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  Huisa and Lopez face the challenge of the Cartensz Pyramid: Update

Base camp


Now that they have conquered the summits of Kosciusko ( Australia ) and Carstensz ( Indonesia ) the close the controversy of the roof of Oceania and they are just one step away from concluding their Seven Summits Project.


“We left at 3:30 in the morning toward the summit.  After a first hard climb of half an hour, a long slope downwards let us approach the foot of the wall.  The night is tight and there was a thin but continuous curtain of water.  We got to the wall and started progressing using a rope, without noticing the limestone landscape around us.

In silence, very focused we were climbing slowly, the silence was only interrupted by the sound of the carabiner or the fall of some rock (very frequently).  The sun wanted to join us in our ascending dance, but the bad weather we had all day made it impossible.  The rock was very wet and its sharp edges ripped our gloves, pants and our Gore-Tex jackets.

Total darkness made way to an incipient clarity that soon let us appreciate where we were and what was left.  The vision of the four climbers climbing vertically by the wall was incredible, meter after meter we continued climbing.  Exhaustion joined by cold and water made our climb more difficult, but inside, although Pedro and I were exhausted, we experimented a total adventure, because we were not used to climb such vertical and rocky mountains like this one, because we normally did it on the snow.

The technical passages were repeated constantly: down, climb, opposition, knot passages, anchorages, constant changes of rope, deviators, rappels; we had to use all we’ve got to dodge the obstacles the mountain was putting in front of us.  After a few hours of climbing, we got to the long and technical summit edge, but we still were 200 meters away, and the hardest was yet to come.

A vertical breach of some 8 meters cut the edge, and there were precipices of 500 m to both sides.  After a handrail (an horizontal progression), we went down the breach making a rappel and now we had to climb those 8 meters using a vertical technique, with both fists.  The passages were very complex and we should remain focused to avoid any error.

It was cold and the fog did not let us see it all; we had to take our mittens to go along, but the hands were rapidly immobilized by the cold.  During those endless operations with the ropes, Jacques decides to turn around, saying that he is not able to surpass that vertical and the following passages, which surprises us at 100 meters from the summit and with his experience.  I have to acknowledge that the experience Pedro and I have on vertical technique helped us surpass all the obstacles (Pedro works on vertical jobs on buildings and I am an Speleologist).

The edge seemed to never end, and after an apparent summit there was another one, and another one; until we finally got there, there was the coveted summit, and a commemorative plate was proof of that.  We had made it, we were on the highest point of Oceania , we hugged each other and some teardrop fell.

This time we were not rewarded by the mountain, because the bad weather did not let us see the majestic views it has, so it was a little sad, but it was done.  After the pictures and the summit video a long descent full of risk was about to start.  We were exhausted and sincerely we didn’t give credit to the strength we had to use to get there, but the climb down with this exhaustion was going to be hard, we could give up until we got down to base camp.

We were surpassing passages and going down slowly until we got to the breach again.  The climb down was different, because we would use other techniques.  Incredible, more than 500 meters of abyss under our bodies, but without thinking much we continued climbing down.  Rappel after rappel, we were cutting meters in our descent, darkness started to win the battle again to the mountain and when the night was coming we could get to base camp, what a day.  But with the summit done everything else is secondary.  Now we had to rest because even our eyelashes ached, and the trip back was going to be meteoric”. 

Juan Antonio Huisa

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera


After resting for a few hours we woke up, still numb because of the previous journey and now we could finally see where we were.  The rocky landscape surrounded us with its high mountain lakes.  We move slowly because the headache has not disappeared, and with every movement our hearts start to run.

We check the area of the base camp to see the different perspectives and we climb a close by mountain from where the immensity of the wall we have to climb can be appreciated, the Cartensz Pyramid.  It is a limestone wall with something more than 600 m to climb.

We go back to the tent to eat, although we can’t do it, the exhaustion and the lack of appetite keeps us from doing it.  We’ve been here at Base Camp for a while and we leave tonight at 3:00 towards the summit, it is almost funny the swift way that everything has been done, but Pedro and I know each other: a big worry invades us on the inside, we know how complicated it will be, and we still have Everest very recent.

Our French teammate Jacques Marmet has a great mountain résumé, he just has the summits of the Cartensz Pyramid and the Vinson ( Antarctica ) to finish his Seven Summits project, he has climbed Everest by the North Face, and has been to a great number of mountains.

It is the second time we are here and leaving without the summit would be a great pain, although the first time almost doesn’t count, because we didn’t want to get close to the mountain because of the guerrilla problems”.

Juan Antonio Huisa

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera


“After arriving to Jakarta and preparing the luggage we had just 2 hours of sleep, because we should leave at 2:30 to the airport for our trip to our destination Timika (Irian Jaya), we had made a connection in Makassar , so after a flight of 6 hours we arrived to our destination.

We were picked up in Timika and we were told that we should leave to Base Camp after our meal, a real madness because we had to move to Zebra Wall (the start for the trekking), for almost 5 hours in a 4x4 and we would start a march of 5 hours to Base Camp, which is located at 4,030m.  That means that, after 3 days without sleeping we would make a night trekking of more than 5 hours, heavily loaded, because we had no porters to get to 4,000m with no acclimatization.

We had a tight program but it was going to be compressed even more, we asked for explanations and they told us that was the way it should be. We were picked up by a police 4x4 with dark windows and with a lot of mystery and hush we were told to put on long sleeved jerseys and a hat and that it was absolutely prohibited to shoot pictures and video, because we were going to cross a restricted area (the famous Freeport mine, the most important mine of cupper, gold and silver in the world).  We already knew about the existence of the mine and that the government hides it as a state secret, but we would not imagine that we were going to see it.

We got on our way and we went through a series of checkpoints with no problems, because a sergeant is driving and a commandant is on his side, it is by night and the fog covers everything.  The slope is steep, the track is used by a lot of 4x4, huge trucks, machines, etc…, and while we were climbing we started seen the incredible installations they have there, the area of the mine can be even larger than the province of Sevilla, it looks like we are in another planet, Mars.  It is at night and the landscape can not be clearly seen, the place is in the jungle, large ferns, cascades, precipices, and we continued climbing and climbing.  Suddenly we stopped, we go out of the car and we quickly get into another official car from the mine, where an operator takes us again, we don’t know where. 

The night is very dark, we continue climbing, going by enormous installations and suddenly we are into a maze of ascending tunnels.  We travel more than 50 km of tunnels without going out, hundreds of km crisscross, with a lot of bullet proof gates, checkpoints, etc., this is like a space station.  We can’t believe what we see and at last we go out where we face gigantic machinery, trucks that are 5 meters high and excavators that don’t stop working for 24 hours.  We get to the highest point and we quickly leave the vehicle, we take our backpacks and we get into the mountain.

The night is very dark, it is raining, and we start the trekking that will last until we get to base camp.  This is a total adventure, but our worries increase.  We are very tired, we have 22 kilos on our back and we don’t clearly know what we are going to find. Time goes by and the tiredness and altitude hit on us.  We are five (cook, guide, a French climber, Pedro and I).  We climb little by little, the guide is exhausted because of the weight, the cook stops to throw up.  Pedro has mountain sickness and throws up, my head aches and the French guy is also tired.  It is normal, we have gone from 0 to 4030m in less than 10 hours.

Finally we get to base camp, a very long journey but loaded with emotions, and everybody goes to sleep…”  Juan Antonio Huisa 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

“After a very long and tiresome trip that took us from Sevilla to Madrid – it is overwhelming to see how the T4 was left –, and from there to Doha , Qatar , where we boarded again to Singapore and lastly to Jakarta , Indonesia .

It took us almost 16 hours on the air and the trip lasted one day and a half. We were picked up at the airport and they took us to the hotel, to start preparing the luggage for the mountain quickly and they informed us that we were supposed to leave in 4 hours to Papua.

We will arrive there at Timika and we will be transported by 4x4 to Cebra Wall (3 hours) and from that point we will start the march to Base Camp (5 h.).  That means we will climb to almost 4,000m in one try, so we will climb with no time to acclimatize.  And also when we get to Base Camp we will have 3 days without sleeping. 

The program is very tight, because of the multiple bureaucratic complications that this country has, so we have 8 days to get there, attempt the summit and go back to Spain , a record. 

We thought that the group of the expedition would have 5 members, as they told us, but the guide told us some of them didn’t show up, so it is just Pedro, me and an Frenchman.  We have a lot of doubts, but we are very clear that we have to go get the summit”.

Juan A. Huisa García 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Earlier: The climbers from Sevilla will leave on the early morning of Thursday toward Indonesia

January 23, 2007

The climbers from Sevilla (Spain), Juan Antonio Huisa and Pedro López, will leave on the early morning of next Thursday 25 to Indonesia to face the challenge of the Cartensz Pyramid.  They were there on 2003 trying to climb the highest peak of Indonesia and Oceania but the unstable situation of the country and problems with the guerrillas kept Huisa and Lopez even from seeing the mountain.  This 5,030m mountain has been closed for several years and it looks like it was recently open, but under very exhaustive controls and the permits require a great amount of money, and they don’t guarantee the possibility of climbing.   

The highest peak of Oceania is not really defined, that means there are two opinions on which is the continental roof.  For political reasons some say the highest peak of Oceania should be in Australia , which occupies the largest part of the oceanic continent, so if it was so, the highest peak should be Kosciusko, 2,228m, and also Indonesia belongs to Asia and not to Oceania .  The second opinion, because of geographical and geological reasons, assures that the Carstenz Pyramid is on the island of New Guinea ( Indonesia ) and that it belongs to the same tectonic layer as Australia , so it is part of the oceanic continent, although politically it belongs to Asia .  So the climbers who make this ‘seven summits’ project avoid controversy by climbing both.

Huisa and López crowned Mount Kosciusko in Australia in 2003, and from there they left to Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia ) with the intention of climbing the inaccessible pyramid.  After being greeted by the Spanish ambassador himself, he begged them not to fly to New Guinea, because the situation was very hostile, but being already on the other end of the world they could not turn around without even trying; so they flew to New Guinea and after landing on Jajapura, they rented a private plane where the climbers barely fit inside with the pilot and the material, and they arrived to Ilaga, in the heart of the jungle.  When they got off the plane they found another civilization, another age, the clothes of the people were just feathers on their heads and a cane that hid their penis, called “Koteka”.  The inhabitants of the primitive tribes of the zone lived in the Neolithic era, in the jungle, with guerrilla problems that want the independence from the government of Jakarta .  The army cut their way and mentioning security reasons they didn’t let them pass and they were there for four days without being able to move away from the zone.

Some days ago the climbers of CD Siete Cumbres got a call telling them the possibility of starting the expedition, which begins day after tomorrow after making preparations in record time. The group is made by a guide, a cook, the two climbers from Sevilla, two Americans, two Frenchmen and one more climber.  Uneasy because of the situation they lived on 2003, and knowing that Indonesia is a chaotic country, Huisa and López will leave at 6:30 on Thursday 25 to Madrid, where they will catch a flight to Doha (the capital of Qatar), they will continue to Singapore (the capital of Malaysia) and from there to Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia).  A very long trip to the other end of the world.  Once on the capital of Indonesia they will take domestic flights to get to Timika, on the island of New Guinea, from where the expedition will leave to the mountain. 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

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