Mount Wilhelm Trip Report (#13910)
- Signed By: Vaughan Pratt
- Date submitted: November 29, 2002
The day after our pig-roast wedding feast on a hill overlooking Goroka on ground-hog day 1969, my wife, mother, and parents-in-law flew from Goroka via Chimbu to Keglsugl to see how far up Mt. Wilhelm we could all climb in a day and get back in time for the plane back at 4 pm. As the pilot pointed his plane back down the steep Keglsugl slope preparatory to dropping precipitously into the valley to remerge safely a minute later, he pointed to the incoming weather, yelled out the window "I wouldn't do this if I were you" and took off. Our thought at the time: "Now he tells us." Little did we realize its full significance however, and I now wonder if he did either at the time.
By noon a drizzle had set in and we were soon cold and shivering. We headed back to Keglsugl and waited for our plane beside a small group of natives waiting for their plane to take them to a meeting of tribal elders.
At 5 pm the natives informed us that neither their nor our plane would be coming in that day, and kindly drove us in their jeep to a mission station 2 miles down the road, in those the only European life on Mt. Wilhelm, with one priest and two nuns.
The priest met us at the door, took us in, gave us dry clothes, and separated our party into the two men and the three women. When we said we had just married yesterday he reorganized us and gave his 18" wide bed to my wife and me, which somehow we managed to remain asleep on most of the night without falling off. In the morning he contacted Goroka by shortwave and within two hours two planes had come for us, the one responsible for us and a backup my father (the then Superintendent of the brand new Goroka hospital) arranged for us just in case.
Without the natives and the mission station, exposure could well have gotten the better of us that night.