This is technically the hardest of the 7 summits. Although Dick Bass climbed Kosciuszko as the last of his 7 summits quest, this is in fact the highest mountain of the oceanic continent, but the discussion is still going on. The discussion is too academic for Summitpost, but many sides of the story can be found on this forum discussion as well as in this FAQ on 7summits.com.
First climbed by Heinrich Harrer who wrote his book "I come from the stone age" about this period.
It's a steep granite wall with sharp good climbable rock. Only a few hundred people have climbed Carstensz due to the political instability and the fact that it is hidden in dense jungle.
Be prepared to climb in snow, rain, with your gloves being torn by the sharp rock, while seeing the Freeport company tearing down other nearby mountains, the last glaciers near the equator and men wearing nothing but penisgourds!
The country and getting There
Irian Jaya is Indonesia's "wild east". Much of it was still unexplored by outsiders as recently as the 1930s.
The Dutch began serious exploration in about 1898. After the Indonesians defeated the Dutch in 1949 and 1950, the Dutch insisted on keeping Irian Jaya. They finally gave up the colony in 1963, under a combination of military and diplomatic pressure. In 1969, a UN-sponsored referendum of village elders led to Irian Jaya becoming a province of Indonesia. Since that time, more noticeably since the late 1970s, there have been separatist movements seeking to make Irian Jaya an independent country, particularly the OPM or "Organisasi Papua Merdeka" guerilla group.
Under the Dutch in the 1930s, Irian Jaya or West New Guinea was a place to which many political prisoners were sent. Mohammed Hatta and Sutan Sjahrir, nationalist leader who were later major figures in the independence struggle, were sent to the Boven Digul prison camp in the southeast of the region.
Jayapura is the main city. It was formerly called Hollandia by the Dutch. Allied (American and Australian) forces passed through here in 1944 on the way to the reconquest of the Philippines.
Irian Jaya province was officially renamed Papua on December 31, 1999.
(Above was taken from this website)
The 2nd largest island in the world's name(s) has caused much confusion: the western half that now is part of Indonesia has been named, Dutch New Guinea, Irian Jaya and is now officially called Papua; the eastern half is called Papua New Guinea.
To get to Irian Jaya/ Papua you can fly from Jakarta, Indonesia with Merpati air (normally about $700 return), and some flights exist from Australia to Timika
The mountain is about 100kms from the nearest sea. It has taken a few exppeditions in the 1930's to get even close to the base as the explorers had to find their way across steep walls and dense jungle. Heinrich Harrer used local tracks coming from North of the range.
Old climber's route: in the old days the Freeport mine gave permission to use their road to the mine. This is a long gravel road all the way from Timika at the coast through and over the mountains. You pass Tembagapura, which is a 20,000 people town in the middle of the mountains, built especially for the miners. The road continues up the mountain, through some tunnels until it ends up at the pit.
Instead of driving through the tunnels you can also use the Swiss made cable car to get from 2700m to 3500m quickly.
At the east side of the the pit is a narrow muddy track where you enter the park. From the mine it is a few hours walking to the mountain. You climb up a muddy track, pass the "Zebra Wall" en continue along some small lakes in the Merenvalley until you climb up to the Basecamp valley.
Beware that this route takes you from sealevel to BC within 7 hours if you do not sleep at Zebra Wall and severe altitude problems can occur for the not acclimatised. Even when sleeping at Zebra wall (3700m) this is a serious problem.
Because the miners don't like too many nosey people in this polluting place anymore the only option is to do a 5 day trekking from Ilaga through the jungle, moors and hills of Irian Jaya or take a helicopter ride to Zebra Wall (same problems for acclimatisation).
In 2002 the regular trekking route has changed again as it is getting harder and harder to find a way around the bureaucracy, warzones and the powerful Freeport mine.
The alternative route through Singa village is now also forbidden, so effectively the mountain is closed until further notice.
Prices range from $12,500 to $18,500
The increase compared to previous trips comes from the longer helicopter approach.
Day 1 Arrive Manado International Airport / Transfer Hotel
Day 2 Official Procedure And rest day
Day 3 Flight to Nabire in West Papua or Irian Jaya / Transfer Hotel
Day 4 Official procedure and rest day
Day 5 Flight Day to Base Camp by helicopter
Days 6 - 10 Climbing Period
Day 11 Flight to Nabire and rest day
Day 12 Flight to Manado
Day 13 Spa and Farewell party
Day 14 Flight out
An example itinerary (if the mine route can be used) is as follows:
DAY 01: ARRIVAL JAKARTA
DAY 02: JAKARTA
DAY 03: JAKARTA - TIMIKA
DAY 04: TIMIKA
DAY 05: TIMIKA - TEMBAGAPURA - ZEBRA WALL
DAY 06: ZEBRA WALL
DAY 07: ZEBRA WALL - CARSTENSZ BC
DAY 08: CARSTENSZ BC
DAY 09: SUMMIT DAY (CARSTENSZ PYRAMID)
DAY 10: SUMMIT DAY (CARSTENSZ PYRAMID)
DAY 11: RESERVE
DAY 12: SUMMIT DAY (Ngga Pulu)
DAY 13: REST DAY
DAY 14: CARSTENSZ BC - ZEBRA WALL - TIMIKA
DAY 15: TIMIKA
If the trekking routes can be used than a full trip will take at least 16-20 days.
These images are from the mining route approach to BC:
You need several permits from different places (ministries, army, police etc) to travel to the island in general and climbing the mountain specifically. Permits are very hard to get, best is to team up with an organised trip as it will cost you months, even years to organise it yourself and even then the permits may not be valid when you get there...
Also as happened often the last few years, the entire area can be sealed off without warning and all permits will be void if anything happens. Irian Jaya wants to be independent since 1969 and the free Papua movement (OPM) sometimes attacks Indonesians or Westerners to attract attention for their cause. Even though most actions are peaceful, like raising the Papua flag, this is enough reason for the Indonesian army to seal the area for an indefinite period of time, which has happened last year and is still going on.
Currently the Ilaga, Singa and mine routes are all closed due to the violence in the country; the only possibility for climbing Carstensz is to fly in and out the area by helicopter. But you still need a permit and these are not being issued right now.
UPDATE: TRIPS ARE AVAILABLE AGAIN RIGHT NOW
--> Check your insurance if they cover travelling here as many governments have issued a 'negative travel advice' for Irian Jaya and most insurers do NOT pay out if this is the case and something happens when you are there!
UPDATE August 2008:
At the moment there is no single safe and guaranteed way into Carstensz. Though some rogue operators do run trips, they are know for bribes and pollution, endangering the clients and their chances of success.
We expect that the situation will change end of the year or in 2009 as some alternative ways are being prepared, but until then there are no safe and guaranteed CP expeditions, so go at your own risk if you trust the many organisers that try to make a lot of money at the moment..
When To Climb
CP can be climbed all year round as it is very close to the equator and there is bad weather all year round :-)
It is really raining a lot as the wet winds are pushed upwards from all sides. When climbing the narrow summitridge there are serious chances of snowstorms, so be prepared.
The advice is to grab the chance when you are able as the mountain can be closed without warning and for longer than you might like...
The mining area including Tembagapura is off-limits for everybody, but the Merenvalley offers a few good spots for basecamp. From there you can not only climb Carstensz, but also Ngga Pulu and other peaks.
Water can be taken from the lakes and is quite clear, but filtering mostly is a good idea, as both climbers and porters often do not see the connection between peeing in a lake close by and the resulting illnesses...
Since the Dutch handed over the control of Irian Jaya to Indonesia in 1962 there have been independence struggles. Irian Jaya is the other half of the Papua new Guinea island and has no ethnical or religious connection with Indonesia. However, because of the presence of one of the biggest (gold, copper) mines in the world, Indonesia will not let Irian Jaya have self control as it brings millions of dollars of hard currency to Indonesia every day.
The free papua movement has been fighting for independence for over 30 years, this sometimes has proven lethal for travellers. Travel at your own risk!