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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!