Minggu, 08 Juni 2014


A Journey To The Roof of Indonesia


In the mountains there are only two grades:

You can either do it, or you can't

Rusty Baille



After a long journey from day 1 where Paman and the team - consist of Paman, Mr and Mrs T , Mr S, one Austrian adventurer, one Norwegian , one Canadian (the two mentioned later are seven summiters) - started their Carstensz Pyramid expedition from Swanggama, went through  the jungle with swamps and wild rivers on day 2 - 7, challenged by savannah and steep cliff on day 7 - 9, finally the time came for  Carstensz Pyramid Summit Attack - the 4884 meter ASL fierce and mysterious peak.

July 26, 2014

2 a.m, in the dark and biting cold we woke up and wore all equipments prepared before. My heart beat anxiously...oh this is the time! We'll soon go to Carstensz Pyramid's peak ! Will I be able to do it? I remember one quote saying  In the mountains there are only two grades: You can either do it, or you can't - and I knew I had only one choice.

3 a.m, we left the basecamp, brought all valuables in our backpacks. Thank God the weather was friendly - no rain, no fog. After one hour walking up the hill through rocky path,lit by our headlamps, we arrived at summit climbing starting point. All equipments are left here : umbrellas, trekking pole, drinking water; and replaced by rock climbing gears. We wore special helmet, seat harness, brought sling cable and figure eights. Guide asked each of us to double check our equipments, because our life literally relied on them.

With prayer recited on our lips, we started to move up. First track was a 50-70 degree sloped rock wall.

carstensz expedition

As the first person started to climb, small rocks fell from above. One person followed by another. Each took step by step while also watching for rock falling form above.. "rock....rock..." was shouted to warn each other. A rock of 1-inch diameter can be painful when falling from 25 meter above.

The sky slowly turned brighter. I noticed at some points the safety rope started to be worn out. We keep climbing, reached for rope or wet rock wall to hold on and balancing our body. Our gloves already got wet. Then we got to an open ground covered by snow. Freeport, the giant gold mine, was clearly visible from here. 
carstensz expedition 2014

As the sun shone and the snow reflected light was dazzling, we wore our anti-UV glasses. I was the last person in the line. At one point the snow was slippery after being stepped on by others, I lost my balance and got slipped and slammed. As I got up my back ached, so I stopped for a while and did some stretching..it helped a little bit.
carstensz pyramid

Next on the route was a vertical rock wall which surface was sharp . There were 3 ways of rope, spaced 2-3 meters between each. With much effort, we succeeded climbing this 100-meter height wall.
The end of this route was a 50-meter ridge bending to the left. Our step was stopped by a gap/ gorge came between our path and the path across. A tyrolean bridge was extended in front of us, a 20-meter "bridge" that consisted of 4 pieces of rope and a piece of stainless steel cable sling.

carstensz climbing

One by one we did the tyrolean traverse whose process needed some time to wear on carabiner's hook, then traverse along the sling, and finally release the hook as he got to the other side of the Carstensz pyramid ridge. It took 15-20 minutes each. Everybody else waited patiently in snow rain and cold wind that reached below 0 DEGC.
10.10 a.m all team member has been transfered to the other side. BUT....our expedition didn't end here. Carstensz Pyramid Summit was still 2 hours ahead. Maju terus pantang mundur!! (an Indonesian expression to move ahead, no returning back)

The next track was still along the ridge, with safety rope connected to our bodies. Deep gorge yawned on both side.  

carstensz 2014

30 minutes walking, there's another gap, 2-2.5 meter long. This time no tyrolean bridge provided. So we had to JUMP !! Yes... I repeat it : we had to jump cross the gap. With deep gorge below...actually I thank the fog for preventing our sight to see how deep it was. The only thought was that if I missed this jump, I would land not on the ridge across, but in the gorge below...hhhhhhhhh.

The sad thing  is :D, there were 2 places which had this jump scenario. So in total we had to do the quantum leap 4 times : twice on the way to Carstensz Pyramid Summit, and twice on the way back to basecamp.

We continued our journey, accompanied by heavy snow and also rain. This combination made our path a perfect slippery arena. Oxygen density got rare, our body stamina was exhausted. Regularly we took a break and breathed. I also did some stretching - my back still ached after being slammed to the cliff.

carstensz expedition

And we went on....and went on....and went on.

Finally .....after all laborious effort, 12.00 noon time we stepped on Carstensz Pyramid Peak !! The highest point in Indonesia, The highest point in Australis continent, one of the seven summits !!  

carstensz peak 2014

Thank God that we all could reach this point safely. I was so touched, that the four of us (Mr.T, Mrs T, Mr.S and myself) could accomplish it, we're just amateurs compared to the three foreigners in this expedition who are professional climbers and seven summiters .

We celebrated this achievement with a photo session - off course - even though thick fog surrounded Carstensz Pyramid Peak. The peak is roughly 9 sqm area, covered with slippery ice and snow. Everybody moved carefully at the peak. We took a rest for 30 minutes, recharge our energy with chocolate, biscuits, and drinking water.

As we did the way back through the same path, we felt it harder because our physical condition have been drained, the icy path got very slippery, and the weather got colder. 6-angled snow fell on our raincoats, then in term of seconds got melt wetting the raincoats. It got more and more wet to the inside part of our clothes, leaving our bodies tremble in this extreme cold.

As we reached to the vertical wall, we went down with rapelling technique, relied on the rope and gravity. We reached basecamp at 7 p.m, with one of our team lost his half-pair of shoes - the sole got disjoined from the upper side, so he walked nearly barefoot with only socks on, and later made an emergency shoes from a flattened plastic bottle (which contained my drinking water-I had to sacrifice it for my friend's sake).

Today's 16-hour expedition to the Carstensz Pyramid really made us exhausted. But we're all grateful and proud, that Carstensz Pyramid Peak has been accomplished. 

Although it left us with lots of joy and relief, we knew this has not ended yet. Yes, yes, yes...we all had to go back 'home' , or to Sugapa as the next milestone. Through the same steep cliffs and savannah,  wild rivers and swamps, and the tropical 'jurassic' forest. Follow through our way back to Sugapa!!

 And also check out Paman' s other mountain climbing adventure : climbing Mount Kerinci - the highest peak in Sumatra , a peak with breathtaking view !!