10 Facts About Puncak Jaya
The "Seven Summits" are the seven highest mountains in each of the world's seven continents. Climbing all seven peaks is regarded in mountaineering circles as a formidable achievement. The first person to climb all of the Seven Summits was American businessman, rancher and mountaineer Richard Bass, who achieved this in 1985. But what do you know about the seven mountains that make up the Seven Summits? In a series of articles called "Seven Summits", I want to explore these beautiful, enigmatic, and sometimes dangerous mountains. Next up - 10 facts about the highest peak in Oceania - Puncak Jaya!
Puncak Jaya stands at a formidable 4,884 metres (16,024 ft) above sea level. This is obviously a lot smaller than the really tall peaks of the Himalayas which are over 8,000 metres above sea level, but it is still quite a size. Bear in mind the tallest mountain in the UK (Ben Nevis) is only 1,345 metres above sea level, and that at 4,810 metres above sea level the tallest mountain in the Eropean Alps (Mont Blanc) is roughly the same size as Puncak Jaya.
Big Fish in a Humungous Pond!
Puncak Jaya is the highest point between the Himalayas and the South American Andes. That may sound insignificant, but when one considers the enormous expanse of ocean and plethora of islands between these two great mountain ranges it becomes apparant that this is no mean feat! Also, it is worth bearing in mind that Mount Kosciuszko and Mount Townsend in Australia are between the Himalayas and the Andes, as are the New Zealand Southern Alps.
Get to Guinea!
Puncak Jaya is on the island of Guinea, which is divided between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Puncak Jaya is on the Indonesian part of the island, and as such is the highest peak in Indonesia.
What's in a Name?
Puncak Jaya was named "Carstensz Pyramid" after the Dutch explorer Jan Carstenszoon who sighted the glaciers on the peak of the mountain on a clear day in 1623. The sighting remained unverified for over two hundred years, and many of Carstensz's contemporaries were sceptacle was about his sighting of snow near the equator. Much later when the newly independent state of Indonesia took control of the province in 1963, the peak was renamed 'Poentja Soekarno' after Sukarno, the first President of Indonesia. Later this was changed to Puncak Jaya, meaning "victorious" or "glorious" "mountain" or "peak".
The snowfield of Puncak Jaya was reached in 1909 by the Dutch explorer Hendrik Albert Lorentz along with a six man strong team of Dayak Kenyah porters whom he recruited in Borneo.
The highest summit of Puncak Jaya was not climbed until 1962, when an expedition led by Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer reached the top. Heinrich Harrer is perhaps better known as the man whose adventures with the Dalai Lama were dramatised in the movie "Seven Years in Tibet" featuring Brad Pitt. Also on the climbing team were the Australian rock climber Russell Kippax, Dutch climber Albertus Huizenga and New Zealand mountaineer Philip Temple.
Geologists believe that Puncak Jaya was created in the late Miocene Melanesian Orogeny, caused by oblique collision between the Australian and Pacific plates.
Ice Ice Baby!
There are several glaciers on the slopes of Puncak Jaya, including the West Northwall Firn, Carstensz Glacier, and the East Northwall Firn. Unfortunately the Meren Glacier in Puncak Jaya's Meren Valley vanished in recent years due to global warming. In 2010, an expedition led by paleoclimatologist Lonnie Thompson found that the glaciers are disappearing at a rate of seven metres thickness per year. Sadly, in 2018 they were predicted to vanish in the 2020s.
Prince of Papua
Puncak Jaya is the highest summit of Mount Jayawijaya (also known as Mount Carstensz). It is located in the Sudirman Range of the western central highlands of Indonesia's Papua Province.
Surprisingly, the equatorial climate of Indonesia's Papua Province makes climbing Puncak Jaya extremely arduous. The weather is constantly changing and at any time of the year one can expect to be frequently washed with bad rainstorms, then burnt with the sun, and on the final ridge, one might be bombarded with snow storms.
Bonus: Seven Summits Wall Art
For adventurers, Puncak Jaya is one of the most alluring and enigmatic locations in the world. Along with the other Seven Summits it offers a challenge that many climbers find hard to resist. With our Seven Summits posters we hope to inspire people to be adventurous and rise to their own challenges. Check out our Seven Summits Wall Art Collection and let us know what you think!
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