The highest summits of Australia and the Pacific Islands, which together form the continent Oceania, lie in New Guinea. New Guinea may look like an insignificant speck on the map, but it is in fact the second largest island on earth. It’s highest, snow-capped peak is the Carstensz Pyramid, which was discovered by the Dutch explorer Jan Carstensz in the 17th century.
The Carstensz Pyramid (in Indonesian “Puncak Jaya”, which means peak of glory), with its height of 4,884 m, is the highest mountain of Oceania. This makes it not only the highest mountain between the Himalayas and the Andes, but also one of the famous “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. The first ascent was accomplished on February 13 in 1962 via the north face by Heinrich Harrer, Philip Temple, Russel Kippax and Albert Huizenga, who were assisted by 100 carriers. Although Puncak Jaya is one of the lowest of the seven summits, from a technical viewpoint, it is among the most difficult ones to ascent. The climbing difficulty, up to grade V, is much higher than the climbing difficulty at Everest or Denali (Mt. McKinley). On the other hand, we don’t encounter the same high altitudes and extreme temperatures which make Denali and Everest still a greater challenge. What’s exceptional about this journey is the 5-day trekking through the lush jungle and wet marshland. There are many steep, slippery slopes to climb, often in persistent rain. Around the summit, clouds start gathering early in the afternoon. Clear days with view onto the faraway Arafura lake are rare. The famous Colijn Expedition had to retreat due to thick fog, snowstorms and thunder. At the Grasberg mine, which was discovered in 1936 by Dozy during the Colijn expedition, the yearly rainfall is 4,000-5,000 mm. The mine is both the largest gold mine in the world and the copper mine with the lowest mining costs. It is also at the same time the source of wealth and the source of extensive damage to the environment of West-Papua and Indonesia. Choosing to summit the Carstensz Pyramide means that you will enter another world and another time – a truly exotic expedition!