View Full Version : Mt. Wilhelm

07-02-2002, 12:23 AM
Nestled at the foot of Mt. Wilhelm, on the forested slope that closes the Kegsugl-Gembogl Gorge, lies a cool and friendly property with a name so difficult to prounounce that everybody calls it by the name of the hostess - Betty's.

Most travellers who face the two-hour drive up the steep and narrow gorge, have only one idea in mind - they come all the way to Kegsugl to spend a night at the lodge before starting the strenuous and breathtaking climb to the highest summit in Papua New Guinea.

Mt. Wilhelm, which hides itself in a thick blanket of clouds most of the time.

Mount Wilhelm is the highest mountain of Papua New Guinea. It is a rugged mountain with an excellent trail leading to its summit.

The ascent crosses diverse and beautiful terrain, with open grasslands on the slopes between 10,000 and 12,000 feet, and glaciers and granite predominant in the higher elevations.

Elevation (feet) 14,793

Elevation (meters) 4,509

Location Papua New Guinea
Pacific Basin

Latitude 5 48' S

Longitude 145 02' E

Best Climbing Months May, June, July, August, September, October, November (dry season)

Convenient Center(s) Goroka,
Papua New Guinea

Nearest Major Airport Nadzab, Lae,
Papua New Guinea

07-02-2002, 12:30 AM
Lake Pindi Yaundo, a site on the walk to Mt. Wilhelm, feeds the rainbow trout farm with cold clean water:

07-02-2002, 12:31 AM
Rainbow trout fish poinds look more like natural pools:

07-02-2002, 12:39 AM
Staff and friends who work on the trout farm:

07-02-2002, 12:43 AM
Trout Farm:

07-02-2002, 12:44 AM
Trout Fish Farm near Mt. Wilhelm:

07-02-2002, 12:46 AM
Reservoir and earth pond for angling:

07-02-2002, 12:54 AM
Locals buying fresh trout at the farm:

24-02-2002, 08:20 PM
Millennium atop Mt. Wilhem

Story by Precilla Merimba and Photographs by Nancii Merimba:

Waking up to see another Sunday in Goroka had never been so exciting as I threw aside my blanket and rushed to awake the others. To my surprise it was only 5am and I realised that we weren't going anywhere to 8am. I was so excited I was the first to get packed along with my best friend Belinda Iarume.

Soon it was 7am, and everyone was rushing here and there trying not to forget a thing. Meanwhile my friend and I wee packed ready to go sitting comfortablyin the car listening to 96 Nau FM and discussing how Mt. Wilhem was going to be a piece of cake!

(Now I take it all back for I had no idea what I was about to face). Finally, we girls were all ready and set, we quietly snuck into the shop for a bit to bite for we did not have breakfast.

24-02-2002, 08:33 PM
Millennium atop Mt. Wilhem

The drive form Kol Town Goroka to my home place Gembogl took about 3 to 4 hours, usually it's a 4-5 hour drive, but of course when dad's driving, we always get to wherever we're going an hour or so early! On the way there, Daulo pass was still looking ever so green with it's luxurious surroundings of habited but untouched forestry, one of natures gifts. We stopped at Kundiaws for we had all unexpectedly forgotten our torches!

We were once again on our way. The road to Betty's Camp/Keglsugo was pretty rough but I'm used to that, besides it's my village. Arriving at beautiful Kelsugo; a name many can't pronounce thus calling it Betty's Camp after Betty Higgins was based there.

The beautiful scenery was a truly divine mixture of nature. The lush green trees, the soft humming of crickets an theloud calls of birds with the cool breezes. Truly magnificent sight.

When we arrived at Betty's Camp unpacking never felt so exciting and adventuruous! Out of the 4 cars that we took, the luggage for the 15 kids all added up to 6 bags.

We lined them up as Betty insisted to cook us some trout before the big adventure. Betty had ssituated herself in some very beaufiful surroundings. Her lodge overlooking the trout fish ponds, the old Keglsugo airstrip, Mt. Wilhem High School against the background green and blue mountains with distance.

After the delicious secret spiced fish (as Betty calls them)m, it was time to go leaving Mum, Dad and the others behind.

Again the girls were the first to trot off. We started the climb! Oh man, walking through the wild and untamed rough forest of Mt. Wilhem was exhausting! I had never in my life climbed a hill so high and seemingly ever going.

Mt. Wilhem is the highest mountain in PNG standing at 4509 metres above sea leavel. There are 3 designated resting places leading to the lake. Before we ever reached the first resting place my sister Nancii and friends Lavina Iarume and Stephanie Andrias insisted that we should rest and so our 6 guides (that dad hired) just looked and laughed and said "OK". Meanwhile, the boys plodded on to the first resting place to await us.

24-02-2002, 08:39 PM
Millennium atop Mt. Wilhem

Gradually we caught up with the others. After giving all our bags to the 6 guides to carry, we were now going at a moderate speed and finally Mt. Wilhem was looking closer. My brother, Mattie, my cousin Mathew Mel, John and I had beaten the rest of the group and were way ahead. We had a long and cool rest. We had carried nothing with us and unfortunately the thirst had taken over our body.

We were dehydrated, crawling on our knees up the man made stairs on the forest floor with it's twisted vines, laid horizontally, layer upon layer. I was amazed to see this though still very tired.

Thank God, John had been here before, he spurred our hopes high by telling us that there was a fresh water stream near by, flowing down hill directly from mt. William! Seeing it naturally was pure joy!

Never in my whole entire life, was I ever so relieved and excited to see, touch and drink water! My whole body was socking wet with perspiration. My every heart beat felt, as if it was designed to pump out sweat! When I first indulged in that little pond of fresh water, I felt a strange but soothing coolness running through my whole body. This may sound strange, but I felt as if I was melting in ice cold water!

24-02-2002, 08:44 PM
Millennium atop Mt. Wilhem

Reluctantly it was finally time to move on and as we got higher and higher above sea level, I could already feel the temperature dropping. Everytime we stopped to rest the cold air would simply get stronger and stronger and so we had no choice but to constantly keep moving.

From Cambridge country, the third and final resting place, we climbed three hills before arriving t our final destination, Lae One (Piunde) where we spend the night.

That night, when everyone arrived, we all moved in and settled downin the little house that was built by the edge of the lake. It wasn't a 5 star hotel but had three rooms which were divided into a girls room, a boys room, a guides room. The left over space was just considered as the ktichen as well as the common room where people gathered to play cards and tell ancient stories about this land.

24-02-2002, 08:54 PM
Millennium atop Mt. Wilhem

Our beds were simply mattresses lined up on the floor, we supplied our own blankets. Although they had a small mini heater lamp, you still needed about two blankets, and had to wear three sweaters, three track pants, gloves, beanies, ,socks and anything else to keep you from surrendering to the cold. I was told that the temperature outside was about 1 to 2 degrees Celsius!

That night, as we gathered around the fire to discuss the climb, we were told that we were only given one day by Mum and Dad to spend in this cold and remote place of Simbu. We would start the climb at 1am in the morning. I was getting physicked up, when unfortunately at the stroke of 12 midnight, I started throwing up! It was as if I was put on a spell of some sort. I didn't stop until 1am; so the climbers left me behind. One of the guides told me that I caught a bit of a 'air sickness' as I was not used to this high altitude.

Later as the morning broke, I was woken up by a loud scream of excitement," Look, Look! "

"Oh my" Wanem ya? Was my reaction. When I ran outside to see what was going on, I stopped and stared in fascination, I had never in my life seen a sunrise so beautiful! As the sun's first rays touched the earth, the darkness and turned to red, then everything lightened up and the colours changed.

Also to my surprise, I was in a crowd of practically half of the climbers that went. They had alal returned over night - Ha ! Ha ! Giving up on the last stretch ! It was 1st January, year 2000 !

Out of the fifteen kids that climbed, only three made it to the top -Wesley Kunot, Bony Standor and Mathew Mel. Through this little experience I learnt a lot and deeply thank Mum (Veronica) and Dad (Mathias Merimba) for making it all happen. The fact is they granted us our wish and had trust in us!

In the future, I promised myself that I'll definitely make it to the very top and be better prepared !

Imagine celebrating the new Millennium on Mt. Wilhem - that's what we youngsters did !


03-03-2002, 07:58 PM
Travel Tips

Climbing Mt Wilhelm is a very worthwhile experience. While not a technically demanding climb it is physically challenging. This is particularly so if you have been mainly in the coastal areas for the last little while.

It is recommended that people stay at the Pindaunde Lakes for 24-36 hours to acclimatise to the altitude somewhat before climbing the mountain. While this is not a requirement if you are physically fit it will make the climb more enjoyable. Plus the lakes provide a pleasant environment to take a break.

It is recommended to take up the mountain:

Spare shoes, socks and pants as when you go up the mountain in the middle of the night your clothes will get wet from the frost and water, the wet parts of your body will go numb at the summit.
2 extra lots of good batteries for your flash light. You will be blind without your flash light.
Very warm clothes.

03-03-2002, 08:08 PM
The following travel details were provided in August 1999 by Rick Warnett and Terry Griffiths:

Access to the mountain is quite easy unless weather is very bad - blizzard or heavy rain.

The closest international airport in Papua New Guinea is Nadzab, with direct flights from Cairns Qld.Australia using Flight West. An alternative is Jackson's International in Port Moresby, with incoming flights from Australia, Singapore, Manila, Hong Kong using Air Niugini and Qantas airlines.

Once in Papua new Guinea, one can drive three hours from Lae to Goroka, a very pleasant town of 8,000 or so located in a valley at about 5,000' asl. If you're coming from Port Moresby, you can catch one of two daily one hour flights to Goroka on AIR NIUGINI. In Goroka, excellent accomodation at the "Bird Of Paradise" hotel is available, as well as a range of less expensive lodges and hotels. The BOP costs about K150 per night, but offers excellent food.

Light aircraft can he chartered to fly to Keglsugl airstip, about 8,000' asl or the intrepid can hire a helicopter from Pacific Helicopters in Goroka for a range of costs per hour. Count on about 900 USD per hour for a Bell 206, the flight out and back takes about 1.6 hours, but you can visit the summit without all the clobber otherwise required.

Alternatively you can travel by road from Goroka to the base camp at the Mt Wilhelm Trout Farm, operated by Ken and Betty Higgins, together with their local assistants. Cost for a 4WD return trip (up to 6 passengers) is K300.00 (US$120.00), and is available through Norman Carver's Niugini Highland Tours, and can be booked via the BOP. This 4-5 hour trip proceeds along roads which cling to mountain sides (and sometimes don't) and winds up from 5,000' across the pass at 9,000' then down to Kundiawa and along a steep sided river valley to Keglsugl, then on to the trout farm and the Lodge.

Accomodation here is about K45 per night (1998) and includes some of the world's best trout and fresh vegetables - no pesticides.
A guide can be hired from the local area for about K50 per day and is definitely required to save wasted miles or becoming lost if the weather fails. Overnight exposure will result in death, unless you have alpine tents or find shelter. Visibility can fall to less than 3M and the rocky terrain is unforgiving. Eight people rest here, testament to the hidden dangers of what seems a Sunday walk.

A walk to the lakes is usually completed on the first day and a short rest until about 2am made there. These are beautiful cirque lakes formed when glacial ice sheets covered PNG in the last ice age. The only permanent ice fields left on the island are in the Star Mountains in Irian Jaya, much more difficult to reach. Brown trout once lived in the lakes, but it appears too cold for even them to survive and none have been seen for many years. Snow trout may be used to re-stock the lakes, leading to the possibility of a fishing expedition to this extremely pleasant and relaxing place. There is a staging hut at a lake below the summit where you can overnight for K10.00 per person.

From a 2am start, a walk with torches to see the way on moonless days, leads up the wall of the lakes, across a moraine strewn clay slope, under huge overhanging rocks and then upward past the tree and bush line to almost bare rock. The trail reaches about 14,000' and then levels out to traverse around several deep gullies. A short section along a ridgeline introduces the walker to the view that lies ahead, before descending to follow a well worn trail on the north side. The last kilometer passes several radio repeater sites and then the final ascent up a steep and rough pinnacle that is the summit of PNG's highest mountain.

Arrival is usually time to be about 7am so that the clearest air and best views are available. A climb soon after heavy rain or a mountaintop storm will reveal the best views as all the moisture has been removed. After a two day blizzard in 1997, I was certain I could see well past Mt Lamington volcano some 450Km to the East. It was likely that the two peaks on the horizon were Goodenough and Fergussen Islands in Milne Bay !! Even individual trees on Mt Giluwe (itself 4,100M) could be seen.

Views are enjoyed until 8-9am or until the weather starts to close in.
Walking down is said to be harder than up, probably true. The return trip is usually back to the Lodge at Keglsugl or the Trout Farm, all in one day, This is usually about 7 hours.

As radio technicians, it is easier to camp on site and accept the hardships, than walk up and down to the site each day. Alpine conditions are challenging for a few days and camping is possible in all but the worst conditions, as well, few others do this, so camping on Mt Wilhelm is much more interesting than simply walking up and down.

I once spent 9 days in a small metal hut with 3 then 5 people while
upgrading the facilities for my employer. This was tough and extremely interesting. Snowstorms in the tropics - not everyone's ideas of Papua New Guinea, but certainly some great stories and photos were made in that time.

P.S. You can ring home from the summit by taking your analog cellular phone up with you. keep the batteries warm, but access to the Mt Hagen cell system is possible and you can call anywhere in the world, or leave that unexpected message.

Anyone who wants contact numbers, see below:

AIR NIUGINI Port Moresby +675-3273444
Goroka +675-7321444
Bird Of Paradise Hotel +675 7321144
Pacific Helicopters +675 7321226 or 7321126
Road Transport
Niugini Highland Tours,
Norman Carver Ph +675 7321603
Fax +675-7323302
Mt Wilhelm Trout Farm,
Ken & Betty Higgins ISD access then
0145 112037 satellite phone.
Rick Warnett +675 3257111 BH

21-04-2002, 02:12 PM
Story by Johnny Poiya, Weekend Extra, Post Courier, Friday April 19, 2002:

As the country's tourism industry expands, services are brought closer to tourists coming into the country. Chimbu province, although ripped off all its economic viability bynature from the beginning, is a very interesting place for visitors.

It is mountainous, rugged with limestone and at the bottom of every meandering cliff is a fast flowing creek. It's a province for tough adventures and plenty to see and experience.

Because of its mountainous environment, Chimbu is the home of the highest landmark in the country - Mt. Wilhelm.

Local guest houses, tour operators, lodges, hotels and cultural groups over the years have made enormous commitments to the growth of the industry in the province.

In the midst of all these activities, the Backpackers Lodge, set right at the entrance to the Kundiawa-Gembogl road leading to Mt wilhelm, has contributed its own unique attraction for visitors to the province.

The lodge offers much more lucrative facilities than a simple backpacking lodge and is on par with mainstream hotels in the country.

Only its quietness, safe and tranquil atmosphere create the feeling many visitors maya term as a heavenly home away from home.

In operation for only a few years, visitors have branded the lodge as the "culturally spic and span" accommodation facility in the province.

Set in a quiet enviroment, one can have a panoramic view of the Wara Chimbu, precarious villages set along the steep edges form the balcony of its newly extended building.

It gives the visitor a real feeling of traditional village activities in the distance.

Fenced in with a variety of orchids, ,flowers, climbing plants, ferns and other decorations and important traditional plants surrounding the setting, it brings right into the hotel's premises what the rainforest and jungles of the province hold in secret.

The front view of the 'Backpackers Lodge':

21-04-2002, 02:23 PM
Here, one can kill several birds with a single stone. Whether the reasons are to climb Mt Wilhelm, sightseeing, bush trekking or rafting down some of the country's fast flowing creeks, the hotel provides what many would normally miss.

Inside the lounge bar are giant paintings of traditional cultural regalia, species of Chimbu's unique wildlife including Birds of Paradise and possums. Plants on the walls provide a real feeling of the province.

The lodge has now undergone an extensive extension and renovation work to accommodate the influx of visitors, both from overseas and within the country.

The new extensions include 17 self contained rooms and two separate lounge bars and an entertainment centre.

Several foreign diplomats, including the Japanese Ambassador and his wife, have frequented this lodge. And the diplomas have found the lodge interesting and recommend visitors from their country to visit the province.

Proprietors of the lodge, Peter and Mary lggy said chimbu was a very interesting province in terms of tourism.

"The province itself naturally is tough and adventurous. We have many mountains, fast flowing creeks and wildlife that live on tough geographical formations, "Mr Iggy said.

"We have fel the surge in the number of visitors who would want to come here and have a taste of our province. We therefore have expanded our facilities and created an atmosphere that would make visitors really feel the taste of our lives, " he said.

Arrangements can be made with the lodge for visits to Chimbu's unique tourist sites, including the viewing of the Betty lggins fish ponds - the source of fresh water fish in the highlands, sheep projects and cultural centres.

Some of the staff at the lodge:

26-07-2002, 12:37 AM
This message was previously posted by hostos
and copied and pasted to this site in case someone out there reading about Mt. Wilhelm needs a good guide.

Great Trekking in PNG

My visit to PNG last year was made all the better by my great guide JOHN UMBA. Who organized a wonderful trek for me up Mt . Wilhelm.

John was great. He is educated, polite, speaks perfect English and several local languages. He took care of everything.

On the mountain he arranged for a friendly local mountain guide and very pleasant acommodations.

He cooked wonderful meals made from local vegetables and even trout.

All along the way it was clear that John has friends everywhere who respect and trust him.

If you are interested in trekking or just touring the Hagen-Wilhelm area of the Highlands, John is your man.

He works free-lance and can be contacted at:

P.O. Box 772
Mt. Hagen PNG