the summit 12 hours after arriving at base camp from sea level. The weather was cold and mixed sun and rain but not bad. Our first group returned from a successful summit at noon. We wake at 1am after a group of 3 climbers 2 Indian and a Irish guy that landed after us and went directly up it rained all day and stopped just before midnight. They were stuck on the mountain for 14 hours and called for help on their way down the final descent. I slept well despite the noise outside and so far no effects of the big altitude jump. There are 3 pitches to make it to the summit ridge all are technical rock climbing. once we get to the ridge there is a long rocky traverse with the highest tyrollean roped crossing in the world and two gaps with some very technical moves to navigate.
We start in the dark with head lamps and the full moon is rising over the mountain lighting up our path to the top. We were a group of 4 Brewery in the lead, me, Rami and Mike and we had the mountain to ourselves. The biggest risk of the steep approach to the summit ridge is rock falls. last year they lost a guide hit by falling rocks kicked out from someone above gaining speed and staying in the same crack we are climbing. We climb 2 meters apart now if a rock gets kicked out it will not get enough velocity to hurt the climber close behind. Focus was more important on this type of climb every move had to be analyzed. Can I reach that hand hold? Will my leg go that high? How long can I stand on this bump? If I wedge my foot in this crack to rest will I ever get it our. It is dark and moon and head lamp were the only source of light. Many times I would get my foot on the bump or grab the hand hold and would back up and look for another route. Having brewery in front helped most time going the exact same route. The rock is coarse cold limestone and has good grip with boots and handholds my hands get cold and fingers get numb.
We arrive at the ridge and the sun exploded in the brightest red glow I have ever seen. It will be burnt into my brain until I die. On the ridge we were now exposed my hands were numb and I changed to a heavier set of gloves and added my hard shell. The rocks were iced over making simple moves hard. We get to the Tyrollean crossing the ropes are iced over making it a little trickier we cross with little issue looking down at the long drop trying to pay more attention to how I placed my foot than how far down. Manage the two gaps and at 5 hours and 15 minutes made it to the top. The summits I have stood on are all different the people I am with, the path that got me there, country’s I had to travel through make them all unique. We repel down back at camp by noon packed and now wait for ride out as the rain and snow set in.
Lesson to grandchildren
Find your own handholds in life. I followed my Indonesian guide navigate the rock placing my hands and feet exactly where he did. Some were beyond my ability, or I didn’t feel comfortable and backed up and found a different set of handholds. I have been rereading some of the lessons and they are getting rather lengthy and maybe impossible to follow. I am putting this to words as advice for you to use later in life. If you agree with them, pass them on to the next generation. I also hope it helps you understand me and your families passion for life. I will be proud of you regardless if you follow my advice or not. I use mountains as a metaphor, it is a goal, obstacle, challenge, turmoil, crisis, anything that isn’t a flat straight line in your life. Your happiness is determined by you and you alone, and so is the path you take to find what gives you happiness.