Carstensz as a whole is an incredible adventure from beginning to end. It is unique in its own right. There is nothing quite like it. It is neither terribly high nor too cold but our approach through the Papuan rainforest is likely different than anything you’ve done before.
In addition to getting prepared physically for this adventure, mentally preparing for an adventure of this enormity must not be overlooked! Mental readiness is just as important for success. Having travelled abroad many times, my advice is … make this unique adventure fun! This is a long haul adventure, so good preparation and an ever-positive, ever-flexible outlook helps make for a successful expedition. Carstensz is an elusive summit that only opens its top to those with patience and endurance, so work your way up the mountain steadily and carefully, beginning well before ever landing in Papua!
It is useful to know precisely what to expect with regards to the technical climbing. Because the climb includes a substantial amount of rock climbing, a healthy dose of rock climbing should be included in your preparation. While the climbing covers mostly low-fifth class terrain, there is lots of it, some is quite exposed, some of it traverses, and rain/snow (!) may bring an entirely new element to the adventure.
Definitely get out and spend time climbing. Climbing gyms can be a great place to start, but nothing beats time at a local crag.
The skill set you wish to acquire includes:
- Comfort climbing at 5.3 to 5.5 for multiple pitches (8-10)
- Capable of climbing shorter steps (60 feet) at 5.6-5.7
- Belaying with gloves on
- Multiple rappels with gloves on
- Comfort executing a Tyrolean traverse
- Some comfort climbing and rappelling in the rain!
Here are a few more pics to inspire you to get your skill set mastered …
The Carstensz massif
The upper ridge toward the summit.
Snow is not uncommon. Here climbers leave the upper face to access the summit ridge proper.
Small but exposed gaps present an additional challenge on the summit ridge.
The infamous Tyrolean traverse. Though the cable spanning the gap doesn’t sag as much as ropes might, the crossing is still a physically demanding.
Lots of snow on the summit ridge!
Here is some fun info on New Guinea’s biodiversity …
I was introduced to the Tenkile tree kangaroo through this wonderful article by Jeremy Hance.
A National Geographic article with the title, “Thousands of New Species Found in New Guinea,” described just a few of the 1,060 new species found on or near New Guinea between 1998 and 2008!! Wow! And, as you might imagine, National Geographic’s photos are phenomenal.
ZME Science: Not exactly rocket science posted an interesting article entitled, “Papuan weevils have screw-in legs. Just envisioning that made me want to check it out!
Australian Geographic posted an intriguing article about an intriguing animal, the pig-nosed turtle, mentioning “The reptile (Carettochelys insculpta), which has no close living relatives. … It is found only in northern Australia and southern New Guinea, where demand for its meat and eggs – a traditional food – maybe driving the species into extinction.”
Another fantastic National Geographic article posted the discovery of tiny frogs, the size of M&Ms, whose feet/digits are too small to grab onto foliage (remember the million photos of frogs hanging onto branches?) and who hop & jump explosively like crickets.
And the fauna of the island is likewise amazing. Scroll through this gallery of orchids & forests sent to me by a friend who traveled to Carstensz Pyramid not too long ago.
Finally, let’s save the nightmare for last, read this Huffington Post article (complete with video) about a – dare I say it? – testicle eating fish! What in the world?!