New Guinea has several mountain ranges with many prominent peaks. A large number of New Guinea’s tallest mountains are poorly surveyed and some remain unmapped and unnamed. There are also conflicts regarding the heights of mountains that have already been measured. However, most surveys consider Puncak Jaya to be the tallest peak on the island. The mountains on the island are also suffering from the effects of climate change. Melting glaciers and ice caps on these mountains have also reduced the heights of many of them. The highest peaks of New Guinea are as follows:
1. Puncak Jaya
The Puncak Jaya (or Carstensz Pyramid), a 16,024 ft high peak, located in the Indonesian part of the island of New Guinea, holds several records. It is the highest point on the island and the highest island peak in the world. Puncak Jaya is also the tallest mountain in Indonesia and by some definitions, it is the tallest peak in Oceania (if the Indonesian part of New Guinea is regarded as part of Oceania). The peak is the tallest of the four summits of Mount Jayawijaya which belongs to the Sudirman Range. The first ascent to the summit of this peak was recorded in 1962.
The Sumantri peak is just about 2km northeast of New Guinea’s highest peak, the Puncak Jaya. It has an elevation of 15,978 ft and belongs to the Sudirman Range. The peak was first summited in February 1962. The southern slopes of the Sumantri feature the remnants of the once mighty Northwall Firn, a glacier that has greatly shrunk in size over time. The northern side of the peak features massive cliffs of the Noordwand.
The Ngga Pulu has an elevation of 15,951 ft above sea-level. Although the summit was higher in the past, glacial melting has caused the summit to shrink in the past few decades. The first successful ascent to the peak was made on December 5, 1936.
A sub-peak of the Puncak Jaya, the Carstensz East is regarded as New Guinea’s fourth highest point. The peak has an elevation of 15,810 ft and its features a small glacier which is rapidly retreating.
Although the Sumantri, Ngga Pulu, and the Carstensz East are taller than the Puncak Mandala and the Puncak Trikora, they cannot be considered as independent mountains but are sub-peaks of the Puncak Jaya. Thus, though they qualify as the second, third, and fourth highest points in New Guinea, the second and third tallest mountains on the island are the Puncak Mandala and the Puncak Trikora.
2. Puncak Mandala
The Puncak Mandala is located on the Indonesian island of Papua. It has an elevation of 15,617 ft above sea-level and belongs to the Jayawijaya (Orange) Range. Although the peak of this mountain was covered by an ice cap in the past, the ice has disappeared completely since 2003. The first ascent to the top of this peak was made on September 9, 1959, by climbers from a Dutch expedition. It is the second tallest mountain in New Guinea.
3. Puncak Trikora
The 15,584 ft tall peak of Puncak Trikora is located in Indonesia’s Papua province. It is part of the Sudirman Range. While some sources consider it as the second tallest mountain in New Guinea, others claim that the Puncak Mandala is higher. Like the other high mountains on the island, Puncak Trikora also lost its ice cap in the past few decades. The mountain was first summited on February 21, 1913.