KISA BIR CARSTENZ HIKAYESI / A SHORT STORY OF CARSTENZ

Biraz gec de olsa, Carstenz hikayesini kisaca paylasmak istedim.

Malzemelerimin en sonunda Bali’ye vardigi gunun gecesi Bali’den Bati Papua’daki Timika’ya giden tek ucaga bindik. Timika’dan sonra da Sugapa koyu’ne ucacaktik daha. Sonra bir de motorsikletle gecilen bir bolge var. Timika'ya tahminimizden daha konforlu bir uçuşla indik. Uçağın içindeki eski Amerikan ordu görevlileri dikkat çekiciydi. Sohbet sırasında öğrendik ki cogu FreePort altın madeninin güvenliğinde çalışıyormuş ordudan emekli olduklarından beri.  Freeport: Amerika tarafindan isletilen dunyanin en buyuk altin madeni! 1960larda acilmis, Endonezya hukumeti buraya gemilerle isciler getirmis daha iyi bir hayat vadederek. Bolgenin tamami normalde hep yagmur ormani ve kabilelerle dolu. Ama tabi ki verilen sozler yerini bulmamis… Cok ama cok acaip, ne koy ne kasaba diyebilecegimiz bir mekan olmus Timika. 3. degil 4. hatta 5. dunya ulkesi falan diyesim geliyor. Bizi Sugapa koyune goturecek ucusu beklerken biraz etrafima bakiniyorum. Boğucu bir sıcak, puslu bir hava.

Timika havaalani girisi / Entrance to Timika airport

Timika havaalani girisi / Entrance to Timika airport

Timika’da donuste giymek uzere birkac parca temiz esya birakiyoruz ve nihayet hazir olan Sugapa ucagimiza binmek uzere alana geri giriyoruz. Ucagimiz minik bir pirpir ucak. Yaklasik bir saatlik bir ucusla ormanlar ve kayaliklarla kapli bolgelerin uzerinden gecerek yine ormanin iclerine bir tepeye konumlanmis Sugapa’daki piste sorunsuz bir sekilde inisimizi yapiyoruz. Uzunca bir pist.. bir sure gorecegimiz son asfalt… kenarda birkac is makinesi.. sagda solda atilmis gibi duran siyah yakit varilleri… ayaklari ciplak cocuklar, domuzlar, motorsikletler… kalabalikmis gibi gelmesin kulaginiza.. herbirinden sadece birkac tane var ortalikta… Hemen geride yikilmak uzere gibi duran minik ahsap bir klubeden ibaret olan havaalani ofisine dogru yuruyoruz. Endonezyali rehberlerimiz etraftaki motorsikletlilerle pazarlik ediyorlar. Sessiz gecen birkac saat beklemenin ardindan motosikletli gruptan biri yanima yaklasip bana motorsikletini gosteriyor. Anlasilan ben bu arkadasin yolcusuyum. Sirt cantam arkamda, biniyorum. Bu arada bu motorsikletler kucuk boy cross tipi. Yani oyle kocaman seyler degil, zaten insanlar da kucuk insanlar yapi olarak. Ekipmanlarimizin oldugu hurclarimizi da diger motorsikletliler tek tek arkalarina yukleyip basliyorlar yola. Ilk geceyi gecirecegimiz Dani kabilesinin yerine kadar olan kismi motorsikletlerle gececegiz. Cukurlarla dolu, bazen incecik bir patikaya donusecek kadar daralan, bazen derelerle kesilmis yola benzeyen birseylerin uzerinden, dimdik yokuslardan cikip yine ayni sekilde inerek, kabilenin oldugu yere geliyoruz. Sirt cantasi arkamdayken motorsikletin arkasindaki metale tutunmaya calismak acaip zor, parmaklarim eziliyor resmen her sarsilista ve acisini sonraki gunlerde hissediyorum. Hic bu kadar sarsintili bir motorsiklet tecrubem olmamisti – indigimde sanki butun organlarim yer degistirmis gibiydi. Ellerimdeki sizi ve yuzulmus deriler de cabasi. Burada bir gece geciriyoruz.

Sugapa hava alani / Sugapa airstrip

Sugapa hava alani / Sugapa airstrip

Suangama koyu / Suangama village

Suangama koyu / Suangama village

Ormanda yuruyusun baslangici / Start of our trek in the jungle

Ormanda yuruyusun baslangici / Start of our trek in the jungle

Ertesi gun, büyük bıçaklarla yol açarak, çamurlara bata çıka, cogu yerde iki büklüm eğilerek, hertur sekle girerek düşüp kalkarak 1. kamp yerine geldik, tam altımizda gurultuyle akan bir nehir. Kamp yeri dedigim de bir açıklık, yine koca bıçaklarla otları keserek cadır yerleri açtık, baya National Geographic belgesellerinde gibiyiz dedim kendi kendime. Bundan sonraki hergun bütün bacağınızın saplandığı çamur havuzları, ağaç kökleri, bütün bacaklarınızın girdiği nehir geçişleri, ustuste onlarca kök uzerinden bir daldan digerine basarak ve kirilmamalarini umarak yaptiginiz geçişler ile gecen 5 gun sonrasinda ana kampa variyoruz. Yine yagmur, yine yagmur…

Orman / Jungle

Orman / Jungle

Ana kamp / Base camp

Ana kamp / Base camp

Neyseki ana kampta irtifa sebebiyle etraftaki camur daha az burada, daha cok kayalik. Birgun dinlendikten sonra gece 3te yola cikip bir saat kadar yurudukten sonra dik tirmanislarin basladigi yere geliyoruz. Rota uzerinde birkac sabit hat var. Esasen cikarken cogu yerde cok da gerekli degil ama yine de jumarlarimizi ve karabinlerimizi takip tirmanisa basliyoruz. Bu tirmanisin pek cok garip yanlarindan biri de dagin dibindeki altin madeni… dunyanin en buyuk altin madeni… oyle ki madenden gelen isiklar gokyuzunde aydinlik bir alan yaratmisti… ve is makinalarinin sesi… yani ucsuz bucaksiz biryerdesiniz aslinda, ama biryandan da hic de oyle degil. Dibinizde bir Amerikan madeni… Herhangi bir maden degil… Dunyanin en buyuk altin madeni! Cok ama cok abuk bir durum.

Sirt / The ridge

Sirt / The ridge

A sagilardan sirttaki acikliga ve tirol gecisine bakis / A look at the gap on the ridge and the tyrollean crossing from below

Asagilardan sirttaki acikliga ve tirol gecisine bakis / A look at the gap on the ridge and the tyrollean crossing from below

2 saat kadar tirmandiktan sonra ulastigimiz sirt keskin bir sirt. 10 dakika otesinde de buyuk bir bosluk var. Normalde karsi tarafina gecebilmek icin, iplerle asagiya inip, tekrar karsi duvarlari tirmanip cikmak gerekiyor. 4 yil once buraya hukumet celik bir kablo koymus iki sirt noktasini birlestiren, dolayisiyla asagiya inip tekrar cikmak yerine, bu kablo uzerinden karsiya gecilebiliyor. Kablonun yaninda birkac tane ip de vardi, bizdeki ipi de kullandik ve karsiya gecisleri tek tek yaptik. Daha once bu tarz gecisler macera yarislari kapsaminda cok yapmistim ama asagidaki bosluk ve bulundugumuz yukseklik dusunulunce en heyecanlisi buydu kesinlikle! Karsi tarafa herkes gectikten sonra, keskin sirt uzerinde, iplere bagli bir sekilde 1 saatlik bir yuruyus/tirmanistan sonra zirveye ulasiyoruz.  Herkesin durumu cok iyiydi, cok mutluyduk.

Zirve! / The summit!

Zirve! / The summit!

Zirve'de / The Summit

Zirve'de / The Summit

Ekip cok hizliydi gercekten, toplamda 9.5 saatte tırmanışı tamamlayıp ana kampa donduk, buna zirvede geçirdiğimiz bir saat ve tum diğer molalarimiz da dahil. Sansımıza hava da iyiydi. Yani en azından çıkarken :) Dönüşe geçtiğimizde kar yağmaya başladı! aşağılara indikçe yağmur ve doluya donustu… Ana kampa yine sirilsiklam bir sekilde donduk ve ertesi gun donus yolculugu icin hazirliklara basladik hemen. Yine 5 gun ormanda yuruyus, Sugapa koyu, Timika ve Bali’ydi rotamiz.

Yilda sadece 40-50 tirmanicinin gittigi bir yer Carstenz. Bunlarin yarisi da benim ve ekibimin camur icinde yagmur altinda bata cika ilerledigi ormanlardan gecmek yerine helikopterle ana kampa gidip tirmanisi yapip geri donuyorlar.  Ekip arkadaslarimdan biri hatirlatti bu detay bilgiyi hepimize, Bali’ye indigimizde! :)

Donus yolu / Return

Donus yolu / Return

Benim icin bu ekspedisyonu ozel yapan anakampa giderken ve donerken ormanda gecirdigim gunler. Bu tirmanisi planlayanlara da siddetle tavsiye ederim helikopter yerine. Cok ama cok sey gorecek ve ogreneceksiniz. 

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Though a little late, I just wanted to share the story of my Carstenz climb.

The same night my gear finally arrived to Bali, we got on the only flight of the day to Timika. The plan was to fly to Sugapa village from Timika followed by a motorcycle ride to the start of our trek into the forest. The flight to Timika was more comfortable than I thought. There were some ex-military officers from the US Army who said they were working as security for the FreePort mine – the world’s biggest! Gold mine owned and operated by the US. It was opened in 1960s and the Indonesian government brought many people on ships here promising a good life. Looking around, I can say that didn’t happen. Not a village, not a town, not a city, very weird very interesting place. Can’t even call it a 3rd world country, 4th or 5th would be more appropriate… Normally the area is covered with rain forests and occupied by various tribes.

After leaving some clean clothes for the way back, we wait for our flight to Sugapa village. It is hot and humid in Timika. We get on our tiny plane flying over forests and rock formations and finally land on the airstrip next to Sugapa village, It is a long air strip, the last asphalt we’d see for 2 weeks. Some work machines on the side, fuel barrels scattered around, a few trucks, and motorcycles. Bare foot kids, pigs, and some other curious locals. Not very crowded though, a few of each. There is also a little shack operating as the airport office. Our Indonesian guides start negotiating with the motorcycle riders to take us. It is a very quiet negotiation I notice. Neither side is saying much but I trust they somehow understand each other. After quiet a few hours, one of the riders point his finger at me and then show his bike. I think that’s what I’ll be riding on with that guy. I get on with my big backpack. Our duffel bags with our gear will also be transported on bikes.  We start riding the bikes towards the Dani tribe – where we’ll be spending out first night before starting the trek in the jungle. It is hard to hold on to the metal frame on the back of the bike due to my big pack, my fingers get smashed the whole time and I lose some skin. There are really no roads, more like just dirt, sometimes single track, going up and down, crowing rivers, going over mud holes etc. by the time we got of the bike, I feel like all my internal organs moved around and are now different spots. My fingers hurt, and they’d hurt the whole time from then on.

Dani tribe has a few dwellings and they’d help us throughout the expedition as our porters. After spending the night with them, we start our trek going in and out of mud, negotiating tree branches not just on the ground but also in air, constantly negotiating our steps and doing it not just with our legs and feet but with our whole body proves to be much more challenging than I thought. Finally we make it to our first camp but of course camp spots are to be made by cutting the plants with big knifes. The whole time I feel like I am in some NatGeo documentary. We’d travel like that the next 5 days until the base camp. There is not as much mud at base camp – due to elevation the terrain is rocky and there are no trees around. After resting here for a day, we start walking to the base of the walls leading to the summit ridge. We start walking around 3am and reach the base after an hour. It is steep and mainly fixed lines from then on all the way to the ridge. We notice some lights in the sky and some noise: That’s the gold mine baby. We are just next to it. Those are the noises and lights of the work machines. Just too weird… and not just any mine but the world’s biggest gold mine. Can’t get any weirder than that.

We climb for about 2 hours with headlamps and reach the ridge when the light comes out finally. 10 minute ahead, there is a big gap in the ridge: normally one would climb all the way down, cross, and climb up to get to the other side. But now for the last 4 years, there is a steel cable to help with the traverse. There are also some additional ropes. We use our own rope too. I did several tyrolean crossings before as part of adventure races but never this dramatic at such an elevation. After the crossing, the summit was an hour away. We just continued walking on the ridge, still roped up the whole time. Everyone did great and we were very ecstatic.  We hang out at the summit for about an hour chatting and taking pictures.

The team was really fast. We finished the whole thing in about 9.5 hrs including all the breaks. The weather cooperated too though when we started descending it was snowing! which later turned into heavy hail. By the time we were at base camp, we were completely wet again. Thanks to dry bags I still had a few dry clothes left. After resting a little bit, we started packing for the return the next day. 5 days again in the forest, Sugapa village, Timika, and then Bali was the plan.

Cartenz is a summit only 40-50 people a year goes to climb. Half of that number are those who prefer to fly in and out the base camp avoiding the travel in the mud and in the jungle with the tribesman. One of my teammates reminded us that detail when we got to Bali J For me 5 days in and 5 days out was what made this trip super special. And I recommend anyone who is planning to do this climb, do it that way. You’ll see and learn much more. 

 

MOUNT WHITNEY - Highest in CA & Lower 48 states in the US

Whitney dagi (14,505ft / 4421m), California eyaletinin en yuksek dagi. Ayni zamanda, Amerikanin diger eyaletlerinden cografi olarak ayri konumlanmis durumda olan Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico gibi bolgeleri haricindeki en yuksek zirvesi. Cok populer bir zirve ve izin almak icin cok onceden basvurmak gerekiyor. Ben de hep bu izin alma kismi yuzunden ertelemistim bu dagi ta ki 2014 Everest ekip arkadasim Magali beni arayip Mayis sonunda yapacaklari tirmanista bir kisilik yer oldugunu soyleyene kadar. 

Zirveye giden birkac degisik rota var, en kolayi normal patikayi takip etmek. Bir de “dagcilarin rotasi" diye gecen daha teknik ve zor bir rotasi var, biz bu rota icin yola ciktik.

7-8 saatlik araba yolculugundan sonra tirmanisin basladigi kasabaya geldik. Burada bir gece gecirdikten sonra, arabalari parkettigimiz yerden yuruyuse basladik. Yarim saat sonra esas patikadan ayrilip, cok az kullanildigi icin pek de patika gibi gorunmeyen, yer yer yolumuzu sasirtan diger yone dogru yurumeye basladik. Nehirlerden gectik, buyuk kaya duvarlari uzerinde zikzaklar cizerek yukseldigimiz yan gecisler yaptik, slab denen buyuk ve egimli kaya yuzeylerinden yuruyerek/tirmanarak kamp yapacagimiz “yukari izci golu” denen kampyerine vardik. Birseyler yedikten sonra sabaha karsi 3te kalkip 4te yola cikmak uzere cadirlarimiza cekildik. Toplamda 5 kisi idik. Zaten izin oyle calisiyor: o rota uzerinde bir gunde sadece 5 kisi olabiliyor.

Sabah tirmanacagimiz kulvarin dibine geldigimizde gunes artik coktan dogmustu. Kulvar, sezonun daha cok basi oldugu icin kar doluydu. Magali daha once bu rotayi yaz sonu bu kulvarda hic kar yokken ve sadece surekli yer degistiren ve dusen kayalar ve taslar varken tirmanmis. Hepimiz kar’i tercih ediyoruz cunku sabahin erken saatlerinde, hala sertken, kramponlari takip buz kazmalariyla tirmanmak nispeten daha seri ve kolay. Bu sekilde 2 saat tirmandiktan sonra kulvarin tepesinde bir kose donuyoruz ve onumuzde daha kisa ama daha dik, ve yarisi kaya/buz baska bir kulvarla karsilasiyoruz. Bu noktada ipimizi cikarip emniyet alarak ilerliyoruz. Zirveye vardigimizda ayaklarinda normal yuruyus botlari, rahat kiyafetler, ve kucuk sirt cantalari olan insanlar bize sanki uzaydan gelmisiz gibi bakiyor once. Bunlar en basta bahsettigim patikayi takip ederek zirveye cikan insanlar. 

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Mount Whitney (14,505ft / 4421m) is the highest mountain in California. It is also the highest mountain in the lower-48 and in the contiguous US. It is a popular peak and one has to reserve a permit well in advance. I haven’t been able to plan properly to get permits for the mountain - that’s why I never climbed it before till one day my Everest teammate Magali told me that they have space in their permit for the last weekend in May.

There are a few different routes leading to the summit. The easiest one is just to follow the trail that takes you to the top. Another one, technical and more challenging, is called “mountaineers’ route” and that’s the route we had the permits for.

After a 7-8 hour drive to the town where the climb starts and spending the night here, we started the hike to our campsite. After half an hour or so, we had to leave the main trail and get on the other one that is not maintained at all since only few people use it. We crossed rivers, traversed on cliffs, walked/climbed on slabs and got to our camp site at Upper Boy Scout Lake. After eating some food, we got some rest till 3 am the next morning to leave at 4am. We were 5 in total and that’s the limit on the permits for this route.

When we got to the bottom of the couloir, the sun was out already. The couloir was full of snow since it was still very early in the season. Magali climbed this route before towards the end of a summer a few years back and it was full of loose rocks then. We all prefer the snow since, early in the am, it is relatively easier to move up with crampons and ice axes. We climbed about 2 hours like that and when we got to the end, we made a turn and faced another couloir albeit very short, leading to the summit. At that point we had to rope up since there was also rock and ice and it was much steeper. When we got to the summit, we saw other people there in their normal hiking shoes, daypacks, and normal hiking clothes and they were looking at us as if we just landed from space or something since we had all kinds of gear hanging all around us and we were all really exhausted. Since the conditions were more challenging than we thought, by the time we got to the summit, everyone had almost drunk all their water. We saved a few sips of our remaining water for the way down. 

CHAMONIX

Everest 2014 takim arkadaslarimdan biri olan Kat Follows, Chamonix’de yasiyor. Everest sonrasi surekli beni yanina davet ediyordu en azindan yazin kalanini daglarda gecirmek icin. Alp’leri daha once hic gormemistim ve bu teklif bana cok cazip geldi. Chamonix’de gecirdigim 16 gunun 14'unde ya dag patikalarinda saatlerce kostuk, ya da tirmanis yaptik. Sadece 2 gunu dinlenmeye ayirdik, onlardan birini de jaz festivalinde gecirdik. Patikalarin ve buzul manzaralarinin guzelligine diyecek yoktu gercekten (Bir de bir aksam Kat’a Kackar’lardan bir fotograf gosterdim, Isvicre sandi ☺ o ayri). En guzeli de etrafta buzullar gormekti!!! Kat nasil mutlu oldugumu gorunce yanina tasinmam icin baya bir israr etti, bakalim belki ilerde. Kat’in evi Killian Jornet’in evine cok yakin, hatta ortak arkadaslariyla bir aksam yemek yedik, Killian sehir disinda imis tanisamadim ama kopegiyle tanistik koklastik ☺ 

Planimizda Mount Blanc, Eiger, ve Matterhorn vardi fakat Temmuz ayi boyunca bu bolgede hava baya kotuymus/kotuydu. Her aksam detayli hava tahminlerine bakip plan yapmaya calistik. En sonunda bir gun 5-6 saatlik bir aciklik bulduk. Kotu kosullarda Mount Blanc tirmanisina basladik ve Gouter siginagina kadar ciktik ki havanin guzel olacagi saatlerin hepsini zirve icin kullanalim. Cok keyifli bir tirmanistan sonra inise gectigimizde hava yine bozmaya baslamisti bile. Daha sonraki gunlerde de kotulemeye devam etti ama tabi ki kotu ve yagisli hava bizim icin kosmaya engel degildi. Daha sonra Alplerin Italya tarafinda havanin daha kuru oldugunu ogrendigimizde (Matterhorn ve Eiger olasilik disindaydi artik), tirmanis cantalarimizi hazirladigimiz gibi Mount Blanc’in altindan gecen ve Fransa’yi Italya’ya baglayan tunelden 2.5 saatte Italya’ya gectik (Bu tuneli belki yillar once bir yakit tankerinin icerde patlamasi/yanmasi ile ilgili haberden hatirlayabilirsiniz) ve Italya sinirlari icindeki en yuksek dag olan sahane Gran Paradiso’yu tirmandik. 

Alplerde gecirdigim gunler boyunca en cok hosuma giden seylerden biri, birgun bir kayak teleferigi ile yukarilara cikarken teleferiktekilere soyle bir baktigimda gorduklerim… Iki tane 80 kusur yaslarinda yasli bir cift ellerinde batonlariyla, bir baba ve emekleme asamasinda olan cocugu sirtinda, bir tane dag-inis bisikletcisi, dirsek ve dizlerindeki korumalarini duzeltirken sisman lastikli ve oturaksiz inis bisikletiyle, bir de sirt cantalarinda kramponlari ve buz kazmalari ile biz… ve hepimiz ayni yere gidiyoruz… herkesi davet eden ve farkli hedefleri olan herkesin erisebilecegi sekilde tasarlanmis bir zaman ve mekan… bundan guzeli var mi.

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One of my Everest teammates, Kat Follows, lives in Chamonix and she has been inviting me to go spend some time with her. I have never been there before so was very tempted. When I finally made it there, we spent 14 of the 16 days either on the mountain trails running or climbing. One of the rest days, we checked out the jazz festival in town. I loved the Alps! (on a side note, I showed Kat a photo from Kackar mountains and she thought it was Swiss Alps :)). The best part for me was the glaciers around! They were visible almost from everywhere and so dramatic. Such a contrast. When she saw how happy I was there, she insisted that I should eventually move. We shall see. She lives close to Killian Jornet and actually we had dinner with all their friends but he wasn't there - I only got to meet his dog :)

In addition to trail running, we planned to climb MtBlanc, Matterhorn, and Eiger - the three mythical mountains of Europe. However the weather in July was very stormy and not very stable. When we finally saw a weather window of 5-6 hours, we made our way up to Goute hut in bad weather and managed to summit MtBlanc during those nice hours. Then again it was snowing on the way back down. Bad weather changed our climbing plans but didn’t stop us from running. When it looked drier on the other side of the Alps, we packed our packs, got in the car and drove to the Italian side in 2.5 hours through the tunnel underneath the MtBlanc massif (This is the tunnel that made the news a few years back when an oil tanker exploded inside). We drove straight to the base of Gran Paradiso, the highest mountain within Italian territory and made a super fun climb to the summit. There is just so much to do in the Alps! One thing I loved the most was a scene I could not forget: in a ski tram at one of the resorts, going up, surrounded by an 80 year old couple with their poles, going hiking; a father with his toddler on his back, a downhill mountain biker adjusting his knee and elbow pads next to his fat downhill bike without a seat, and us with ice axes and crampons sticking out of our packs as we were going ice climbing - all of us at the same time going to the same place, a place that invites and accommodates all kinds of people with all kinds of goals!