Puncak Jaya


Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid): The 7th Summit is a tough climb

Mountain Stats
Natural Form and History
Climbing Experience & Itinerary
Support Facilities
Safety & Accessibility
Special Tips
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Quick Answers

Q:How do you climb Carstensz Pyramid?
A:Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) is a very remote and technically difficult climb that requires considerable planning, support services, and mountaineering skills. Normally, climbers start by taking the helicopter ride to Lake Valley Base Camp, which avoids an additional multi-day jungle trek through dangerous areas. Most climbers need a day for acclimatisation hikes from base camp before attempting the ascent to the summit on day 3. From base camp it takes approximately 12-14hours to summit and return, depending on the weather and which of the 3 trails you take.
Q:How long does it take to climb Carstensz Pyramid?
A:The climb to the top of Indonesia’s Carstensz Pyramid will take around a week depending on where you plan on starting the trek. Mountaineers have the option of taking a helicopter to the base camp and completing the summit in 3-4 days, or instead taking an additional 4-5 days to trek to basecamp from Sugapa.

Climbing Puncak Jaya Indonesia - Mountain Stats

4,884 m (16,024 ft)
Climbing Height
1,684 m (5,525 ft)
  • #1 highest in Indonesia
  • #1 highest on Continental Australia
  • #7 highest in South East Asia
  • #1 highest between the Himalayas and the Andes
Other names
  • Carstensz Pyramid

Climbing Puncak Jaya Indonesia - Natural Form and History

Natural Puncak Jaya Indonesia - Natural history

Puncak Jaya is the highest mountain in Indonesia and the tallest summit in Mount Jayawijaya group, which is part of the Sudirman Range situated in the province of Papua. It was created by an oblique collision between the Australian and Pacific plates in the late Miocene Melanasian Orogeny and is made up of middle Miocene limestone.

Natural Puncak Jaya Indonesia - Climbing history

Austrian mountaineer, Heinrich Harrer led the first expedition to the peak in 1962 with New Zealander Philip Temple, Australian Russel Kippax and Dutch Albertus Huizenga.

Natural Puncak Jaya Indonesia - Current status

Many claim that more people summit Mt. Everest than they do Puncak Jaya. This is largely due to it being so remote. The climb is technically difficult, and has no facilities available to its climbers – importantly there are still few options for support in emergency situations. If you choose to climb it, choosing one of the (limited) climbing support service providers is probably your best bet.

Climbing Puncak Jaya Indonesia - Climbing Experience & Itinerary

Climbing Puncak Jaya Indonesia - Climbing Experience

Despite having the lowest elevation among the “Seven Summits,” the Puncak Jaya climb has one of the highest technical rating. This is a climb for seasoned mountaineers and peak-bagging enthusiasts. Getting to the base camp by helicopter can save you around 4-5 days of trekking through dense forests and incessant rains. Even after that the standard route to climb is up the north face and along the summit ridge, which is an all rock surface.

The climbing terrain is composed of 4 distinct sections, the first of which only needs to be negotiated if you are hiking up from the base of the mountain instead of taking a helicopter directly to the base camp.

It’s always advised to avoid the first few days hiking through the dense forests as it has been reported that local tribes and paramilitary tend to extort tour guides for thousands of dollars and tourists have even been beaten and kidnapped over the years. When attempting the rest of the hike, you’ll need to also keep in mind how technical of a climb this is. 

Climbing Puncak Jaya Indonesia - Trail options

Number of options

There are two options to get to ascend the summit. The first is to reach the base camp by helicopter and climb to the summit, and the second is to trek all the way, including the trek up to the base camp through dense jungles. 

Time to complete
6 days

You’ll get a head start from the Base Camp and skip the jungles, swamps, insects, and other (human) dangers!

Number of days
Day 1

Arrival at Timika in Papua, which is the starting point for the journey to the summit.

Day 2

Helicopter ride from Timika to the Zebra Wall Base Camp. Hike up from the Zebra Wall Base Camp when you get off the helicopter at 3,200 m to the Lake Valley Base Camp at 3,800 m and settle in for the night.

Day 3

Whole day of acclimatization hikes and resting for the summit ascend the following day. The acclimatization hike will take you to the Yellow Valley base camp at 4,300 meters, before descending back for overnight stay at the Lake Valley before the final ascend to the summit. The open and windy nature of the Yellow Valley base camp makes it more difficult to spend the night.

Day 4

Summit day. Depending on the weather conditions and the route you take, this could take from 12 to 14 hours to go up and down. For this section, there are three trail options to ascend to the summit, one of which is considered ‘normal’ and the other two ‘significantly more difficult’. This classification is presupposed on your using the most modern technical equipment for climbing:
Summit trail option 1: The Harrer Route (the ‘normal’ route). This route has been accorded a difficulty rating of 3 to 4 by the UIAA (the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation). It is a 12 to 14 hour climb including the ascent and descent.
Summit trail option 2: East Ridge. This trail lies at a level of difficulty that is between options 1 and 3. The major challenges here are a lengthy ascent with some really narrow areas and loose rocks.
Summit trail option 3: The American Route (also called ‘The Direct Route’). This offers perhaps the greatest climbing experience of the three trails and leads straight up to the summit via the north ridge but its difficulty level is the greatest of the three and there are several exposed areas. The greatest challenge here is the steep Carstensz headwall on your way up to the summit.

Day 5

A reserve day is normally factored in for this climb as the weather can be unpredictable and it may not be possible to get to the summit as planned on the first attempt.

Day 6

Pick up from Base Camp by helicopter and return to Timika.

This option requires an additional 4-5 days of trekking through thick rainforests and incessant rains. However due to the dangers involved (see above), this trail option is not recommended.

Climbing Puncak Jaya Indonesia - Support facilities

Guides and porters

Guides are required
Porters are required

Trail facilities

Trail facilities not available

Food & water

Trail head - Food
Trail head - Potable water
Trail - Portable water
Summit base camp - Portable water

Network connectivity

Trail - Network signal

Climbing Puncak Jaya Indonesia - Safety & Accessibility


The climate in this region is fairly consistent, making the climb up Puncak Jaya possible all year round. During the day, temperatures range from 12 to 37 degrees celsius in the upper alpine areas, whilst night time temperatures drop as low as minus 8 degrees celsius. There’s a little bit of rainfall most days, and you may even experience a little snowfall!

Climbing safety

Altitude:  Most people start feeling the pressure of the altitude above 3,000 m and almost everyone will experience it at heights of above 4,000 m. The trick is to move up the mountain slowly and spend the nights at a lower altitude than you ascend during the day. Especially if you’ve never hiked above 4,000 m before, be sure to leave as many days as recommended by the guides for acclimatisation before attempting the summit. Although aerobic fitness helps combat altitude sickness, you can never be sure how your body will react until you’ve done such a hike a couple of times.

Icy ridges and slippery rocks:  Given that Puncak Jaya is considered the most technical climb of the Seven Summits, there is no question of attempting it without the support of an experienced team carrying the requisite advanced equipment. If you were to get injured, there is no option but to descend on foot to the base camps from where a helicopter can fly you out to the nearest town. So please be prepared with the right training, equipment, support team, and attitude towards safety.

Personal safety

Unlike most summits, Puncak Jaya is very difficult and you will need an experienced team with the best equipment and guides to ensure all necessary permits and protocols are in place.

Permits, Fees, and Regulations

Not just one but plenty of permits are required to make this summit. Your tour operator should be able to help you in this regard. Remember to plan well in advance to account for time in processing documentation and permits, as Indonesian government agencies aren’t generally known for their responsiveness.

Emergency contacts

Due to the remoteness of this mountain, climbers shouldn’t expect public safety agencies to respond quickly to emergency situations. As such, please be sure to take all reasonable precautions into your own hands by organising the climb through a professional and reputable climbing service provider (with the right equipment, well-trained staff, and well-considered safety protocols).

Police – General Emergencies‎: ‎Tel: 110 / 112
Medical Emergencies‎: ‎Tel: 119

Getting there and away

You’ll most likely need to fly first to Nabire Airport on the north coast of Irian Jaya / West Papua, and from there you can take a local flight to Timika to the South of Puncak Jaya. If you’ve decided to take the helicopter trail, now is when you’ll be taking your chopper to Lake Valley Base Camp. If you plan on starting from the rainforests, you’ll have to take another flight to Sugapa from Timika. The starting point of your trek is a quick motorbike ride from the Sugapa Airport.

Money Matters

Puncak Jaya is considered one of the most expensive of the 7 Summits,  competing with Mount Everest or even Mount Vinson in Antarctica. As a rough rule of thumb, budget about 30,000 USD.

Climbing Puncak Jaya Indonesia - Special Tips

Tips for amateur climbers

This is not a summit for amateur climbers. If you’re a beginner, you should plan well ahead to build your technical skills, your physical strength and endurance, and your experience in climbing high mountains before attempting this climb.

Tips for advanced climbers

Jungle Trekkers: If you’re willing to brave the (reportedly very dangerous) local tribes, the swamps and thick rainforests, skip the helicopter ride and start your journey right from Sugapa. This would be a real life-changing/threatening experience. Be sure to get the most up to date information about the safety of that option from more up-to-date sources than Summits.com.

Ngga Pulu: If you’ve got the energy for it and the weather conditions permit, you could also attempt to summit Ngga Pulu (in the same mountain range) on the same trip.

More challenging summit routes: There are 3 summit routes. The Harrer Route (the ‘normal’ route) has a UIAA difficulty rating of 3 to 4 by the. But the East Ridge trail has a more challenging and lengthy ascent on some narrow areas and loose rocky areas. Or, The American Route (also called ‘The Direct Route’) offers the most challenging climbing experience by going straight up to the summit via the Carstensz headwall.

Tips for women

There’s no reason for women climbers to be deterred by this trek.

Tips for responsible / safety-conscious climbers

Irian Jaya, also named West Papua, has an ongoing independence movement. It’s best to avoid talking politics, not that there will be many people to chat with up the mountain.

Tips for trail runners

Puncak Jaya is definitely not a trail-running mountain for now. But, by all means, let us know if you’ve proven us wrong!

Tips for nature lovers

The thick jungle at the lower reaches of Puncak Jaya is exceedingly biodiverse, pristine, and probably has endemic flora and fauna still unknown to science. “Throwim Way Leg”, by renowned mammologist Tim Flannery, is an entertaining read that will give you an idea of the treasures yet to be found in these remote forests.

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