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Word: Ayu Arman

June 5th last 22. It was a happy day when I was able to climb Carstensz summit again after four years of absence. Climbing the top of Carstensz for me is not just looking at the expanse of rocky cliffs surrounded by expenses of snow ice. But it’s more than that.

The climb to the top of Carstensz is an ascent to an inner spiritual home and ancestral home. Because at every footprint of the climbing journey it always brings back my memories of my childhood in my homeland birth, about the heroic story of my father as the Battle Commander of the Moni tribe, about my mothers love which was always expressed through the songs she wrote and hummed to the wind, to the clouds, to the valleys, to the hills and to all the people who came to the village where our ancestors were born, also about my longing to bring forward the Moni people and other tribes who live around the Carstensz Mountains.

Lake Somatau

Mount Carstensz is part of the Central Range of Papuan Mountains, which is the highest mountain range of folds and faults in Indonesia. The mountains are the highest peaks in Indonesia, namely Jaya Summit 5030 meters above sea level, Trikora Summit 4730 meters above sea level, Yamin Summit 4595 meters above sea level and Mandala Summit 4700 meters above sea level. Jaya Summit (Carstensz Pyramid), which is the highest summit in Indonesia, has eternal snow because of its height above the tropical snowline of 5000 meters above sea level.

And, I am one of the sons of the Moni tribe who was born in the middle of the jungles of the Papuas summit mountains. Specifically in the village of Ugimba at an altitude of 2,100 meters above sea level. The village closest to the top of the Carstensz mountain. A village that has amazing natural scenery. Surrounded by a series of towering mountains, shrouded in thick fog, and the cold wind blows intensely from the Carstensz snow ice.

From the age of six years old, my father often invited me to hunt cuscus in the Carstensz mountain area by foot and only used a koteka. For the Moni Tribe, one of several tribes that inhabit the highlands of Ugimba, hunting cuscus is a tradition passed down from our ancestors.

Cuscus, the animal we hunt

Hunting is our way of survival and part of life adapting to nature. The Moni tribe people has always been hunting up to the Carstensz Valley or Mpaigelah and the Somatua Valley close to the eternal snows.

We huddled against the cold air that froze our bodies on foot. This is not only the tradition of the Moni tribe, but also the traditions of people who live in the mountains, such as the Amungme, Dani, and Damal tribes. Hunting in a vast and wild nature is our way of survival.

Papuan Kangaroo

My father and I often hunted up the mountain for days, passing through deep valleys and steep cliffs to hunt cuscus or porcupine. Many people chase the cuscus in the meadows under the eternal snow until they die because of the unbearable cold. My father and I are a few of the Ugimbans people who have managed to overcome the ferocity of the snow nature. Because my father often takes me to go to Carstensz Mountain, I have an inner bond with the Carstensz Mountain. Mount Carstensz is my first love

Our parents call the Carstensz summit by the name “Mbaigela Peak”. ‘Mpai’ which means ‘forbidden’ and ‘gelah’ means ‘rocks’. It means a mountain that no one should touch or cross. Meanwhile, the Damal (Amungme) tribe calls the top of the Carstensz mountain the name “Nemangkawi Ninggok”, which means a pure white arrow. The holy (war free) arrow of peace.

An Ugimba woman brings her gardens product.

For us, Land is like a mother figure who feeds, nurtures, educates and raise us from infancy to elderly and finally decease. The land and its natural habitat are seen as a place to live, farming, hunting, a funeral and also the residence of the Gods, spirits and ancestral spirits so that several locations such as caves, mountains, waterfalls and graves are considered sacred and respected.

Various trees towards the top of Cartensz

Carstensz Summit is very sacred and respected because it is the home of the King who is full of majesty, holiness, wealth, beauty and at the same time holds great and mysterious power, so he must protect and preserve it properly.

Therefore, climbing the Carstensz Mountain for me is climbing our own home and our ancestral home. A mansion located in a tropical region that has equatorial glaciers in the high mountain array of Southeast Asia, which has a complete spectrum of ecosystems, from coastal ecosystems, valleys, hills, forests, rivers to the high snowy mountains, which hold unique biodiversity and rare in the world and also has a variety of cultures that still apply hereditary traditional lifestyles so that UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization] designated the top of Mount Carstensz which is part of the Lorentz national park as a World Heritage Site. ), which must be protected.

Maximus brought guests from abroad to climb to the top of Carstensz.

It was there that my whole movement of mind and heart was led to promote the beauty of Carstensz to the outside world with the result that the people and community around it could benefit economically and be proud of their homeland.

Currently, although Carstensz is included in the seven highest mountains in the world, it has not been visited by many climbers. One of the reasons is the wrong stigma in the region and the people of Papua, which is often reported unfavorably. We Papuans are people who have a good heart.

There is also an opinion that Papua is a closed area full of mysteries. And even more absurd, the existence of eternal snow in Carstensz is just a myth. Because how can there be snow in the tropics? Because of that, Carstensz is an amazing fact of nature that it entered into the ranks (Seven Summits). Therefore, my obsession has always been to show the world the beauty of Carstensz, the highest summit in Indonesia. In fact, I dared to resign from being a permanent employee at Freeport to set up this Carstensz Mountain Climbing Tour Operator company. And praise the Lord, in 2008, I founded a Tour Operator named PT Adventure Carstensz to introduce Carstensz to professional mountain climbers from various countries. This is my first company, and is the only company owned by the son of Ugimba region.

With this company, I carry out promotions around the world. We inform you that the Carstensz Mountains are the only snowy mountain in a tropical country in the world. The panorama is amazing. It’s so beautiful.

I can stand at a point where the clouds are swirling below. Carstensz looks like a giant boat floating above the clouds. The clouds become the waves. Birds chatter over the ferns, weeds, and rocks. And the mountain stones glisten in the sunlight. Sometimes like a gem that emits light of various colors. The cliffs also became glittering. Then the cuscus appeared shyly. And the raining snow beautifies the atmosphere.

Being at the top of Carstensz is like entering a separate dimension of time and space. Time felt slow here. We become small and unite in the unity of the universe, witnessing the greatness of God’s creation. Yes, the Carstensz summit always brings a journey within as well as a journey to my ancestral homes.

Even though the Carstensz summit is in the area utilization zone and the leading adventure tourism in Lorentz National Park, it is inseparable from the problem of visitor waste.

Trash scattered over the top of Carstensz

There is a lot of trash scattered at several climbing points, especially strategic points for the climbers’ basecamp locations. This is due to illegal climbing activities and the low awareness and concern of climbers for the preservation of nature.

Therefore, in this writing, I urge and invite climbers not to enter the area and climb illegally. Perform mountain climbing wisely and safely, and reduce items or luggage from materials that will potentially become trash or waste.

Don’t leave your belongings as trash on the mountain, because every mountain climber should be a devotee and preserver of nature, so it’s very inappropriate for a mountain climber especially a professional climber to contribute their waste to the mountain. If we admit and be proud of ourselves as climbers who love and care about nature conservation efforts. Moreover, Carstensz Summit is in the Lorentz National Park conservation area.

Be aware that the waste that comes from our activities has great potential as a source of methane gas. Methane gas is one of the Greenhouse Gases (GHG) that will damage the earth’s ozone layer because methane gas is a greenhouse gas that can cause global warming. Global warming causes the melting of ice at the Carstensz Summit. The effects of global warming on the Carstensz Glacier are real. I saw it, my eyes record them. When I was little, the eternal snow still appears elongated, wide and thick. And now the ice of eternal snow has been shrinking through time.

Professor Lonnie Thompson from the School of Earth Science at Ohio State University, United States, published his research that Carstensz’s snow is now receding at a fast pace and will disappear within a decade. Due to the relatively low location of the glaciers in Papua, this will cause Papua to be the first to disappear. The fate of these glaciers is an indicator of climatic conditions on Earth. This fact is an important note for all parties because Papua’s Carstensz Summit is one of the proud natural mountains of Papua that can revive tourism and the economy of the Carstensz mountain community.

To conquer this problem

In commemoration of World Environment Day on  June 5th 2022, we from the Somatua Foundation, Together we PT Somatua and PT Mpaigelah with Lorentz National Park Office, PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI), PTFI Outdoor Activities Community, Satgas Amole I of Brimob Corps and The Papua Mountaineering Association (PMA) is cleaning up trash waste along the Bali Dump route to the Valley of the Lakes Basecamp.

The theme for commemorating Environment Day 2022 by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry is “One Earth for the Future. This activity was attended by 107 people and succeeded in collecting more than 100 garbage bags. The collected wastes consisted of logistics packaging waste, used climbing equipment and supplies. Some of the waste was brought down for disposal but there were still 78 bags of garbage that could not be transported. It is planned that the waste will be transported in the next opportunity.

Maximus outreach to the community to be aware of tourism.

Protecting and preserving Carstensz’s nature is my commitment to my homeland, to my ancestors and also to God. Because we have been given beautiful and rich nature. Our job is to manage and care for it because the future depends on how we treat nature. according to the encouragement of my faith in the Bible. In particular, Mazmur 104 says that “humans are an inseparable part of nature along with plants, animals and other creations”. Human responsibility is to work for God in maintaining and managing the environment, not dominating or exploiting it.

Therefore, as long as I’m still breathing, I will continue to make the people of the mountains, climbers, and all humans on this earth aware that the more we care for and preserve nature, nature will maintain and provide for our food. Vice versa. The more we exploit nature, the more we are impoverishing and destroying ourselves. The future of our lives is determined by the sustainability of the earth’s natural environment. Because, our body is inseparable from the body of the earth. Our life expression is connected with trees, animals, with mountains, with rivers, land, oceans, air, moon, and sun.

Maximus while at the WTM London Tourism Fair in 2014

*** This article is the result of Ayu Arman’s conversation with Maximus Tipagau, the Papuan Gladiator, founder of Adventure Carstensz travel ***