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Mt Giluwe Traverse

Background

"Broke Camp 44 at daylight on the 15th (June). Heavy frost during the night and the numerous small water-holes which dot the top of the mountain from the 10,000 to the 12,000 foot level were ice covered. Reached the 12,200 foot level at 9am. From 12,000 feet to the top, 13770 feet, was a very steep climb, reaching it at 11am. On the south-west side of the mountain it fell away 3000 feet in an almost straight drop." Michael Leahy June 1934

Highlights

  • Be the first to traverse the Mt Giluwe massif
  • Climb the second highest mountain in PNG (4367m)
  • Trek some of the remotest parts of PNG
  • Witness awesome views from her summit 
  • Have the option to add Mt Wilhelm to your expedition (4509m)

Overview

It is hard to imagine that new territories were still being discovered less than 100 years ago in Papua New Guinea. This account from the Leahy brothers and their travels of exploration throughout the highlands of PNG in the 1930's takes us to a time and a place very foreign to us today.

However there are still adventures to be had in this amazing country of PNG. Our extensive research has discovered that there are no documented traverses of Mount Giluwe. While the Leahy brothers climbed it from the east, as far as we know, noone has walked across from the east and down the western slope. Maybe this is because of the "3000 foot" drop off on the west side. Maybe it is also to do with the massive forested area from the west that has prevented approaches from that side.

These unknowns will be discovered on our expedition across Mt Giluwe, PNG's second highest mountain at 4367 m (or 14327 feet, substantially higher than Michael Leahy first thought).

You can be part of this epic journey across the highlands of PNG. You will undertake a first ever journey through a fascinating landscape of culture and natural history that few ever get to experience.

Please note: While the eastern section of this mountain is known to us, the west is a mystery and as such the itinerary on this page may vary to reality.

Itinerary

Day 1:  Arrive in Port Moresby and transfer to Holiday Inn
Day 2: Transfer to the Air Niugini domestic flight. Fly to Mt .Hagen airport. Transfer to Kagguba Village and begin trek. First camp is made at over 3000m's so altitude will already play its part in the trip.
Day 3: From this camp we head off for another 4 hours to a wonderful camp sight in a small gully. The summit of Giluwe can be seen in the distance. 3600m asl.
Day 4: From this camp we head out to base camp at 3900m asl. Camp is on a small ridge overlooking the slopes below which were once formed by glaciers and towering above us is Giluwe.
Day 5: Today is summit day if weather permits. The summit is a scramble however we will bring ropes and harnesses just incase. From the summit we will head back down to base camp and explore the vast area below us.
Day 6: After breakfast we will head over the main ridge line and down to the unknown western slopes. We should have a good idea of the direction as we would have surveyed the area on our summit day the previous morning.
Day 7: Break camp and head further down the mountain hopefully making camp somewhere within the forest towards Pundia.
Day 8: Through the forest we will continue with a great chance to see wonderful wildlife. We should arrive in Pundia late in the afternoon. Overnight in Pundia.
Day 9: Transfer from Pundia back to Mt Hagen for our flight to Port Moresby. Overnight Holiday Inn
Day 10: Fly home.

Please note: If you wish to go on and climb Mt Wilhelm on this trip as an extension, this is possible. On Day 9 the transfer will take you to Kundiawa. This trip extension would be $1400. The Itinerary would look like this:

Day 9: Transfer to Kundiawa and overnight there.
Day 10: Transfer to trail head and start trek up the mountain. 4 hours.
Day 11: Rest day at the lake for acclimatisation
Day 12: Summit day and then back to Bettys Lodge (13 hrs)
Day 13: Transfer to Goroka and then fly to Port Moresby
Day 14: Head home

LIFE ON THE MOUNTAIN
Mt Giluwe is a remote part of a remote country. From the road head we will see no man made structures. From about 2800m the forest gives way to open grassland. Thus we are exposed to the elements. Water is plentiful but firewood is not.

At night the temperature can drop below zero. Frost and occasional snow has been witnessed. Strong, cold winds are common and rain and mist can occur suddenly turning visibility to only a few metres. 

The sky around Giluwe is usually clear in the early morning, but by 9am the fog that is laying low in valley, lifts. Large cloud formations gather at higher altitudes and by midday intermittent mist and showers occur, usually until sunset. Summit attempts are usually made around 1am to avoid the mid-morning clouds. Views from the summit at sunrise are simply awesome.

HEALTH AND SAFETY
This expedition should not be underestimated. Exposure to the elements can be a problem, whether it's the cold or sunlight.

A combination of wind, wet clothing, fatigue and hunger, even if the air temperature is well above freezing, can lead to hyperthermia. Likewise, you can burn deceptively fast.  There is less atmospheric protection at higher altitudes and the fact you're not hot doesn't mean you're not boiling.

Note:
- While this is a non-technical trek, it is a difficult walk. In several places a steep scramble is required. The walk requires a reasonable level of fitness to complete.
- Travel insurance including medical evacuation is considered mandatory
- Visas are available from the nearest PNG consul (or Australian consul if a PNG one is not available) 

Mt Giluwe
The original volcano on the site of Mount Giluwe formed roughly 650,000–800,000 years ago, probably as a stratovolcano of similar height to the current peak. Extensive Pleistocene glaciation eroded away much of the peak, leaving a series of volcanic plugs which form the present-day summits. A renewed episode of extensive volcanic eruptions formed the shield-like bulk of the current mountain between 220,000–300,000 year ago, and there is evidence that some of the lava erupted subglacially. During the last glaciations of the Ice Age, the upper slopes were covered by a massive ice cap over 150 m (500 ft) thick, from which only the main and east peaks protruded as nunataks above the ice surface. At its maximum extent, the ice cap was over 15 km across and covered an area greater than 100 km². Outlet glaciers extended down as low as 3,200–3,500 m (10,500–11,500 ft), leaving a variety of deposits including glacial till and moraines. Although the glaciers are now long gone, numerous cirques and U-shaped valleys remain visible. The present-day climate on the summit plateau above roughly 3,400 m (11,150 ft) is cold enough for nightly frosts and occasional snowfall.

Inclusions

  • All domestic scheduled flights 
  • 2 nights accommodation in Port Moresby at Holiday Inn
  • Government Taxes 
  • All meals on the expedition component (9 Breakfast, 7 Lunches and 7 Dinners)
  • All accommodation outside of Port Moresby 
  • 1 x Local Guide and an Australian Guide throughout
  • 7 nights accommodation along the trek.
  • Return airport transfers
  • Refreshments at the end of track
  • Tents and all camping gear such as pots, cups, knives, forks, spoons etc

Exclusions

  • International airfares
  • Travel insurance

Maps

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