I found it! A nearly perfect practice test piece to compliment my prep for Carstensz; not only to see if my skills are up to snuff, but also as an opportunity to do some team-building! … Mt. Shuksan’s Fisher Chimneys route!
The Challenges: We must proficiently cover lots of terrain (both rock scrambling & climbing), be smooth & efficient on mid-fifth class rock, and know how to execute a Tyrolean traverse and multiple rappels!
The Carstensz Pyramid expedition is for adventurers in excellent physical condition with moderate technical climbing ability. Moving on third-, fourth- and easy fifth-class rock, on fixed ropes, and through multiple rappels shouldn’t cause us to flounder or halt. Certainly, the altitude, length of trip, the remoteness of the area, and the technical nature of the climb all contribute to make this a challenging and demanding adventure. On top of that, the Carstensz area is usually rainy and we expect to spend at least some time travelling and climbing in the rain.
Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing Carstensz requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness!
With regard to fitness and technical training, RMI Expeditions emphasizes starting sooner than later, intentionally developing both your fitness and your technical skill sets, and the closer you get to departure, the more your training ought to resemble climbing in New Guinea.
The Solution: We must get a healthy dose of rock climbing under our belts, practice the technical climbing skills (the Tyrolean & multi-pitch rappels), and find routes that challenge us both physically and technically (like Fisher Chimneys!)
Carstensz climber, Sara McGahan, doing “homework” at Linville Gorge, North Carolina
Getting multiple “practice” pitches under my belt along the Tieton drainage in Washington
I had a chance to climb Mount Shuksan via the Fisher Chimneys route on the mountain’s northwest side this past weekend. The route offers lots of moderate, enjoyable climbing. The alpine rock and glaciated terrain which make up the climb are not difficult – but there is a lot of it! The climb takes every bit of three full days. Except for the fact that the Chimneys route includes some glacier travel, it gives a taste of the fitness and technical climbing demands rolled into one adventure that makes it a perfect test piece for a future Carstensz climb.
A lengthy approach, which included climbing the actual “Chimneys” (better described as steep, rocky gullies) with a moderately heavy pack felt more like “climbing” than “practice!”
The summit (the exact halfway point of our adventure!)
The Carstensz Pyramid adventure throws much more at us than just fitness and rock climbing demands, but practicing diligently heads us in the right direction … and it is downright fun!