Ulises “Uli” Corvalán is Grajales Expeditions’ Mountain Manager and the “dean” of our guides. He is at ease in the harsh environment of the extreme altitude; he has reached the summit of Mt. Aconcagua more than 50 times and has led clients to the top of Mt. Everest. When he’s not guiding, he is in the field teaching to future mountain guides.
But the challenge of guiding the Seven Summits (the highest mountains in seven continents) forced Uli out of his comfort zone! To climb the highest peak in Oceanía, Carstensz Pyramid (16,023 ft), our arid mountain man crossed the planet and dived head first in an unknown environment. What follows is the (bewildered) account of an Andean man in the jungle:
The 10 things I learned in Carstensz Pyramid – By Ulises Corvalán
1- It’s possible to climb 5th grade with an umbrella in your hand. An open umbrella.
2- After meeting the local porters, I have a new parameter for the word “rough”.
3- The sight of five months pregnant women carrying 20 kg, for four days, barefoot, in the middle of the jungle, can become a not surprising thing.
4- “Time is relative”, as Einstein said: a “six hours walk” for a local guide can mean nine hours in the rest of the World.
5- The perfect excuse for anything, at any time” “Well, it is because it’s rainy season”.
6- Diving equipment! The magic words to avoid excess baggage charges.
7- I definitively HATE rubber boots.
8- Your climbing helmet should always be handy; to wear it while walking in the jungle at night… Or when your driver to the Sugapa Airport shows up in a motorcycle.
9- It doesn’t matter how many pairs of gloves you carry for the summit push… they will ALL get soaked.
10- Carstensz could as well mean: “Place where if it is not raining right now, it’s about to rain anytime”.
Uli during the approach to Carstensz Pyramid
[ Texto: Nicolás García & Ulises Corvalán / Fotos: Archivo Ulises Corvalán ]