Carstensz Update 1 of 3: Trip in Jeopardy

In 4a. Carstensz Pyramid, Australasia, Project 7in4by Steve

Spare Day In Tanzania

Last Friday we had a spare day at the lodge in Moshi, Tanzania before departing for our flight to Bali. After 4 days high on Kilimanjaro it was nice to just relax in the warmth by the pool, but also managed a short jog around the local country side in the afternoon. Jogging along the dirt roads I did attract a few strange looks, particularly from the local kids, one of them even paced me on his bike for a while, but it was a great way to explore the surrounds.

In the evening a large group of about 20 people checked into the lodge having just come off Kilimanjaro. The lodge put on a large celebration dinner for them and also arranged some local performers, 5 guys. It started out with some dancing and progressed into flips, acrobatics and even building human towers. Their strength and athleticism was incredible. Although somewhat freaky was one guy who could literally bend himself in half. Some of the stunts he did with his hyper flexibility were borderline disturbing, but you couldn’t look away. It was a great evening.

Not What We Wanted To Here

Our spare day in Tanzania had been great, but was somewhat spoilt with some news we had been dreading.

From Kilimanjaro we were due to fly straight to Bali then across to West Papua for our fourth climb, Carstensz Pyramid. Sitting in the lodge in Tanzania we received an email from Adventure Indonesia, the local Indonesian company organising logistics for our Carstensz climb. The email was not what we wanted to hear. Basically the weather had grounded all helicopters for the past 5 days stopping any teams from going in or out of base camp. There was one team stuck in base camp trying to get out and another team stuck in Tamika (the nearest town) trying to get in. We were notified that these delays could impact our trip.

The team stuck in base camp had sufficient food for 7 days. Worst case scenario was that if the weather didn’t clear by Sunday they would run out of food and have to be evacuated by ground through the adjacent mine. The mine has large sway in the region and if climbers had to be evacuated through there then it would likely cause the mountain to be closed months.  It had the potential to derail my entire project.

Hoping For The Best

With potential delays on Carstensz we started investigating options to shuffle our itinerary around but if the mountain did get closed for an extended period then it wouldn’t matter. It would still compromise my entire project. We decided to continue with our itinerary as planned and hope for the best.

Saturday afternoon we packed up and headed to Kilimanjaro airport. It was an interesting drive to the airport. Driving through local farmland, outside multiple little twisters were whipping up spiraling funnels of red dust while inside our driver played Christmas carols, ‘Hark the Herald Angles Sing’, ‘Silent Night’… all the classics. I didn’t dare tell him that those songs are normally reserved for December, he was just enjoying it too much.

Checking in at Kilimanjaro International Airport was inefficient to put it politely but after long waits in queues we eventually got through.

Our flight itinerary from Kilimanjaro to Bali read; Kilimanjaro to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Addis Ababa to Singapore, Singapore to Bali. It was not the worst we’d done but still a long haul. The flights themselves are generally ok; it is all the transiting and endless queuing for check-in, customs, airport security, etc. that is really getting to me.

Arriving In Bali To Good News

Last night (Sunday night) we finally made it through to Bali and checked in to our hotel, The Trans Resort Bali. The hotel manager was a contact we had received through the Rotary network and he made us feel very much at home. The friendly welcome and comfy bed was amazing.

Arriving in Bali we did receive some exceptional news. Yesterday morning, after even more delays and waiting for cloud to lift, the helicopters were finally able to fly in and out of Carstensz base camp. The back log of teams ahead of us had been cleared and we were good to proceed with our trip. After 7 days of waiting, they were literally within an hour of calling it off but thankfully for us there was a brief break in the clouds and everything is now back on track.

Tonight we’re flying to Tamika and hopefully into Carstensz base camp on Tuesday, fingers crossed.

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“Go with the decision that will make for a great story”.

Steve Plain

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