30.10.2008

To fly to the Carstensz Pyramid base camp on an nonexistent helicopter or trek through impassable jungle without gear or porters along a trail blazed twice by the legendary Alexander Abramov. This is the dilemma faced by the expedition of the legendary Seven Summits Club led by the legendary Sergey Kofanov in the town of Nabire... (Papua Province, New Guinea Island)

In Indonesian the word LOVE is pronounced like SUKA.

HELLO like TRI MAKAKI.

To SPEAK sounds like BICHARA...

This PRICELESS INFORMATION has absolutely no bearing on the following text, but it may put you in the right frame of mind before you read the report by Sergey Kofanov, Seven Summits Club guide, who illustrates how difficult making the right decision can be in the Papua Province.
HERE GOES:

We spent all the day today (October 29) constantly brainstorming - six times today our team gathered at the large dining room of our one-and-a-half-star hotel and tried to work out a plan that would enable us to reach the goal no matter how the events unfold. Ultimately we decided to stick with the tactic of continuing the helicopter scenario of getting to the Carstensz Pyramid base camp, thus we developed a special bonus program for the helicopter pilots. We brought it directly to the attention of each helicopter’s pilot (Kamov pilots are so far receiving this information via an intermediary).

This program should stimulate the pilots to return from Jakarta to Nabire sooner, meaning that we would be able to fly to the Carstensz base camp ahead of time. At the same time we continue to consider the scenario of trekking from Ilaga. This scenario involves three problems. First - the porters. Currently Ilaga does not have a sufficient number of porters for our expeditions (we need close to 25-30 porters). Three days ago a 10-member German team set off from Ilaga to base camp. It relies on 55-60 porters. Plus, another 25 porters are now serving an expedition that is returning to Ilaga after a successful climb. Stephen, a friend of Bob's, is a guide for this expedition.

Stephen left some of the utensils and fuel at base camp for our team so that our helicopters would have to carry less common cargo. Stephen's team will reach Ilaga tomorrow, meaning that the 25 porters of his team would be ready to trek with us no sooner than November 2. Another problem is gear. We have insufficient gear for trekking through jungle. This gear is now being procured in the town of Timika (there is no such gear available in Nabire) and will be ready for shipment from Timika to Ilaga on November 1. The third problem is the trekking permit. We have a helicopter permit, but not a trekking permit. This permit can be procured only in Ilaga, so tomorrow a man will be flying to Ilaga to procure the permit. It will take a few more days to procure it. All this leads us to a common denominator - November 3 as the starting date for our trekking expedition. If some shifts occur in the helicopter scenario before that time, we will cut our losses by canceling the trekking exhibition and leaving Nubire by helicopter. If the helicopter scenario becomes unfeasible due to weather or other causes beyond our control, we will embark on the trekking trail in hopes that helicopters will be able to airlift us from the base camp for the return trip.

Today we met another Russian at a Nabire police precinct (???????) (Abramov's question marks). His name is Mark and he comes from Magadan. He left Moscow a year and a half ago and is hitchhiking in the eastern direction. Interestingly enough, last Fall he covered a portion of the trek in Tibet accompanied by Zhenya Semionov - a member of Seven Summits Club expeditions to Cho Oyu and McKinley peaks. A year later we meet Mark in Nabire in yet another crossing of his path with the Seven Summits Club. That night we spent a long time at a restaurant, listening to stories of his journeys. At the end of this improvised night I presented Mark with a Club T-shirt along with a local map - Mark planned to trek (hitchhike) from Nabire to Ilaga and beyond - to the wild tribes of the Papuans. Mark is a Buddhist himself, so he was unperturbed by our skepticism, while we were unperturbed by his unperturbedness. At that point our heads were spinning from constant attempts to get puzzle together our trip to the base camp, and there was little that could surprise us at the end of the day.

Wait for new reports from the scene tomorrow.

Over and out, Kofanov and Co.