Peruvian Adventure 5/18/2006-6/28/2006

Steamboat à Denver à Miami à Lima à Huaraz à Cordillera Blanca à Cordillera Huayhuash à Huaraz à Lima à Miami and home



5/25/2006: 10:40 AM Ishinca Base Camp. Elevation gain today 3,858 ft, total for IVT 10,164 ft.

Woke around 3:30 AM, ate breakfast, packed and was off for summit #2, the name sake of the valley, Nevado Ishinca. At over 18,000 ft this would also be the highest I had ever been on the planet earth, or any other planet for that matter.

Walking in the dark alters your senses.  You hear more and feel more with your feet.  You try not to imagine more with your eyes.  After two hours and about 2,000 ft the sun lit the ski and I arrived at the base of the Ishinca glacier.  Tocllaraju was just to Ishincas’s left and Ranrapalca to its right.  Surrounding me on all other sides were numerous less familiar peaks and valleys.

Glacial moraine just below the beginning of the glacier on Ishinca


The snow was rock hard and in perfect condition for steady progress.  The crevasses were impressive, but the snow bridges were ample and solid.  I passed ceracs with thirty to forty foot icicles hanging from their fractured faces.

At about 17,500 ft looking at Tocllaraju, my goal in two days


Horizontal layers of ice created by the compression of past snows cut across the vertical surface of these ceracs telling the history of decades of wet seasons.  At this latitude there are only two seasons, wet season and dry season.  Moisture that falls above 14,000 ft is snow and below 14,000 ft is rain.  The dry season, or as the gringos call it, the climbing season, runs from May through September.  The wet season, or as the locals call it, the growing season, runs from around October through the end of April.

Weather history of the Cordillera Blanca


I reached the 8’ X 10’ in conditions nearly identical to Urus, clear, cool, dry and alone.   Being another 1,000 ft higher afforded me that much more to see in the Cordillera Blanca range, and it was spectacular.

The trip down was smooth as could be and I had this moment when I thought, I could not have felt better if I were twenty years old.  There are many drugs that come from South America, but Andean endorphins are the most powerful.


On the descent, one more look back at Ishinca


5/26/2006: Ishinca Base Camp:  The full Peruvian experience.  Yesterday I felt like I was twenty, today I feel like I am eighty.  Yesterday after climbing Ishinca I had lunch with the Canadian’s and ate some escabado carne (canned beef stew) I had brought from Huaraz.  I don’t know if that was it, but about an hour later the gut bomb went off.  I spent last night with fever, chills, body aches, diarrhea and crawling to the Italians privy.  I was unable to eat dinner or drink anything until about 5:30 AM.  Now am sipping water and eating vanilla wafers.  Still not so good, but I will live.  I had brought a pretty good pharmacy with me so I just took one of everything I had.  The scientific approach seems to be working.  This was my one planned rest day on this trip so I guess things are working out ok. 

The second park of the full Peruvian experience is cows.  They seem to enjoy a similar status, in terms of freedom to roam, as the Indian cows, but Peruvian cows are far more likely to end up as an entrée than a Hindu cow.  They are a fixture in the quabradas of the Andes and leisurely roam where ever they please.  In the Ishinca Valley there are about a dozen cows that seem to live here.  The cows have no qualms about walking in to your camp and helping themselves to what ever they want, so campers are pretty compulsive about putting food away when they are away from camp.

Today I was hanging out with the Canadian’s, sipping on some tea and talking, when one of the Canadian guys looked toward my camp and said, “the cow is chewing on something in your camp”.  I was sure that I had put everything away so wasn’t too worried, but my friend ran toward my camp yelling at the cow.  A few minutes later he returned with a wadded up black object saturated and coated in cow mucous and asked if I could identity it. It looked totally foreign and unfamiliar, but we decided to examine it further.  As the slimy object was carefully unfolded the letters “EOS” came in to view and the object clearly took on the form of a ski hat.  The EOS stands for Everything Outdoors Steamboat, and the hat was my favorite fleece hat.  Bill, one of the Canadians and a rep for Mountain Hardware, gave me his favorite hat since they were on their way out of the mountains and back home.


Peru Adventure Part V

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