Puncak Jaya (Indonesian) and Mbaigela (local Moni language)
Erik's 8th Continental Summit
|Elevation||16,023 feet (4,884 meters)|
|Location||West Papua Province, Indonesia|
|Mountain Range||Sudirman Range|
|First Ascent||1962 by Heinrich Harrer|
|My Ascent||August 2008|
Carstensz Pyramid is a jagged and snow-capped peak that looms over the vast central rainforest of New Guinea and tops out with a 2,000 foot vertical wall of limestone. It is the highest island peak in the world and the highest point between the Himalayas and the Andes. Carstensz was my seventh, or eighth, continental summit, depending on your viewpoint. Some geographers consider Australia, the islands of Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea as a broader continent which they call, Austral-Asia. Others place Carstensz in a separate eighth continent called, Oceania. Because of its remoteness and challenging technical climbing, mountaineers rank Carstensz as the true seventh summit.
Because of an independence movement in West Papua and powerful mining companies which do not welcome tourists, access to the mountain has been very limited for 50 years. Fewer than 100 mountaineers have completed this version of the seven summits. In the jungle below Carstensz is a stark clash of cultures, from climbers like me clad in high tech gear and talking on satellite phones, to primitive indigenous tribesmen wearing traditional penis gourds and wielding bows and arrows, to paramilitary soldiers wearing camouflage with AK-47's slung over their shoulders.