There are hints and legends of a ski resort at 15,700 feet on the Indonesian half of Papua New Guinea in the legendary Maoke Mountains. There is very little corroborating information or evidence to be found anywhere. I believe that it existed and maybe that it still exists today. This region of Indonesia is very restricted and only accessed through special permits acquired once in the country. Everything on this half of the island is steeped in fantastic mystery.
Despite teetering on the edge of reality and myth, this ski resort must have been stunning. When the snows were deep, the lifts were running, and the mystery was a reality. This must have been one of the most magical places ever skied.
The world’s second-highest ski resort exists at -4º Latitude in the Indonesian half of Papua New Guinea. It’s hard to believe that an equatorial nation is known for the best surfing on Earth and also has the second-highest ski resort on Earth, but it’s a reality I can’t ignore nor completely confirm.
The Maoke Mountains of Indonesia hold a 16,023-foot peak called Puncak Jaya or Carstensz Pyramid. This peak is one of the Seven Summits as it is the highest peak in Oceania (basically Australia and its surrounding islands). These peaks are significant, with at least three glaciers, many peaks over 12,000 feet tall, a tree line of 12,000 feet, and a handful of peaks over 14,500 feet.
There is reportedly a small ski resort located on the Meren glacier here, started by Sir John McCisk in 1979. This whole enterprise seems a truly clandestine affair, but we can’t help but indulge as far as we possibly can.
MAOKE SKI RESORT FACTS:
– Second highest ski resort on Earth at 15,700 feet
– Base elevation of 14,500 feet
– Three ski lifts on the Meren Glacier, two pomas, and one rope tow
– Best skiing = May – October
– First opened in 1979 with a rope tow and ski lodge, ski resort completed in 1982
– 3.5 miles of groomed runs
– Annual average temperature = 33ºF
– Mostly mellow, beginner-intermediate terrain
– It is unknown if this ski resort is still in operation
MAOKE MOUNTAIN GLACIERS:
The Maoke Mountain Glaciers are disappearing fast. They are the only tropical glaciers in Asia. They’ve undergone a significant volume decrease in the past twenty years, and they are forecasted to be completely gone in twenty more years.
“In 1989, five ice masses sat on the slopes of Puncak Jaya, a 4,884-meter (16,020-foot) peak within the Sudirman Range. By 2009, two of the glaciers—Meren and Southwall—were gone. The other three—Carstenz, East Northwall Firn, and West North Wall Firn—had retreated dramatically.”
MAOKE MOUNTAIN INFORMATION:
“Maoke Mountains, Indonesian Pegunungan Maoke, formerly Snow Mountains, the westernmost segment of the central highlands of New Guinea. It is located in the Indonesian province of Papua. The range extends for 430 miles (692 km), and much of it lies above 12,000 feet (3,660 meters), with several peaks rising above the 14,500-foot (4,400-metre) snow line. It is composed of the Sudirman (west) and Jayawijaya (east) ranges, the former containing the island’s highest point, 16,024-foot (4,884-metre) Jaya Peak (formerly called Puntjak Sukarno or Mount Carstensz). These rugged mountains have their tree line at about 12,000 feet.”
This ski resort in Indonesia must have been a tiny paradise. Culture, biodiversity, solitude, thin air, and mystery must have run rampant here. Imagining skiing laps on a poma chair in this mysterious place would have been difficult to fathom. The corroborating evidence is very shaky and hard to find, but if you want to read much more, we did find a couple of pages of strange transcripts that describe this ski resort in some detail: Maoke Mountain Ski Resort.
Learn about the world’s highest ski resort on Earth: 17,785-foot Chacaltaya in Bolivia
You tell us. Do you think this ski resort exists?