Carstensz Pyramid

(16,023ft/4,884m) Irian Jaya

Carstensz Pyramid Maps & Facts

About Carstensz Pyramid
At 16,023ft (4,884 m), Carstensz Pyramid, or Puncak Jaya (“Victory Peak”) as the Indonesians call it, is located in the western central highlands and is the highest peak in Oceana, Australiasia continent. The mountain was named after Jan Carstensz, a Dutch explorer who was the first European to sight the peak. In 1962, Heinrich Harrer became the first foreigner to reach the peak. His book, I Come From the Stone Age, provides excellent reading about climbing Carstensz and other peaks in the area as well as his experiences while living with the Dani.

The route on Carstensz Pyramid follows a series of gullies up the north face for 500m of solid rock before breaking out on the ridge. Riddled with notches, the summit ridge undulates for half a kilometer from this point to the top. One of the gaps is 20m deep, and we rappel this overhanging pitch and leave a rope fixed to jumar on our return. On our descent we rappel short distances and down-climb most of the way. The rock is extremely good, rarely loose, and provides good friction even in wet weather.

The rock climbing difficulty on Carstensz is up to 5.8 for short steps, but most of the climbing is scrambling. It is important that you have basic rock climbing skills and are comfortable with rappelling and jumaring. Short technical sections have fixed lines allowing you to either free climb or jumar. These fixed lines have been a crucial part of our 100% success rate.

In the highland areas, daytime temperatures should range between 75º and 85ºF, with most evenings about 45ºF. Expect warm afternoon showers which may turn cool if encountered on a mountain pass. Closer to Carstensz, snow or inclement weather may occur. Temperatures can range from 28º to 60ºF with sunshine occasionally in the mornings, then rainfall in the afternoons and evenings. Winds are variable and can be strong.

A Brief History of Papua
Irian Jaya occupies the western half of New Guinea. This island is located immediately south of the equator, and is the worlds second largest island, following Greenland. Western Papua provides a panoply of Old World tropical species. This is due to the land bridge linking Australia and New Guinea during the last ice age. Western Papuas climate is primarily a function of topography. The low lying north and south sides of the island possess great tropical jungles, while the mountain ranges exhibit very temperate conditions. The mountains run east to west and rise to 16,023ft (4,884m) at Carstensz Pyramid.

Politically, Western Papua is the easternmost province of Indonesia. The area was initially claimed by the Dutch in the mid-1800s as part of their Spice Island empire, but by 1940 they had still not explored further inland than the coastal plains. The Dutch wanted to prepare Irian Jaya for self-government by 1970, but from the late 1950s the Indonesians were exerting pressure to annex the area and, with help from the UN, this was accomplished in 1963. This process was not universally accepted by native Papuans and discontent still prevails in certain areas. In 1961, the Harvard Peabody Museum sponsored a major expedition to the Grand A Valley to document the Danis “stone age” culture. (see Peter Matthiessens Under the Mountain Wall) Wamena, the site of the valleys airstrip, has grown into a small town, but in general, the only big changes since then are that tribal fighting and cannibalism have ended. The province was in 1973 re-named Irian Jaya, “Victorious Irian.” The indigenous movement has since identified themselves as West Papuan.

Beyond the Grand Valley of the Baliem River, there are many other groups living in smaller valleys. These people were not contacted by the west, until the 1960s and 1970s, when missionaries began penetrating these regions. In the highlands to the east of the Baliem River, the Yali, Mek, and Kim-Yal people comprise some of the other large tribal groups. They live in spectacular mountain country & exhibit their unique cultural lifestyles and dress, wearing various selections of rattan waist hoops and penis gourds. 

Formal Name: Republic of Indonesia

Local Name: Indonesia

Local Formal Name: Republik Indonesia

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