Carstensz Pyramid 12/1/08 dispatch
Hello everyone! After a wet and often intense jungle battle, we were happy to be established on dry ground at our third camp at 10,500 feet! The tents are up, all of our critical gear is dry, and last night we had another great dinner.
The last three days have been harder than anticipated. Steep, dense brush; jungle mud often up to our calves; and general “wetness” have been the name of the game. We’ve had a couple of rather challenging river crossings on the route that required balancing on skinny, wet logs over raging torrents. The team has had a number of rather tense standoffs during the first few days as we encounter local tribesmen demanding bribes in exchange for passage along our intended route. Romy, the head of our local guide staff, handled these negotiations smoothly – apparently it is not uncommon for local police and military to become involved in this process – and we were thankful to have a “show of force” backing us up in the face of the locals. While there was a lot of posturing during these negotiations, our group was able to carry on without incident once the price of passage was agreed upon — par for the course in this type of adventure travel! We are psyched that these bribes will see us through on the return hike — or so we have been told!
Our Moni porters are extremely attentive and incredibly tough. Only half of the staff chose to use the rubber boots that we provided. Instead they travel barefoot; their powerful bare toes clutching the mud and roots as they porter 20 kilo loads. In all we have around 20 porters hauling group food, fuel, cooking gear, technical climbing gear, tents and a generator. We are fortunate to work with this amazing group!
The team is happy to report that everyone is in good spirits, healthy, and feeling fit. Now that we are out of the jungle and going higher, we should be given a break from the pressures of the approach. Today we climb to the beautiful New Zealand Pass, and tomorrow on to Carstensz Base Camp! Everyone extends a warm hello to their families and Pablo wants to say a special hello to his wife, Karis!