Climbing in Peru
July and August, 2010
Frigid and fatigued: 5500m at 2am in the morning - the yin and the yang of high altitude climbing. The precarious balance of alpine maladies: icicles hanging from tent poles like a Central Otago frost and the body’s internal coping mechanisms - an irregular respiratory pattern, a palpitating heart causing sleepless nights and ailments of unknown gastro-intestinal origin. Oh to be climbing in a 3rd world country. Peru in this instance.
As a TTC AIC graduate of 2008, Peru was, for me, the opportunity to consolidate two years of alpine climbing in New Zealand and experience a path less beaten. Over the course of eight weeks in July and August 2010, I was based in the sleepy mountain town of Huaraz, Northern Peru. I attempted five mountains in the Cordilleras Blanca and Huayhuash and successfully summited three of these sky piercers.
I initially planned the expedition with few expectations but quickly discovered the additional demands that are required when undertaking high altitude climbing in a 3rd world country, and I remembered the sage Nankervis wisdom. What eventuated was an experience of proportions commensurate with the mountains I was climbing. From humble Arrieros (donkey drivers), fluorescently cloaked women and understated adobe villages struggling to remain economically afloat, I became acquainted with receding glaciers, week-long windows of perfectly stable weather and 60% of the oxygen available at sea level. Climbing partners acquired from gringo bars, the Casa de Guias (House of Guides) and my hostel were of varying degrees of competence and experience. Some of whom will become friends for life, and others, lessons on better climbing partner selection.
However, the real highlights were in the daily living routines: shopping for climbing meals in the open air markets, drinking the juice of 12 oranges manually squeezed for NZ 50 cents, avoiding man-swallowing holes in the footpaths and sharing stories of the hills with local people over local food. The perfect way to purposefully explore the path less beaten
- Party members
- Scott Miller (leader and scribe).