Category Archives: Equipment

Determining equipment needs

Preparing for a climb of Carstensz Pyramid proves fun in many respects, gathering the right gear is no exception.

I investigated some 20 websites, comparing one list against another, and learned a few important considerations to bear in mind:

1)      Your list might look a little different based on whether you are trekking into base camp or using a helicopter to fly in. Helicopters have been used to bypass the arduous trek but have also been notoriously unreliable for a variety of reasons (no fuel available, no pilots available, or lengthy weather delays stymie the trip). Trekking all the way in presents its own adventure (physically quite strenuous, lots of mud and rain along the way as you move through rainforest onto the highlands, some sketchy log crossings over creeks/rivers).

2)      West Papua is a land of great geographic diversity (huge swamps, thick forests, high mountains), but one thing we can count on is the rain! As I’ve been told, “The rain is part of the rainforest.” While December through March are considered the rainiest months, it can rain every day, all day, any day! During the trek in, we’ll encounter boggy terrain that never dries (an early video of a trek across Papua was entitled “Sky Above, Mud Below”!) If it rains during the climb, we get hosed (literally), because the gullies of the climbing route work as “gutters” on the mountain! Regardless, we count on the rain and build our equipment list accordingly. This is definitely a rubber boots & umbrellas adventure!

3)      Trekking through the jungle and attempting Carstensz is a HUGE adventure on MULTIPLE fronts. This trip will likely redefine your concept of “remote.” This is a land so rugged that many of the indigenous tribal peoples have essentially remained isolated from one another. New Guinea is one of just a few areas left on planet Earth where “uncontacted” peoples may still exist. That is fascinating, and it speaks loudly to the difficult terrain and remoteness of this adventure, as well as the importance of our self-sufficiency. A well thought out equipment list might include such items as travel and evacuation insurance, an excellent medical kit, and satellite phone communications.

4)      Once on the climb of Carstensz, fixed lines and Tyrolean traverses require some specialized technical equipment (and skill). A friend of mine who has climbed Carstensz Pyramid twice commented regarding climbers using those lines, “Some blindly trust the fixed lines, and are up and down in half a day. Others pitch everything out, making the ascent/descent a 14-hour day.” Some good judgment and prudence must also be added to our bag of tricks!

Here is an example of a good Carstensz equipment list that (1) clearly lists out exactly what is needed, (2) includes a brief, relevant description addressing why the item is needed or how the item is needed used, and (3) offers a “Guides’ Pick” as a good example of a quality item (and there are certainly many great products from which to choose).

Enjoy!