Climb Details

Cost:
Deposit:
Length:
Difficulty:
Type:

$18300*
$2500
23 day(s)
Level 4 difficulty 
Mountaineering


* Cost includes all expenses Bali to Bali.

Availability



Upcoming Climbs

August 5, 2014

Guide(s):

Alex Van Steen

July 7, 2015

Guide(s):

Alex Van Steen


"The trip to Carstensz wasn't just a trip - it was an adventure of a lifetime. I have been fortunate to climb on 6 of the 7 summits, but this trip was the most interesting of the them all. And the fact that we had 2 western guides made a huge difference. Incredible."

— Sara M. | Read More Testimonials

Rising above the rainforests on the island of New Guinea stands the tallest peak on Oceania and one of the Seven Summits, Carstensz Pyramid (16,023’). The journey to Carstensz Pyramid takes us from the beaches of Bali through the Papuan jungles to reach Carstensz’s rocky summit. The climb, while mostly rock scrambling and fixed line travel, entails moderate climbing up to 5.6 in difficulty. Expedition highlights include:

  • Scale the most exotic of the Seven Summits in an adventure entailing an amazing jungle trek and exciting high-altitude rock climbing!
  • The lead guides on our Carstensz Pyramid expeditions have previously completed the trek and reached the summit. You benefit directly from their knowledge throughout the adventure.
  • Rely on RMI’s unmatched logistical support. With more than 40 years of experience leading mountaineering expeditions, we have the ability and connections to deal with the uncertainties of climbing Carstensz Pyramid, a mountain notorious for its logistical challenges.
  • RMI partners exclusively with indigenous Papuans. We are the only guide service in the Western Hemisphere to do so. Additionally, we are the only guide service to actively support and participate in community development training for the indigenous local tribes whose lands we pass through.
  • Take part in the jungle trek that is so much a part of this adventure. RMI continues to set the standard in guiding excellence by offering a thoroughly complete experience. As with other adventures on the planet, we don’t miss the rich cultural aspects of an approach by skipping ahead to the mountain in a helicopter.

Carstensz Pyramid

Beginning our adventures in Bali, we gather as a team before flying to Timika, a small town on the south coast of New Guinea. A second, shorter flight brings us to the village of Sugapa, located in the heavily forested hills on the north side of the Sudirman Range, from which Carstensz Pyramid rises.

From Sugapa, we begin our trek toward Carstensz Pyramid, working our way through the thick woods into the rainforest and deeper into the jungle.  These are the lands of the Moni tribesmen who help us navigate this landscape. Our path eventually leads us out of the lower elevations to the alpine marshes and high limestone plateau and to Carstensz Base Camp. Base Camp lies in an absolutely beautiful setting, where jagged limestone peaks rise above milky blue alpine lakes.

Carstensz Pyramid is a one day climb, necessitating a pre-dawn departure to avoid the afternoon equatorial precipitation. The climbing is a moderate technical challenge, involving mostly rock scrambling and a few sections of mid 5th class difficulty.  Proficiency with fixed ropes, ascenders, rappelling, and experience rock climbing are required.  After completing our climb, we retrace our steps out of the mountains and into the jungle to Sugapa for our return flights to Timika and onward to Bali.

Climbing and traveling in Papua, Indonesia entails a great deal of uncertainty and requires tremendous flexibility. In addition to the fickle equatorial weather amplified by high altitudes, political and bureaucratic challenges exist and can hinder the progress of the expedition. For these reasons we build additional flexibility into our itinerary and request that all team members fully understand the nature of where we are going. 

THE RMI DIFFERENCE

Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. was established in 1969 and is one of America’s oldest and most-trusted guide services. We are the largest guide service on Mt. Rainier and Mt. McKinley and leaders in guiding climbs and treks around the globe. Our years of leading mountain adventures give us the experience and knowledge to create the best possible trips and we work hard to live up to our reputation as an industry leader. Our trip preparation before departure takes care of the details for you, from hotels to airport transfers, so that you can focus on preparing for the climb instead of the distraction that comes with coordinating logistics.

Our Carstensz Pyramid Expedition is led by RMI’s top guides who bring years of climbing experience not only on Carstensz Pyramid but on mountains all over the world, from the Andes to the Alaska Range to the Himalayas. As you reach higher elevations and test the limits of your experience, the value of an accomplished, highly-trained RMI Guide, one held to our standards and who has previously completed the trek and reached the summit, cannot be understated. We are also fortunate to work with an excellent indigenous outfitter in Papua. The advantage of working with a Papuan outfitter who has spent a lifetime invested in the area is unequaled. In addition to the human rights guarantee of fair and respectful treatment of our local staff, our outfitter holds to increasingly environmentally responsible travel and camping practices - neither of these promises are often followed through by outside outfitters.

Read more about RMI's Responsible Climbing on Carstensz Pyramid here.

Carstensz Pyramid PorterCarstensz Pyramid Porter

We use RMI's own climbing equipment brought from the U.S., ensuring that our expedition standards of safety, quality, and reliability are met. Our menu is carefully planned before the expedition, keeping our team happy and healthy throughout the expedition. Our exceptional focus on detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine excitement for these adventures are what make our programs truly memorable.

SAFETY

Safety has always been RMI’s top priority and we strive to create the safest mountain experience possible. RMI’s experienced team of guides focus on leading a fun and successful climb without compromising safety. We apply the same standards of safety we bring to Alaska and the Himalayas to our climbs of Carstensz Pyramid. Careful planning, precise ascent profiles with ample contingency days, and diligent attention to logistical details are taken as we venture to high altitudes. The remoteness of Carstensz Pyramid demands that comprehensive medical kits, and satellite communication equipment are carried with the team throughout the trip.

As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or info@rmiguides.com.

Why Climb Carstensz Pyramid With RMI?

RMI Expeditions is one of America's most reputable and long-standing guide services with over four decades of mountain guiding experience. Simply stated, we excel at bringing climbers to the highest mountains of the world. Our commitment to leading extraordinary mountain adventures and to climbing responsibly, our unparalleled logistical support, and our world-class leadership make our Carstensz Pyramid Expeditions unmatched.

RMI Provides Two U.S. Guides On Every Trip

RMI Expeditions provides every three climbers with one U.S. guide, and even more importantly, no less than 2 U.S. guides per trip.

Fact: One of the single greatest costs incurred by a company is the cost of the guides. This is because of guide salaries as well as outfitter fees, flights, accommodations, insurance, etc. To minimize these costs, some companies “farm out” their programs to other services entirely, effectively handing off their climbers to an in-country commercial operator. Some companies offer “professionally organized” expeditions which minimize the number of guides provided, replacing them, for example, with “consultants.” Other companies hire local climbers to work as “guides.” These climbers may have reached a particular summit many times, but often do not have formal medical, technical, avalanche, rescue or Leave No Trace skills, and often lack an understanding of Western-style customer care/guest services.

Caution: Some companies use one U.S. guide for up to six climbers, or two U.S. guides for twelve climbers! Climbing and traveling in Papua, Indonesia entails a great deal of uncertainty and requires tremendous flexibility. Its remote nature, rainforest & mountain weather patterns, high altitudes, technical climbing demands, and political and bureaucratic challenges make the adventure to Carstensz Pyramid a significant undertaking. Honestly, this is no place for a guided customer to find themselves, practically speaking, “unguided,” left in the hands of consultants, ill-trained “guides,” or individuals without an understanding of Western guests and ethics.

RMI Provides Lead Guides Who Have Previously Reached The Summit

RMI provides only lead guides who have previously reached the summit of the peak. We do not engage in the practice of, what is referred to in the industry as, “blind guiding.”

Fact: The climbing route is a high altitude, remote adventure, involving route finding through darkness and potentially inclement weather (rain en route, for example, is not uncommon). Having knowledge of the complete experience to a mountain’s summit is inherently beneficial to professional guides and their climbers.

RMI Provides One Porter For Every Climber & Treats Porters As Valued Team Members

RMI Expeditions provides one porter per climber. Additional porters are hired to carry group gear (tents, stoves, ropes, etc) as well as porter supplies (1 extra porter is needed for every 4 porters in order to carry their food, clothing, etc). We also hire 1 or 2 men as trail crew to clear the trail as needed (fallen trees, heavy jungle re-growth, etc). Each porter carries 15 kgs (33 lbs), thus allowing each climber to carry only approximately 15 to 20 pounds on the arduous approach trek.

Fact: The jungle is a difficult environment for everyone, but especially for guests to this land. Porters provide a SIGNIFICANT contribution to our success. RMI treats our porter staff as team members and pays our porter staff well.

Porter EquipmentPorter EquipmentStaff Training

Caution: Many outfitters do not pay local staff as promised. This, of course, sets up significant tensions between the commercial outfitters and the indigenous Papuans who work as porters. In February 2013, Alex Van Steen, our Carstensz Pyramid Program Director, visited West Papua and trekked through a number of villages with the express purpose of building relationships with the people from whose villages we would likely hire our porters. As word traveled, it was said that he was “giving relationship,” which we thought was a beautiful way of expressing what it was he was trying to accomplish. One man with whom Alex trekked for a couple of days had worked for most of the Indonesian outfitters at some point over the past ten years. Those outfitters, he commented, only paid 75% of their porters. The rest were sent back to their villages without their promised pay. These days he holds a government job where he works to advocate that porters are treated fairly.

RMI Sets The Standard With Specific Socially Responsible Practices

As a commercial guide service, we operate in a fascinating cultural and beautiful ecological arena. We believe in Responsible Climbing and are highly motivated to do better than “do no harm” or “leave no trace.” Indeed, in addition to contributing a percentage of our gross income to help meet the needs of remote communities scattered through West Papua, we are the only guide service in the western hemisphere to utilize an Indigenous Papuan tour operator. Not only is this strikingly unusual in a land where indigenous Papuans don’t typically hold such business posts, but it also ensures that the local villagers who are hired as staff (porters, cooks, trail crew, etc) are treated fairly by their outfitter, something which hasn’t historically been the case.

Local FarmerFact: Tension has been building for several years at the Illaga access point (originally used by Heinrich Harrer and crew in 1962) as the operators using those routes have failed to pay locals, and as tourists, not realizing this, have become frustrated by strikes and demands for money up front. Both the tourists and the Papuans have at times felt frustrated and exploited. Consequently, local commercial operators have recently been shifting routes toward the Sugapa access (originally used by Peter Boardman and Hilary Collins in 1978). Now, because poor social manners are beginning to threaten the Sugapa route as well, Alex took the time to speak with village elders, officials and pastors about how they would like tourists to respect villages along the route. As described to him by several Papuans, Papuans have felt pinned between the fact - on one hand - that passing tourists (and the operators who guide them) damage and disrespect their villages and villagers and - on the other hand - that when tourists bypass their villages altogether, there is zero economic benefit for a village which, by their own admission and standards, is impoverished.

Local PastorWith the intent of building relationships, Alex drafted protocols to be posted along the Sugapa route. These were then translated into common climber languages: English, Spanish, German, Dutch and Indonesian. The particular protocols shown below came at the request of the pastoral team in one village where villagers felt that tourists were “desecrating” the church, which they had offered as respite against the rain for visiting tourists.

Read the Sugapa Route Visitor Protocols...

Caution: Don’t let anybody tell you that the tensions along the route are the result of intra- or inter-tribal conflict, and that a police or military presence is all that is required to pass peaceably. While such dynamics do exist, the truth is that the tourists, due to the behaviors of the operators they chose to hire, are suffering the tensions and consequences (at times being threatened, even being held hostage). Stay away from commercial outfitters who have been unwilling to build relationships in the local communities through whose lands they travel. Villagers, Alex was told, tire of tourists who “take only photographs and collect only summits,” but, more critically, that a deep resentment has developed against outfitters who have used enforcement tactics and poor behaviors (treating porters disrespectfully, not paying porters, etc) to travel through tribal lands. Honestly, if our “takes” can’t be balanced with a few “gives,” then we are not a part of the experience, we just got through it!

RMI Sets The Standard For Environmentally Responsible Practices In West Papua

By RMI Guide Alex Van Steen

Trash on the approachWhen I first visited West Papua and trekked in via the Sugapa route, I saw very little sign that other tourists had visited the area. My return to the area in February 2013 left me unsettled. Trash littered many clearings where rest breaks had been taken, colorful plastic bags draped over broken saplings to serve as route markers, aluminum soda cans (!) could be found on the high plateau, and Carstensz Base Camp – despite annual efforts by Freeport-McMoRan to heli-lift garbage out of the area – was dotted by small piles of burnt unburnables! We have to take responsibility!

Fact: It was not all so long ago that almost everything in West Papua was natural and biodegradable. Indigenous people cultivated gorgeous gardens and subsistence crops to feed their clans. Folks hunted what they needed. In a hot, humid society without refrigeration, food was consumed as needed. Homes and huts were constructed of ironwood and thatch. No significant shelf life for products, and no plastic wrappers, buckets, barrels or pipes!

Trash at Carstensz Base CampOne of the questions asked of me when I presented the idea of sustainable tourism to the Puncak Jaya regency governor had to do with implementing environmentally respectful practices into communities who didn’t at all have such ideas on their radar. While by no means completely understood, I did my best to relay concepts of environmental care (mostly what we as tourists could do) which included components from each of the seven Leave No Trace principles and ethics.

Caution: Leave No Trace is a set of skills and ethics, so I encourage you “to follow ethical practices with integrity!” Be cautious of commercial outfitters who talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk, when it comes to LNT. Ask about a guide service’s history and their commitment to the environment.

Carstensz Pyramid Equipment List

Whittaker Mountaineering

The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.

Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering. This offer excludes sale items. For internet orders, please use the discount code RMI2014.


Pack & Bag Guides' Pick

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2 DUFFEL BAG(S): 100+ liter bag(s) made of tough, waterproof material with rugged zippers. One duffel will be taken on the mountain and carried by the porters through the rainy forest.  The other duffel can be smaller and lighter duty and will be left at the hotel with extra gear and clothing.

 
SealLine Black Canyon Boundary - 115 L
 

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BACKPACK: A 40 - 50 liter pack with a sternum strap is recommended for this climb.


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PACK COVER: Protects your pack from rain while on the trail.


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SLEEPING BAG: A synthetic bag rated to 10° to 15° F. A waterproof bag is preferred, but not mandatory.
The temperature rating system for sleeping bags is arbitrary and is not a guarantee of warmth. Base your selection on how well you do in the cold. If you tend to sleep on the cold side, choose a bag rated on the lower end of the temperature range.


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SLEEPING PAD - CLOSED FOAM: A second full-length or 3/4 length closed cell foam pad. This pad is used in combination with the first sleeping pad.


Technical Gear Guides' Pick

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CLIMBING HARNESS: A comfortable, adjustable alpine climbing harness with a few accessible gear loops.  Removable, drop seat or adjustable leg loops are essential for managing your clothing layers over the course of the climb and facilitate going to the bathroom.


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1 TRIPLE-ACTION LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into the climbing rope.


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3 NON-LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for pack ditch loop, etc.


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HELMET: A UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) or CE (European Committee for Standardization) certified climbing helmet. Bicycle or ski helmets are designed for a different type of impact and will not substitute as a climbing helmet.


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TREKKING POLES: Lightweight and collapsible. One pole is required. The second pole is optional.


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MECHANICAL ASCENDER: For traveling on fixed ropes. Most people prefer an ascender designed for their weak hand, leaving their strong hand free to hold their ice axe. For example, a right-handed person would use a left-handed ascender.


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RAPPEL DEVICE: A figure eight rappel device is required. Other devices will not work as well on thick diameter fixed lines.


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15 ' PERLON CORD: 7 mm cordelette in one continuous length.


Head Guides' Pick

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WARM HAT: Wool or synthetic. It should provide warmth but also be thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.


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BUFF / NECK GAITER / BALACLAVA: One item for face protection is required. Our primary recommendation is the Buff. A neck gaiter or balaclava is also acceptable.


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CONTACT LENSES/ EYEGLASSES: Spare prescription glasses if you wear contact lenses/eyeglasses.


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SUNGLASSES: Quality sunglasses with some side protection or wrap-around sunglasses are needed. Super dark glacier glasses are not necessary.


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HEADLAMP: Be sure to begin the program with fresh batteries.


Hands

Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.


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2 LIGHTWEIGHT GLOVE(S): A glove with a leather or grip palm is best. Fleece- or wool-palmed gloves are too slippery when rappeling.

 
Outdoor Research Vert Glove

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LEATHER GLOVE: Durable, waterproof leather gloves are necessary for rappeling and climbing on the abrasive limestone of Carstensz.


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HEAVY-DUTY RUBBER WORK GLOVE: These might be used in combination with other gloves, but should be heavy duty enough to be used alone. Consider an additional pair of  lightweight rubber gloves to be used as liners with other gloves.


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INSULATED GLOVE: Warm, insulated glove; waterproof if possible.


Upper Body

We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.


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2 LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top. Quarter zip styles will allow for better temperature regulation. We recommend light colors, which best reflect the intense sun on hot days.


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SYNTHETIC INSULATED JACKET: Light and warm, water-resistant and windproof.


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2 RAIN JACKET (HARD SHELL): A jacket made of rain-proof material with an attached hood.  We recommend a thinner lightweight jacket rather than a heavier insulated jacket.


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2 HIKING SHIRT: Lightweight, long sleeve, synthetic shirt. We use long sleeves for protection against the sun, insects and as a guard against cuts and abrasions.


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SPORTS BRA: We recommend a moisture-wicking, active-wear bra.


Lower Body

We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.


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CLIMBING PANT: Soft-shell climbing pants offer a wide range of versatility. You can wear them in combination with the base layer on colder days, or alone on warmer days.


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2 RAIN PANT (HARD SHELL): A high-quality, waterproof pant. Full-length side zippers are required for facilitating quick clothing adjustments over boots.


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LIGHT WEIGHT TREKKING PANT: A lightweight, synthetic pair of pants is a good option for the approach trek when hiking at lower altitudes and in warm conditions. These pants have no insulation, are typically made of thin nylon, and commonly feature zippers to convert between pants and shorts.

M:
  • Mountain Hardwear Mesa Convertible Pant

W:

Feet

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RUBBER BOOTS: High quality knee-high rubber boots with good grip for traveling in muddy terrain. Lace up or buckle closures are highly recommended since the provide a snug fit that reduces that chance of the boot being pulled off in deep mud. We recommend the non-insulated models.


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CLIMBING BOOTS: Look for waterproof climbing boots with rubber soles and a rubber rand that extends up the side and covers the toes.

M:
  • La Sportiva Trango S Evo GTX

W:
  • La Sportiva Trango S Evo GTX

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TREKKING BOOTS / APPROACH SHOES: One pair of sturdy trekking boots or approach shoes for trekking and wearing around camp. These must be waterproof.


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RIVER SHOE: Lightweight water shoe with covered toe for river crossings. Chaco, Teva, All Sport, Champion, and Speedo all have popular models.

 
Speedo Wave Walker Water Shoes

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GAITERS: Large enough to fit over your trekking boots to guard against mud and snow.


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4 PAIR OF SOCKS: Either wool or synthetic. Whatever sock combination you are accustomed to wearing during your training or previous adventures (whether single medium weight socks, a medium weight with a liner sock, two medium weight socks together, etc), should work just fine for this climb.


Miscellaneous Items Guides' Pick

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LIP BALM: We recommend SPF 15 or higher.


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SUNSCREEN: We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.


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MEALS: See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.


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2 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required.


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AQUAMIRA: Chlorine Dioxide water purification drops.


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8 GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE): We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.


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ZIP-LOCK BAGS: Please bring 10 gallon-size bags and 10 quart-size bags. These are used to protect various items from the rain as well as serve as personal trash bags.


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INSECT REPELLENT


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UMBRELLA: Small and lightweight.


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LUGGAGE LOCKS: For your duffel bags. Must be TSA approved.


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STUFF SACK(S): These should be waterproof. Bring as needed.


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CAMERA


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WATCH with alarm and light: Altimeter models are popular.


Travel Clothes

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2 CASUAL PANTS


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4 SHIRTS: For hotel dinners and while traveling.


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SWEATER / SWEATSHIRT


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SWIMSUIT


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COMFORTABLE SHOES: Consider sandals as your "comfortable shoes," though take care to select a shoe that protects the toes (no flip flops, for example)


Toilet Articles

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TOOTHBRUSH


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HAND SANITIZER(S): Personal size (2 oz.) bottle.


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PERSONAL CATHOLE TROWEL

 
Leave No Trace Personal Cathole Trowel

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PEE BOTTLE: 1 to 1 1/2 quart size


Personal First Aid Kit

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ANTIBIOTIC OINTMENT (FOR CUTS & SCRAPES)


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BAND-AIDS


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ASPRIN / IBUPROFEN / TYLENOL


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BLISTER TREATMENT

 
Dr. Scholl's Blister Cushions and Moleskin
 
Spenco 2nd Skin

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ANTACIDS


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IMODIUM (ANTI-DIARRHEA)


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PEPTO-BISMOL (STOMACH RELIEF)


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SMALL ROLL OF ADHESIVE TAPE


Personal Medications

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ANTIBIOTICS: Broad spectrum antibiotics for Traveler's Diarrhea.


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ANTIBIOTICS: Antibiotics for upper respiratory infection.


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TYLENOL #3: Tylenol 3 for pain


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ACETAZOLAMIDE: For Altitude Illness


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ANTI-MALARIA MEDICATIONS


Utensils Guides' Pick

Optional Items

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SLEEPING MASK


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CLEANSING FACE WIPES


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WATERLESS SHAMPOO


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READING MATERIAL / JOURNAL


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iPOD or MP3 PLAYER


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PERSONAL SOLAR CHARGER: A small solar panel is a great way to charge your iPod or camera.

 
Brunton Solaris 6

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HAND LOTION


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FOOT POWDER


Travel Documents

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PASSPORT: Valid for six months beyond your return date.


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COPY OF PASSPORT: The first two pages of your passport.


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COPY OF FLIGHT ITINERARY


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EXTRA PASSPORT PHOTOS


Pre-Trip Checklist

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Purchase travel insurance.


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Return the Registration Packet to the RMI Office.


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Purchase airplane tickets.


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Reserve rental equipment.


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Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!


Provided Equipment

RMI provides the following equipment for your program: group and personal tents, stoves, group cooking equipment, fuel, climbing ropes, climbing anchors, fixed ropes, and comprehensive first aid and repair kits.


Is it safe to travel in West Papua?

Because West Papua remains in the news, questions about safety are among the most frequently asked.

We hold the perspective that travel to West Papua (and in fact any developing nation) includes risk, but not necessarily high risk. In order to safeguard our trips:

  • We have hired a professional in-country tour operator to coordinate our in-country logistics.
  • We have hired a local guide familiar with the language, roads, trekking route, villages, customs, etc.
  • We travel in groups and have tourist safety protocols in place (not flashing cash, not wearing expensive jewelry, etc.).
  • RMI's guides are well-versed with our program and are accustomed to travel in a foreign country.

Take some time to visit the U.S. Department of State and revisit the site occasionally as trip departure dates approach.

Why does RMI use the Sugapa route rather than the Illaga route?

Because we have a fantastic relationship with the tribal groups through whose lands we travel! This question strikes right at the heart of why our trips are unique! RMI guide Alex Van Steen describes the strong relational connection fostered with the tribal peoples along the Sugapa route in Our Connection with Carstensz. Before we ran our first trip, we knew we wanted to offer a program that set us apart as socially responsible and considerate of the indigenous tribal peoples; a model that did not yet exist. We remain the only western guide service to use an indigenous Papuan outfitter, one with whom we have an honest relationship of respect. This is part of the RMI Difference!

Why doesn't RMI use helicopters to access Base Camp?

The primary reason we have chosen not to advertise helicopter transport is that Base Camp landings exceed safe standard operating protocols. RMI considers helicopter use an unnecessary and unwarranted high risk endeavor. Though ship and pilot procurement can be notoriously difficult in West Papua, we may have helicopters available should an emergency evacuation require them. We have, however, chosen to exclude them from standard practice.

How long is the trek to Base Camp?

The trek to Base Camp on Carstensz is a six-day walk. We begin in the village of Sugapa (7,000') and travel through jungle and across the high limestone plateau (including beautiful New Zealand Pass) to reach Base Camp in the Meren Valley (approx. 13,900'). Trekking out requires a little less time, approximately four days, as we are mostly moving down hill. Actual miles mean very little when describing the rugged travel through the jungle and across the high limestone plateau. Each day will require five to nine hours of hard work.

What is a day on the trek like?

A typical day on the trek begins around 6:00 a.m. when we meet for breakfast. We begin trekking shortly thereafter and walk for between five to nine hours. Though it is impossible to avoid the rain in the rainforest, the early start often allows us to get camp established prior to the relatively predictable afternoon rains. The trail is difficult to negotiate as the jungle can be muddy and exceedingly slick (especially the numerous logs we will cross). After reaching our camp for the day (normally by early afternoon), we have the afternoon to rest, relax, chat or read prior to meeting for dinner.

Are porters available to help carry my gear?

Yes, porters are available to carry 15 kg (~33 pounds) of gear and they are imminently necessary for our adventure to succeed. Porters assist us on the trek, carrying all of our sleeping gear, extra clothing, and equipment. To read more on our partnership with porters, please visit The Culture of Tourism in New Guinea: Insights on Porter Services for Carstensz Pyramid by RMI guide Alex Van Steen.

How much weight am I carrying in my pack?

Backpacks should weigh approximately 20 to 25 lbs as we only carry the day's snacks, water, and a few extra layers of clothing in case of rain or cold temperatures.

What is the trekking pace like?

Our goal is to get everyone to Base Camp while having an enjoyable time. We walk at the appropriate speed to cover the distance we need that day without going too quickly or too slowly. While the actual distances are relatively short, the jungle, the rain and the altitudes to which we travel make the days of hiking quite challenging.

What are our camps like?

We provide three-person tents for every two climbers. The cooking and dining is done in a separate tent. Tables and chairs make it a nice to place to hang out and escape the afternoon rain before the team sits down for dinner.

What are the toilets like?

At camps we establish private toilets that are used only by our team. On the trail there are no established toilets between camps, and cat-holing is the standard practice.

What kind of clothing do I need on the trek?

The weather in the jungle is typically hot, humid and wet. We should plan on protecting our legs and arms by wearing trekking pants and a long-sleeved shirt. There are some sections of the jungle when a pair of light gloves is a wise choice to protect our hands from briars and thorns. We can also get wet and quite cold, particularly in the evenings, in the highlands of the limestone plateau. We will typically don a light insulating layer and a rain jacket in the evenings. While most of the trek is accomplished in knee-high rubber boots, comfortable trekking boots or approach shoes are often appropriate.

How will I be able to stay connected with those at home?

A few options do exist, but because the jungles of Papua are some of the most remote locations on earth, immediate access may not be available.

  • A smart phone or WIFI-enabled device can be used in Denpasar, Bali and Timika, West Papua. Along the route, however, WIFI access is not available.
  • In Papua, cellular phone service is available in Timika and Sugapa. Along the route, however, no cell towers can be accessed. Check with your cell phone carrier to see if they offer international coverage in Indonesia and make sure you have the appropriate international plans and understand the associated rates.
  • A personal satellite phone offers the most reliable option for connection with those at home while in the interior. However, sat phone connections may be impeded by the jungle canopy or cloud cover overhead or within the confines of the narrow valleys approaching Carstensz. Satellite phone rental is available through Remote Satellite Systems International. RMI carries a satellite phone with the group through the entire trip for emergency use.

Is a Kindle or Nook practical on this trip?

Yes, but if you wish to take it into the interior you will certainly need to recharge it once in a while using a personal solar charger. We recommend downloading all of your desired books before arriving in Indonesia.

What is summit day like?

The ascent above our high camp follows a series of 4th and low 5th class slabs, ledges and gullies to the summit ridge, and then follows the ridge across several exposed gaps to the high point at 16,023'. While the ascent and descent are considered only technically moderate challenges, the high altitude, lengthy day and possibility of rain or snow en route make for a very complete adventure!

Do I need an ice axe or crampons? What if it snows?

No, you do not need an ice axe or crampons to climb our route up Carstensz. New snowfall, while not uncommon, is typically a trace amount (1-2") and often melts in the midday sun or is washed away by the afternoon rains. Sturdy climbing boots provide enough traction and insulation to climb in the snow.

What vaccine do I need to enter Indonesia?

No vaccines are required, though all travelers should be up to date on routine vaccinations. Protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid are generally recommended because the risk of these diseases exists where we are traveling. You do not need a yellow fever vaccine to enter Indonesia if coming from the United States. However, Indonesia requires proof of yellow fever vaccination if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever. See the CDC website for current information.