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Onward across the Pacific!

Climbing Kosciuszko -- Stage 2 of the Six Summits Project

Completed: May 3, 2007 - April 10, 2010

Definition: What is Circumnavigation?
Learn about rowing on the oceans

The goal of this phase

The goal of this phase was to make landfall in Australia during the human powered circumnavigation. There, Kosciuszko (2,228 metres - 7,310 feet) in southeast Australia would be climbed.

The highest point in Oceania is the Carstenz Pyramid (Punjak Jaya). Located in Irian Jaya, also known as West Papua, Carstenz rises to a height of 4,884 metres (16,023 feet). The first ascent of this mountain was achieved by Heinrich Harrer in 1962, chronicled in his book titled: "I Come From the Stone Age."

Given the human powered restriction on the Six Summits Expedition, climbing Carstenz required a sea-to-summit approach, meaning overland travel in Irian Jaya. Permits to travel within Irian Jaya are notoriously hard to obtain and local tribes hostile to outsiders would rather charge a toll then provide services for pay. All recent ascents of Carstenz to our knowledge fly to a nearby settlement, then receive a helicopter ride to within a few days walking distance of the mountain. One party had to receive a total of nine(!) permits even to fly in, any one of which could have been cancelled at a moment's notice. Negotiating passage through tribal territories remained very difficult.

Planning a climb so far in advance with such strict permit requirements and so high an uncertainty made the logistics impossible. The local contacts were not able to extend any help beyond the next few months. So a compromise was necessary: We would take the classical definition of Australia being the continent, leaving the climb of Carstenz to a future date when there may be peace on Irian Jaya.

Route details

  • Circumnavigation route proposed
  • Completed Pacific Ocean crossing in two parts from Bodega Bay on the California shores, then across the Bismarck Sea to Maneba Wharf in Finsch Harbor in Papua New Guinea.
  • The journey continued from Maneba Wharf on foot. Beach walking until Bukawa near HOPOI Mission east of Lae was completed together with Philip Sigob and Christian Sami, two friends from the Kamlawa Village.
  • Sea kayaking from Bukawa to Lae, then to Oro Bay along the Solomon Sea shores of PNG was completed with Norman Watts, a friend from Washington, DC.
  • Doug Hilderbrand, a friend from Seattle, and Wayne Urina who was our guide from Kokoda Trekking Ltd accompanied Erden on the coast to coast walk across PNG from Oro Bay to Port Moresby over the Kokoda Track.
  • Royal Papua Yacht Club in Port Moresby was the departure point by rowboat on December 8 toward Cape York peninsula of Australia. 33 days later on January 10, Erden anchored his boat next to Sharp Point on the peninsula by Turtlehead Island.
  • Between January 28 and February 15, Erden used a sea kayak, continuing south to reach Cooktown.
  • Cooktown was where paved roads began, allowing faster progress by bicycle. 40 days and 3,607 km later, Erden arrived at the alpine village of Thredbo.
  • On April 10, Erden climbed Mt. Kosciuszko with Nancy Board, concluding the Stage 2.
  •      If you have Google Earth installed on your computer,
    you can see the entire route here across the Pacific Ocean and beyond.

    NOTE: Please spin the globe to navigate.
    Once you click anywhere on the globe to activate it,
    you can use:

    left-arrow-key   | spin the globe left
    right-arrow-key  | spin the globe right
    down-arrow-key  | roll the globe down
    up-arrow-key  | roll the globe up
    N key  | set north up
    = key  | zoom in
    - key  | zoom out

    If you do not have Google Earth, download it here.

    On the globe, you will find a RED track with dispatch locations marked by date. This indicates the path that the human powered circumnavigation effort followed. On the opposite side of the globe is the antipodal circumnavigation track indicated in GREEN. Grey colored tracks indicate time in transit by ship between PNG and the Philippines. If any of the tracks appear broken, then try toggling to "OpenGL" in Google Earth's graphics preferences under Tools\Options.


    In early May of 2007, Erden Eruç bicycled from Seattle to the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon, on the north side of the San Francisco Bay. Unfavorable onshore winds caused two false starts from Tiburon in June. The tide schedules at the Golden Gate had been a major consideration on the launch windows from San Francisco. To remove that extra constraint, the launch was moved to Bodega Bay, just northwest of San Francisco. A successful launch finally followed on July 10, 2007 when the winds offered a break.

    Between July 10, 2007 and May 17, 2008, Erden Eruç rowed from Bodega Bay on the California shores to the waters of Papua New Guinea. The 312 days that he had spent in his rowboat became the new Guinness World Record for the longest time at sea by a solo ocean rower. The previous record was 304 days, which belonged to the late Peter Bird, a pioneer of ocean rowing who was lost at sea.

    A full blown La Niña was in effect during the 2007-08 winter months that Erden spent on the Pacific with the intentions of reaching Australia. The climate phenomenon known as La Niña brings cooler conditions to the eastern Pacific. Consequently, stronger winds blow due west which push the warm ocean surface waters westward. Warmer conditions thus created in the western Pacific then create heavier monsoons and more cylonic activity. We suspect that it was due to these stronger winds that Erden was unable to cross the Equator early on and failed to remain on track for Australia.

    On May 14th, Erden reached the southmost position on his row when the seas turned on him. He had come to within 137nm of Wewak in Papua New Guinea. He was between the Manu Island and the Ninigo Group. Just 200nm due southwest in Jayapura, his teammates waited with 7 expedition bags full of resupplies. Alas, with 10 days worth of food left on board, Erden was carried offshore, away from safety toward the storm tracks, with persistent southwesterly winds which later turned southerly. The typhoon season had already started -- a typhoon had formed earlier on May 3rd northwest of Palau which had created the sinking motion in the atmosphere, which in turn had brought the transient favorable north-northwest winds helping Erden to break south of the Equator. Now the entire phenomenon had been reversed. The resupply was impossible from Jayapura given the distances involved and lacking a suitable vessel.

    Being carried further north to face typhoons with little food on board was a recipe for disaster, which surely would have created a rescue situation, risking the loss of the boat. The responsible seamanship required erring on the side of safety and creating the least cost to those who would be coming to Erden's aid. Philippine fishermen on vessels operated by the Frabelle Fishing Corporation assisted in the "orderly retreat" helping to retrieve Erden's boat, and later stored it at the Frabelle facilities in General Santos City on Mindanao Island in the Philippines.

    Erden returned to the Philippines and spent December there preparing his rowboat for a relaunch. On January 15 2009, the boat was delivered to the same May 17 point (A) in the PNG waters. Erden rowed from there for an additional 20 days, making landfall at Maneba Wharf in Finsch Harbor bay on February 4 2009. Offshore winds created by monsoon rains had made landfall at Madang (B) impossible. With the vital assistance provided by Swire Shipping and Steamships Shipping companies, Lae (C) became the base for logistics to store the rowboat and to stage the following legs of the journey in PNG.

      We hope that you followed along:
      312 days (!!!) across the Pacific solo from California to the waters of Papua New Guinea
      followed by an additional 20 days effort to PNG shores.

        Reports from the boat -- Reported Location
        Ocean Rowing Society -- Home Page -- Maps by ARGOS Beacon
        Circumnavigation route to date on Google Earth -- click here

    In September 2009, Erden walked from Maneba Wharf in the company of two villagers from Kamlawa, Philip Sigob and Christian Sami, who had back in February come out to sea in traditional dugout canoes to greet Erden on arrival. Five days of coastal travel mostly on the beaches and bush trails brought them to the Bukawa village, about 40 km east of Lae. They had to cross numerous creeks, ford significant rivers and negotiate tight beaches during low tide.

    October 2009 was when 20 days were spent sea kayaking from Bukawa to Oro Bay (D). Norman Watts from Washington DC joined Erden on this stretch along the Solomon Sea shores of PNG. 223 nm miles were covered during which the sand flies offered the biggest adversity to the team.

    In November 2009, Doug Hilderbrand joined Erden to do a coast to coast trek across PNG from Oro Bay to Port Moresby (E). They began the walk on November 11 at the Oro Bay Guesthouse, at the same spot reached by kayak. Kokoda Trekking Ltd, provided Wayne Urina as a guide to lead the complete trek to the Royal Papua Yacht Club in Port Moresby. The team followed the roads to Kokoda, negotiating river crossings due to damaged bridges from Cyclone Guba of November 2007. In Kokoda, they joined a formal trek over the Owen Stanley Range following the historical Kokoda Track to Owers' Corner. Challenged by the heat, the challenging terrain and the persistently wet conditions, the team survived this stretch, covering 168 miles (271km), reaching the yacht club on November 26.

    December 8 was when Erden launched on the Coral Sea from the Royal Papua Yacht Club toward Australia. Unforecasted westerly winds at the start and strong daily onshore winds every afternoon from the south caused by the land effects of PNG, dogged him during the first two weeks of his crossing. The northwest monsoons had not yet started to neutralize these southerly winds. Countless hours of rowing on precious little sleep got Erden across the Great Barrier Reef on December 31. He slept through the New Year's Eve while resting on anchor inside the barrier reef. His ability to anchor in the shallow waters behind the barrier reef gave Erden better control over his course toward land as he negotiated the winds and the strong tidal currents. Early in the morning on January 10 of 2010, he dropped anchor at (S10.9610 E142.7225) next to Sharp Point at the mouth of the Escape river southeast of Turtlehead island (F). Landfall was not permitted by Australian Customs anywhere but on Thursday Island, the official port of entry. This concluded Erden's Coral Sea crossing on day 33.

    Erden returned to the same point with a sea kayak on January 28, then paddled the far northeast shores of Cape York Peninsula due south toward Cooktown (G). Cooktown was the farthest point where paved roads reached, an important factor during the rainy season. After staying only three days there, Erden moved on by bicycle on February 18th. Multiple school visits were possible during the bicycle ride through Queensland. The ride continued into New South Wales toward the Snowy Mountains. 3,607 km later, Erden reached the alpine village of Thredbo under Mt. Kosciuszko (H), then climbed it on April 10th. Although a relatively easy hike compared to the high points of other continents, Kosciuszko was special with its unique flora found nowhere else, its colorful snow gum trees, and its sacred context within the aboriginal culture. Done together with Nancy Board, this section of the journey holds a special place in the Six Summits Project.

    Distances Covered in Stage 2      nautical
    Seattle to Tiburon near San Francisco
          (completed in May 2007)
         839 965 1,553
    Tiburon to Bodega Bay
          (completed in early July, 2007)
         52 60 97
    Bodega Bay to Papua New Guinea waters: 312 days
          (completed between July 10 2007 and May 17 2008)
         9,072 10,440 16,802
    Continuation on Bismarck Sea to Finsch Harbor in PNG: 20 days
          (completed between Jan 15 2009 and Feb 4 2009)
         756 870 1,401
    Finsch Harbor to Bukawa in PNG
          (completed between Sep 22-26 2009)
         49 56 91
    Bukawa to Oro Bay in PNG
          (completed between Oct 11-30 2009)
         223 258 414
    Oro Bay to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea
          (completed between Nov 11-26 2009)
         146 168 271
    Port Moresby to Sharp point on Cape York peninsula: 33 days
          (completed between Dec 8 2009 and Jan 10 2010)
         628 723 1,163
    Sharp point to Cooktown: 18 days
          (completed between Jan 28 2010 and Feb 15 2010)
         421 485 780
    Cooktown to Thredbo: 40 days
          (completed between Feb 18 2010 and Apr 9 2010)
         1,948 2,241 3,607
    Kosciuszko summit ascent: 4:23 hours
          (completed on April 10 2010)
         5.3 6.2 9.9
    Total distance by human power:      14,139 16,272 26,189


    In Stage 1 of the Six Summits Project in 2003, Erden reached the summit of Denali (Mt. McKinley) by human power from his home in Seattle. He did this in the style of Göran Kropp as a tribute to his fallen friend.

    Later, between October 3rd and Christmas of 2004, Erden covered 3,980 miles across the Continental USA over 82 days. He achieved this Göran style from Seattle to Miami, towing his personal climbing gear. The original plan had been to move the ocean rowing boat around the world on a continuous path starting and ending in Miami. When further research discouraged the Miami departure, and the Panama Canal proved a barrier, Erden's human powered circumnavigation plans took a turn to leave from near San Francisco. Land phases would be introduced, and the boat would have to be shipped from one side of a continent to the other.

    Before continuing on with the Six Summits Expedition, Erden took a sabbatical, and rowed solo across the Atlantic Ocean. The row had started in Lisbon as a pair, arriving at Las Palmas in the Canaries on December 11, 2005. Erden later continued solo from Las Palmas until he crossed into the Caribbean Sea by the island of Guadeloupe, becoming the 33rd person to row the Atlantic Ocean east to west singlehanded.

      We hope that you followed along:
        92 days across the Atlantic solo from Canary Islands to the Caribbean, concluded at Guadeloupe on day 96!!!
        Reports from the boat -- Reported Location
        Ocean Rowing Society -- Home Page -- Maps by ARGOS Beacon

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