Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Typhoon in Taiwan Nearly Ends Expedition Before it Starts

When travelling to remote destinations around the world to climb mountains, we have become quite accustomed to unknown variables changing our plans. However, when China Airlines called to notify us that all flights to and from Taipei had been cancelled due to a typhoon, we had no idea the domino effect this would cause. We also had no idea that the local guiding service in Indonesia had booked four other climbers onto what we believed to be a private climb for Denise, myself and our Polish friend Ania. Because of our delay, they told us they were leaving without us! After an Amazing Race-style scramble to get to Jakarta and then to Timika some other way, we managed to get there only one day later than planned. Nonetheless, the previously scheduled bush plane with Ania and the other four had already left! Included among them were two other climbers that have already summitted Mt. Everest and a woman who is attempting to be the first Mexican citizen to climb all seven summits. We suspected that the guiding service was more interested in the publicity that would be generated by getting these climbers up the mountain, rather than accommodating us!

Well, we planned, trained, and put a lot of energy into this quest for #5, so despite this heartbreaking setback we weren't about to give up on the Seven Summits for CAF dream....besides we have a growing number of supporters/CAF donors that are pulling for us! We decided we would charter a bush plane ourselves for $3,000 to fly us to the remote jungle airstrip where we could catch up with the expedition. Fortunately, and with the help of Adventure Indonesia, some cargo was arranged to fly with us bringing the cost down slightly. When the Twin Otter landed on the tiny dirt airstrip, we were thrilled to be greeted by the entire tribal village of Sugapa and other members of the group, including our good friend Ania. The arrival of a plane in this village is an infrequent occurrence and met with great enthusiasm ~ we felt like big-time celebrities stepping out of the equivalent of Air Force One. Now we were back in the game and ready to start the expedition!

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