Mt. Pancak Jaya, Indonesia

August 30, 2007-- Our team returned to Moscow after we climbed Mt. Elbrus and took the flight the next day to Beijing. To celebrate our success, the adventure company held a grand party in Min Vody, and we were awarded with glorious certificates. Recalling back to the breathtaking avalanche that day, we still feel frightened. In the party, I became a spotlight, when the people there knew that I shall finish my “7+2” adventure schedule and take the task of “torch-holder” during the Beijing Olympic. They gave me great admiration and I signed autographs. They promised they would come to Beijing for the Olympic in 2008, it made me feel so excited. Beijing welcomes everyone who loves the Olympics, and China welcomes you in 2008!

According to our itinerary, I shall arrive in Beijing on September 1, and directly fly to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, to climb the highest mountain in Oceania, Mt. Pancak Jaya (Elevation: 4,884 meters). Mt. Pancak Jaya and Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia are both considered the highest in Oceania, however, the question of which one is the real top peak has always been in great dispute. That is also the reason why I still choose to go Mt. Jaya after my successful trip to Mt. Kosciuszko. No matter which one is the real highest peak, after I conquered both, I could say without hesitation that I’ve finished my “7+2” schedule.

Mt. Pancak Jaya situated in the Island of Papua New Guinea, which is in the eastern part of Indonesia. The island is among the five largest ones of the country. The west part of New Guinea belongs to Indonesia and the east part owned by Papua New Guinea. The Mt. Pancak Jaya is in the central and western plateau of the island. Since New Guinea belongs to Oceania, so Jaya is considered as the highest peak of the continent, and also the highest one in Indonesia. With its special geographic situation, the Mt. Jaya is also the highest peak between the Asia’s Himalayas and the America’s Andes peak, and it is the world’s highest island mountain.

As Mt. Jaya sits rather remote, we need to cross the dense topical rainforest before we can reach it, and head-hunting tribe still live in the forests. The peak was first conquered by a 4-member-team lead by an Austrian climber in the year 1962, though this mountain was found in early 1623 by a Dutch explorer. For so many years, the mysterious mountain has been appeal to explorers with its fancy natural vegetation which changes from tropical to frigid environment and also is home to ancient human life. And the tribes in the juggle also cast a mysterious shadow on the mountain.

September 5, 2007 -- Today I flew to Jakarta, the Capital of Indonesia. Here I shall meet with another four teammates from Taiwan and one from Spain to begin our climb of Mt. Jaya.

Jakarta is a city with sultry climate, and a large population in the urban area. In downtown, there are many rivers interweaving together, however, with serious pollution, floating trash could be seen above the river and smelly odor emitting from the water. The urban construction shows the great disparity between the citizens. Many shabby squatter huts are scattered in the high-rise skyscrapers. What’s really laudable is the city’s transportation facilities. Personally, I think it’s better than any big cities of China. As a multi-ethnic country, Indonesia has about 100 ethnic groups nationwide. Thus, decorations and religious totems can be found every corner of the city.

Compared with other peaks, the Mt. Jaya mainly features in these elements:

1, Like the others, the Mt. Jaya also has the “second stage”. Its routes uphills can be planned in this way: walking along the ridge of the mountain, then cross the rock wall about 500 meters, we can arrive at the peak after walk further half a kilometer along the ridgeline. The hardest climb is a 20-meter-deep crack where need to be firmly fixed with ropes. Our team can only get down and come up with the fixing of ropes. For climbing the rock wall, there is a straight rock wall with more than 50 meters long with a climbing index of 5.9 and requires basic climbing skills and excellent use of ascent-tools. So, it’s really a harsh experiment, though, exciting.

2, The climate there is humid, hot and changeable. Just because of these characters, Mt. Jaya’s climate breeds mosquitos and diseases like dermatology and gastro-intestinal. Thus, the prevention of diseasse become a major focus of the trip.

3, Unknown factors. As the Mt. Jaya is a mountain which just opened for the public in recent years, many of its information and datas are not first-hand materials. This time the adventure company only send us guides and cooks, all the supplies and equipment we need to transport ourselves.

In the afternoon, I shall meet with the Taiwan compatriots which I met when we were climbing Mt. McKinley. It’s very exciting that you could meet with your own compatriots when climbing in the other countries. We made this trip promise together when we were in McKinley, and we all kept our word.

September 6, 5 AM -- Our plane took off for a five-hour flight from Jakarta to a small town ­-- Timika. The adventure company transported us to a small hotel after arriving.

As we just came out from the Timika Airport, we could clearly feel the tense situation of the place. The local armed militants were negotiating with the non-governements armed forces -- sometimes even fighting. Because of this situation, the local guide advised us that we couldn't go to the Jaya Base Camp by helicopter, instead, we needed to look for help of the non-government military trucks to escort us secretly to the dense forest at the foot of Jaya. The guide kept telling us not to take photos of the anti-governmental armed control areas, or we might be seized by the militants. In this way, we have to behave carefully.

In the daytime, we dare not to go anywhere; we could only move after the sunset. The adventure company jointly cooperated with the non-governmental forces to send us secretly to the topical jungles at the foothills. And then, we have to walk overnight to a transit camp which is many miles away. I estimate that everyone of us will have to spent about 100,000 RMB on this mission. Most of this expenses are used to deal with the relationships with the local anti-governmental militants by the adventure company, only in this way, we could smoothly and safely go through. On this matter, the adventure company must have strong political background.

The weather for most of Indonesia is hot, rainy, no wind, very humid and no seasonal changes -- typical tropical rainforest climate. It is considered as “summer all year round and quickly goes to autumn with a rainfall”. So does Timika. We were met with a heavy shower when we just arriving in the midday. It normally rains everyday, so the “raincoat” becomes indispensable for climbing.

Mt. Jaya has rich copper deposits and there is secret gold in the juggle. The guide told us not to take photos when crossing the jungles in the evening and never touch anything out of curiosity because there are snakes, toxic spiders and all kinds of other poisonous insects in the forest. So walking through the jungle shall be a great challenge for us and we should always follow the guide and never go out of the team.

If everything could go smoothly, we will reach our base camp at 4,200 meters and start our training to climb to the top of Mt. Jaya.

September 9 -- We started our trip from the base camp (4,200 meters) and crossed a small independent mountain by a cable. The most difficult climb is a steep rock wall, which is very similar to the dragon gate of the West Mountain in Yunnan. This climb is a not a small challenge for us, even harder then the “second step” in north Mt. Everest. The friends from Taiwan are excellent climbers. One of the female members climbed the Mt. Everest in early 1995. On the road to the peak, they encouraged me a lot which gave me strong faith to fulfill the task.

After six hours of climbing, we finally reached the peak which only could accommodate barely seven people. The pride from the bottom of my heart embraced me and we hugged each other. The friends from Taiwan promised to go to our motherland for the Olympics.

After a short stay at the peak, we began our decent. The guide repeatedly told us to pay full attention to every step, and never underestimate the danger. After we arrived at the base camp, it was suggested that we wait until dark. The local guide told us to make up and pretend to be miners, in this way, we could move from the mountain more safely.

During the process of climbing, we had a pleasant communication with each other and made great friendships. I think the friends from both places should strengthen our cooperation and work hard together. Nature had witnessed our friendship when we were holding hands.

September 9, 8:00 AM -- Our team successfully climbed the peak of Mt. Jaya -- the highest mountain in Oceania (4,884 meters). This is the first successful climb made cooperatively by compatriots from mainland China and Taiwan.

September 11, 2 AM -- After more than ten hours, our team finally crossed the heavily-guarded mine and the dangerous military-controlled areas. Then we arrived back to Timika.

We were met with a heavy shower in the morning. The sky was thundering and every stone was soaked in the water. It seems that only the six hour at the peak was fair weather. Nearly every other minute in the mountain was spent in the rain. Thanks heaven! The rain got weaker when we intended to leave the base camp, now we saw the real looks of the main peak Mt. Jaya. When we looked at the mountain, none of us would believe we had climbed such a steep rock wall.

We moved on to a big rock named Zebra, which is about 70 meters high, with a pattern much similar to a Zebra. The guide asked us to stop here and wait. The day got darker during one hour ‘s rest in the rain. Later, we finally got on the two Toyota Land Cruise, which made me feel the happiness brought by the modern civilization. Once on board, the guide assigned us working-hats and red-yellow reflective vests, so now we became mine workers again.

When our cars were passing the mine area, the driver shut down the lights in case of danger. Everyone in the car was sweating for the unknown disasters. I couldn’t resist my curiosity and took some photos at the moment. Later the guide told us this area is the world’s biggest gold mine and world’s third largest copper mine which was invested and operated by an American company. The Papua town was permitted to gain its citizenship of Indonesia in the referendum in 1969 hosted by the UN. There are many armed separatists in the area, so the situation is rather tense. It’s 3,700 meters when we entered the tunnels of the mine. We drove half an hour with a speed of 25 meters per hour through the tunnel and exited at 2,700 meters. At that time, we had no way out but sitting in a car crossing down such long tunnel without any lights and totally unaware of what might happen the next minute. Maybe a crash. Maybe a fight.

Moving out of the mine, we still had to cross the security battalion. We were told to stay where we were until 11 PM in the evening and then that we could pass. Later we were sent to a camp and put into a container. Two soldiers threw us some bottles of water and small pieces of bread and shut the door. Was this scene a little too familiar? Like a kidnapping movie and we were the hostages? We could only hear the little voice of the soldiers talking outside at that time. Fortunately, at 11PM, the door was opened. The soldiers gave us hats and deep-colored military uniforms of Indonesia.

In the car, six armed soldiers were sitting around us, it seemed like they were protecting us. Or were we hostages? Three hours later, we safely arrived at the outskirts of Timika. There we were transferred to our own cars and the military truck suddenly disappeared into the dark.

After we got back to the hotel, we felt fully safe. Recalling back to what happened just now, I think it’s really like in the action movie. When asking the guide the reason for make-up, he explained to us that the different powers in the Papus were looking for chances to earn money. If we were found as tourists, we would most likely be detained and blackmailed. The guide asked if we were performing the 007 movie? Mr. Huang, from Taiwan joked, “Yes, pretty much like it and with our ownBond Girl”.

September 15, 2007 -- Jin Fei Bao arrived safely back in Kunming to be greeted by his wife Li Jia and a thousand well-wishers!