This is my Mount Carstensz Blog and photos.
I wrote this while on expedition using my Blackberry phone with it’s the little tiny keyboard. I obviously had quite a bit of downtime to fill when we weren’t hiking or climbing. Since this is probably the least known or seen expedition of the seven summits, I opted to include many photos for you to view. So enjoy!
p.s. In summary, this expedition took 28 days to accomplish, 17 different planes, 47,000 km of travel, 64 hours of flying and over 130 km of hiking in the jungle!!! Loved it but won’t repeat it anytime soon! From Canada, it’s just about the furthest mountain away!
My departure pictures. First flight from Montreal to LA 4000 km / 6 hours: I thought I lucked-out and had no one beside me that is until this French Polynesian sat beside me. Real nice guy, thank god! He easily cleared 300 lbs.
Man he was big! For 6 hours, he squished me up against the window! How do I look now after the first of my 4 flights in the next 2 days? This was the short flight!
Well, flight # 2 from LA to Sydney, 12,000 km, it’s a whopping 14 hours long, ouch! Oh, and my luck hasn't changed either in regards to my seating partner. I won't even guess...!. She was very sweet, really, but I am so sore, I would have preferred the bodybuilder! Pressed up against the fuselage. Next time, first class I think, at any price! Actually, I must admit that it worked out far better than I thought, because I had so little room to maneuver, that I just curled up against the window and went to sleep. Miraculously when I woke up, it was 8 hours later!!! Can you believe it? And if that wasn't enough, I ate some food and slept for another 2 hours! That's the way to go to Australia, 12,000 km, unconscious. How do I look now?
The third leg in two days is from Sydney to Jakarta, Indonesia: 4000 km, 5 hours. I fell asleep again. I have this "good" habit of dozing off right before takeoff! This cuts nicely into the flight time. However, a great smelling meal woke me up. That may have been a mistake; it's only 1 hour now into this 7-hour journey, as I'm typing this. I hope I doze off again. But what a magnificent view of the Australian Outback from 35,000 feet up. From as far as my eyes could see, I can notice only one road splitting the immense desert of this country / continent, from East to West!
I am in Jakarta now, had a good night sleep, in a bed. I met 3 of my climbing partners this morning; Ania from Poland, Cristina from Mexico and Sung from Korea. All are on the seven-summit quest. The Korean and I are the only two to have already been on Everest, so there were several questions from the others for us about Everest.
Very nice people, from different parts of our world but it's fun to notice that the same common adventurous denominator appears in all of us!
There is really no sightseeing to be done in Jakarta, the financial hub of Indonesia. So we visited one the many huge shopping malls here. This is where everybody goes it seems. The two American climbers we are waiting for are delayed in Taipei because of a Hurricane. We decided as a group that we would fly out to Timika as scheduled and wait one day for them there. Then we continue on foot together. If not, we must continue as planned and they must try to catch us along the way during our 5-day hike to the base camp of Carstensz.
I was asked to do a little special task on behalf of the group, to make a small delivery so to speak, a package from Jakarta to Timika. The proper delivery of this package is quite crucial, as it is that all important piece of climbing equipment for Carstensz, that without, it would most probably render the mountain inaccessible to us: it's what we call our "climbing permits" and “access” all the way to base camp. No, it’s not drugs! But this package, now in my pack, represents several years, if not a lifetime of income for the average Indonesian! I'll be glad to hand it off. Anyway, this form of payoff is not much different than for us in the “modern world…” except that we now have a nice agency that graciously takes care of all this stuff for us, and more; we call it Revenu Canada back home!!!
Sugapa is a small village, a junction per say where the Papua tribes and the more modern civilizations meet. We arrived on market day and were introduced to 3 Tribes: the Moni tribe, the Dani tribe and the Duga tribe. The head businessman here is an albino by the name of Kato, who is also the town priest. He is managing our food, supplies and porters.
Interesting day; took pictures, joked with the villagers, and showed them how we play Gin rummy. I met with the school teacher; I will go see one of his classes; he teaches math and English. I also met with one older man, quite wealthy here; he has over 120 pigs. He also has 25 wives and well over 100 children! Wow. Do you think his name will carry on in these parts? The cost of a wife here is apparently 4 pigs, I am told.
We must wait here 1 extra day for the two Americans who were delayed by the Hurricane in Taipei. To my mistake, I fell asleep at 7 pm and was up by 1 am. Didn't help that one climber snores, no names. Three religions battle it out here: Muslims, Protestants and Catholics which are the majority. Nonetheless, we were welcome to a Muslim prayer singing at 5 am this morning, Whoopee!
Finally, I noticed that on top of our shipment of food for the expedition arriving in Sugapa, we also had another whole shipment of food delivered here, on a second flight; some 50 boxes of noodle bags; A favorite food among the locals, tribes and children, and free for them. This is the part I like about the cost of my expedition, giving back!
So we entered the “ex-cannibalistic territory” today, so I was told, the Indonesian Jungle. Our two remaining climbers, Paul and Denise reached us in time so our team is now complete and ready to go.
So to lighten the mood, one climber shared a little joke:
o.k., so these two cannibalists are having lunch, and the one cannibalist says to the other: "Hey, I really hate my mother in law" the other replies: "well just have the vegetables then!”
It was a great first day; 5 hours of trekking in the jungle. I opted to wear sandals because it was so hot and being that we will often be in the mud, I figured my feet would dry faster. We crossed a few villages, beautiful sceneries, and people, especially the children; all smiles and they love having their picture taken. We had a heated moment however in one spot, where the tribesman wanted employment as a porter or some money to use the trail, the answer unfortunately was no. Not satisfied with that answer, he proceeded to block our path, in front of me as a matter of fact. I had to stare him down to get past him and continue on our way. It worked, thankfully, although he did have the upper hand; holding the machete!
I just spent the last couple of hours in the hut of a Dani tribe. The 25 members of this family all live here! I was describing to them (through Meldy, my guide who was translating for me) the lives of our Eskimos who live in Igloos and our Indians and their teepees. Then I asked them if they sang any family songs here and they all lit up! One of the sons pulled out the guitar and they all started to sing in perfect harmony, and this continued for an hour. I heard all these traditional songs. It was beautiful and what a privilege. I recorded a little bit so listen to the wave file! I was told that one song was to morn for one young son who died two weeks earlier. They shared that with me, wow! The head of the Dani then offered me some food; roasted corn, straight out of the coals of the fire pit.
What an honor considering the limited amount of food they have. At the end of my visit, I returned the honor and thanked them for their hospitality by giving the father a precious gift of mine; the only thing I had on me at the time: my three little glass angels I carry with me throughout all my expeditions. They represent Karyne and my 2 little girls. I thought it the right thing to do and that he would appreciate it. He did and so did the whole family. However, I will have to explain this to Karyne and/or find the angels again before I get back to my family; they were a gift.
P.s. As I was watching the family play volleyball (quite good I may add), I heard a woman screaming in a nearby hut. And to my astonishment, this was a scream I recognized, for moments later, I heard another sound, the cry of the newest member of this huge clan; a little baby boy! No doctors or hospitals here, just nature and a few helpful hands!
I had second thoughts about the gift I gave to the Dani chief; for personal reasons and also for a practical one for them. So before leaving this morning, I returned to see him (Emmanuel) and offered a trade: the 3 angels for my Swiss pocketknife. I thought that he might want/need that more. But do you know what he chose? The Angels! He had already placed them inside his Bible and he showed me. It and my gesture were more valuable to him than the usefulness of a knife. So I told him that his decision made me very happy and so I gave him my Knife as well. He now owns a knife that has been to Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Elbrus, Everest and McKinley. Emmanuel's son will complete the journey to Carstensz someday! I also went to find his son the guitarist and gave him another smaller Swiss knife that I had, as thanks for his music the night before.
I now realize that our 3 day journey to base camp takes in fact 6 days!!! Then after the climb, it will take another 4 days to get back. Not exactly the itinerary I was first given, but then again, things change. As long as we are back in time for my flight out, I'm fine with it.
This is only the fourth expedition to trek through this route. Apparently, it took months for our guide Meldy to establish good relations and dealings with all the tribes we would encounter along the way. I see now that a lot goes in to making this climb happen. This is a costly expedition, but I prefer seeing that a lot of the money goes back to the local communities we encounter, instead of paying for an expensive plane ticket, like the next and last of my seven summits I have planned, Vinson of Antarctica. I also realize now that I may be among the few if not only foreigner to be invited inside the Dani tribe's home. Again, what a privilege!
I was also told that they discovered gold deposits near the first village of Sugapa. If they decide to exploit the region, then it's quite possible that Carstensz may be closed to climbing once again until who knows when; no safe (legal) access! And the route through the gold mine is also off limits! I'm glad to have come at this time.
P.s. Although I enjoyed trekking in sandals yesterday, the splinter I removed from my foot tells me that today I will trek with my sneakers.
P.p.s. I think the roosters here are Islamic; they started their chant at 3 am this morning, and they didn’t stop squawking till sunrise!! Little scalawags!
Well, the trek today in the jungle was nothing short of spectacular! I decided to start out with the lead porters, wanting to follow a strong pace, knowing we would have a lot of difficult terrain and I like to move fast, so off I went. Did I say that yesterday was the jungle? Oops! Yesterday was a hike on a road compared to today; 5 minutes into it, I was still trying to keep my boots free of mud. 15 minutes into it, I gave up and my feet were soaked for the whole day, especially when I slipped on a rock into the river. In summary, I believe this day in the jungle was as close to going back 50 years in time on an expedition. This is a whole new route to Carstensz that only a dozen foreigners (white...) before us have actually used. It is a part of our world that is virtually untouched, virgin territory.
It was a tough day and I loved every moment of it. I think there was this section where we had to move fast and not stop at all, because it was unsafe in regards to the nearby tribe(s). I had sort of a police escort for this portion; a porter with a machete in front, and one with an axe behind. All in all, we could not have been any more in the jungle; a scene right out of a Tarzan movie.
The highlight of the day was to see my "lead guide" show me the route. I believe that I may just have met the strongest and most enduring people around. I had 20 lbs on my back and my “guide” lets say, was carrying a 25 lbs sac of potatoes around her head, that's right, her! a girl, and I mean just that, a little girl; 12 years old max, she doesn't weight 100 lbs and she is carrying 25. So petite! As much as I tried, I just could not keep up with her. She was pleasant and laughing all the way, as if on a stroll, while I'm sweating!!! Oh, and did I mention that she was barefoot? To the Indonesians, it's just their way of life, to live incredibly strong like this, in the jungle. I'm so impressed! I found out later that she is not part of the expedition; she is the daughter of one of the porters that came along for the ride!
I got into camp just before the heavy rains started, again, so I was spared but my friends unfortunately were not.
I hope this day of effort is enough to sleep a full night, not just the 4 hours a night I've been getting so far. Will see.
This is my second day trekking in the jungle, heading to 10,100 feet. It took seven grueling hours but fortunately, it was cloudy and little rain for most of the day. However, to any climber wanting to come here, I suggest you bring rain boots. We trek in mud the whole way. And just before camp 3, we have to cross a river; knee deep in the cold water.
I'm fighting off a cold right now as a result of my feet being wet all day. I was proud however that today I was trekking almost at the pace of the lead porters. When I would tell them to pass me on route this time, many would now say no and would follow me instead. Don't get me wrong, they are incredibly strong, it's just nice to just start keeping up with them.
I spend more time with the porters than my climbing partners seeing that I'm often ahead on the route. It's amazing what I am learning from them: basically how they live and eat right from the jungle. What leaves our good and bad, which leaves they use as a perfume. What parts of certain trees are edible, amazing stuff! They are in perfect harmony with nature.
One of the women who accompanied the porters seriously cut her foot underneath, a 1-inch deep cut from a splinter. Pretty bad and definitely stitches for us. Anyway, she was trying to remove the splinter with a branch when I arrived. So I helped with some tweezers, then poured some antibacterial gel, placed my bandana and some duct tape to stop the bleeding. She and the others were grateful and off she went in the mud with 30 lbs on her head, as if nothing happened. Incredible!
Knowing that we are walking in mud all day again, I decided to try placing plastic bags over my socks and then in my shoes. Well that idea worked for about an hour and the bags broke, all wet. But to my surprise, my feet stayed warmer with the bags.
Well, the other climbers and I have deduced that something is amiss in regards to our climbing itinerary; I understood that it would take 4 days to get to base camp, 1 day to summit + 1 reserve day. Then 3 days to return to the plane. Well, we now see that it will take us 6 days to get to base camp vs. the 3, then 2 summit days, then 4 days to exit. I don't know how they are going to keep to our departure date so as to not miss the flights out. It's a good thing that I gave myself 2 extra days before leaving Jakarta. Anyway, we'll wait and see how things develop.
We've now trekked some 35 km through the jungle and highland and we have 2 days to go. The scenery nonetheless is spectacular and it's a great climb. I understand now that it's the most technical of the 7 summits; just getting to base camp is complex and tough!
What a beautiful day; it was sunny and hot. We have now traveled more than 45 km in the bush and we are still one day away from base camp. 6 days of socking wet feet to get here, but we're close. One of our porters collapsed; he has malaria. Apparently, he had it before we started the trek but he said nothing. He needed the money. Who can blame him? Anyway, it started to rain at noontime, as on cue and it poured on us for the last 2 hours to camp 5. I think I'm actually getting used to this; walking in my sandals through mud at 11,000 feet!
We climbed up and over the famous New Zealand pass (4500 meters) in order to get to Base Camp of Carstensz at 4300 meters. And you guessed it; it rained again today! Nonetheless, I got to see some absolutely beautiful scenes, canvases that only a few Indonesian hunters and a few crazy climbers will ever see.
I borrowed a colleagues sat phone and called my Karyne (my wife) and kids today. Yup, I cried. I'm 42 and soon to have three children. As I complete my quest of the seven summits, I thought that since my eldest is only 4, it would still be o.k. if I were away for nearly a month. Yup, wrong!!! Worse, it's more how I feel being away from them, my three girls, and it has only been 11 days. I have come to realize, lying in a tent at 13,500 feet, that the time for my longer adventures has come to pass and I'm good with it! I'm sure that Karyne and my family are quite good with it also! I will still complete my 7 Summit quest (Vinson in Antarctica) but I will find a way to include my family in the adventure. Maybe they would like a trip to South America. As for future shorter adventures; I'd like to compete in an Ironman Triathlon (closer to home...) and if I qualify, compete in Hawaii. I'm sure my gang would also be pleased to join me there! We could also take a family ski trip to Mont Blanc one day and I could sneak away for a couple of days to visit the summit, all the while my gang skies and relaxes in a cozy lodge at the bottom. Oh yah! No shortage of adventures that includes my family!
But for right now, I will attempt to summit Oceania’s highest peak in two days. I'm ready!
Today was a day of rest and recoup from the challenging week of trekking to get here and to also to recharge our batteries for our summit bid tonight.
The sun came out this morning, only for a few hours but it was enough to dry our clothes, bags, boots, basically all our stuff since nothing gets spared from the rain given enough time.
I also spent a couple of hours picking up trash that was scattered around Base Camp from previous expeditions; my "Leave no Trace" effort.
We also got a visit from a helicopter for a few moments; enough time for a couple of research assistants to get out, take some measurements and hop back in and off they went. Apparently, it comes from the Freeport Gold mine some 4 km down the trail. I was told that Freeport is the largest gold mine in the world and employs some 18,000 workers. Anyway, had we been permitted to cross the mine to get to Carstensz, our trek would have only taken 3 days by foot instead of the 6 days, or only 2 hours by car!!!
Anyway, resting up on my tent for the 12-hour summit bid that starts tonight at 2am. If all goes well, we should make the summit by 9 am and hopefully the sun will grace us with its presence!
This was a supper day; we started at 2am for what would be a 12-hour day. It was cool out and no rain!!!. We trekked for about 1.5 hours to the base of the wall we would climb. For the next 5 hours, we climbed 800 meters and about 11 pitches of rope. Then we got to the infamous Tyrolean traverse. It's about 15 meters across and quite intimidating at first glance, considering the big drop-off beneath us. Nonetheless, I volunteered to break the ice and cross first. Wow, that was fun but tiring since you have to pull yourself up the other side and at nearly 16,000 feet, it sucks the air right out of you. Then I helped Poxi pull up the other climbers across the traverse.
Well, I have the pleasure and honor to say that I reached the summit of Carstensz Pyramid at 8 am, September 25th, 2008 and feeling absolutely great! I waited for my teammates to arrive; Sung from Korea was next to summit. This completes his seven summit quest. And I still have one mountain to go. He was in tears!
Then, for the absolute icing on the cake, I opened my cell phone and it worked!!! (Again, just like on Mount Elbrus) The Freeport gold mine below must have a cell antenna. Wow, so I called home, my family, from the summit of Carstensz and I could send a couple of pictures right then and there. Can't beat technology; I'm in the middle of the Papua Jungle, at the top of Oceania and I can call anyone!
It was the best phone call; speaking first to Karyne, then my daughters: 4 and 2. Oh yah, I was crying a river! What a treat for me; it just boosted me up again, "time to get off this mountain".
Then it started to rain, which quickly turned into snow and hale. That wasn't good. Our guides Poxi and Mildy said it turned into the worse weather they have ever experienced on Carstensz.
But the descent went well for Ramon and I (Ramon is attempting Everest next spring) and we were moving at the same speed and powering down the mountain, feeling tired but good. That is until we took a wrong turn and veered off course; there was this fixed rope that we thought was ours, but in fact was from a previous expedition. So down we went! And about 200 meters down, the ropes just stopped! Oops! Since we climb during the night, we don't see our route as in daytime. Now we knew we were off course. What to do? We decided to proceed downward slowly to see how the route would open up below, if!!! But I must say I had an Ace up my sleeve because I always carry in my bag a small roll of 4mm rope, about 15 meters worth, strong enough to hold my weight and long enough to rappel off some sections if need be, especially when you kind of screwed up the way we did. Anyway, we did get stuck in a few hot spots; dead ends or should I say significant drop offs! But we managed to figure our way out, thankfully meeting up with our original route at the bottom. The whole descent was done in the rain, again. But all went well. We proceeded to camp in the rain still, and waited for the others to arrive. IT WAS A GREAT CLIMB! And a great experience, but not easy! By any means; I'll remember the effort I put into this climb! Tomorrow, we start back the 65 km through the highlands and jungle and MUD again, towards the town of Sugapa, where it all began and where we will take the first of several flights home! Stay tuned!
Well, one of the consequences of our itinerary being somewhat false (with a longer trek than first thought by at least 3 days), is that today we had to descend and skip a camp, and head for camp 3 from camp 5. All this so no climbers miss their flights home. So we will do the 6 day descent in only 4! The day started really great; I was in top shape and headed out at 7h30 and guess what? It was actually nice out i.e. no rain! I tried to keep up with the lead group of porters but as usual, I lost them within the hour. So I trekked down alone and saw the most beautiful sceneries: breathtaking! I love these moments. Then, you know what? I actually caught up to the lead porters, wow! And we continued together all the way to camp 4. I was proud that I kept pace with them.
Then things changed for the worse, as if on schedule: you guessed it: RAIN! And lots of it! Second, I had forgotten about Heartbreak Hill right out of camp 4, it was a killer hill to climb back up. And finally, this is my doing; I had only a chocolate bar during the day. So I really slowed down, ran out of gas and was kind of hurting. The climber Ramon caught up with me and passed me. He's really strong and he's attempting Everest next spring.
Then for the icing on the cake, I get to a cross roads on the path, only a couple of km's from Camp. My memory and instinct told me to go right but a porter named John (nice guy) came up behind me and pointed left, so I listened to him and followed. 20 minutes later, I sensed something wrong, so I pulled out my GPS (I had been tracking our route all the way), opened it and quickly discovered that we were in fact off route. So I call to John who turns around and I saw that he knew he was wrong. I was fine knowing that Camp 3 was now 2 km to my right, but he pointed to me to keep following and it now seemed in the right direction, so I didn't want to get him into trouble for stirring me off the path, so I continued anyway. Now here's the scary part; all the while we were together, alone, 2km off course to the left and John is fallowing behind me, he is holding a machete! The thought had never crossed my mind until then and I have to admit that I got a little spooked: one quick swipe from him and no one would be the wiser of my whereabouts. Anyway, it was enough that I asked John to continue in front of me down the path. Now here's the conclusion to my little story: I'm obviously quite tired and slow moving from my 22km day, now a 24 km day, and I can't keep up with John and so I loose him in front of me, a little relieved I must admit.
But no worries, I have my trusty GPS that says that Camp 3 is a now a mere 200 meters from where I am. And then the trail kind of ended right there. No more path for me, I hadn't seen where John must have turned. O.K. then I'll just keep going straight through the jungle for a quick 200 meters to camp. That was my thinking...Oh my god! I got as far as 20 meters in the jungle off path and I was completely and utterly stuck, right to my chest in the bush. I swear I couldn't move in any direction. It took me 10 minutes to move 10 meters, seriously! At this rate, it was going to take me another 2 hours to get to Camp. Luckily, I heard some chopping not too far away, and I yelled out. Another porter was cutting some dead wood for the evening fire; he heard me and came into view. He gave me this weird look like “how the hell did you end up there?”, “don’t ask!" was my look. So I gestured to him if there was a path and he pointed to my right. It took me, I swear, 10 minutes to push through 30 feet of dense bush, but I found the path, thank god. So I walked into camp at 3h30; 8 hours later, thinking I must be the last one in, but only Ramon was there, the others hadn't arrived yet. It was a killer day for all of us. The moral of this little story is: If there is no path in the jungle, don't go in because you'll never come out!!!
P.s. John later came over to see me feeling bad about where he sent me, but I gestured no worries and to make things right, he helped me set up my tent. And without the machete!
Today's plan was to re-enter the jungle and stop somewhere between our original Camp 2 and Camp 1, but it didn't quite turn out that way for me. I was feeling real strong and blasted through the jungle with the lead porters. So I made it to where I though would be our camp site by 2 pm. I took off my boots and dried myself off (it had rained again, go figure!) beside the fire, inside the porter tent. By 3 pm, 2 porters came to get me and try to explain that this was not the camp site but that I should keep going a couple of hours to the right camp, so off I went. Well after 3 more hours, I end up in fact back at our first Camp of all, out of the jungle in one day. Although I was real happy about my progress, I realized later that it was a mistake because most of our team and porters did not join me. So all the gear, the food and tents were split up between 2 camps, not good; some with me and some with the others still in the jungle. I was well taken care of by the local tribe where I slept that night; offering me shelter and food, but I heard that my climbing friends were less fortunate; missing some tents and most of the food for the evening.
Again, I got to spend an evening in a hut with the Dani tribe, eating an authentic meal, learning their culture, loving the experience!
This is the final day of trekking back to Sugapa. I don't know if trekking is always the appropriate word; often struggling seems more appropriate. I woke up at sunrise and set off alone for the last leg of my journey. I immediately had a police escort on my tail: 3 porters that would follow me, again holding machetes and spears. Seeing that we were traversing various tribes in this area, they just decided on their own to come along just in case.... I obviously didn't mind and was grateful. I can't say that it really worried me but I knew the escort was to make sure there wouldn't be an incident. As we would cross each tribes land, we would nonetheless stop a moment, great the chief, tell him who I was, shake hands and maintain good relations. That was fine by me.
However, to my dismay, without any food for breakfast, (and little supper the night before) I had forgotten about the series of hills along the way, including the last "HILL" to Sugapa we would climb, the real Heartbreak Hill. All 3 km of it! Straight up. I thought I would have enough energy until I ate some food in Sugapa; wrong! I struggled so hard in the blaring sun (finally the Sun, but for once I wouldn't have minded the rain a little) simply put, all the locals passed me on the route, without exception. They were headed to Sugapa for Market day and they would turn and look back at me, as I was sweating and moving at a snails pace. All 5 grueling hours of it! Even the children would past me. What a mistake to have gone out without food.
I was so touched however that one local offered me part of his potatoes to boost me up and another gave me her banana. What a gift from those who have very little. It was just what I needed to get me going again. I gave them as thanks for their gesture my lighter and some Rupiahs. So much of what they do is about helping others here, especially in regards to food. No questions are asked and nothing is expected, pure generosity when someone is in need. The way it should be. There is much we can learn from this poor nation and many like it!
Anyway, I said my goodbyes to Mildy and Poxi, our guides. I gave them a big hug and a gift: My GPS to Mildy which he loves and could never afford and I know it will be quite useful for his future expeditions. I gave Poxi all of my climbing equipment so he can upgrade from his and have spare equipment for future expeditions. I also gave all my spare clothes to the Dani tribe leader to share with his family. I also shared whatever I could with our porters before leaving. Basically, I gave away everything I didn't absolutely need for my last summit (Vincent, Antarctica). It always makes me feel better to leave a place a little better than you found it!
This is the local Papua outfitter I used for the climb and I would recommend them. Things weren’t always perfect and there is room for improvement, but this company has heart and they will bust their buts for you! And it’s also about 30% - 40% cheaper $$$ than using a North American outfit, that will end up going through them anyway. You’ll understand if and when you inquire as to how much this climb costs $$$.
I just so happened to walk by this humanitarian foundation while in Bali and easily gave them a few hundred dollars. Go check out why! I’m proud to say that I have given one child his eyesight back with a cataract operation!.
I just so happened to walk by this humanitarian foundation while in Bali and easily gave them a few hundred dollars. Go check out why! I’m proud to say that I have given one child his eyesight back with a cataract operation!.
Now I’m off to my next mountain: Mount Kosciuszko, Australia ( the other seven summit)
I am in a little pub in Thredbo Australia, a little town at the foot of Mount Kosciuszko. Because I have a couple free days here in Australia before my next 13 hour flight back to L.A. and then on to Montreal ( another 6 hours), I decided I would rent a car and drive some 5 hours and come hike the highest peak in Australia. Kosciuszko stands a mere 2080 meters. It is not difficult by any means, although it is spring here and there is still snow on the ground. The bottom of the mountain is actually a ski resort and It was the last day of skiing yesterday I was told. By the way, when you rent a car here, keep in mind that they drive on the right side, I little point I had forgotten. Let's say the learning curve was quick and steep!
Anyway, there has been this debate for quite some time about what is this true continent; is it Australia (hence you climb Kosciuszko), or is it Oceania and thus you climb Carstensz. Well this just gave me the excuse to go visit our planet a little more. So I headed 500km south West of Sydney to Kosciuszko; no more debate, case close. The drive is not quite in the outback, which I would have loved to see, but it will do.
During my drive, I stopped along the way in the town of Bredbo (similar name to Thredbo) to use the bathroom, then I opted to take a pint of beer at the bar and chat a few moments with a couple of Ausie cowboys, introduce myself. 20 minutes goes by, I finish my beer, say goodbye and hop in my car. I don't get, I swear, 50 meters on the road that I get pulled over by a police trooper for a surprise alcohol test, 50 meters! Hey, I tell the trooper that I just "just" finished a pint not a minute ago. I hope the device can notice that! I guess not because I fail the first test. I tell the trooper to do it again, that's just not right; I’m not going down without a fight. So he now pulls out a straw for the more precise breathalyzer test I was given. Well thank god I passed the second one and he lets me go on my way. Wow, that could have turned out badly.
Anyway, it’s too late to hike today so I rented a room for the night at the foot of the mountain and I’ll get an early start tomorrow for the 12 km roundtrip hike to the summit. They say it takes about 4 to 6 hours to do; we'll see.
This had to be the nicest day of my whole expedition. What a way to finish my journey to Indonesia’s highest peak and then Australia’s highest! It was this casual hike to the top that took me less than 2 hours. The Ausies put a lot of effort in conserving their national parks; we had a metal path that we would walk on and it was laid out the whole 6 km right to the summit of Kosciuszko. Neat!
Anyway, this last photo of October 10th is me in my very last of 17 flights this last month, on my home to Montreal, to my 3 girls that are waiting patiently at the airport at 1:30 in the morning, when my plane lands! I was supposed to sit towards the back of the plane beside a mother and her 6 month year old baby, but I left her my seat so she would have more room. I guess the stewardess appreciated my gesture because as I was waiting to see what seat would be left that I could use, she prompted me to follow her…right to the front of the plane. My last flight was in first class with all the bells and whistles that come with it. Great way to end my expedition!