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Australasia, Irian Jaya, Carstensz Pyramid

Cartensz Pyramid. On April 22, Glenn Porzak, Chris Pizzo, Chris Kopczynski, Gerry Roach, Dave Graber, Wayne Hutchens and I flew to Biak, an island off the mainland, and then to the town of Nabire on the north coast. A 1½-hour charter flight took us to Ilaga, a small hamlet at 7000 feet completely cut off from the outside world by hundreds of miles of roadless jungle. We spent several days organizing Dani porters and buying enough sweet potatoes to feed them during the trip. The seven-day trek to Base Camp was filled with rain, mud, bog, rain, more mud, naked natives, rain and more mud. The Carstensz Range contains a dozen or so peaks over 14,000 feet and a considerable expanse of glacier. Carstensz Pyramid is a dramatic limestone peak with 2000 vertical feet of relief and no easy way up. Our climb took 12 hours and included one 5.8 pitch, eight or so roped pitches of 5.2 to 5.4 and several sections of third- and fourth-class climbing. The route gains the right-hand ridge and then follows a very impressive ridge to the top. After a rest day, we also climbed Sunday Peak and East Carstensz, the second and fourth highest in the range, both easy half-day snow walks, but with constant rain, snow and whiteout.

Michael Browning