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Chockstone Forum - General Discussion

General Climbing Discussion

 Page 1 of 3. Messages 1 to 20 | 21 to 40 | 41 to 42
Author
Unclimbed PNG peak?

Mike TS
28/05/2006
11:54:57 PM
Wikipedia says that the high point of the Finisterre Range (in Papua New Guinea, elevation 13,648 feet (4,160 m)) is the highest unclimbed prominence in the world.
Sounds like an interesting trip. Any ideas? Info?

Phil Box
29/05/2006
8:23:59 AM
I'm soooo wanting to do something up in PNG. There is sooo much unclimbed rock up there. Check out the Hindenberg Wall it is 50 k long and up to a thousand metres straight up in places. All limestone, imagine the sports routes on that in a hundred years. ;))

MartinR
29/05/2006
11:56:48 AM
Well someone better get up there and start working on those sport routes!

I see you can fly into Tari. Do you know what is the access from Tari to the Hindenberg Wall? Can you drive or is it a trek through leach infested forest?

Phil Box
29/05/2006
12:59:06 PM
The leech infested forest option is the only one for much of PNG.

Mike TS
29/05/2006
1:11:45 PM
Climbing tradition says that you do the trad lines first (OK, I know it's limeston, but....)
DaveW
29/05/2006
7:48:04 PM
Hmmm, Hindenberg Wall photos seem to show lots of vegetation. What about this for 1000m high limestone wall?
http://www.alpinist.com/climbing-notes/note/10001/
Note all existing routes are trad including Pat Littlejohn & Steve Sustad's 1100m E4 5c Icarus. Great weather, brilliant solid limestone, several lifetimes of new routes to do, not just here but all over Oman.

IdratherbeclimbingM9
Online Now
30/05/2006
3:36:48 PM
On 28/05/2006 Mike TS wrote:
>Wikipedia says that the high point of the Finisterre Range (in Papua New
>Guinea, elevation 13,648 feet (4,160 m)) is the highest unclimbed prominence
>in the world.
>Sounds like an interesting trip. Any ideas? Info?

Unclimbed?
I doubt it.
It is relatively true that locals would not have much interest in climbing high points unless there was advantage in it, but from my experience up there I know they are very aware of the extent of their tribal land and have traversed it.
Their having local knowledge of such events does not register in locations like Wikipedia I expect.

>Interesting trip
It would be extreme/ly interesting from a number of aspects, not the least as a cultural eye opener.
Logistics of travel up there are quite complicated with 'rascal' issues. Once you are off the beaten (road) track and actually bushwalking to your objective then you would be OK, but road travel would be fraught with highway robbery possibility. Do not be mislead by the lightweight connotation that the word ‘rascal’ conjures up. They are serious thieves who have scant respect for your physical welfare.

There are no roads in the Finisterre Range that extend to within a days (strenuous) walk of any place significant. Most objectives I achieved were multiday affairs and often not long enough at that. You will need a very good base level of fitness as roads often end in the (significantly steep) foothills, and as such 3/4 of your height gain is still in front of you.
Many of the ridges are parallel. This is heartbreaking to crest one and find that your hard won height gain is about to be lost descending into the next narrow valley in order to ascend the next ridge marginally higher than the vantage point you realise this from, especially when at certain times of day you see the ridges stacked up one after the other manyfold as far as the eye can see ...

Don’t let me put you off though, as it is not something that can’t be overcome with plenty of time and a good sense of direction.

Other points I can comment on at random …
>There is sooo much unclimbed rock up there
&
>All limestone, imagine the sports routes on that in a hundred years
True there is plenty of rock but much is highly weathered (read choss) and if it is below the (alpine) tree-line then if it is not overhanging it IS overgrown for the most part.
Above the tree-line there is good quality rock, but be prepared to allow time to acclimatise to both altitude and cold weather.

>Hindenberg Wall it is 50 k long
Longer by far if I recall correctly. Also it is sub-alpine in elevation and is located in a part of PNG that has the highest annual rate of precipitation. Fine days in a year can be counted on one hand …

>I see you can fly into Tari. Do you know what is the access from Tari to the Hindenberg Wall?
Walk, or if you have the $ you may be able to hire a lift from a helicopter.

>The leech infested forest option is the only one for much of PNG
Much of the foothills of the Finisterre Range is Kunai grass on the Ramu/Markham Rv (southern) side. Unless the locals have burnt off some (which they semi-regularly do for hunting purposes), then this can be in excess of 2m tall and thick so that pushing into it is extremely tiring as well as sharp to grab hold of (sword-grass). Much better to follow tracks*. The locals have trade routes and hunting tracks aplenty. Easy to get lost without a guide… The leeches love the kunai as well. Actually the leeches are not too bad as long as you are moving. When you stop long enough for them to get onto you they then become a worry.
I camped out on Shaggy Ridge (In Finisterres an equal to, but less well known location than Kokoda as a pivotal point in WW2 Aussie vs Jap fighting), and woke in the morning to find many sharing my sleeping bag. This was on a knife edged ridge in short (knee high) kunai with no evening rain. It beggars belief where they survive and what they eat when people are not there.
The northern (Madang) side would have gentler approach angles (still extremely steep in places) but longer distances involved and more typical coastal jungle type vegetation.

*Did I say track / hunting trail?
Think Kokoda type track … only this time you won’t have the dis-benefit of Japs looking to get you!

A picture is worth a thousand words. Must one day make the effort to get some of my 35mm slides scanned to upload. It is truly awesome country … and its butterflies are amazing!

Mike TS
30/05/2006
7:08:00 PM
Great, thanks for the info.
Some more questions:
1. Is there a better or worse season for trekking and climbing?
2. When were you there and where did you go?
3. What maps are available, and how good are they?
4. Would the locals have actually summitted? (after all, it must be chilly and headachy up there)
5. Have you ever heard of non-locals climbing and trekking in the Finisterre Ranges?
6. I was thinking of coming in from the coast, maybe taking a boat. Is that a stupid idea?
7. How practical is is to hire locals to guide you aroung their tracks?

Thanks

plumb bob
30/05/2006
7:36:24 PM
Sorry, this idea that the high point of the Finisterre range being the highest unclimbed prominence is total
crap.

One example that springs to mind.... Nyainqentangla East in Tibet, tons of unclimbed peaks some around
the 6000m mark.

The Lawa Valley in south-eastern Tibet etc... ad nauseam.

There are many blanks on the map...


Mike TS
30/05/2006
7:58:34 PM
It's prominence, not hight! This is a concept developed by some crazy cartographic nerds.
To quote:
'What is prominence? As defined below, prominence is an alternate way of measuring mountains rather than the elevation above sea level, the most common measurement. The most prominent peaks are then generally the highest freestanding mountains that have a noticeable separation between them and nearby higher peaks. In a mountain range that runs for many miles the most prominent peak will be the highest point in the range.

How is Prominence Defined? It is the elevation difference between a peak and the lowest contour that encircles it and no higher summit. Prominence is the maximum "shoulder drop" a peak has. It is easiest to visualize by thinking of an island. Here the most prominent peak is obviously the highest point on the island and the prominence value is the peak height above sea level.'

One list is on

http://www.peaklist.org/WWlists/WorldTop50.html

There are still peaks over 7k high unclimbed. Which depends on what you mean by a 'peak' or a 'top"

plumb bob
30/05/2006
8:44:37 PM
Ah right... well I thought I wasn't gonna learn anything today.

Have you read "The last true explorer"? Philip Temple and Heinrich Harrer get some jungle goodness and
bag a couple of peaks whilst locals rip em off!

Would be a good primer if you are entertaining such crazyness.....

Cheers!

IdratherbeclimbingM9
Online Now
31/05/2006
12:08:05 PM
>Some more questions:
>1. Is there a better or worse season for trekking and climbing?
PNG experiences a wet and a dry season, but I found this a relative term ie between wet and extremely wet often! It depends on which part of PNG you are in as there are strong regional climatic differences and opposites of what can generally be expected can occur. The mountains are entities unto themselves regarding weather for the most part …
Lonely Planet (books) have a reasonable guide on PNG as a starting point.

>2. When were you there and where did you go?
Three full years (many years ago now), and I fortunately had a job that took me everywhere. A lot of it by helicopter towards the latter of my sojourn, but all forms of travel were used regularly (fixed wing aircraft then transfer to 4WD, then transfer to boat, then walk multi day …).
I still have some contacts up there. From what I hear from them unrestricted travel is much more difficult these days compared to the freedom I had while I was there.

>3. What maps are available, and how good are they?
Good topographic maps are available. It would save time if you managed to obtain them before you go, as PNG can often be frustrating in obtaining ‘easy’ things. Don’t assume you can just walk into a store and buy them as they may or may not be available at that point in time.

>4. Would the locals have actually summitted? (after all, it must be chilly and headachy up there)
Most likely yes but without a record of it we will never know, and there is always the chance they did not bother to summit something particularly if the climbing was technical and there was no gain, eg food to be hunted, etc by the action.

>5. Have you ever heard of non-locals climbing and trekking in the Finisterre Ranges?
While I was there many non-locals participated in bushwalking / outdoor adventure type activities regularly visiting very out of the way places, including the Finisterres. The country has been looked at to varying degree by intrepid Kiaps (original Aussie constabulary), goldminers, unfortunate servicemen during WW2, missionaries, adventuresome explorers, more lately people like Tim Flannery searching out rare wildlife, etc …

>6. I was thinking of coming in from the coast, maybe taking a boat. Is that a stupid idea?
I don’t think a boat will get you any realistic distance towards a prominence unless it's on an island!
Seriously the streams in PNG as far as the Finisterres are concerned, are flashy mtn streams far better suited to hydro power than navigation.

>7. How practical is is to hire locals to guide you aroung their tracks?
Depends on the language group you are dealing with and if they ‘actually’ own the location you are attempting to reach.
I often found it frustrating to organise porters etc only to find part way into the journey they would stop because if they crossed the next stream or ridge they would be in another tribes area.
Popular places like climbing Mt Wilhelm in the Bismark Range these days involves paying locals not so much to act as guides or porters but to help deter them from vandalising your car at its left behind point …

Mt Gilluwe has some appealing rock prominences that I never did get too. If I was ever to return to PNG I would be targeting them from a rock-climbers perspective.
The Carstinez range includes magic cliffs in the Star Mtns above alpine tree-line; ... but this is Irian Jaya and politically sensitive, with a whole lot of other issues to deal with for the intrepid adventurers.

Phil Box
31/05/2006
12:36:37 PM
On 31/05/2006 M9iswhereitsat wrote:
>>3. What maps are available, and how good are they?
>Good topographic maps are available. It would save time if you managed
>to obtain them before you go, as PNG can often be frustrating in obtaining
>‘easy’ things. Don’t assume you can just walk into a store and buy them
>as they may or may not be available at that point in time.

I got the topo maps already. I need the contacts to even begin to plan logistics.

IdratherbeclimbingM9
Online Now
31/05/2006
1:02:00 PM
Is this my chance to 'hit you' for the
>PS, don't forget the ham sammies and the flanelette shirt.
>PPS, don't hit me for being a smart alec.
... jibe Phil?
heh, heh ...
(Incidentally my TR from the Canberra sojourn will appear soon in the new CRUXmag that everyone is talking about, ... if the editors deem it worthy; & BTW re
>Let us know how you get on with the chicks too mate, you'll score for sure. ;))
I did not find any chicks in the Vertigo area even though it is only about a 3 minute walk from Collimation Tower carpark, near Honeysuckle campground. Was shown some excellent aid lines there though).

I assume you are specifically interested in the Hindenburg Wall.
The contacts I had at Ok Tedi would no longer be there, but some of my mates still do contract work for Ok Tedi so I will enquire with them for you.
Tabubil (mining township) might have a PR person for Ok Tedi Ltd?
It is several days walk from Tabubil to Hindenburg Wall, or if they will let you be a paying passenger about a half hour helicopter flight (one way).

Alternatively you could contact the Australian Baptist Missionary Society to obtain the name and address of their current missionary located at Telefomin as a starting point. Even if you sent an aerogram/letter 'on spec' addressed to
ABMS C/- Telefomin, West Sepik Province, PNG.
I expect it would get to them ...
They would be able to give you the good oil re appropriate local person as guide etc.
All it takes is time and $, plus initiative/effort on the part of the intrepid.

Phil Box
31/05/2006
2:17:25 PM
Thanks M9 yer a font of info mate. By the way, I donned my flannelette shirt and packed my ham sammies last Thursday and Friday for the fortith anniversary climb of the East Face Route at Mt. Barney which I might add we were successful at. I too am hopeful that the good editors of Cruxmag can see fit to include the story in their mag. I have been told by Neil that such a long story may have to wait until next issue though. Yours might too. Iiiggghhhh, that scrub bash at the top doesn't bear remembering, vertical swimming doing the breststroke though chest high thick bushes. Flail over the top and plunge your feet down through it and repeat.

Superstu
31/05/2006
6:54:40 PM
Chockstone never ceases to surprise...

I am currently living in Madang, and every morning I look out over Astrolabe Bay across to the Finisterre Range to your 4000m peak.

The closest 'mapped' village is Teptep at 2000m, which is about 10km from the peak as the crow flies. From there the map shows a number of sharp ridges that lead to the summit. Alternatively there may be local tracks that provide closer access. I have no idea what the vegetation is like up there, it could be stunted alpine, or it could be hideous jungle.

I flew over the Finisterre range last weekend, and the higher elevations looked incredible. Very sharp ridges and summits poking through the cloud... Everything looked fairly vegetated, but its a bit hard to judge the thickness from an airplane. It's certainly not glacial or carrying snow.

On July 2 I'm flying into Teptep village for a look with some friends, before walking down to the coast (about 2-3 days) and getting a boat ride back to Madang. It's a short trip but I endeavour to ask around while there, find out more, see who's land it is, etc. I have no idea how much land above Teptep is inhabited, and how far up land ownership applies. You will most certainly need local help in getting up there though.

I have often speculated whether it would have been climbed before. European exploration of the interior didn't really start until the 1930's.. Things got kinda weird during the war.. Then there might have been some surveying done in the 60's and 70's. But people have been living up in those mountains for a very long time (possibly up to 40,000 years but the archeological record of PNG is very incomplete) so who knows whats been done..

I wouldn't be put off by M9's comments .... PNG is a great place to travel...

rodw
1/06/2006
8:09:27 AM
Any pictures Stu?

gremlin
1/06/2006
10:05:23 AM
I read that wikipedia article a few weeks back and searched around on google.
I came across this peak which looks like a heap of fun, it's also the highest point in oceania:
http://www.7summits.com/carstensz/
http://www.asiafinest.com/forum/lofiversion/index.php/t48729.html

Just a pity that it's in West Papua and right near the massive Freeport Mine.
If either of those two don't kill you the Indonesian army or the paperwork will...

IdratherbeclimbingM9
Online Now
1/06/2006
10:29:31 AM
On 31/05/2006 superstu wrote:
>I wouldn't be put off by M9's comments .... PNG is a great place to travel...

I agree entirely so I am sorry if I sound pessimistic through trying to be realistic.
Forewarned is forearmed.

Major centres (Port Moresby and in the highlands in particular, eg Mt Hagen) have perhaps more than their fair share of crime (often nationals against nationals), and from what I hear places like Lae are fast catching up.
In my experience as an expat the remoter places one goes are safe.

Just be aware and as a consequence careful, because you will always find horror stories that will put you off if you are disinclined.

(Regards to you and your girlfreind superstu, the visa thing obviously worked out OK).
:)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Post edit.
>and searched around on google.
Though not PNG, those are good links gremlin.

Mike TS
1/06/2006
1:11:57 PM
On 31/05/2006 superstu wrote:
>Chockstone never ceases to surprise...
>
>I am currently living in Madang, and every morning I look out over Astrolabe
>Bay across to the Finisterre Range to your 4000m peak.

Hi, I knew someone out there would have some info.
I'm really intrigued that somewhere that doesn't look impossibly inaccessible seems to have no record of (Europopean at least) exploration.
I'd appreciate if you post what you find out.
Are you (or anyone else out there) interested in a trip to go and look?

BTW, there is a dispute about heights on http://www.sol.co.uk/v/viewfinder/elevmisquotes.html. To quote:

'Finisterre range, Papua New Guinea
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Likely elevation: c.4120m
Official elevation: 4175m
The official elevation would seem to be based on an old survey and, for some reason, the authorities have not cared to update it. The relative sizes of the 3800m and 4000m contour rings on the 1:250,000 map bring this elevation into question, and the highest 3" SRTM cell is 4102m, which suggests a lower elevation, about 4130m. The highest SRTM cell around Mount Sarawaket, about 60km south-east of the "Point 4175m", is 4094m so it is possible that this point, not "4175m", should be occupying the place among the World's Finest 50.'

This is of course rather more remote and further from Madang.
Maybe a good trip would be to do both with a GPS and find out.
Stu, can you find / take any photos so can get an idea of the terrain?


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