* Cost includes all expenses Bali to Bali.
|Please call our offices at 1-888-892-5462 to inquire about availability.|
"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.
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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
Fact: 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.
With the intent of building relationships, Alex drafted protocols to be posted along the Sugapa route. These were then translated into common climber languages: English, Indonesian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Russian and Japanese. 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
When 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!
One 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.
Climbing and travelling in Papua, Indonesia entails a great deal of uncertainty and requires tremendous flexibility. In addition to fickle equatorial weather amplified by high altitudes, political and bureaucratic problems exist which can hinder the progress of the expedition. We purposefully build flexibility into our itinerary to take into account considerations such as the permitting and registration process, weather, route conditions, acclimatization, and the strength of the climbing team. This flexibility allows us to accommodate logistical uncertainties without the pressure to adhere strictly to the schedule and significantly improves our chances of success on Carstensz Pyramid.
Day 1: Depart U.S.: Depending on flight times and connections, travel to Denpasar, Bali typically takes from 24 – 36 hours. Most flights require a stop in a major city such as Tokyo, Singapore, Taipei, or Bangkok en route to Denpasar. During your flight you will cross the International Date Line.
Day 2: Arrive Denpasar, Bali: We transfer to our hotel and get some rest before our evening reception and welcome dinner. Overnight at the Best Western Resort Kuta. (D)
Arriving in Bali
Day 3: Today the itinerary focuses on a thorough team meeting, orientation, and equipment check. The remainder of the day is spent enjoying the beaches and local cuisine. We depart for the airport around 11:30 p.m. for a very early morning flight to Timika, located on the island of New Guinea. (B, D)
The beaches of Bali
Day 4: Flight to Timika, Papua: Following our arrival, we have the day to finalize our food shopping as well as spend some down time enjoying the pool and gym. Overnight at Rimba Papua. (B, D)
Flying to Timika
Day 5: The day is spent in Timika making the final expedition preparations for our adventure. Overnight at Rimba Papua. (B, D)
Day 6: A morning flight brings us over the Sudirman Range, with stunning views of Carstensz Pyramid, to Sugapa. By mid-morning we will begin our trek, leaving Sugapa and heading into the jungle. Trekking time is approximately 5 hours. (B, D)
Flight to SugapaBeginning the trek
Day 7: Our trek takes us deeper into the heart of the jungle and to a remote Moni tribal village. We receive a traditional Moni welcome, including a beautiful ceremony with song and dance. Trekking time is approximately 8 hours. (B, D)
Arriving in UgimbaThe Moni of Ugimba
Day 8: Today’s enjoyable and challenging trek follows streams and creeks to penetrate through thick jungle. Various orchids and colorful frogs abound. We climb steeply up and over rocky and root-covered walls to attain our camp for the evening. Trekking time is approximately 8 hours. (B, D)
Trekking through the jungle
Day 9: The scenery today is spectacular as we travel across a high marsh toward the limestone plateau of Carstensz Pyramid. Amazing sinkholes and caves dot the landscape and dingiso (tree kangaroos), ndomea malabiso (hedgehogs), and wiyahome (coyote dingo) are known to inhabit this area. Trekking time is approximately 9 hours. (B, D)
Trekking to higher elevations
Day 10: Our trek across the high plateau takes us through open meadows with grand views of the Sudirman limestone escarpment, punctuated by Carstensz Pyramid. We cross New Zealand Pass (12,000’+) just prior to reaching our camp near three lakes. Trekking time is approximately 9 hours. (B, D)
Trek to Larson Lake
Day 11: We travel across a high country of exposed limestone and alpine meadows to arrive at Carstensz Base Camp mid-day. Base Camp sits beautifully nestled along the shores of a blue-water alpine lake at nearly 13,900’. Trekking time is approximately 5 hours. (B, D)
Arriving at Base Camp
Day 12: The day is spent near Base Camp practicing techniques and preparing for the summit climb. (B, D)
Day 13: Summit Day! Following an alpine start, we initially climb a series of 4th and low 5th class rock gullies before traversing along the narrow summit ridge and over several small notches, to the summit. The climbing involves mostly scrambling, with dramatic exposure and a few short sections of mid 5th class climbing. We use available fixed lines and a Tyrolean traverse to bypass many of the difficulties. The descent involves multiple rappels on fixed lines. Total climbing time is approximately 14 - 18 hours. (B, D)
Summit DayThe summit of Carstensz Pyramid
Day 15: We begin our trek out by re-ascending New Zealand Pass and returning to the edge of the high plateau. Trekking time is approximately 9 - 10 hours. (B, D)
Beginning the trek out
Day 16: Retracing our steps across the remainder of the high plateau, we cross the marsh to the edge of the jungle. Trekking time is approximately 9 hours. (B, D)
Trekking through the jungle
Day 17: We spend a full day trekking through the thickness of the jungle to a camp at the edge of a remote Moni village. Trekking time is approximately 8 - 10 hours. (B, D)
Sunset over the New Guinea jungle
Day 18: We trek the final stretch though the jungle, returning to the village of Sugapa. Trekking time is approximately 7 hours. (B, D)
Days 19 & 20: Contingency Days. These two days are added into the itinerary in case we are unable to fly out of Sugapa due to poor visibility or weather. (B, D)
Day 21: A morning flight takes us out of the mountains and back to Timika, where we enjoy a well-deserved hot shower, some fantastic food and some time by the pool. Celebration dinner and overnight at the Rimba Papua. (B, D)
Day 22: We leave the island of New Guinea and fly to Denpasar, Bali. Overnight at the Best Western Resort Kuta. (B)
Day 23: Return flights from Denpasar, Bali to the U.S. (B)
Carstensz Pyramid Equipment List
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 RMI2015.
Pack & Bag Guides' Pick
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.
BACKPACK: A 40 - 50 liter pack with a sternum strap is recommended for this climb.
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.
SLEEPING PAD: Full length inflatable or closed cell pad.
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
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.
1 TRIPLE-ACTION LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into the climbing rope.
2 SCREW-GATE LOCKING CARABINER(S): Used for clipping into anchors, etc.
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.
TREKKING POLES: Lightweight and collapsible. One pole is required. The second pole is optional.
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.
RAPPEL DEVICE: A figure eight rappel device is required. Other devices will not work as well on thick diameter fixed lines.
Head Guides' Pick
WARM HAT: Wool or synthetic. It should provide warmth but also be thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.
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.
CONTACT LENSES/ EYEGLASSES: Spare prescription glasses if you wear contact lenses/eyeglasses.
SUNGLASSES: Quality sunglasses with some side protection or wrap-around sunglasses are needed. Super dark glacier glasses are not necessary.
Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.
2 LIGHTWEIGHT GLOVE(S): A glove with a leather or grip palm is best. Fleece- or wool-palmed gloves are too slippery when rappeling.
LEATHER GLOVE: Durable, waterproof leather gloves are necessary for rappeling and climbing on the abrasive limestone of Carstensz.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
4 UNDERWEAR: Non-cotton briefs or boxers.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Synthetic or wool.
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.
2 RAIN PANT (HARD SHELL): A high-quality, waterproof pant. Full-length side zippers are required for facilitating quick clothing adjustments over boots.
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.
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.
CLIMBING BOOTS: Look for waterproof climbing boots with rubber soles and a rubber rand that extends up the side and covers the toes.
- La Sportiva Trango S Evo GTX
- La Sportiva Trango S Evo GTX
TREKKING BOOTS / APPROACH SHOES: One pair of sturdy trekking boots or approach shoes for trekking and wearing around camp. These must be waterproof.
RIVER SHOE: Lightweight water shoe with covered toe for river crossings. Chaco, Teva, All Sport, Champion, and Speedo all have popular models.
GAITERS: Large enough to fit over your trekking boots to guard against mud and snow.
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
SUNSCREEN: We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.
MEALS: See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.
2 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required.
AQUAMIRA: Chlorine Dioxide water purification drops.
8 GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE): We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.
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.
UMBRELLA: Small and lightweight.
LUGGAGE LOCKS: For your duffel bags. Must be TSA approved.
2 CASUAL PANTS
4 SHIRTS: For hotel dinners and while traveling.
SWEATER / SWEATSHIRT
COMFORTABLE SHOES: Consider sandals as your "comfortable shoes," though take care to select a shoe that protects the toes (no flip flops, for example)
PERSONAL CATHOLE TROWEL
PEE BOTTLE: 1 to 1 1/2 quart size
Personal First Aid Kit
ANTIBIOTIC OINTMENT (FOR CUTS & SCRAPES)
ASPRIN / IBUPROFEN / TYLENOL
PEPTO-BISMOL (STOMACH RELIEF)
SMALL ROLL OF ADHESIVE TAPE
ANTIBIOTICS: Broad spectrum antibiotics for Traveler's Diarrhea.
ANTIBIOTICS: Antibiotics for upper respiratory infection.
TYLENOL #3: Tylenol 3 for pain
ACETAZOLAMIDE: For Altitude Illness
Utensils Guides' Pick
CLEANSING FACE WIPES
READING MATERIAL / JOURNAL
PERSONAL SOLAR CHARGER: A small solar panel is a great way to charge your iPod or camera.
PASSPORT: Valid for six months beyond your return date.
COPY OF PASSPORT: The first two pages of your passport.
COPY OF FLIGHT ITINERARY
EXTRA PASSPORT PHOTOS
Purchase travel insurance.
Return the Registration Packet to the RMI Office.
Purchase airplane tickets.
Reserve rental equipment.
Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!
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.
Breakfasts and dinners are included in the cost of the program as indicated in our Trip Itinerary. Your trip fee does not include lunches, bottled water and drinks. RMI does not provide additional meals in the event of a delayed flight to Sugapa at the start of our trek.
Please list any special dietary needs on the Participant Information Form. The form must be returned to the RMI Office 90 days prior to the program departure date.
You are responsible for your own mountain lunches for 15 days. Lunch items should weigh about 10 lbs. We will have an opportunity to purchase additional food in Timika, but we recommend you take what you need and only supplement with local food if necessary.
Take lunch foods that you genuinely enjoy. Eating well is the key to maintaining your strength while in the mountains. And in order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude, it is best to have a variety of foods from which to choose, from sweet to sour to salty.
Lunch snacks are eaten during short breaks throughout the day while in the mountains. Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.
Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, Toffees, Life Savers), Gummy Bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, trail mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid). All items should be commercially packaged.
Mountain Breakfasts and Dinners
The breakfast menu includes items such as minute oatmeal, cold cereals, hot drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa, cider) and supplements (cheeses, crackers, dried fruits).
Dinner usually begins with hot drinks and soup and ends with dessert. Healthy one-pot meals, incorporating fresh food whenever practical, are served as the main course. One typical main course dinner might be pasta with meat, sauce and spices. Another meal might include rice with vegetables. There are limitations, but the menu is planned to offer good variety and ample portions.
Our Carstensz Pyramid program is for adventurers in excellent physical condition with moderate technical climbing ability. You should be confident moving on third-, fourth- and easy fifth-class rock, on fixed ropes, and through multiple rappels.
Please submit the RMI Registration Form prior to securing your reservation.
This trip is open to individuals who possess:
- Excellent physical fitness
- Confidence to move quickly and competently on easy fifth-class terrain
- Proficiency with technical climbing skills including clipping in and out of anchors, belaying, use of ascenders on fixed lines, multiple rappels, and familiarity with Tyrolean traverses
- Previous high mountain experience
Recommended climbing experiences prior to Carstensz include:
- West Ridge of Forbidden Peak
- Fisher Chimneys on Shuksan
- Expedition Skills Seminar on Mt. Rainier or Alaska
- Mexico's Volcanoes
- Ecuador's Volcanoes
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.
Physical Fitness Training
Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.
- Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
- Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
- Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.
For Carstensz, you are preparing for:
- Steep hiking with 40 lb. loads
- 12-14+ hour summit day
- Exposed fourth-class climbing
- Several hundred feet of low fifth-class rock
- Several Tyrolean traverses
- 15-20 rappels
- The Carstensz area is usually rainy and you should expect to spend at least some time travelling and climbing in the rain.
- Mountaineering techniques which require core strength and flexibility
Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!
Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.
The key to climbing high is proper acclimatization. Our program follows a calculated ascent profile which allows time for your body to adjust to the altitude.
Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize as you ascend. Climbers in excellent physical condition simply have more energy to commit to the acclimatization process throughout the days and nights of the ascent, allowing their bodies to adjust to the altitude more easily.
Finally, physical performance and acclimatization are also related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days and weeks prior to summit day. Arriving healthy and well-rested, maintaining proper hydration and caloric intake, and protecting against unnecessary heat loss (staying warm) or overheating (especially through the jungle) are all key factors in an individual’s success on an expedition such as this.
RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide comprehensive travel support. We have been working with Erin for many years. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe and is extremely knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. In addition to travel arrangements, Erin can also provide information and coverage for evacuation policies and insurance options. Please call (208) 788-2870 or email email@example.com.
Cancellation Insurance, Medical Evacuation & Security Evacuation
Due to the remote nature of this program, we require everyone to purchase a medical evacuation policy with minimum coverage of $500,000. Additionally, we encourage participants to consider travel insurance and a security evacuation policy.
Medical Evacuation: An illness or injury in a remote area could require a medical evacuation costing well over $100,000. For this reason, we require everyone to purchase a medical evacuation policy with minimum coverage of $500,000. Travel insurance providers (such as AIG Travel Guard and Travelex Insurance) typically offer reimbursement for medical evacuations. Additionally, crisis response companies (such as Global Rescue) can orchestrate an actual field rescue as necessary in medical, security or other evacuation situations, even from extremely remote areas. Check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including details of what constitutes a medical vs. a non-medical emergency.
We strongly encourage everyone to purchase travel insurance which can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, repatriation and more. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Note that many of the insurance options can be purchased under one policy but some coverage may only be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit or if purchased as an upgrade to an existing policy rather than as a stand-alone option.
Cancellation Insurance: Cancellation insurance offers protection of deposit and registration funds should you need to cancel from a program. This might be due to an injury during training, a personal illness, or it might be due to extenuating circumstances, such as family emergencies. Policies are determined based upon your home state, check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including adventure/sports coverage*.
*Adventure/Sports Coverage: Most standard policies do not cover climbing or mountaineering. You can purchase Adventure/Sports Coverage as an upgrade to a standard policy. Please be sure to check with your provider and their description of coverage to make sure the policy you are purchasing provides you with adequate protection.
Security Evacuation: This policy offers crisis evacuation services in non-medical situations. Examples include evacuations from areas affected by natural disasters, war or conflict zones, terrorism, and other areas in which participant security is threatened. RMI purchases Security Evacuation Policies from Global Rescue for its guides on this program.
For more information, please visit one of the websites below or contact your local travel agent.
|AIG Travel Guard||Erin Rountree|
|Travelex Insurance||Global Rescue|
Travel Advisories / Warnings
Please confirm any current travel advisories/warnings as well as entry requirements with the U.S. Department of State.
Our expedition will begin and end in Bali, Indonesia. Your flight will require approximately 24 - 36 hours to reach the capital city of Denpasar, Bali (DPS) and will cross the International Date Line. Most flights from the United States require a stop in a major city such as Tokyo, Singapore, Taipei, or Bangkok en route to Denpasar. Flights generally arrive in Denpasar in the afternoon on Day 2 of the itinerary.
Departing flights may be booked for any time on Day 23 of the itinerary.
Visa: We are required to obtain a standard tourist visa when entering Indonesia. We recommend obtaining a “Visa on Arrival” ($25) in Denpasar, Bali.
Passport: A passport valid for 6 months beyond your expected return date, with two entirely blank pages, is required when entering Indonesia. We suggest making a copy of the first two pages of your passport and keeping them in a separate bag as a backup. A copy should also be left with your emergency contact.
Surat Jalan: The special permits for travelling and climbing in Papua (known as the "Surat Jalan") will be obtained by RMI.
Upon arrival at the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, follow signs to the Arrivals Building. First proceed to the Visa-on-Arrival booth. Check that the date covers your complete stay. Then head to the Immigrations desk for foreign travelers.
Once you receive your bags from Baggage Claim, proceed to Customs. There will be a random selection of bags for inspection. Be sure to keep your bags together. RMI guide Alex Van Steen will meet you once you have cleared Customs. We will then transfer to our hotel.
Immunizations & Travel Medicine
For the most current information on inoculation requirements and recommendations, please refer to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.
Travelers may suffer from upset stomachs when in foreign countries. There are some basic rules, however, that can help keep you healthy.
Hygiene - It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly before meals and after using the restroom. If water is not available for washing, we recommend using a hand sanitizer.
Water - The number one rule is: don't drink the water, and that includes shower water and ice! Brush your teeth with purified water rather than tap water. You should check bottled water for a good seal and use a napkin to wipe dry excess moisture in drinking glasses. Take care with fruit juice, particularly if it has been diluted with water. Carefully clean the tops of bottled beverages before opening.
Mosquitoes - Be careful to protect yourself from mosquitoes while in Bali. Use DEET meticulously and spray your room before you go to sleep.
The general level of sanitation and health care in Indonesia is far below U.S. standards. Some routine medical care is available in all major cities, although most travelers leave the country for all but the simplest medical procedures. If a hospital were needed, care should be sought in Java (Jakarta), Singapore, or Australia rather than in Timika or Jayapura. A current list of English-speaking doctors and hospitals is available via the U.S. Embassy Jakarta's website.
Global Rescue provides advisory, rescue and evacuation services to climbers and trekkers who purchase memberships. RMI purchases medical assistance and security evacuation coverage for the guides on this program and we strongly encourage you to consider the same. Global Rescue provides:
• 24 hr medical advisory services from critical care paramedics and in-house physicians
• Field Rescue from the point of illness or injury
• Evacuation back to the member’s home hospital of choice
• Deployable medical personnel in the case of hospitalization abroad
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. The term is sometimes used to denote the area of Australasia or sometimes all the islands between Asia and the Americas.
Australasia includes Australia and the island group of Indonesia. This relocates the “seventh summit” from the Australian continent (Kosciuszko) to the Australasian highpoint (Carstensz).
Indonesia consists of more than 17,500 islands spread over 3,400 miles along the Equator. The main islands are Java, Sumatra, Bali, Kalimantan (Borneo), Sulawesi (Celebes), Papua, Halmahera, and Seram. The capital, Jakarta, lies in the lowlands of West Java. The country has approximately 246,000,000 people and more than 300 ethnic groups. Indonesia's geographic location and topography make the country prone to natural disasters, especially seismic upheaval due to its location on the "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. Indonesia is a developing country with a growing economy and severe infrastructure shortcomings.
New Guinea is comprised of Papua (western half) and Papua New Guinea (or PNG; the eastern half). The straight north-south line that separates Papua from Papua New Guinea is a colonial era legacy: an arbitrary line that demarcated the Dutch held portion of the island from that held by Great Britain and Germany.
Papua is the largest province of Indonesia, and includes the western half of New Guinea. Papua is home to approximately 250 to 300 different tribes. The central mountainous region of Papua is home to the highland peoples, who practice pig husbandry and sweet potato cultivation. The lowland peoples live in swampy and malarial coastal regions, and live by hunting the abundant game, and gathering. The people are ethnically distinct from the Indonesians who control their country. The evolution from Papua’s status as the former colony of Netherlands New Guinea to its current place in the Indonesian state is long and complex.
Carstensz Pyramid is located in the Central Mountain Range that crosses the entire island of New Guinea. In Papua, the Central Range’s Maoke Mountains (a translation of “Sneeuwgebergte” or “Snow Mountains”) include the Sudirman Range, which is dominated by Carstensz Pyramid at 16,023 ft./4,884 m. The Indonesian name for Carstensz is Puncak Jaya, meaning “Victory Peak.” The Moni name for Carstensz is Mbai Ngela, meaning "Forbidden Egg." The story is that in years gone by when the mountain was snow covered, it resembled an egg, and the fore-fathers forbade their people from going there because it was the hunting grounds of evil spirits and those spirits always killed those who ventured there. Even today, villagers have a very difficult time understanding the science of hypothermia and often will point to and tell of places along the way where the spirits have killed a poor wayfarer!
Lying along the equator, Indonesia has a tropical climate, with distinct monsoonal wet and dry seasons. Average annual rainfall in the lowlands varies from 70 to 125 inches, and up to 240 inches in the mountain. The rainiest months are November through March. After March the weather stabilizes, though it can still rain every day. Rain is part of the jungle! While there are brief periods of dry weather, they are not predictable. Humidity is high, averaging about 80%. Temperatures vary little throughout the year; the average daily temperature of Jakarta is 79-86 degrees F. For current weather conditions, check Weather Underground.
Although it is not expected that we dress formally, we should dress modestly. Casual and comfortable clothing is suggested along with comfortable shoes. Even when travelling the short distances between our hotel and the beaches in Bali, it is considered a good practice to be conservatively covered.
"Amakane" is perhaps the most important phrase you should learn when visiting Papua. It is the traditional Moni tribal greeting, used by both men and women, which literally means, "Welcome to my bosom." The message is warm and welcoming and implies, “I offer to nurture you.”
Papua and its people are very photogenic and the photos you take will be priceless. Ask for permission before photographing individuals, particularly indigenous people. Many of the locals are used to posing for photographs. If in doubt, either ask or refrain. Don't photograph any government or military property or persons; this includes the airport. Please visit http://climbcarstensz.wordpress.com/category/customs-culture/, where RMI guide Alex Van Steen has posted several interesting articles related to the culture and customs of Papua.
There are three Indonesian outlets. All are 220V/230V, 50 Hz. A universal plug adaptor and step-down (220-to-110 V) traveler’s voltage converter are necessary for charging phones, computers, etc.
Voltage in Papua is unstable. A personal solar charger such as the Brunton Solaris 6 may be the safest and most reliable way to charge your electronics.
The official currency of Indonesia is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR). Check a financial newspaper or www.xe.com for the current exchange rate prior to departure.
Bring about $500 to Indonesia for restaurant meals, drinks, additional snacks, shopping, and pocket money. Exchanging money in Bali is quite easy and there are a number of money changers immediately outside of Customs/Immigrations. You may choose to bring more depending on your shopping plans and length of stay.
We find that credit cards are generally the easiest way to pay for restaurants. We recommend you balance the amount of cash you bring with the ability to get money in Indonesia and suggest using your credit card whenever possible.
Tipping is generally included with the bill in restaurants in Bali and Timika. In Papua and for our porters on the mountain, tipping is becoming somewhat normalized, though no solid guidelines exist yet. RMI has designated an appropriate Rupiah amount to distribute to our local staff, and you are welcome to add to that pool.
Our guides work hard to ensure your well being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program.
Introducing Papua and Highlands of Papua by Kal Muller, 2011. Kal, a respected authority and prolific writer on the indigenous peoples of Papua, wrote the texts in this series primarily to help indigenous Papuan students understand their rich heritage and culture. You can read Chapter 1 of Introducing Papua and Chapter 7 of Highlands of Papua here.
Peace Child by Don Richardson, 2005. In 1962, Don and Carol Richardson lived as missionaries among the Sawi people, a Papuan tribe which practiced headhunting and cannibalism. While such practices have not been recorded among the highland tribes where we will travel, the Richardson’s experiences help us understand some of the cultural values we notice throughout our trip.
A deposit of $2,500 per person secures your reservation. Final payment is due 120 days prior to the start of your program. Final payments may be made via check or wire transfer only. Trips departing within 120 days must be paid in full at the time of reservation.
We will send a payment reminder approximately three weeks before your payment is due. If your final payment is not received within 120 days of the program your reservation will be cancelled and all fees forfeited.
Unfortunately, due to the time-sensitive nature of our business, and the difficulty in re-booking a trip close to departure, there will be no refunds for cancellations.
Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.
Included are the following:
- RMI Leadership
- All domestic flights from Denpasar (Bali) to Papua and return
- All internal flights, whether fixed-wing or helicopter
- Hotel accommodations as stated in the itinerary, based on double occupancy*
- All breakfasts and dinners as stated in the itinerary
- All group camping & climbing equipment
- Special permits for travelling & climbing in Papua
- Papuan leadership and guide staff
- Porter support for up to 15 kgs of personal equipment from Sugapa to Base Camp and return
- Camp staff and cooking staff
Not included are the following:
- International round-trip airfare and travel expenses to/from Bali. (Bali is served by daily connections to many international transit centers, including Tokyo, Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok, etc.)
- Accommodations and meals not included in the itinerary. (RMI does not provide additional accommodations and meals in the event that our flight to Sugapa delays our departure.)
- Medical evacuation insurance of $500,000 (required)
- Travel Insurance and security evacuation insurance
- Personal clothing and equipment
- Indonesian tourist visas
- Airport arrival and departure taxes
- Indonesian customs duties
- Excess baggage charges
- Personal communications (Satellite phone, phone, fax, email)
- Personal expenses, room charges and laundry
- Personal drinks and beverages
- Customary guide gratuities
- Rescue costs or costs associated with early departure from the expedition
- Medical, hospitalization and evacuation costs (by any means)
- The cost of delays due to weather, road or trail conditions, flight delays, government intervention, illness, medical issues, hospitalization, evacuation costs (by helicopter or any other means), or any other contingency which we or our agents cannot control are not included.
* Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those occupying single accommodations by choice or circumstance. The single supplement is not available in huts, tents, or in all hotels.
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. reserves the right to modify the land cost of a trip at any time before departure. We also reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather, or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI is not responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
Safety is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them. RMI guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that improve your chance of reaching the summit without compromising the necessary margin of safety.
Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:
- is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber's own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
- honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.
Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions
In the interest of the safety and well-being of all participants, RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines and restrictions on all climbing programs, domestic and international.
- Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
- Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
- Ages 18 & above: No restrictions
An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.
Accompaniment by parent or legal guardian is required for the program or climb.
Under-aged participants on Private Climb or Group Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.
RMI's program plans and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.
We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person's own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.'s responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.
If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.
RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.
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.