Notes from Carstensz Pyramid
- 30 April 2013
Mild Risk of Death Expedition Indonesia - Day 8
Base Camp - Carstensz Pyramid summit - Base Camp
Summit day. Hardest day yet. We woke up at 1:15 AM for breakfast and were on the trail by 2:15. Only a few minutes later than planned. The first hour or so was trekking. I was cold before leaving Base Camp, but a few minutes in I was already warm since there was a pretty steep uphill climb. I felt terrible. I got to where the fixed ropes started and there were still some people there gearing up so I wasn't too far behind.
I ended up being second to last on the ropes, in front of Charles. We had one of the guides with us. The first climb wasn't too bad, except there were a ton of loose rocks that kept getting knocked down on us. It seemed like every 30 seconds someone was yelling, "rock!" Apparently our rock-climbing champion was the main culprit. The rocks falling on our heads slowed down me and Charles. We had to keep stopping and tucking our heads in until the rock showers ended.
I knew it was a tough summit, but I was unprepared for the HOURS of climbing we had. I for some reason was under the impression that there was much less climbing. Most sections weren't too bad, but a few definitely seemed harder than the advertised 5.8 rating. Some of the hardest parts of the day for me were the scree with no ropes. I'm so terrible on scree for some reason. I can't get any traction on the loose pebbles. I was basically crawling for part of it which annoyed Charles. We were going so slowly that we didn't stop for food or water often enough. I should have made everyone stop more.
Everyone else was gone by the time we got to the traverse. That meant I had to put a ton of trust in our guide, who had not been terribly helpful for most of the day, to not kill me. Charles was helpful. That thing was scary. I had no faith in the ropes at all. We had to strap ourselves into this thing, hang ourselves off over the cliff and get pulled across on a pulley system. We made it across, and I was expecting the worst to be over, but no. Almost immediately two spots where you had to essentially jump across a chasm. The advice our guide gave us was to say, "careful." Thanks, buddy. For the first one I was basically hanging over the abyss by my ascender and one rope.
The morning had been clear, but by the traverse the clouds had started rolling in. The team nicely waited for us at the summit which Charles and I got to around 11. They waited for longer than most groups would have. I had no business getting all the way to the summit, but my friends know me well enough to know I would have been devastated to go through all of this and not get to the top. If they hadn't waited, Charles and I probably wouldn't have made the summit since during most of the climb there was no way to pass someone on the fixed ropes. As soon as we got to the summit it started hailing. Fantastic. We snapped a few group shots and headed down. I wasn't at the top for more than 5 minutes. Our guides stayed and took photos for at least another 10-15 minutes after we left.+Florian Nagl
led the way down, which was actually fine with me. It was nice to be with the group and have encouragement and guidance on the tricky spots. It made me feel better that everyone was nervous on those. We got to the traverse and the guides were still nowhere in sight. I completely trusted Flo to not kill us, but I was shocked that the guides thought it was ok to let a client be responsible for other climbers' safety. Finally the guides appeared and instead of coming to help, they sat at the top of a ridge and took photos. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is kind of a big part of what you're being paid for. Finally everyone yelled at them and one went to the front to do the safety checks.
It must have taken an hour to get everyone across the traverse. I was getting super cold just standing there wet. I got moved up in the line so I could start moving again and try to get warm. After the traverse was a belay down a steep wall. It was fun to try to remember how to belay with altitude brain. Then came the scree again. I was freezing and quite a mess at this point. There were several more ropes to belay down. Flo, +Dan Fredinburg
and +Michele Battelli
caught up to me and realized how cold I was. They decided that Flo should belay me down so I didn't have to keep trying to get my ATC on and off swollen ropes with numb hands. I think Flo was also enjoying having something a little exciting to do. I kinda felt like an idiot though. I shouldn't have been up there.
It was taking forever to get down. At the last set of ropes, the guides had caught up to us. Flo told them to wait until we were off the ropes to start climbing down so they wouldn't knock rocks down on us. They didn't listen. Flo lost it on them. He was not happy. It was dark by the time we got off the ropes. I was struggling to walk. Michele very nicely guided me back to camp. I don't think I would have made it on my own. It took so long. On the ropes we had seen someone waiting for us below. It had been our cook. When it got dark he went back to camp, but he left us a thermos of tea. It was very nice of him. At one point, Michele and I saw the light from Flo's headlamp up ahead of us. He called to us and said he thought we were going the wrong way. Michele started yelling to the guides since they shouldn't have been far behind us. When they caught up to us, they barely acknowledged us and didn't offer to help. It was weird. People at camp heard Michele yelling and Dan, Graham and a guide who hadn't summitted came looking for us. Graham took over from Michele and helped me the rest of the way to camp. I was exhausted. I finally got to camp at 7:15 PM. We had been expecting to be done early to mid afternoon. At least summit day is over. Now to get out of this place.
Elevation: 16, 024 ft / 4884 m
Elevation gain: 2114 ft / 644 m
Total hours: 17
Total hours hiking: 16
Total distance: 2.08 mi
Photos from Day 8 - https://plus.google.com/photos/113730287097639021097/albums/5878365770006559585