I can’t believe I am back to civilization… what is «normal life» after what we have experienced…. ? What a ride !!!! You just have to read this! It has been the most amazing trip you can ever imagine (in my world anyway).
We all met up in Bali, the best bunch of friends; Ryan and Chris from US, Silvia from Peru, Kat from the UK, Marius and myself from Norway.
We all had at least 3 flights to get to Bali and now four more flights ahead of us. I think we had a total of 7 flights and then a helicopter ride before we finally landed in Base Camp. And the journey to Base Camp (BC) is an adventure in culture and nature. I will start my story from when we landed at the island of Papua in a village named Nabire. Still in civilization with cars and restaurants alongside the beautiful beach. We had one night here and our last hot shower for a while. The morning after we started early for our last flight in to the remote villages of Enarotali. Stepping on to the bathroom scale outside one of the airport buildings to make sure no overload at the little airplane. In Enarotali we were welcomed by a huge bunch of locals, babies and grannies, all of them out at the airfield. The pilot had told Chris, who was co-pilot (not legal but what is legal in Papua!), that he had to do a warning overflight to give them time to clear the airfield before we landed. Get the pigs out of the way, among others. After the warm welcome we walked down the road to our little guesthouse where we stayed for the night. We went shopping at the local market and ordered food from the local mobile street kitchen. Always with good help and some wise words from Sofyan - our Indonesian guide and friend.
And finally the morning after we were ready for our last helicopter flight into Base Camp; it is an amazing ride over the jungle with views to the mountains and also flying past the worlds biggest gold mine. And finally approaching Carstensz Pyramid; a massive grey giant. The helipad and also our Base Camp is at the foot of this grey giant which we will soon climb. And here the team is finally complete with our good friends and guides Arlan and Bruri.
I think it is the first time I have had Base Camp so close to the starting point of a summit climb. The mountain looms just above us and we can hardly wait ....
We do a little hike after breakfast….yes that is right; we have already experienced so much and still haven’t had breakfast. So just to get used to the altitude which is about 4200m, we go for this acclimatization hike before the rain sets in and we gather around the «Lindex»bag and the dice, for one of many Yahtzee games. We really enjoy our time in BC and are really looking forward to next days teaser of the climbing route. The weather follows its well known pattern with rainy clouds developing by noon, lots of rain throughout the evening and clear sky with bright stars at bedtime. Day two in BC we go through equipment and preparing for a climb up the first pitches of our route. We have nice sunny weather and we are so excited and happy to finally start do some real stuff: finally touching the rock and climb some of the route and get a taste of what awaits us this upcoming night.
After this climb we prepare for summit day; we pack our backpacks and call it a day pretty early….but not before we have had multiple rounds of Yahtzee and another delicious meal prepared by Arlan for the occasion with my pink wig ... as appropriate for a good "french chef."
And then finally the summit day is here: we start the day at 1am with delicious coffee ... which has become this trips most important morning routine. Ryan’s coffee from the US is highly appreciated and has become a «must» every morning!
After a big portion of rice, we are ready to start our climb at 2am. Our headlamps create a nice little snake slowly approaching the grey giant. We have nice temperatures and a clear sky with bright stars. It is an amazing feeling to climb this great grey giant which has such good friction and makes the climb so fun. This mountain offers really fun climbing! We have breaks at some natural ledges and plateaus, and in the rocky slope before the "headwall" we can see the light appearing in the east. But right before the sun rise, it all gets covered in fog and the clouds comes rolling in. But we have the light now, and at the traverse the clouds come and go, which gives us an amazing view in-between!
The clouds come and go and we have magical moments when we climb on the ridge towards the "the Tyrollean traverse." Here we prepare for the traverse and one by one we get to «fly» over the gap which stretches many meters down. I think we can call it an «airy jump» with the many hundred meters straight down, and a fabulous view right down to Base Camp "and beyond."
We climb several "steps" which are pillars, which we rapell down to and climb over and up on the other side. Airy and wonderful!
We enjoy it a lot and are singing, dancing and telling funny stories along the climb. We have some laughs without equal during our climb upwards, and after about 8 hours climbing we are all standing together on top of Carstensz Pyramid at 10am the 14th of March 2015. The clouds are building up again and "closes" the visibility when we are on top, but we enjoy it and are singing and dancing. I think there has never been so much singing and dancing on a summit before! Having a real good time! And now we are looking forward to our fantastic descent. It is so nice that we do not want this to end. The trip down is equally nice although we get sleet, hail and rain. The mountain quickly becomes slippery and we have to be more careful so the descent takes a bit longer because of heavy rain. But we are back in Base Camp at 3pm and there Bruri has delicious food ready for us, not to mention a cup of coffee. And let's not forget a game Yahtzee before we go early to bed. :)
What a great day !!!!
And the trip is absolutely not over yet... Tomorrow morning we start a new capture of our adventure: we will trek five days over the mountains and through the jungle.
First we walk over the closest mountain pass and down to the old Base Camp where we stay overnight at the sore of a lake that glows turquoise from the glacier water.
The morning after we get to know our porters. They help us carry our luggage through the jungle. They are a proud, rugged and incredibly pleasant bunch from the local Dani tribe. First impressions could appear somewhat hostile when they negotiated price and set up angry faces, waving a little nonchalant with their machete and complained about not having shoes.
It was another good auspices announced plays, for they prove to be the world's friendliest, helpful and included people who barefoot slithered through swamp and jungle with big bagger balancing on his head. This was an experience second to none; to go along with them over another mountain pass, over steppes and mountains covered with palm trees, before we went into the jungle. When we managed to lose our way and lose the trail, it was not long before one of the local came with a recognizable cry or a helping hand when we were negotiating rivers and rickety tree trunks.
Every night camped together with them and got to see how they tilbredte day's catch: a three-kangaroo or a giant porcupine. We learned that everything that has fur and four legs called CousCous.
We got to sit around the campfire with them at night and we got to see how they "embellished" painting the soot in the face every morning.
And the fifth day we arrive their village consisting of five cabins, countless pigs, dogs and children. It's like walking into paradise. Everyone runs around in perfect harmony, and everything is as it certainly has been in 1,000 years.
We spend our last night in the wilderness here before we morning after being sourced depends a gang "hooligans" on motorcycles. The final leg goes full speed over sticks and stones, through streams and not least all crazy overtaking each other before arriving airstrip on the outskirts of a small village here in the middle of the jungle. After some waiting at the airstrip, which announced being crossed by a pig family (WHO says pigs can not fly?), It lands a plane and captain jumps out and says' no seats! Okay? "Well, why not :) We hiver in luggage ourselves and tin takes off. This goes as brilliant .... And now we fly back to civilization. It is with a melancholy sense we see all the local, motorcycle gang, our friends and jungle become less and less behind us.