Bill, Ephi and Bill Hanlon all stood on the summit on Friday! It was a very snowy day and they were fortunate that it was not more windy or they would have had to turn back.
Sorry for the delay folks. I've been traveling and in meetings up in Alaska, and have posted updates via a new service from my phone, but apparently, they did not post. Better living through technology, eh?
The plan was for the Kamov to make a flight in with the remaining climbers today. I have not heard that this has happened yet, so I'm afraid I can give no definitive reports.
Carstensz Pyramid expeditions have been tremendous challenges for everyone who attempts them over the years. There may not be another mountaineering trip that is so completely in the control of external forces. We have continued to offer this climb because we have a depth of connections in Indonesia that we have cultivated over the years and we have always felt that we could offer a high probability for success.
Mountain guiding is, in a large part, a profession of assessing and mitigating risk. We analyze situations that are often quite complex and we make judgment calls, based on a depth of experience, in order to set the team up for success. We cannot control the weather, but we can often accurately gauge how it is trending so that we can have a basis for our decision making. We cannot always definitively assess objective hazards, but we can usually assess them accurately enough to make conservative decisions and therefore minimize the risk to our teams.
Carstensz Pyramid is a frustrating expedition for a guide, as occasionally we find that we cannot control as many of the elements of the expedition as we need to in order to have a successful climb. We have seen many unexpected situations arise on this particular trip, and, despite our good local connections and depth of experience over there, we have had little or no control over many of them. We saw our primary helicopter break down, get fixed, and then still be unable to fly because the local authorities changed their rules for inspecting it. We saw Indonesian insurance requirements change to restrict the rules about how many passengers can fly in a chopper (from 11 to 3!), and the company we have flown with in the past has recently hired new pilots who are less experienced than their predecessors and reluctant to fly unless the weather is perfect.
We are very happy that some of the team has reached the summit and we are committed to waiting for the remaining climbers to get their shot at the top, but we are definitely going to take a long, hard re-evaluation of whether this is a trip that we feel we can offer in the future. Maybe we just need to prepare folks that they should block a month off for this climb...
Congrats to Ephi and Bill Hanlon! We'll keep on working to get Elsie and Ben up on top of that big, beautiful peak, and we'll keep you all posted as events unfold.
Northwest Buttress of Denali
6 years ago