From: HighSights Presentations
Erik Weihenmayer Reaches His 8th Summit
Stands Upon the Summit of Carstensz Pyramid -- 16,023 ft.
Reaches His 8th Summit -- Carstensz Pyramid
When Erik climbed Kosciusko in 2002, an expedition to Carstensz was not possible due to political turmoil and terrorist activity in the region. Only recently has this remote mountain been reasonably safe for expeditions. Erik was accompanied by his two close friends and climbing partners, both with world class lists of accomplishments. Charley was on Erik's Mt. Everest expedition and has climbed four 8000 meter peaks. Carstensz was Charley's eighth Summit as well. Hans Florine led Erik on a 1996 climb of the Nose route in Yosemite Valley and recently regained the title of fastest climber in the world with a 2 hour and 43 minute ascent of El Capitan.
This jagged and snow-capped peak looming over the vast central New Guinea rainforest, and known as Mbangla by the local people, was a spectacular climb, ascending a 2000-foot limestone rock face. Erik, Charley and Hans climbed the peak in five hours, first up a steep face and across a convoluted knife-edge ridge. Near the top, they crossed a Tyrolean traverse, a 60-foot span of rope connecting two high ridges. Erik said, "it was a crazy feeling to climb over snow and ice above the dense tropical jungle." The three stood on top at 7:30 A.M., and made it back down to the security of their tents fifteen minutes before the start of the inevitable afternoon rains.
difficult part of the trip was the week-long approach through the jungle
as the team crawled on their hands and knees through the mud under fallen
trees and thick vegetation, scrambled over lattice-works of roots fifteen
feet off the ground, and climbed vertically up slippery moss and roots
riddled with potential "death falls." Some days they hiked
for twelve hours until they could find just enough of a flat spot to
set up camp. Not much of a trail existed, and native guides had to hack
away with machetes at the dense embrace of the jungle. Erik's team was
only the third party to attempt this route from the small village of
Sugapa to base camp. Erik was so relieved to escape the labyrinth of
the rainforest he said, "I think I had tears in my eyes when we
finally emerged above the gloomy jungle and I felt the sun on my face."
Not only was the journey an intense climbing expedition, but a step back in time. The local Monty porters were very primitive -many going barefoot and some wearing only penis gourds. As recently as the 1960's the local tribes practiced periodic cannibalism in times of war. Erik's group trekking through the jungle were a stark symbol of old and new worlds colliding, as some held Leki trekking poles and wore high-tech Mountain Hardwear packs; others wielded bows and arrows and wore indigenous feather headdresses, and a few wore camouflage and had iconic AK47s slung over their shoulders. The biggest drama came in the middle of the night as the team left for the summit. They got word from their head organizer that a porter riot had broken out because of the cold weather and extreme conditions, and that the porters were threatening to burn down their tents. On the team's return, they were excited and relieved to find that their tents were still standing and that the riot was quelled. We would like to thank our friends from ADVENTURE INDONESIA for organizing an outstanding trip. Providing twenty days of food (mostly rice or "jungle bread") for a large team isn't easy, especially amidst the complexity of an uncertain cultural and political climate.
the team spent a week hacking their way through the jungle en route
Erik approaches the summit on a high Tyrolean traverse, a 60-foot fixed line connecting two high ridges.