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Ascent to Mount Kanangio-Kubugam on 2015-08-10

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Monday, August 10, 2015
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Mount Kanangio - Kubugam
    Location:Papua New Guinea
    Elevation:0 ft / 0 m
    Remaining Elevation:6001 ft / 1829 m (100% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

On a short hastily arranged visit I didn't have time to attempt the summit which probably needs 3 or 4 days including travel to and from the island. Madang Resort where we were based (S 5.21, E 145.81) would be able to make arrangements for a day trip, given a few days notice. Details below.
We arrive in Madang on Friday, planning to head for Saidor and Mt Boising on Sunday. However the sea is too rough for our boatman to get across: he postpones until Tuesday.
With two days to spare and this peak only 50km along the coast road it seems worth a try. Not much operates in PNG on a Sunday so the boat out to Karkar island won't be running. Gabriel at Madang Resort arranges for me to stay with the local Chief Constable Adam Yawine at Dylup just north of the Kubugam jetty where the Karkar boat departs. Gabriel even takes me down to where the buses depart, ie the Puma filling station at 5.2126, 145.8047 near Best Buys. Bus service 17 runs north and west along the coast road. 17A and B are local: 17C and upwards go to Kubugam and beyond. Gabriel finds someone at the bus stop who is also going to Kubugam and can make sure I get to the right place.

The road is mostly good paved surface but there are a few sections of bad potholes. The road crosses a few bridged rivers; it runs close to the seashore at times; villages and plantations are passed. In time we arrive at Kubugam and Lucy phones Yawine (that's his first name) who arrives to collect me. His house is one of several clustered around the police station (4.7922, 145.7233, right on the coast. Not luxurious but has electricity, running water and plenty of space. After a shower and lunch we head back to Kubugam to watch a darts match! The folk there know much more about the UK darts scene than I do; not surprising. The Karkar Island school teacher is there and knows about tourist arrangements. A plan is put together for tomorrow involving an early boat, a climb and boat back to Kubugam to catch the last bus back to Madang: it's essential I'm back for the Saidor boat early Tuesday.

I don't find the darts too captivating although the team 'strips' are quite colourful. The basketball game is more entertaining; there's also a football being kicked about. There's a group of musicians featuring bamboo drums. These consist of a dozen pieces of bamboo tuned by being cut to different lengths and capped with pieces of membrane. Invariably they seem to be struck by old flipflop soles! Quite a striking sound. There's no alcohol in evidence: my policeman host explains it doesn't bring out the best in Papuans so he discourages it. Hard to see that working in the west!

We head home about 5pm, dinner and some TV with the kids. TV has just arrived in the village and Yawine has one of the pilot sets and is reporting back on performance. He showed me the mast set up on a hill by the Catholic Church; he says it needs to be further up the hill... Early to bed.

Monday we're down at Kubugam jetty (5.94, 145.78 tbc) just before 7. No boat. We head up to a hilltop for a view across the sound. Still no sign although a phone call confirms it has left. With timings already tight and punctuality apparently not reliable, it seems the most likely outcome is no summit and missing the bus back to Madang. I decide to abort and get Yawine to put me on a bus back to Madang.

I'm back at Madang Resort just after 9am, too early to check back in so after conferring with security on the gate I decide it's safe to take the 1km walk along to Kalibobo Point with its Coastwatchers Light and memorial to the PNG informers and Australian troops efforts against the Japanese invasion during WW2.

Back at Madang Resort, Augustine our boatman has arrived ready to take us to Saidor, our starting point for Mt Boising our main trip goal.

Notes on bagging Konogai:

1-2 day option: may be best to get a local operator to set this up for you, eg Madang Resort Hotel, with a few days notice.
Good contact is Gabriel Kagup, dabikmandan@gmail.com
Will need:
Private transport to Kubugam (c. 1hr)
Early boat (charter) to Karkar Island
Guide eg from Mom; ensure island elders aware and approve of ascent
Estimated 8-12 hours round trip for ascent. Should be a trail at least to crater rim but allow for warm temps.
Boat back to mainland Transport back to Madang.

This assumes rapid progress on the mountain and that the boatman and driver are willing to travel in the dark if needed. The safer alternative is to arrange to stay on Karkar overnight and get scheduled boat and bus next morning.

3(4) day DIY option:
Day 1: From Madang, take early bus, 17C, 17D or upward. Allow 1h30, depart no later than 7am. K7 fare.
Regular boat to Karkar island, 9am approx but recommend confirming. 1h journey, K20 fare. Confirm location of visitor accommodation with boatman to ensure being dropped at correct location.
Locate and check into accommodation. Ask for ascent to be arranged for next day. Note this may be subject to local elders confirmation that ascent is safe ie conditions are suitable.
Note the standard package includes a descent in to the crater and not a summit visit. It may be difficult to get across in advance the concept of a summit visit.
The topo map indicates a trail from the coast passing through Mom village (250m) on the west side, climbing to 1200m and following the west edge of the crater rim then continuing south to the summit.
Allow a full day.
Overnight on island.
Day 3: boat back to mainland. Confirm timing on arrival but likely to be around 9-10am and possibly variable. There may also be an afternoon boat, which may get back before the last bus back to Madang which is typically around 5pm.

However these timings may be unreliable and it is recommended to be flexible.

An easier 3 day alternative if staying at Madang is to take boat (from near Lutheran Shipping wharf, 20 kina) to Kulili wharf on the island then 45 mins (3km) walk to Tugutugu guesthouse. Details of both in Lonely Planet although neither shipping nor guesthouse tel no worked when I tried. Contact Madang Resort as above.

Instead of heading back south for Madang, the alternative is to head another couple of hours northwest along the coast road to investigate Manam, another island ultra, erupting as of August 2015; I was told it also erupted in 2004, but when quiet is climbed by the locals.

Map: http://viewfinderpanoramas.org/drg/karkar.jpg
Summary Total Data
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Start Trailhead:0 ft / 0 m
Descent Statistics



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