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Climbing Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) in Indonesia

Though not the highest one, this mountain is one of the most demanding in the world

Best time: April–November

Puncak Jaya, also known as Carstensz Pyramid on the island of New Guinea, is the highest peak found in Oceania. It competes for the rank of the Seventh Summit with Australia's highest peak—Mount Kosciuszko. Puncak Jaya is over twice as high as the Australian one, namely 4,892 m. Besides the height itself, the steep rock is extremely challenging to climb in technical terms.

The equatorial climate makes the journey even more arduous, the weather is constantly changing at any time of the year—get ready to be frequently washed by bad rainstorms, then burnt by the sun, and on the final ridge, you're likely to be heartily welcomed by a snowstorm. You'll need some really good equipment and a few pairs of gloves, for they will surely tear apart.

While such chaos prevails in the highlands, the rainforests in the lower plateau may boast at least some climate order. Taking into account that you'll have to make your way through these rainforests to get to the mountain, it would be wiser to choose dry season—between April and November.

Technical complexity is not the only obstacle. Another problem is the red tape. Months and even years can pass by until you've undergone all procedures, and received all necessary permissions. If you don't apply to any local operator and choose to arrange everything on your own, you may finally get your license, but don't be surprised when it turns out to be invalid. Taking into account political issues and constant tribal wars, it's strongly recommended not to spare money, and go on an organised climbing tour. It will cost about 25,000 USD.

The first Europeans got to the summit in 1623. It was a Dutch expedition led by John Carstensz—hence comes one of the mountain's names. When the group of climbers returned back to Holland, it was difficult to convince others that there were snow-capped mountains close to the equator.

Practical info

When is the best time to climb Puncak Jaya?

To avoid bad rainstorms in the highlands, climbers should schedule their ascents of Puncak Jaya during the dry season from April to November. Climbers require the right equipment for the trip and are advised to dress in layers and carry multiple pairs of gloves to make their journey more manageable during this time. Show more

What are the weather conditions like when climbing Puncak Jaya?

Climbers ascending Puncak Jaya can expect unpredictable weather patterns during their ascent. The equatorial climate in the Indonesian highlands means the weather can change from sunshine to bad rainstorms to snowstorms on the final ridge. Climbers must carry top-notch gear and bring waterproof clothes since the weather conditions can be harsh. Dressing in layers and proper ventilation is essential. Show more

What equipment is required to climb Puncak Jaya?

It is vital to carry the proper equipment when ascending Puncak Jaya. Climbers are advised to check with the tour organizers to see what they will provide and what to carry. Climbing boots, backpacks, and rain gear are some of the basic necessities. Additionally, technical rock-climbing gear, climbing helmets, warm clothing, sleeping bags, map, compass and GPS are required. Oxygen tanks and first-aid kits are also advised, and knowing how to use them is crucial. Show more

What is the cost of an organized climbing tour to Puncak Jaya?

An organized climbing tour of Puncak Jaya costs about $25,000. This covers expenses such as permit fees, gear premiums, local support staff, ground transport expenses, and park fees. This might seem expensive, but due to the difficulty of climbing, it is worth it. However, the price can change due to the application procedures and regulations. Comparing prices from a variety of tour operators is recommended. Show more

Who were the first Europeans to climb Puncak Jaya?

The first Europeans to climb Puncak Jaya were led by John Carstensz, a Dutch expedition team in 1623. This is why the mountain is called Carstensz Pyramid. However, when the team returned to Holland, it was difficult to convince others that the mountain was snow-capped due to its equatorial location. As a result, it took decades before the mountain's height was acknowledged. It has been the destination of frequent climbing expeditions where experienced and novice climbers have attempted to reach the summit. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin