A White Christmas in PNG


Mount Wilhelm on the Bismarck Range is the highest mountain in Papua New Guinea at 4,509 metres (14,793ft).



Map of Papua New Guinea showing Mt Wilhelm in relation to the capital Port Moresby,

and the major administrative centres of Madang and Mt Hagen.


For periods in 1962 to 1964 National Mapping had field parties in Papua New Guinea (PNG) undertaking, in co-operation with the Australian Army and PNG’s Department of Lands, Surveys and Mines, the geodetic survey of PNG. As Natmap’s field parties worked along the mountains of PNG’s spine its part of the survey was known as “The High Level Geodetic Survey of New Guinea”.


Three members of the 1963/64 team, Ed Burke, Guy Rosenberg and Ron Scott, were based at Mt Wilhelm to observe angles and distances to other nearby, visible, occupied peaks. Wild T3 theodolites were used to measure the angles and Tellurometer (Electronic Distance Measuring) MRA-2 units to measure distance.


Ed and his party plus equipment had been transported by helicopter to Mt Wilhelm and made their camp 100m below the summit on ‘flat’ ground with some protection from the prevailing winds. The beacon on the summit had been previously established by a survey party from PNG’s Department of Lands, Surveys and Mines.


On Christmas Day 1963 they found themselves unexpectedly covered in a layer of snow! A couple of weeks later their story made front page news in PNG’s newspaper of the time the South Pacific Post. See below.



In August 2012, Angus Seekamp climbed Mt Wilhelm and submitted the photos below. They show the Mt Wilhelm beacon, a bit weathered but still standing, after some 50 years on that high and isolated peak.


1963 photos taken at Mt Wilhelm courtesy Ed Burke

Ed Burke at Mt Wilhelm

Guy Rosenberg at Mt Wilhelm

Guy & Ed in the snow at the trig

Mt Wilhelm trig marked for spot photography

Mt Wilhelm trig and observing tent

Ed with Mt Wilhelm summit in the background

Mt Wilhelm camp and summit in the snow

Mt Wilhelm camp and summit (Courtesy David Cook)

Guy (back left) & Ed (back right) with porters

Ed at camp



2012 photos taken at Mt Wilhelm courtesy Angus Seekamp

Mt Wilhelm beacon with PNG flag

PNG flag at Mt Wilhelm summit

Angus at Mt Wilhelm beacon

Angus at Mt Wilhelm beacon