Carstensz Pyramid, Puncak Jaya, Victory Peak, Forbidden Egg?
I call it Carstensz Pyramid as that is the name which has stuck in mountaineering circles.
Carstensz lies in the Sudirman range of the Maoke Mountains (a translation of the name “Sneeuwgebergte” or “Snowy Mountains”), a limestone escarpment running the width of the western half of the island of New Guinea. As with other mountains around the world, the original peoples had their own names for the mountains, but it was an explorer’s first sighting that often inspired a name to stick; in this case, Carstensz Pyramid was named after Dutch explorer Jan Carstenszoon [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Carstenszoon], who first sighted this snow-covered equatorial peak in 1623. When the Indonesians took control of the province in 1963, the peak was renamed Puncak Sukarno, after the first President of Indonesia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukarno], and later changed to Puncak Jaya, meaning “Victory Peak.”
One of the biggest tribes of original peoples in the highlands surrounding Carstensz is the Moni Tribe. The Moni (Mō-nē) people named Carstensz, Mbai Ngele (M-bah-ē Ng-el-ah), meaning “Forbidden Egg.”
My friend Amy, who grew up with the Moni people, shared the interesting story surrounding the name:
“In years gone by, when the mountain was snow covered, it resembled an egg, and the fore-fathers forbade their people from going there because it was the hunting grounds of evil spirits and those spirits always killed those who ventured there. Even today, villagers have a very difficult time understanding the science of hypothermia and often will point to and tell of places along the way where the spirits have killed a poor wayfarer! Not many even know this story other than a few thousand Moni … and now you!”