CAMH

Carstensz Pyramid Climb Part 3 – Not Swiss Chocolate!

Part 3 of 4 –  Carstensz is not Swiss Chocolate!  
(Click here to read previous Part 2) (Click here to read Part 4)

(Le français suit)

When I announced I wanted to take the helicopter back after our summit, JP said he wanted to as well.

At this point, I am tired of stepping in mud. And I am tired that the 5 day trek has become 6 days. “I just want to get there people!”

In fact, I’m uncomfortably hungry and my body is showing signs of rejecting the rice, noodles and cookies, which are the only things I am feeding it. The countless sugary cappuccino mixes I drench it with, are also starting to shows signs of threatening to be expelled. “Uh oh!”

At the end of day five, we camp at Nasidome. The view is incredible, as we can see Puncak Jaya, and Carstensz just behind it. It’s a wow moment. The morning sunrise greeted us teasingly, to entice us to continue over the New Zealand pass that awaited us, and then we would finally arrive at basecamp. We are now at 3,734 metres (about 12,250 feet above sea level).

Only a few porters will proceed with us to take our supplies to basecamp. The rest will remain here and wait. Three of our young porters pose for a picture with a perfect backdrop!

This will be our first introduction to alot of rock! The New Zealand pass stands at approximately 4,500 metres (approximately 14, 700 feet above sea level).

Our next big challenge – we had to scramble up a rock face, free style. THAT is not easy folks! We are getting tired as we have to trek on rocks and rocky pathways up and down, up and down, for hours. “Argh”.

 

We have to be careful with loose rock, both as a courtesy and potential danger for those behind us. And so the pace is slower than I’d like, but necessary. It truly was a team effort keeping tabs of what’s up ahead and what’s going on behind you.

 

We arrive at what is supposed to be basecamp, as you can see in the pictures and on YouTube. But aside from the aquamarine small lake, which is stunning to behold, basecamp is filled with garbage. God’s beautiful creation was a bit of a muck heap! And it’s cold. Brrrrrr. We find out that there is another camp set at the base of Carstensz called Yellow Valley, and involves another 90 minutes of hiking, on rocky ground of course! 

The seventh day in the mountain is our much planned for and awaited day. At last … we get to attempt to climb Carstensz Pyramid. “Yay!”

 

 

We get up at about midnight and start trekking, wearing our summit day clothes. We head towards the other basecamp, next to the first rope for Carstensz. Unfortunately, it is raining. And it’s steady.

 

 

Once we arrive, Raymond guides us into a large common tent to wait out the rain. We are met by Philippe, who had arrived via helicopter the previous day, along with Hata, the 3rd local guide. Raymond says we will wait until about 6 or 7 am to see if the rain stops.

It does not. And Manu, our Terra Ultima guide and Raymond, make the decision to return to our basecamp and try again the next day, as they said it was too dangerous to climb in the rain. I am very disappointed by this news. We trekked back. (I won’t share my inner dialogue.)

 

It rained all day and I spent the whole day alone in my tent. I was able to watch “The Choice” that I had downloaded in my IPad, before the battery died, which helped pass the time. Because of the lack of sun, my solar charger didn’t work very well and all charges were conserved for my iPhone and InReach devices, so I could communicate with my family. They were my lifeline through this whole adventure..

 

It was as we walked back from a non-summit day that Manu decided that he too would take the helicopter back along with Adam. Myself, JP and Philippe were already onboard. It was a relief to know that once we summited, we wouldn’t be facing that long muddy trek back to civilization. Manu called Terra Ultima on the sat phone and informed them, so that arrangements could be made.

I think the rain, dampness, coldness and lack of food choices and proper nutrition was taking a toll on all of us. I know it was for me. “Ugh… cookies and rice again!?”

Raymond then proceeded to advise William’s brother who had stay with us, as a point of contact between us and the porters, and arrangements were made to have the porters dismissed.

We had provided Manu with our share of the tips and he gave them to the porters. All this happened while I was inside my tent, as the rain never stopped.

At dinner time we realized the porters had taken JP’s boots and Adam’s umbrella. It was raining; we needed that umbrella! Manu was annoyed. But Raymond said nothing could be done, as the porters had already left.

I remember feeling that I was exhausted and I didn’t care much. I wanted to go climb the rock face, summit and go home as quickly as possible! I was so close to accomplishing my goal, but I still needed to finish what I came to do.

My internal voice was saying, “Come on Ema, you are almost there.” “Let’s do this!

 

 French Translation, courtesy of Language Marketplace Inc.

Carstensz, ce n’est pas du chocolat suisse!

Lorsque j’ai dit que je voulais rentrer en hélicoptère après le sommet, JP a dit qu’il voulait aussi faire de même.

Pour le moment, je suis fatiguée d’avancer dans la boue. Je n’apprécie pas non plus que la randonnée de cinq jours se soit transformée en randonnée de six jours. « Je veux simplement arriver au sommet. »

En fait, j’ai faim jusqu’à en être malade et mon organisme présente des signes de rejet du riz, des pâtes et des biscuits, seuls aliments que je mange. Les innombrables mélanges de cappuccino sucré que je bois pour m’hydrater menacent également d’être rejetés. Prudence!

À la fin du cinquième jour, nous campons à Nasidome. La vue est incroyable, nous apercevons Puncak Jaya et la pyramide de Carstensz juste derrière. C’est un moment extraordinaire. Au matin, le lever du soleil semble nous provoquer, nous persuader de poursuivre vers le col New Zealand qui nous attend. Et puis nous arriverons enfin au camp de base. Nous sommes maintenant à 3 734 mètres d’altitude (environ 12 250 pieds au-dessus du niveau de la mer).

Seuls quelques porteurs nous accompagneront pour transporter notre équipement au camp de base. Les autres nous attendront ici. Trois de nos jeunes porteurs prennent la pause pour une photo dans un décor magnifique.

Nous rencontrerons beaucoup de rocher pour la première fois! Le col New Zealand se situe à environ 4 500 mètres d’altitude (environ 14 700 pieds au-dessus du niveau de la mer).

Notre prochain grand défi – nous devons escalader une paroi rocheuse en libre. Croyez-moi, ce n’est pas facile! Marcher sur les rochers et emprunter des sentiers rocheux qui montent et descendent pendant des heures est fatigant. « Argh. »

Nous devons faire attention aux rochers instables, par politesse et pour éviter un danger possible pour les personnes qui suivent. Je marche donc plus lentement que je ne le voudrais, mais c’est nécessaire. C’est vraiment un travail d’équipe pour rester concentré sur ce qui nous attend et sur ce qui se passe derrière.

Nous arrivons à ce qui est censé être le camp de base, comme vous pouvez le voir sur les photos et sur YouTube. Mais à part le petit lac bleu vert éblouissant, des détritus recouvrent le camp de base. La magnifique œuvre de Dieu était un tas de déchets! Et il fait froid. Brrr. Nous découvrons qu’un autre camp est installé au pied de la pyramide Carstensz, la Vallée jaune, à 90 minutes de marche, sur un terrain rocheux bien entendu!

Le septième jour sur la montagne est notre journée de planification et d’attente. Enfin… nous allons tenter l’ascension de la pyramide de Carstensz. « Super! »

Nous nous levons vers minuit et commençons à marcher, habillés pour le sommet. Nous nous dirigeons vers l’autre camp de base, à proximité de la première corde pour la pyramide. Malheureusement, il pleut constamment.

Une fois arrivé, Raymond nous guide sous une grande tente commune pour attendre la fin de la pluie. Philippe nous rejoint. Il est arrivé par hélicoptère la veille, accompagné d’Hata, le troisième guide local. Raymond nous dit que nous attendrons jusqu’à six ou sept heures du matin pour voir si la pluie s’arrête.

Il pleut toujours. Manu, notre guide et compagnon de cordée de Terra Ultima, et Raymond prennent la décision de retourner à notre camp de base et de retenter le lendemain. Selon eux, il était trop dangereux de grimper sous la pluie. Je suis très déçue de cette nouvelle. Nous revenons sur nos pas. (Je ne vous dirai pas ce que j’en ai pensé.)

Il a plu toute la journée que j’ai passée seule dans ma tente. J’ai pu regarder « Un choix » que j’avais téléchargé sur mon IPad, avant que la batterie soit déchargée, ce qui m’a permis de passer le temps. En raison du manque de soleil, mon chargeur solaire n’a pas bien fonctionné et j’ai conservé toute l’énergie pour mon iPhone et mon appareil InReach pour pouvoir communiquer avec ma famille. Ils ont été ma corde de sauvetage tout au long de cette aventure.

C’est en rentrant d’une journée sans sommet que Manu a décidé qu’il redescendrait aussi en hélicoptère, avec moi, JP et Adam. Nous étions soulagés de savoir qu’une fois après avoir atteint le sommet, nous n’aurions pas à refaire le long chemin boueux pour retrouver la civilisation. Manu a appelé Terra Ultima sur son téléphone satellite pour les informer afin que des dispositions soient prises.

Je pense que la pluie, l’humidité, le froid, l’absence de choix de nourriture et une alimentation convenable avaient de lourdes conséquences sur chacun de nous. Je sais que c’était le cas pour moi. « Argh… encore des biscuits et du riz! »

Raymond a ensuite averti le frère de William, qui était resté avec nous à titre de personne intermédiaire entre nous et les porteurs, et des dispositions ont été prises pour congédier les porteurs.

Nous avons donné notre part des pourboires à Manu qui les a remis aux porteurs. Tout cela s’est passé pendant que j’étais dans ma tente, la pluie n’ayant jamais cessé.

Au moment du souper, nous nous sommes aperçus que les porteurs avaient pris les bottes de JP et le parapluie d’Adam. Il pleuvait; nous avions besoin du parapluie. Manu était énervé. Mais Raymond a dit que nous ne pouvions rien faire puisque les porteurs étaient déjà partis.

Je me souviens m’être sentie fatiguée, mais je ne m’en souciais pas vraiment. Je voulais escalader la paroi rocheuse, atteindre le sommet et rentrer chez moi aussi vite que possible! J’étais si près du but que je m’étais fixé. Je devais pourtant terminer ce pour quoi j’étais venu.

J’entendais ma voix intérieure me dire « Allez, Ema, tu y es presque, fais-le! »

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Carstensz Pyramid Climb Part 2 – Lots of Mud

Part 2 of 4: Carstensz Pyramid – Lots of mud on the trek to basecamp!
(Click to see previous part 1) (Click to see next post 3)

I had lost track of what day of the week it was – the sense of which only returned a couple of days after I arrived back home.

It was the day after we arrived at Williams’ farm. Even though we got up at 7:00am local time, we only started hiking around 11:00am. It took several hours for the bidding and organization of the porter team to be organized. I am told we have 19 porters – it’s hard to say, because the whole family comes … husband, wife and children.

The head of the Dani tribe, William stood in the middle of his farm, and after having an argument in public with one of his 7 wives, he started selecting porters. Once selected, each was given a blue pouch, which I assume had some information of what they were carrying and whom it belonged to and a bag to carry. The porters each carried one of our duffle bags, our supplies and our tents.

William also put out a ‘work order’, to the villagers that attended this ‘work’ assignment meeting, for those selected members of the tribe to go ahead of us and repair some sections of our trail that had been affected by a recent mudslide. This I was told by Raymond, our local head guide, was to have cost us the equivalent of $400.00 US dollars.

I actually had a two person tent to myself which I had chosen specifically to have more room so that I wouldn’t feel so claustrophobic. It was a luxury to be alone; it gave me the opportunity to journal, to write this! J

Raymond, our local lead guide led a prayer before we left. This would be a daily ritual, which I appreciated. Raymond back home is a non-practicing Pastor. However, his wife is the lead Pastor of their local church.

The trail was demanding, as we had to navigate up and down wet, rocky terrain, tree stumps and even rushing rivers. At one point, as we are walking along the river bank I could hear the raging waters and I started to feel anxious, as the previous crossing had been scary. But then I was presented with a bridge – what a beautiful sight! I was so happy and relieved, I got giddy!

The trail demands your complete attention, one distraction and you fall. I tripped once- the first day! Many more would follow….

One of our fellow climbers decided one day was enough, and would be returning the next morning with one of the guides, Hata. He opted to fly again to Timika and would take the helicopter option to base camp. The cost of this choice was $6,000.00 US, pretty steep! His plan was to meet us at base camp and then attempt to Summit with us. He planned to return to Timika via helicopter as well. I secretly envied him on day ‘One’ of trekking. It was daunting and exhausting. But I was pleased to experience that, because I had trained hard, I was up for the challenge!

I had to keep reminding myself that I was doing this, both to accomplish something very challenging and also, to be the first Portuguese woman to climb Carstensz Pyramid. This climb was primarily for my Mom and to raise money for mental health. These goals kept me going.

Several times, during my hike and when certain sections were scary, I knew Jesus had me in His care, and I felt secure. Thank you!

At the end of the day when I reaching camp and being able to contact my family was an incentive and a huge comfort. I missed them, especially my husband. I was the only woman on the expedition and even though my tent was always erected first and all the guys were great— attentive, helpful and true gentlemen, I still felt at the end of the day that I could have used a hug, the kind of hug only Steve could give.

The next day promised to be an especially hard one. Juan, another one of our local guides who was leading us, kept saying, “Hard.” “Lots of mud!”. He was not kidding.

One never expects to eat gourmet meals while trekking. However, there are several options of freeze dry foods, such as those by Mountain House. And there are other lighter weight options of certain foods that make long expeditions nutrition reasonable.

I am still not certain why, if it was the remoteness of Carstensz Pyramid, the harsh condition of trekking in, or the necessity of using local porters all the way, but nutrition was a HUGE issue, especially for me as a vegetarian. This had not been an issue when I climbed Mt Rainier in July. I feasted with my various Mountain House meals.

Here, the first day of trekking when we set out from the Dani tribe camp, we were handed a box of chocolate cookies and a smaller box of another variety of cookies – I thought it was a joke. But no! It was our lunch. The remaining lunches throughout the expedition would vary from the type of cookie box and then we graduated to a chocolate bar to accompany it. “Are you kidding me?” “We are hard core trekking people!” “We need better nutrition than average, not ridiculously less!”

For breakfast we had a slice of white bread and a one egg omelet. There is a jar of Nutella on the table from one of our expedition members and I offered a jar of dehydrated peanut butter I also had brought, in spite of weight limitations. That was it. Nothing else.

We also warmed ourselves with ready mixes of flavored cappuccinos! Load up on the sugar!

Rice and ramen noodles were our daily staple for dinner. The guys had fried spam with some dinners, canned fish and at base camp chicken wings and one night prawns – I saw an ice box and it was below 0 in temperature there – and the supplies come via helicopter, so it is possible! I had some of the corn and beans that had been bought in Timika – the times when the beans were not mixed in with meat! At base camp I did have steamed green vegetables added to my rice on a couple of occasions, and noodles. A massive treat!

I had packed some granola bars, which I had been advised against because of the extra weight – but I put some in my backpack, since a porter carried the duffle bag to the next camp. I’m so glad I did!

The following morning, which would be our 2nd day of trekking, once again even though we got up for breakfast at 7, we only hit the ‘trail’ at 9 or so. There were more negotiations with the porters some of whom was going to take Philippe back, because of this turning back and taking the helicopter meant the loss of payment for a couple of the porters. Afterwards more arguments on load allocations occurred, so we had to remove some stuff from all our bags, so more porters could carry stuff. It’s all about the money wherever you go in the world folks!

The trail was truly difficult. There were so many roots on the trees that it was similar to rock climbing, but on trees. At one point I got my UGG’s rain boot stuck in the mud and my foot came right out. I knew some days would be hard. This was one of them.

We reached camp late that day. It was about 6:35pm and I was finally in my tent. It was raining – it had been the pattern every evening; cold and tired and just craving to cuddle up in my sleeping bag.

I started to think about taking the helicopter option to return after we summit. I can’t imagine retracing my steps on the return and having to walk on the treacherous terrain. Just thinking about it was a comforting thought!

My stomach started to hurt a little; it seems I am starting to feel the affects of all the sugar I am consuming. Our bodies just aren’t built to survive on cookies and chocolate bars. Duh!

Raymond and Juan, said that today was the hardest part of climbing Carstensz. But warned us that tomorrow would be involve lots of mud. “Really?” “More than today?” I silently ask myself.

Many times today I had shed tears, but mercifully no one saw. About midway we got hit with a storm and climbing in the rain was really hard. My rain boots got completed soaked, so I knew the next day I would start my day with wet feet. Ugh.

There were so many fallen trees and roots, that constantly climbing them felt like rock climbing, but on trees! And twhen you add in the rain, it becomes a really hard trek. I kept thinking about Steve telling me he read online of people crawling to climb through certain jungle areas due to its density and overgrowth – that was an accurate account. There is no graceful way of climbing over and under all the roots!

I had to remind myself several times that Jesus had me in the palm of His hand and that I would display the flag I had made when I went to Mt Rainier. I would take His flag to the Summit, and have a picture with it saying: “Jesus Rocks!”

And with that came the peace and willpower to continue towards reaching the basecamp of Carstensz Pyramid, and then to climb to its summit. With perseverance came the opportunity to also marvel at the beautiful landscape that surrounded us. Along with the rainforest and muddy trails, I had the opportunity to see gold dust that just flows freely from the Freeport mine, sparkling in the rivers. The landscape itself seemed to be basically non-existing of wild life (at least we didn’t run into any)– we saw or heard the occasional bird – which was still impressive.  I do feel privileged and certainly blessed to have seen it and have trekked through it. It was exhausting, and yet, on some level, exhilarating. My excitement was fueled by what was to come.

Ema

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Carstensz Pyramid Climb Part 1 – Journey to Papua

Part 1 of 4 Carstensz Pyramid Climb – Journey to Papua
(Click for Part 2)

The Carstensz Pyramid is the highest peak in Indonesia/Oceania. It is one of the most difficult and rarely climbed of the Seven Summits. The typical route requires trekking through equatorial jungles and rock climbing steep jagged limestone cliffs while repairing frayed fixed ropes along the way. It’s mountaineering and adventure travel at an extreme level. Many previous expeditions to this peak have reported robbery, extortion, detention, bribery, abandonment, kidnapping, and even violence. Carstensz is not a forgiving mountain and a misstep can be deadly -a chinese expedition who climbed immediately before us lost one team member on the mountain -on our climb we walked past the blue tarp that covered his body. This is my story and the start of climbing the 7 Summits.

The trip started on the evening of Wednesday, September 27, 2017.  I am sitting in the Toronto #AirFrance/#KLM Lounge and I am a little calmer. A few hours earlier, at home and even when I was arriving at the airport, I was having a mini nervous breakdown. My heart strings were stretched taut and I knew they would only relax when I was back home with my family after this adventure.

It was an 8 hour flight overnight to Amsterdam, Netherlands, with an almost 9 hour lay over. It just gave me enough time to take the train directly from the airport to the center of the city. Then a pleasant reprieve – a one hour canal cruise to see the 100 most important places – Amsterdam on fast forward!

After a 14 hour flight, I arrived in Bali, Indonesia on Saturday September 30th. Indonesian time is 12 hours ahead of us in Canada.

Earlier in the week at home, there was news that a volcano was ready to erupt at any moment; news that had me a little worried as it was close to my Bali stop. As I arrived, Mount Agung had not erupted, and locals in Bali seemed completely unconcerned, even though all news reports previously stated eruption was imminent. Well, like everything, the Volcano is in Gods hands and timetable.

As our plane landed in Bali and I waited for my two duffle bags, I felt the relief of being out of the plane, stretching my legs and mind after the long journey. Finally I was in Bali, but I was anxious to see my bags because they contained all my supplies for my climb and their contents were irreplaceable. At last, the familiar bags arrived and I was able to breathe a bit easier.

My hotel was only a few kilometers from the airport, however the journey took an hour. It really seemed to take forever. Traffic in the morning or evening rush hour on the Gardner Expressway is a ‘speedway’ compared to this drive!

My mind raced in anticipation of what was to come, but I felt calm. Could I really be the first Portuguese woman to climb Carstensz  Pyramid? I already missed my family, my husband – I am a ‘homebody’ (like my husband always says) ….  Wait! What? And I am climbing mountains I ask yourself?  Yup!!! Let’s do this Ema!

Bali was only a stopover and meeting point for the members of the expedition. From here on we travel as a group to Timika, West Papua, to climb the long awaited Carstensz Pyramid.  First we took a flight from Denpasar, Bali, to Timika, West Papua. Our flight left at 1:30am local time – I loaded up on coffee again!

This was not #KLM or Air Canada but a local carrier; as I prepared for 4 hours plus of flying, sandwiched in the middle seat between Adam and Phillipe, two other teammates. More flying?  Really?

When we arrived at the Timika airport, our whole team was excited as we waited for our duffle bags on the conveyor belt. We all looked like ‘hikers’ with our gear bags and backpacks, easily recognizable as heading to climb the Cardensz Pyramid.  As we waited, our team started a conversation with other passengers waiting, a hand full of men from China.

“You guys climbing Carstensz?” Adam, from our team, asked them.

They told us that yes, indeed they were. This was their third expedition and will hopefully summit this time. And no, they would not be trekking in, as they had tried it once and aborted due to the EXTREME difficulty at every step. Secretly this answer scared us, but we all remained positive on the outside. The Chinese team would be taking the helicopter directly to basecamp bypassing six days of hiking through the jungle. Perhaps we felt stronger and braver with this route, because we would be trekking in, gradually climbing over many days to basecamp. I personally thought, that they just wanted to brag that they had climbed Carstensz and the helicopter was just the easiest way to go. I was not fazed at what awaited us at that moment. Little did I know…

As we piled our duffle bags into pushcarts and headed to the exit, we were all stopped and our passports were taken away from us. ‘What?!’  ‘Why?’ ‘What’s going on?’ I felt completely powerless without my Canadian passport. We are left speechless.

Denny, our Indonesian head guide, that that been hired by Terra Ultima, had gone through and I can see him outside looking at us trapped inside. I didn’t understand what is going on and why he left us – he later told us, that he left us on purpose; that this was our first test to see how we would handle ourselves, as we would encounter more of this type hostility towards us. ‘Thanks for the warning Denny!’

Apparently, Indonesians, more particularly those from Papua, don’t all like tourists or foreigners and certainly do not see the benefit of the money we bring in to explore their country. Strange as it seems, I was told that they feel we are somehow invading their country, simply by hiking and climbing the largest mountain in Oceania. How does that make sense; maybe something was lost in translation?

At last, one of Denny’s employees came inside and showed that we had permits to climb Carstensz. So after much screaming back and forth between our guides and immigration, an officer took pictures of our passports and let us through. I have to remind myself, we are in a very foreign country that just a few years ago didn’t think twice about shooting foreigners for just being “in” the country and a few decades before, went to arms against Australia in their fight for independence. So in some ways I suppose they still feel we are some type of enemy invader I suppose.

After we left the airport we were ushered into two separate vehicles with Denny’s Team and were driven to the hotel, where we could rest until our yet another early morning flight, which would take us to where we would start our journey to the mountain!

This hotel was newly built and its modernism was a blunt contrast between the “favela” atmosphere of the neighbourhood in which it was located.

That afternoon we also had to go to the Immigration office and fill out paperwork for our permits to climb Carstensz. I did not understand this step as we had already provided our pictures previously and it seemed we already had shown our permits at the airport. But we went to the Immigration Office, had our pictures taken again and new paperwork signed. When in Rome…

Here I took the opportunity to enquire again if any other Portuguese woman or man had climbed Carstensz. I was assured that records are now kept and they did not have anyone registered from that country in there office. The only other office where permits could be obtained would be Naribe. However, the officer seemed to believe no other Portuguese person had climbed, and certain no other Portuguese woman had. ‘Yes!’ I was to be the first!

Next, we went shopping for a few necessities – umbrellas (ALOT of rain was in the forecast) and also food for what was supposed to be for me – the only vegetarian in our group 4 climbers. Cans of beans and some corn was purchased to supplement what would surely be a nutritious diet provided by the touring company.

Shortly after our shopping trip, our lead guide Denny, informs us that our toilet and shower tent, which we had been told we would have for the expedition, had been stolen from basecamp, so we will have to make do. Another bit of stress being added;climbing with no privacy to shower and the jungle as the toilet area! As a business person I didn’t really understand this. If it was stolen, just go buy another one!  We decided to take the “Oh well!” attitude and move on to more important items.

And then at last, we had a group dinner and rested for the night before our trip to the airport to catch a  small plane that would take us to Sugapa.

It was my husband Steve’s birthday– October 4. I was sad that I missed it and it tugged at my heart. I missed my family already, but the anticipation of the climb was still pumping through my veins and was keeping me focused.

When we arrived at the landing strip in Sugapa, all the YouTube videos I had previously seen came to reality. There were hordes of motorcycle riders, ready and eager to get your business. After lots of negotiation from our local guides, we all got on the back of a motorcycle including duffle bags, all our supplies, and tents. Quite the sight!

We made several stops along the way. The first two were close together and both were to pay off local government authorities and the local government army office.

Then we had the start of roadblocks by local tribe members. I’m guessing three, because honestly I lost count and tended to blend into each other. One of the roads blocks was very intense, to the point it actually seemed choreographed to scare foreigners out of higher bribes! Even the local army guy, whom had been paid off less than half an hour before, had to be brought in and threats were made between the two groups. Eventually we were let through and were able to continue our trip. ALOT of money greased their palms during this long process. Even though our climbing group was on the sidelines with our guides handling these negotiations, the entire process seemed very intense.

Finally we arrived at the leader of the Dani tribes’ farm, where we spent the night. This tribe was also  from whom we hired porters the next day.

We stayed in two local wood homes, which had three rooms.  We slept in our sleeping bags on the floor. It rained all night and we spent that time with all the local children.

 

 

William, local leader, and his farmhouses accommodate guests such as us. He has 7 wives and countless children. Yes, I said 7.  William claims to be a Christian. ‘Ahhhhh … no; I don’t think so.’

All of this travel, negotiating, suspicion, and living arrangements and we hadn’t even started the expedition! ‘Is this what I signed up for?’  It was.  And this was only the beginning.

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Why CAMH?

Recently as I was telling a friend that our Foundation is going to raise money for CAMH (Center for Addiction and Mental Health), her reaction was a very common one, ” Why?”

The question is also mixed with fear and confusion and I find that all the excitement I had instilled on them about attempting to climb the 7 Summits, is gone.

When I explain, among other things, I want to do it in memory of my mother, that causes even a bigger confusion and I get asked, “Why your mother? She was not crazy?”

Sometimes I am left taken aback, sometimes hurt, but now I am learning to say: ” Of course not. My Mom suffered from severe depression, that went untreated.”

Mental Health continues to have a huge stigma in our society. And if you add a cultural aspect to it, the stigma is even greater.

The words “mental health” continue to be associated with people in asylums and psychiatric hospitals and people have a hard time dealing with it. It scares them.

A person can be diagnosed with Cancer and it will illicit sympathy. If a person is diagnosed with depression, suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar, anxiety, etc,  people pull away from them. And they are left to feel even more alone and isolated.

Its time for “Change”.

Ema

 

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