Carstensz Pyramid Final Wrap-Up 12/16/08
Mark Ryman here, back in Seattle after several days of flights on a variety of aircraft. After some fairly complicated travel logistics, I finally have word that everyone has arrived home safe and sound. Following the departure of the first helicopter, which took Pablo, Joe and Bill to Nabire, the rest of us played the waiting game for another 48 hours in basecamp. We later learned that there was a problem with getting another qualified pilot back to Nabire in order to have a second flight to get the rest of us out. Adriaan, Sylvia and I were prepared to begin the long trek out if a chopper didn’t show by mid-morning on December 12th, though this would have meant all of us would miss our return flights out of Bali by a long shot and potentially be stuck in Indonesia during peak holiday season with very little availability for standby flights to get home for Christmas. Fortunately we heard the chopper blades cutting through the thin air at around 11:00 a.m. and we were all very excited and relieved to see it land on the heli-pad above base camp to whisk us away to Nabire. Our cook, Steve, also flew out with us and we knew we were near max payload capacity for flying at that altitude. We also had to make a fairly exciting re-fuel stop in the town of Enoratali about half way to Nabire.
Once on the ground in Nabire, we figured things would be smooth for the rest of the journey home. This wasn’t the case as we watched through the airport windows for nearly 6 hours as several mechanics disassembled and reassembled one engine on the Merpati Airlines twin otter that was supposed to take us away. Eventually they said it could not be repaired until morning and we ended up in a hotel in Nabire for the night. The next morning we went back to the airstrip at 6:00 a.m. and spent the day hopping amongst several Indonesian airports on increasingly larger (and more confidence-inspiring) commercial aircraft. Our stops included Biak and Makassar before finally arriving back in Denpasar, Bali. We landed in Bali around 6:00 p.m. on December 13 and there was a Singapore Airlines flight leaving at 8:00 p.m. Unfortunately, we all had bags stored back at the Padma hotel on the other side of town. A very frantic cross town shuttle van ride (with us barking “faster, faster” at the driver the whole time)got us to the hotel and back to the airport just in the nick of time. So much for Christmas shopping in Bali. Our two extra days turned into less than two hours on the island. Adriaan and I somehow got on the flight, but Sylvia was delayed one night. I found out on Monday that she
got a seat the following day and is now home in Victoria. This trip turned out to be quite an adventure, a bit more than expected in some respects. With a successful summit and everyone back safe and in time for Christmas, we are now happy to relive the journey through photos and stories in the comfort of home.
Special thanks to some people who helped us get the right equipment to make this trip a success: Outdoor Research for the awesome Exped Andromeda tents, Helly Hansen for the base layers and shell gear, and Tim at Iridium for the new 9555 satellite phones for reliable communications throughout the trip.
I’ll be posting a full photo gallery folder from the trip on our flickr page soon at this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24847416@N07/