Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hoping to fly today!

The team made it to the small town of Nabire, on the NW coast of the island of Papua. They had to take a couple of additional days due to some delays, but are optimistic that they will fly to Base Camp today.

The Bell helicopter has been repaired, but the Indonesian version of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has decided that it cannot fly until a third party inspects the repairs. Of course, the third party is a thousand miles away, and it has taken a while to get them to make the journey.

The team is planning on going with "Plan B" (On this particular expedition, it is a good idea to have several plans running more or less congruently, as nothing is ever easy over in Indonesia). Our friends with the huge Russian Kamov helicopter have come to Nabire to help, but they did not have enough fuel to fly the group to the mountain and back. Bill has helped orchestrate the shipment of fuel from the neighboring island of Biak to Nabire, so that the crew can all fly together in the Kamov.

We are optimistic that the team will be on the move today and I hope to report that they are all safely at Base Camp in my next post.

This is all fairly typical of this expedition. Seldom does a trip just go in without any hiccups. When you do manage to avoid the frequent earthquakes ans tsunamis, there are still many hoops of bureaucracy to jump through, local political figures to keep happy, and the chance that some of your delays are the result of other local outfitters trying their best to sabotage your expedition. Nothing helps more than a good relationship with the locals and a depth of contacts to call upon to help change plans when necessary. Bill might be the most experienced western Carstensz Pyramid guide working, so our crew is benefiting from that experience.

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