Carstensz Pyramid is the highest summit in Indonesia. It is also known by the name Puncak Jaya in Indonesia. This summit is a part of Mount Carstensz in the Province of Papua, Indonesia. Carstensz Pyramid is included on Seven Summit; the top seven highest peak across the globe. The other unique thing about this mountain lies at the peak. Thick layer of snow is covering the mountain peak and it will never disappear. Snow is barely even possible to exist on a tropical place like Papua, let alone to be eternal.  That is why Carstensz Pyramid will always be attractive to tourists around the world, especially the ones who love hiking.

Carstenz Pyramid (Source: phillipegatta.fr. Credit: P. Gatta)
Carstensz Pyramid
(Source: phillipegatta.fr. Credit: P. Gatta)

 

How to Get There

It is not easy to access the mountain. As a start, you can reach the city of Jayapura first. Jayapura is the capital city of Papua Province. It has an airport named Sentani Airport where there are several airlines serving the flight from and to Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali Island, Makassar, and several cities in Papua. From the Sentani Airport, you then need to get another plane, smaller ones, to take you to the town of Timika. If you are from Bali or Jakarta, you do not need to reach Jayapura first. Instead, you can get a straight flight to the airport at Timika.

From Timika, you then need to continue your journey to the town of Nabire. Nabire is the closest town to the starting hiking post. From Timika to Nabire, you can get a flight using small planes. This kind of flights is served by several airlines such as Susi Air, Trigana Air, and Avia Star.

 

Where to Stay

The nearest hotels are available at the town of Nabire. Most of them are mid-class and budget hotels. Some of those are:

  • Maju Wisma
    • Location : Jalan Kom. L. Yos Sudarso, Nabire
    • Phone : +62 984 21301
  • Hotel Karya Papua
    • Location : Jalan R. E. Martadinata, Nabire
    • Phone : +62 984 22043
  • Nusantara Hotel
    • Location : Jalan Pemuda 16 and 20, Nabire
    • Phone : +62 984 21180
  • Nusantara II Hotel
    • Location : Jalan Mulawarman, Nabire
    • Phone : +62 984 23049
  • Hotel Anggrek
    • Location : Jalan Pepera, Nabire
    • Phone : +62 984 21066

If you are interested in camping more than staying in the hotel, you can go to Maren Valley. This spot is perfect as a basecamp. This post is only easily accessible to the Carstensz Pyramid hiking track, but is also close to other summits of Mount Carstensz such as Ngga Pulu and other places. There is also a clear lake nearby this area where the water is clear and hygienic enough to drink. But if you have a filtration device, it would be best to filter the water first to make sure it is perfectly safe to drink.

 

General Information

According to official data, the peak is located at the height of 4,884 meters above the sea level. But some other sources have measured that the peak is located at the height of 5,030 meters above the sea level. Anyway, Puncak Jaya is the highest mountain in Australia and Oceania. It is also the highest island peak in the world.

Blanket Snow at the Peak (Source: rajakamar.com. Credit: Belantara Indonesia)
Blanket Snow at the Peak
(Source: rajakamar.com. Credit: Belantara Indonesia)

Puncak Jaya is very unique as it’s the only place in tropical area that has snows. Not just that, this summit is always covered in snow. The only scientific explanation regarding this phenomenon is the high location. According to science, the higher a place is, the colder the temperature will be. Since Puncak Jaya is the highest summit around, it makes sense that the peak would be cold enough to produce snow all the time.

 

Discovery

Puncak Jaya was first discovered in 1623. It happened on rare sunny day when the summit was clear to be seen. A Dutch explorer, Jan Carstenszoon, saw a blanket of snow at the peak. Feeling amazed, he informed the public. But because Puncak Jaya has difficult track to climb and the peak is always hidden behind clouds and fogs, this fact remained unconfirmed for over 200 years. During that time, Carstenszoon was being ridiculed at because the public thought it was impossible for snow to develop in tropical area. The existence of snow at Puncak Jaya was firstly confirmed in 1909.

 

Hiking Track

According to Seven Summit, Carstensz Pyramid ranked seventh as the highest peak in the world. But on the other hand, this peak is the hardest to climb on. This is because the mountain is formed with steep wall of rocks, giant ledge, and limestone ridge. An advanced skill of hiking and climbing is necessary as well as good preparation and equipment.

A Hiker is Almost Reaching the Peak (Source: summitpost.org. Credit: Jeff Renolds)
A Hiker is Almost Reaching the Peak
(Source: summitpost.org. Credit: Jeff Renolds)

Due to the difficult track, no one has ever climbed the mountain until 1962. The first succeed climbing of Puncak Jaya was finished by an Australian mountaineer, Heinrich Harrer, along with his three companions. These guys pioneered the access route to reach the peak of Puncak Jaya.

In 1995, the government of Indonesia decided to close down the mountain. Hiking, climbing, and any nature exploration activity were prohibited. The mountain is opened back for public in 2005. But a legal permit is mandatory for such activities.

Today, there are several hiking tracks available to reach to the peak. But the safest one is Sugapa – Suanggama Route which was made by Adventure Indonesia. Hiking the Carstensz Pyramid will take you about 22 days to finish. On the return track, you will go through the beautiful Baliem Valley which is the home for primitive Dani Tribe.

 

Glacier

Sad news regarding Puncak Jaya is that the snow blanket at the peak is degrading. Several retreats of the glacier have been recorded on several spots in Mount Carstensz including West Northwall Finn, East Northwall Finn, and Carstensz Glacier. Worse case, the glaciers have already disappeared completely at Meren Valley and Puncak Trikora. Scientists believe that these retreats are the effect of the global warming. It caused the raise of temperature of the mountain which then warm up and melt the snow.

The Glacier is Degrading (Source: Flickr. Credit: Ifab)
The Glacier is Degrading
(Source: Flickr. Credit: Ifab)

Tips

  • Carstensz Pyramid is seriously hard to climb. Do not attempt to go there unless you have advanced climbing skill, complete equipment with international standardization, and perfect preparation.
  • Don’t forget to report your itinerary to the police of Papua prior starting your hike. They will give you permit as well as several tips and information regarding the mountain.
  • The glacier is melting down gradually. Quickly plan your schedule to climb to this summit before the exotic snow completely disappears.
  • Freeport Mining is also located at Mount Carstensz. This area is prohibited for public, so you need to find a track that doesn’t get through this one.
  • Spend more time at Baliem Valley to explore the nature as well as the culture of Dani Tribe.

 

Carstensz Pyramid or Puncak Jaya is one of the most challenging mountains to climb on. It is very difficult, but if you succeed, the joy of triumph will lift you up in glee. If you don’t have great skills in climbing, you can still enjoy the nature of Mount Carstensz by camping at the foot of the mountain or explore Baliem Valley which is located around the area.

 

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