Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid)

indonesia

Carstenz Pyramid (Puncak Jaya) is one of the “7 Summits” – the highest points on each continent – it being assigned to Australasia rather than Asia. It is definitely the highest mountain between the Himalayas and the Andes.

First conquered in 1962 by an expedition led by Henrich Harrer (who famously spent 7 years in Tibet and climbed the North Face of Elger). He was joined by a geologist Jean Jaques Dozy, who when spotting an oddly dark and green-tinged peak, realised it was a mountain of gold and copper ore.

Country
indonesia
Height
4,884 m (16,024 ft)
Climbing Height
1,684 m (starting from the base camp at 3,200 m if one is flying into the base camp by helicopter)
Rank
  • #1 in Indonesia
  • #7 in South East Asia

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Natural Form and History

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - History

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Geological 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.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Modern climbing history

Puncak Jaya was conquered for the first time in 1962, in an expedition led by Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer. He was accompanied by a team of three – Philip Temple from New Zealand, Russel Kippax of Australia and the Dutch Albertus Huizenga. Before the 1960’s the Ngga Pulu peak was considered the tallest in the region but subsequent shrinking of glaciers put the Puncak Jaya in the position of the tallest in the region.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Current popularity as a climbing destination

It is said that more people have climbed the Everest than Puncak Jaya – a testament to how difficult a climb it is! Puncak Jaya is not one for casual travel itineraries. It is a must-do on the list of mountaineering enthusiasts attempting the Seven Summits, although its place on that list is the subject of some debate as strictly speaking, as it is situated not in Australia (the seventh continent) but in Indonesia. Conservative peak-baggers consider Mt. Kosciusko in Australia the seventh summit instead, but at 2,228 m that is of considerably lower elevation. Taking Australia and Oceania as a whole though, Puncak Jaya occupies the position of the seventh summit. Despite the controversy, there is no debating the fact that Puncak Jaya is the highest point between the Himalayas and the Andes and remains high on climber’s wish lists.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Overview of the Trail

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Overall Assessment

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Summary of trail accessibility

Despite having the lowest elevation among the Seven Summits, the Puncak Jaya climb has 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.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Trail options

Number of options
2
Summary

There are two options to get to ascend the summit. The first is to the 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.

The helicoptor trip to the base camp is more expensive but the more preferred method.

This option requires 4-5 days of additional trekking through dense forests and incessant rains.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Most popular trail

Helicoptor to the base camp.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Standard itinerary

Number of days
6
Summary

While the climb up and own from the base camp to the summit takes only 1 day, the total itinerary is longer - 5 or 6 days to allow you time to acclamaize in different stages as you slowly make your way to the summit.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Day 1

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

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - 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.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Day 3

Whole day of acclimatization hikes and resting for the summit ascend the following day. The acclamatization 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.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - 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.”

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - 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.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Day 6

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

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Climbing Difficulty

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Terrain

Number of distinct sections
4
Summary

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.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Timika – Ilaga/Sugapa - Zebra Wall Base Camp (if you are hiking up instead of taking the helicopter)
If you are trekking all the way as many climbers do, the first section will take you through dense forests for 4-5 days. Expect leeches, swamps and associated rain forest adventures. You might also run into some local tribes who have little exposure to other cultures. The Zebra Wall base camp awaits you at a height of 3,200m.
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Zebra Wall to Lake Valley Base Camp
The next stretch takes you from Zebra Wall to the Lake Valley Base Camp at 3,800 m.
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Lake Valley to Yellow Valley Base Camp and back
The climb from Lake Valley to Yellow Valley which lies at over 4,000 m involves crossing a mountain crest. The first climb over this area is meant as an acclimatization trek and normally you will descend back to Lake Valley to spend the night before attempting the summit.
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Summit trail from the Lake Valley Baes Camp
The summit trail is a 12 to 14 hour trek from the Lake Valley Base Camp. This is mostly sheer rock surface with icy winds and occasional spots of snowfall. This trek is usually undertaken at night so that you get back to base camp before noon the following day to avoid inclement weather.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Weather

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Overview of climate

Being in close proximity to the equator, there is very little fluctuation in mean temperatures through the year in this region. Day time temperatures can vary from 12C to 37C while night time temperatures can fall as low as -8C and at the summit this can even go down to -10C. Every day sees at least a few hours of rainfall and it is also not unusual for climbers to encounter a bit of snow.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Best time to climb

The climate in the mountains remains fairly consistent throughout the year and this makes Puncak Jaya one of the few mountains ranges that you can climb any time of the year. The flip side is that the consistent nature of the climate is more towards the rough side than the pleasant. It is best to start the last section – the summit trail, at night in order to be back before noon. Dawn breaks at 5 am and any time after 11 am rain or snow is likely to start. This can make the descend difficult as well as dangerous.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Common weather challenges

Rain and/or snow:  Puncak Jaya receives almost daily rainfall and this can be accompanied by snow on the ridges. This makes the climb, especially the final leg extremely challenging. In any case, this trek is not to be attempted without the latest climbing gear as well as safety equipment. With the rain comes the added danger of loose rocks. In an unexpected downpour you may be called upon to rope down several hundreds of meters through streams and waterfalls.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Safety tips

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - 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. Take as many days as recommended by the guides for acclimatization before attempting the summit.

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

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Personal safety

As with all major summits, Puncak Jaya is an adventure that needs plenty of support from an experienced team. Do some ground work on the tour operator who is arranging your trek to ensure you have the best equipment, experienced guides and all necessary permit and safety protocols in place.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Safety for women travelers

Puncak Jaya is not a solo adventure for anyone and women would be advised to travel with a group of known and experienced guides and porters on this climb.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Recommended equipment

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Footwear
  • Mountaineering boots that are sturdy enough to last the rocky and icy terrain and warm enough for the chilly (and often snowy) mountain weather.
  • Rubber boots for the jungle trek (if undertaking the full expedition on foot)
  • Warm, heavyweight socks
  • Liner socks
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Clothing
  • Abrasion resistant warm climbing pants, with long-sleeved tops.
  • Light weight hiking pants for the jungle trek (if undertaking the full expedition on foot).
  • Insulated parka that can be worn over the other layers
  • Fleece gloves: suitable for rain, snow, and extreme cold
  • Warm wool cap
  • Warm thermal inner clothing
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Bags
  • Alpine-style waterproof backpack
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Weather protection
  • Rain coat / poncho
  • Waterproof cover for backpack
  • Waterproof cover for camera
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Sun glasses, suitable for alpine-syle climbing
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Climbing support
  • Climbing harness
  • Locking carabiners (6 Standard Oval or D Shaped carabiners)
  • Left and Right Ascenders
  • 2 Daisy chains
  • 20 ft of 6 mm accessory cords
  • Figure 8 Rappel or Descending device
  • Climbing helmet
  • Check with your tour operators for any other equipment that may be necessary
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Navigation tools
  • Headlamps
  • Flashlight (optional)
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Medical equipment
  • Basic first-aid kid, for cuts and bruises
  • Medicines for altitude sickness, headache
  • Insect repellent
  • Knee/ankle supports
  • Muscle-ache relief creams / sprays
  • Water-purification tablets
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Food
  • High-calorie dry food items – chocolates, energy bars, etc.
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Hygene sanitation
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper
  • Wet and dry tissues
  • Toothpaste + toothbrush
  • Personal toiletries
  • Disposable plastic bags for waste collection
  • Pee bottles for men or funnel bottles for women
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Connectivity
  • Satellite mobile phone(s)
  • Portable battery charger
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Documents
  • Passport: for registration and emergencies (keep several copies handy with you)
  • Passport-size photos
  • Surat Jalan, the travel permit to Papua
  • Climbing permit for Puncak Jaya, and any other local authority permits for travelling in the region

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Support facilities

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Resting stops and facilities

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Rest stops

For trekkers who follow a ‘fly in fly out’ or ‘fly in trek out’ itinerary, the journey begins from the base camp. There are no fixed / designated rest stops along the way.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Base camp

The Lake Valley base camp at a 3800m is considered one of the most picturesque sites on the Seven Summits. The camp site is situated on a romantic alpine valley setting next to a glacial lake which also serves as a source of water. In case the weather is sunny (which it rarely is) you could even consider a dip in the glacial waters.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Guides and porters

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Do you need a guide?

Being a very technical and challenging trek, having a professional, experienced, and reputable mountain guide is a must.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - How to find a guide?

Thoroughly research your options online before you travel. Look for for tour operators offering treks with all details taken care of, including permits, and make sure to read through reviews and recommendations on travel forums in detail before enlisting a service for guides.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Tips while working with guides
  • Travel only with licensed and experienced professional mountain guides. Read reviews from previous climbers before confirming a guide. You may even want to ask for references from your shortlisted guides before confirming.
  • Make sure the team has at least a few Indonesian members who can speak in the local tongues as well as English.
  • Ask for the guide’s ID proof before beginning the trek.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Porters

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Do you need a porter?

Yes. This trek takes several days and there will be a lot of gear to carry in terms of climbing equipment as well as essentials and personal supplies. It would be impossible to do this without the help of efficient porters.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - How to find a porter?

Your tour operator will usually arrange for porters in addition to your guides.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Tips while working with porters
  • Communicate with your guide beforehand to ensure that there are sufficient number of porters who will accompany your group to the top, depending on the amount of baggage to be carried. It might be advisable to personally check at the start of the expedition that no porter is overly burdened. The maximum weight a porter should be allowed to carry is 15 kgs in addition to personal belongings.
  • Choose a tour operator who treats porters fairly in terms of wages and facilities. Ask your operator about how they work with their porters.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Food & water

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - At the start of the hike

Food and supplies in adequate quantities need to be stocked from the starting point of Timika as there will be no replenishments available on the way.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - During the hike, along the trail

Since there are no fixed / designated rest stops along the way, it is best to bring along sufficient high-calorie dry food items such as chocolates and energy bars so you can get sufficient nutrition along the way. Water is plentiful all along the way as there are several streams and lakes but it is advised to carry water purification tablets before using open sources of water.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - During the hike, at base camp

Food is prepared by the support team on stoves carried along for the trip. Food is provided from the resources carried along. You could discuss beforehand with the tour operator the sort of food you would like to have on the way and the provisions will be packed accordingly.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Network connectivity

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Phone and data (3G) connectivity

Connectivity is available in Timika and usually on the summit ridge. Given the remoteness of the location though, having access to a satellite mobile phone in your group can be a big plus.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Accessibility

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Getting there

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Nearest airport
Nabire airport is the closest major airport. From there, you can take a local flight to Timika which is the actual starting point of the expedition.
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - From the airport to the starting point

From Timika it is possible to directly take a helicopter ride to the base camp. If you are opting for a full trek expedition though, you can take another flight to Sugapa from Timika. The starting point of the trek a short motor bike ride from the airport in the village of Sugapa.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Climbing permits

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Is a permit needed?
Several permits are required to access Puncak Jaya, including the Surat Jalan which is required to enter the province of Papua, and other permits that need to be issued from Jakarta as well as the local authorities in Jayapura, Papua.
Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - How to get a permit?

Get in touch with your tour operator with all necessary documents to start processing the permits. A recognized tour operator should be able to make sure all your permits are in order by the time you start on your trip. Allow several months for processing of permits before undertaking the trip.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - Special Tips

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - For amateur climbers

n.a.

Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) Indonesia - For advanced climbers

  • Skip the helicopter:  For the full experience, plan on trekking the entire way. This will give you a wider experience of rain forest and enchanting plateaus and valleys in addition to the snowy summit.
  • Add other summits in the range to your itinerary:  If your schedule allows for an additional day or two, taking into consideration weather conditions, you could try to summit the Ngga Pulu, also called the Victory Peak, in the same mountain range.