Category Archives: Welcome!

Our Connection with Carstensz

About Alex’s Carstensz Connection

In the early 1990s, while guiding on Mt. Rainier in Washington State, I met Amy Meredith. Amy had grown up as a missionary kid in the jungle highlands village of Hitadipa, very near to Carstensz Pyramid, in what we know today as West Papua. The friendship between our families grew over the years and she has been an unbelievable resource in the development of this adventure.

As we collaborated to build this adventure, it was important to all of us (me, Amy, our Papuan friends) that we create a program with high regard for the indigenous peoples, their ways of life, and their native lands. Our program truly does this. The many programs where foreigners come in only to grab a summit, seemingly without those regards, were viewed in less than endearing terms by the Papuans. We wanted no part of that!

Our decision to utilize a Moni tribesman as tour operator highlights our value to highly regard the indigenous culture. Masmus, as he is affectionately known, is currently the only indigenous Papuan tour operator and we are his only client from the Western Hemisphere. According to Masmus, I am “Amy’s little brother from the same net as she,” and as Masmus honors me through his service on this trip, he also honors Amy, whom he has known since childhood. This is a significant relationship which has taken years and years to foster.

About RMI’s Carstensz connection

RMI has been setting the standard in mountain guiding excellence since 1969 and getting safely up and down mountains is just the beginning of our story. RMI has built a four-decade long legacy of safe, successful, and enjoyable mountaineering adventures and now we bring our standard of excellence to Papua.  From the beginning, we have desired to build long-term relationships with local indigenous peoples, relationships which would respectfully balance our visit with the Papuan’s traditional ways of life.

Masmus is the perfect choice as a commercial liaison. He is soft-spoken; a peace-maker, not a warrior. He has a good heart for the Ugimba Moni people. As a young boy, Masmus began working at the Grasberg copper and gold mine. He worked his way up from watering the gardens of ex-pats, to operating super-heavy equipment, and later to serving on the operational safety and education teams. He has both the capacity to connect with local tribes-peoples as we trek through Papuan villages and at the same time be in-tune with the ways of the visiting tourist.

We are in the best hands possible, hands that welcome us in the most traditional Moni greeting, “Amakane!”

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Welcome!

Ever toyed with the idea of climbing Carstensz Pyramid?

Reading Sacred Summits (Peter Boardman, 1982) years ago kindled my curiosity regarding Carstensz Pyramid in New Guinea. At that time, the “Seven Summits” idea hadn’t caught yet on as Dick Bass hadn’t completed his quest to stand on top of the seven continental high points. He finally reached the summit of Everest on April 30, 1985 and wrote his now classic Seven Summits in 1986, thereby inspiring many others to follow his footsteps. (Many now include Carstensz as the seventh summit rather than Australia’s Mt. Kosciusko, as Bass had, but Bass can be credited with putting the whole Seven Summits idea into the climber’s playbook.)

It was Geoff Tabin’s Blind Corners (2002) that fired my interest again. Actually, it was Geoff’s striking stories and affable personality that really charged me up. The guy has a lot of good energy! However, I was training for other climbs at the time and Carstensz slipped out of my mind again.

It wasn’t until I was climbing Mt. Rainier in Washington State and met a woman who grew up in western New Guinea that I first entertained any serious ideas of climbing Carstensz. Sure, I feel a little intimidated by all the stories. Boardman and Tabin were far more adventurous than I sought to be. And my friend Amy LOVES and knows this land of jungles and rain and remote tribal peoples as her home.

Over the past year, and quite excitedly, I’ve spent significant time delving into and discovering this land and its peoples, communicating with folks who live there, and coming to the decision to visit and attempt to climb Carstensz Pyramid.

I’ve set this blog up to share some of what I’ve learned as I prepare, to serve as a resource, whether to excite the armchair mountaineer or the individual who also one day hopes to plant their feet on this amazing piece of our planet.

Enjoy!