Puncak Trikora

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Papua province, Indonesia, Oceana
15518 ft / 4730 m
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Puncak Trikora
Created On: Oct 17, 2012
Last Edited On: Oct 17, 2012


Puncak Trikora, until 1963 Wilhelmina Peak, is a 4730 or 4,750 m (15,584 ft) high mountain in the Papua province of Indonesia on New Guinea. It lies in the eastern part of the Sudirman (Nassau) Range of the Maoke Mountains. Behind Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) at 4,884 m (16,024 ft), it is either the second or third highest mountain on the island of New Guinea and the Australasian continent. As such it appears on some Seven Second Summits lists, although SRTM-data and a recent ascent of Puncak Mandala by Christian Stangl (Feb 2012) support that Puncak Mandala (Juliana Peak) in the Pegunungan Bintang range (Star Mountains) is higher at 4,760 m (15,617 ft).

Summit ridge:

There are many fore-summits to pass to reach the true sumit and scrambling skills and a strong constitution are required; there is a decent amount of exposure. The main summit is not composed of solid limestone but is more like a plateau with loose rocks. From the short chimney that leads to the summit ridge from the grassy Northern flank, it is about 3 hours climbing via the Western ridge. According to the GPS reading taken by Christian Stangl, the distance is 1,6km as the crow flies on a difficulty scale of 3. On the summit itself is a metal bronze plate that reads: "Puncak Trikora Desember 1983 Ekspedisi Maoke"


Puncak Trikora was covered by an ice cap that melted between 1936 and 1962. In 1909 the ice cap still reached as low as 4,400 m (14,436 ft).

Getting There

To reach Puncak Trikora, you need to hire a 4X4 vehicle to negotiate the steep and winding road from Wamena, in the Baliem Valley, up into the Jayawijaya mountains, to the starting point at Lake Habemma. This can take 2-3 hours and is usually organised by a local agent. The only way to reach Wamena is by air; it is easy to organise a flight from Sentani (Jayapura) on the north coast of Papua province. Several airlines fly to Sentani from Jakarta or Bali.

Once you reach Lake Habbema, it takes 2 days to reach Semalak (Cave) camp at the base of the mountain. This is a well-used, although exposed cave. Porters will normally rig up a windbreak to keep out the worst of the wind, and it is possible to squeeze two small tents under the cave roof. From the cave, expect to take 8-12 hours for the ascent - the route onto the summit ridge is not well-trodden and you will rely on the route-finding skills of your guide to some extent - the approach is grassy in areas, which can make for some uncomfortable scrambling in the wet. Once you get onto the northern flank, you traverse east to a steep, rocky 20m chimney that gives access to the summit ridge.

Red Tape

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The navigable Noord River made the mountain more accessible than the other snow covered peaks of Dutch New Guinea and the Dutch organized a series of scientific expeditions in the early 20th century to reach the equatorial eternal snow and climb the mountain. The leader of the first two expeditions was the diplomat and amateur biologist H.A. Lorentz. Each expedition was accompanied by soldiers, porters and dayaks (from Borneo), who were employed for their expertise with boat journeys.

In July 1907, the first expedition established Camp Alkmaar near where the Noord River, since 1910 known as the Lorentz River, became unnavigable (4°40′S 138°42′E), but was unsuccessful in penetrating to the highest mountain range. The Second South New Guinea Expedition also used Camp Alkmaar, from where it left on October 9, 1909. A group of nine, including Lorentz and Jan Willem van Nouhuys, were the first to reach the eternal snow of New Guinea at a height of 4,460 m (14,633 ft) on November 8, 1909. From the ridge they observed a large lake to the north, which Lorentz named Lake Habbema (4°08′S 138°40′E), after a member of the expedition. No attempt was made to reach the Wilhelmina summit. The return trip was severe; with a loss of four expedition members, the explorers finally returned to Camp Alkmaar in mid-December.

The summit was first reached in 1913 during the Third South New Guinea Expedition, which lasted from September 1912 to April 1913 and followed the same route. It was led by Alphons Franssen Herderschee, an officer of the Royal Dutch East Indies Leger (Koninklijk Nederlandsch-Indisch Leger), and its aim was to research the soils, flora and fauna of the region that lay above 2,300 metres. Other expedition members were the zoologist Gerard Martinus Versteeg, the botanist August Adriaan Pulle, the geologist Paul François Hubrecht, and J.B. Sitanala, an Indonesian GP. Herderschee also took over the role of ethnographer. Including soldiers, porters and dayaks, the baggage train had 241 members. They were divided up into several groups in order to carry out the different tasks in a time-effective way. Herderschee, Hubrecht and Versteeg formed the summit team, which reached the Wilhelminatop on 21 February 1913.

The 1920-1922 Central New Guinea Expedition had as goal to reach the mountain from the north coast over a route partially explored in a 1914 military expedition. On February 7, 1920 the first exploration, under leadership of A.J.A. van Overeem started at the mouth of the Mamberamo and followed the Idenburg River. In October, they had climbed across the Doorman Mtns and reached the upper Swart Valley (now Toli Valley). Here they made first contact with the Lani people (a.k.a. the Western Dani people), an agricultural people with whom they stayed for six weeks. Running out of time and food provisions, this expedition returned without climbing Wilhelmina. A follow-up expedition starting in June 1921 and led by J.H.G. Kremer, who was surveyor the previous year, retraced the route, and via the upper Baliem Valley and Lake Habbema reached the summit on 4 December 1921. Among the ascendants was Paul Hubrecht, who had been on the top in 1913 and noticed that the ice cap had retreated considerably since 8 years before.

The Dani living near lake Habbema call the mountain Ettiakup. Around 1905 the mountain was named after the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina. When Indonesia obtained control of West New Guinea in 1963 it changed the name of the mountain to Puncak Trikora, after the Trikora (Tri Komando Rakyat, "People’s Triple Command") speech by Sukarno given in December 1961 at a mass meeting in Yogyakarta. The three commands were: to defeat the formation of an independent state of West Papua, raise the Indonesian flag in that country, and be ready for mobilization at any time.

External Links

Video of solo attempted Australasia 3 Peaks Glacier expedition in 2010, including Trikora:

Photo gallery of Puncak Trikora ascent: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.476888983683.265649.275168878683&type=3

Puncak Trikora

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