Carstensz

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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What can hinder a skills preparation climbing session? Qu’est ce qui peut vous empêcher de suivre une formation d’escalade de préparation?

(Le français suit)

Many things I suppose, but certainly slipping in the bathtub while taking a shower in your hotel room, and slamming your right side of your ribcage against the bathtub can be a problem.

Yup, especially if during impact you feel the air sucked out of your lungs. I can tell you that this is not a good thing!

That is what happened to me this past weekend. Results = 3 broken ribs.

Saturday morning finding it hard to breath from previously falling while taking a shower in my hotel room, I went to the front desk and I was able to get a bottle of Advil. I knew I had to be on-site for training at 8:45am and I took two Advils, then shortly after another two…. But the intense pain was still a little distracting.

I entered the address that had been provided to me for the location of the training incomplete on my car’s navigation system – which then led me to the opposite direction of where I had to be.

I was then about 30 minutes late for the first day of training with my fellow climbers for the Carstensz Pyramid summit. Not good.

I then mentioned to our guide when he came to get me at the parking lot that I had hurt my ribs taking a shower. I know he could not believe how dumb I was, even if he did not say it, and he sternly reminded me I needed to be careful now, especially so close to our trip.

I agreed and then the paramedic in him looked at my ribs, but I assured him it was really nothing, they were just bruised probably and I already had taken some Advil. I would be fine. I was fine I assured him. So he took my word for it – and in all fairness, I believed whole heartily myself that I was fine.

I am a confident and a strong person and he would have no reason to doubt me. We had a whole day of training ahead of us.

I was trying to feel my confident normal self, while every breath I was taking was hurting on the right side. So I took another Advil. I am at five now, in the span of a couple of hours.

We went out to rock climb and left our backpacks at the bottom of one of the rock faces. I had fun at moments, I learned the best I could and I even challenged myself while blocking sharp pain. I was on-site to learn and train.

However by about 3:00pm when we came back to where we started, I was desperate for my Advil bottle, which I hungrily swallowed two and then a few minutes later another two. Within another thirty minutes I once again felt like I could manage the rest of the training and I was confident that the pain in my lungs and ribs was only bruising. I thought several times that when I got back home to Georgetown, I would go to my local hospital just to make sure my ribs were ok.

However it was not to happen.

At the end of the day when I reached my hotel room, breathing was harder and more painful and I started crying alone in fear. Well – NEVER cry when you have broken ribs… It makes it worse!

I texted my friend and our guide Emmanuel:

“Hey, Emmanuel it hurts when I breathe… I am scared’

He answers back:

‘It will hurt to breath you bruised your ribs…’

‘But I doubt they are broken or you wouldn’t move’

‘You can numb it with ice a little’

‘Try putting a tenser bandage’ – ok when I read this text, I thought to myself – but of course – if I had my first aid supplies with me, which I was suppose to pack and didn’t.  And I cried more.

Mercifully Emmanuel called me and I don’t know if it was my crying or perhaps he heard in my voice how scared I was, but certainly his medical training kicked in and he proceeded to calm me down over the phone, and then decided to come to my hotel room and drive me to a local hospital.

I was given a lecture though on of how I should have said my ribs where hurting, the numerous time I was asked if I was ok. I apologized profusely and honestly. But in my defence, I truly believed during the day I was ok and my ribs were only bruised and this skill training was important.

When we were told in the hospital that I had 3 broken ribs I was not surprised. Emmanuel was.

I have a high level of pain tolerance threshold and when I want to accomplish something, I like to believe I am strong, I just don’t see another option than just to move forward.

I have spent months training for both Mt Rainier and to climb Carstensz Pyramid. This training was important to me.

When Emmanuel said I could not climb Mt Rainier as I had 3 broken ribs, I felt all the air being sucked out of me. The anguish I felt in my heart was greater than the pain on my ribs. I have to – was my response, in between childlike sobs, which I think it should have scared him a bit, in retrospect. I have made a mental note to try to not cry again in front of my guide.

I have to be mountain ready! I have to, that is my determination.

I will rest and I will follow my Doctors orders and I have enlisted the help and support of my family. But on July 10, I am hoping Dr Downey says I can go and climb Mt Rainier, for my Denali Prep Course. Then when I return I plan to continue training for the Carstensz Pyramid climb in the Fall.

I will be careful, attentive and I am going to switch to stand up showers only.

Bathtubs are dangerous!  🙂

_______

Qu’est ce qui peut vous empêcher de suivre une formation d’escalade en préparation de l’ascension de la Pyramide de Carstensz?

Plusieurs choses je pense, mais le fait de glisser dans la baignoire de l’hôtel alors que vous prenez une douche, puis de vous cogner le côté droit de la cage thoracique contre la baignoire, posera certainement un problème.

En particulier si lors du choc, vous expirez l’air de vos poumons. Je peux vous assurer que ce n’est pas agréable!

C’est ce qui m’est arrivé au cours de la fin de semaine du 10-11 juin. Résultat : trois côtes cassées.

Samedi matin, je respirais difficilement à la suite de ma chute alors que je me douchais à l’hôtel. Je me suis rendue à la réception pour me procurer un flacon d’Advil. Je savais que je devais être sur le site à 8 h 45 pour suivre la formation; j’ai donc pris deux Advil, puis encore deux peu de temps après… Mais la douleur intense me dérangeait toujours.

Dans le système de navigation de ma voiture, j’ai entré l’adresse incomplète du lieu de formation que l’on m’avait fournie, ce qui m’a conduite dans la direction opposée.

Je suis donc arrivée avec environ 30 minutes de retard à la première journée de formation avec mes compagnons de cordée pour l’ascension de la Pyramide de Carstensz. Mauvais début.

Lorsque notre guide est venu me chercher au stationnement, je lui ai dit que je m’étais blessée aux côtes en prenant une douche. Je sais qu’il ne pouvait pas croire que je pouvais être aussi stupide, même s’il ne l’a pas dit. Il m’a fortement rappelée que je devais maintenant être prudente, en particulier à l’approche de notre expédition.

J’ai acquiescé, puis il a regardé mes côtes. Je lui ai assuré que ce n’était vraiment rien, qu’elles étaient sans doute juste couvertes de bleus et que j’avais déjà pris des Advil. Ça irait bien. Je lui ai affirmé que ça allait. Il m’a donc cru. En toute franchise, je croyais que j’allais tout à fait bien.

Je suis quelqu’un de confiant et de fort, et il n’avait aucune raison de douter de moi. Nous avions une journée entière de formation qui nous attendait.

J’essayais d’être dans mon état de confiance normal, même si mon côté droit me faisait souffrir à chaque inspiration. J’ai donc pris un autre Advil. En l’espace de quelques heures, j’en suis rendue à cinq.

Nous sommes allés faire de l’escalade sur rocher et avons laissés nos sacs à dos au pied de l’une des parois. J’ai aimé par moments, j’ai appris du mieux que je pouvais et me suis même lancée un défi tout en ignorant la douleur aiguë. J’étais ici pour apprendre et me préparer.

Cependant, vers 15 h, lorsque nous sommes revenus à notre point de départ, il était urgent que je prenne des Advil. J’en ai avalé deux immédiatement, puis deux autres quelques minutes plus tard. Trente minutes après, j’ai pensé que je pourrais profiter du reste de la formation et j’étais certaine que la douleur aux poumons et sur mes côtes n’était due qu’aux hématomes. J’ai à plusieurs reprises pensé qu’une fois de retour à Georgetown, j’irai à l’hôpital simplement pour m’assurer que tout allait bien.

Cependant, cela ne devait pas arriver.

À la fin de la journée, lorsque j’ai regagné ma chambre à l’hôtel, je respirais difficilement et je ressentais des douleurs. Je me suis mise à pleurer de peur. En fait, ne pleurez JAMAIS lorsque vous avez des côtes cassées; c’est pire!

J’ai envoyé un message texte à mon ami Emmanuel, qui était aussi notre guide :

« Salut Emmanuel, j’ai mal lorsque je respire… J’ai peur »

Il me répond :

« Ce sera douloureux de respirer. Tu t’es blessée aux côtes…

Mais je doute qu’elles soient cassées, sinon tu ne pourrais pas bouger.

Tu peux calmer la douleur en mettant de la glace.

Essaye de mettre un bandage serré » Très bien, en lisant ce texte, j’ai pensé que, bien entendu, si seulement j’avais ma trousse de premiers soins, que j’étais censée avoir dans mon sac et que je n’avais pas. Et j’ai pleuré encore plus.

Par chance, Emmanuel m’a appelée, et je ne sais pas si je pleurais toujours ou s’il a entendu dans ma voix que j’avais peur, mais certainement que ses compétences médicales ont pris le dessus. Il a commencé par me calmer au téléphone avant de venir à mon hôtel pour me conduire dans un hôpital local.

On m’a fait la leçon sur le fait que j’aurais dû dire que j’avais mal aux côtes, le nombre de fois où l’on m’a demandé si j’allais bien. Je me suis profondément excusée. Cependant, pour ma défense, j’ai vraiment cru que j’allais bien au cours de la journée et que je n’avais que des bleus. Et cette formation était importante.

Lorsqu’à l’hôpital on nous a annoncé que j’avais trois côtes cassées, je n’ai pas été surprise. Emmanuel l’a été.

Mon seuil de tolérance à la douleur est élevé et lorsque je veux accomplir quelque chose, j’aime penser que je suis résistante; je n’envisage rien d’autre que d’avancer.

J’ai passé des mois à m’entraîner pour l’ascension du Mont Rainier et de la Pyramide de Carstensz. C’était une formation importante pour moi.

Quand Emmanuel m’a dit que je ne pourrais pas faire l’ascension du Mont Rainier à cause de mes trois côtes cassées, je me suis sentie étouffer. Le pincement au cœur était plus douloureux que mes côtes. Entrecoupée de sanglots, ma réponse fut « Je dois y aller », ce qui, j’imagine, a dû l’effrayer un peu, quand j’y repense. Mentalement, je me suis promis de me souvenir de ne pas pleurer devant mon guide.

Je dois être prête pour la montagne! Je le dois et j’y suis déterminée.

Je vais me reposer et suivre les prescriptions de mon médecin. J’ai également demandé le soutien de ma famille. J’espère cependant que le 10 juillet, le docteur Downey me dira que je peux faire l’ascension du Mont Rainier, ma préparation pour l’ascension du Denali. Lorsque je rentrerai, je prévois de poursuivre ma formation pour l’ascension de la Pyramide de Carstensz en automne.

Je serai prudente et attentive, et je vais adopter les douches, les baignoires étant dangereuses! 🙂

Ema

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Training Session of May 8, 2017

May 8, 2017

I now train 7 days a week. I am training based on “Fit to Climb”, by RMI, so I am ready for my upcoming Denali Prep course with RMI’s Expedition Skills Seminar – Emmons, which is a six day instructional mountaineering course with a summit attempt on Mt. Rainier via the Emmons Glacier route.

At the same time, I am learning to rock climb and I have a personal trainer to help me build more of my upper body strength to tackle the Carstensz Pyramid.

Today, it was a particular tough day. I had hiked 3 hours yesterday, as per this weeks schedule from RMI’s weekly program, and it was to be followed by 7 hours of hiking today, with a weighted backpack.

I currently have 37 pounds on my pack.

When you are running a marathon your mind plays games with you. At least mine does!!! First you are excited to start the race and usually about around 10 km you start regretting having signed up for the full marathon. Then just around the split, you are resigned to run the whole thing. And when you are on your last 4-5 km, you question your sanity.

That was me today. At about 4 km away from home, and at about 6 hours of hiking time. I pondered using my cell phone and asking my family to come pick me up. I contemplated sitting and leaving my backpack on the side of the road and going later to pick it up. I worried not being able to climb.

Then I reach the steps of my side door and I knew that tomorrow morning I would lace up my running shoes and do the training session on the schedule.

Because like running, hiking is peaceful, challenging and I am doing it because I enjoy it.

And like when I was training for a marathon, I filled a bath and I let my body indulge for 20 minutes with the Jacuzzi jets at full capacity, and yes, I am aware this is a luxury that will not be available to me in my tent. But I am still home, so no harm in taking advantage of it!

Training is hard physically, but also mentally. Today my brain was more tired than my body, and thus they fought.

Ema

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