|Cordillera Blanca Range of Peru as seen from the summit of Pisco|
The trip had a rough start, my departing my flight was cancelled, and delayed by 24 hours. This meant that I was going to miss the first day of the program, and more importantly meant I was going to miss my ride from Lima (where the plane landed) to Huaraz (8 hour drive from the Capital).
All panicky and stressed I called IMG, and they arranged alternative transportation on a luxury bus for me. Whew.
|I spent a lot of time in LAX|
|Arriving at the edge of the Andes|
|The lovely San Sebastian Hotel|
The group was as follows:
Joanna, - 30 year old from DC. An employee of the FDA
Jeff - 60 year old Professor from Case Western. A true kindred spirit. Scientist climber just like myself.
Tim and Gina -- A married couple in thier 50s, Tim worked in IT/programming, Gina in Logistics.
Myself - 37 year old lamo professor who thinks he can climb big mountains
Our guides were
Betsy Dain-Owens -- Super nice, very experienced -- our US guide.
Maximo Henostroza -- An ultra-accomplished Peruvian guide. He has climbed Everest and Huascaran (86 times!)
The first day was a easy day hike out of Huaraz. The Cordillera Blanca are high altitude so require a significant amount of acclimatization. So we hiked up to 14,000+' then returned to Huaraz. Climb high - sleep low. That's the classic acclimatization plan.
|Tim (left), Betsy (centre) and Gina (right) on our acclimatization hike|
|Friendly village dog|
|Typical views on the acclimatization hike|
|Duffles, packed and ready to go.|
|The mighty Huscaran, tallest mountain the Peru.|
|Memorial for the buried village of Yungay.|
At Yungay, we turned down some dirt roads and headed into the Andes. Steep, winding roads gave way to a beautiful valley framed by granite cliffs, and filled with glacier fed lakes. I was really starting to get excited. Finally into the mountains~
|Our illustrious ride into the mountains|
|Into the mountains.|
|1st "base camp"|
|Base camp donkeys|
|Betsy, Tim and Jeff - start of the Laguna 69 hike|
|High altitude bovine|
|Jeff and Maximo relax at Laguna 69|
|Typical Andean peak - giant and snow covered|
I really felt good after the hike, the acclimatization schedule seemed to have been working. The next day it was time to pack up the base camp and head to the next camp at 14,000'.
The donkey's were loaded up, and off we went for a 4 hour hike up to the next camp.
|Packing up camp|
|Chopi - one of the largest peaks in the range. I'm going to climb this next time....|
|Pisco - our first objective comes into view|
|Group shot - on the approach to Pisco|
We reached our next camp, and settled in for a relaxing afternoon in a beautiful valley. I chased a bunch of Llamas around, trying to get the perfect shot (I'm not sure it worked out), they sure are cute.
|1st camp on the way to Pisco|
|Tim - on the way to Pisco camp II|
|Pisco camp II (bottom left - tents)|
|Early morning - snow bridge crossing|
|Approaching the summit.|
Five of us topped out, and celebrated with high fives all around.
Then came the only negative point for me on the entire trip. The original plan was to then move on and climb Chopicalqui, a 6000 meter semi-technical peak. However, 3 members of our team were not up to the task. With most of the team unable to climb the peak, I didn't feel like it was my place to be ultra-selfish and insist that we continue. So we switched objectives and decided to climb an easier peak in the Ishinca valley that would not leave a bunch of our team languishing in basecamp alone for several days.
I am slightly annoyed by the change in plans, as I really wanted the challenge of a 6,000 meter peak. However, the trip was so spectacular it didn't detract from my experience too much. I am now very motivated to return to Peru to climb again -- without an American guide, and hopefully with my strong regular partners (Mitch, Troy, Michael, Kyle -- that's you!)
We got picked up, and drove over to another valley. We ended up staying a night camped out at one of lead porter's farm! Talk about seeing how the locals live!
|So, where are we going to put the tents?|
|That looks good|
|Little girl thinking - weirdo gringos, camping in the manure.|
The terrain was quite different, we passed though a forested canyon before arriving at a glacial carved valley. It was truly beautiful.
|Heading into the Ishinca valley -- scary|
|The Ishinca valley ahead|
|relaxing in the dinning tent|
|Looking down on the Ishinca Valley.|
|The Refugio in the Ishinca valley|
The next day, 5 of us woke up at 1am, and headed up Nevado Ishinca (18.143') a mountain at the head of the cirque around the corner from the valley we were staying in. One of our team turned back with the guide after a couple of hours, so it was just three of us that continued into the night.
The mountain was quite fun, and we traversed the entire cirque, climbing up one side and descending the other. There was a fair amount of interesting terrain, more seracs, snow bridges and ridge walking.
|Maximo, Summit climb behind him|
|Top of the world.|
|Downclimbing from the summit|
|Looking back at Ishinca|
|Views on the descent.|
The next day, we busted down camp and headed back to Huaraz, our trip drawing to a close.
|Refreshments waiting for us|
We spent a day in Huaraz, -- Beer and Pizza. Then it was back to Lima and the long flight back to the USA.
Overall -- An amazing trip, I learned a lot about high altitude climbing, and more importantly I am psyched to go back and try some harder peaks. This international climbing is highly addictive, I can't help but thank about my next trip! Sport climbing in Kalymnos? Mt Killimanjaro? Back to Peru? Bolivia? There are so many mountains so see.
|Goodbye until next time Peru.....|