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

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

 

5/13 Steamboat Springs, Colorado 6960 ft: For the past few months have been thinking about climbing and trekking in South America in a very third person way. Looking at fantastic pictures of steep snow, ice and rock routes at elevations nearly a mile higher than I have ever been.

With only days before my departure I am rapidly moving in to first person mode. I need camping gear, ice and rock climbing gear, hiking gear, clothing, medications, maps and guides, food and things to keep me entertained for six weeks in a place I have never been.

I will be in a tent for about 30 out of the next 45 days in a variety of setting and with a variety of needs. I need a base camp type tent for the first three weeks of climbing, a light weight single person tent for high camp and a four season tent big enough for two people and gear for the two weeks Mo and I will be on the trail circling the Cordillera Huayhuash range.

Right now everything is laid out in our extra room downstairs and with a little effort I hope to trim it down and compress it in to a big back pack, a smaller back pack and a large duffle bag.

 

5/18/2006 3 PM DIA concourse Gate A48: It is amazing how seemingly solid objects can be compressed and arranged so that seemingly impossible volumes can be fit in to a fixed space. I didnt achieve my goal and ended up with one extra duffle bag and a $100 overweight baggage charge, but after packing and repacking, adding and taking away, getting last minute necessities, I am almost on my way.

Leaving Denver with my 150 lbs of gear

 

Check in and customs went smooth as silk, no strip searches today since they were only checking 80 year old white females. Next step is to get to Miami and check in with LAN, the Peruvian Airline and head for Lima. My Peruvian adventure part II starts there.

 

5/18/2006 2351 Miami International Airport: Definitely a blur between the Americas. All signs and announcements are in English and Spanish, not unusual for many US cities, but the majority of people I overhear in the airport are speaking Spanish.

 

5/19/2006 1930 Huaraz, Peru: I am hear in the heart of Northern Andes after only 24 hours of continuous traveling. Actually not as bad as it sounds. All of the flights and busses were on time. Check in and check outs were easy.

I had build up a slight apprehension about Lima from reading the travel guides, but the Lima Airport was cleaner and nicer than he Miami Airport. After arriving in Lima at about 5:50 AM I was picked up by a young driver who took me to the Los Olvisos Bus Station. On the way we passed through seemingly endless slums arriving at the bus station about an hour before it opened. The driver sat with me in the car until an armed guard swung the iron gates of the station open and let me in. It is routine in Lima and much of Peru to have bus stations gated and guarded in order to prevent thieves, pick pockets and hustlers from bothering travelers. In spite of the trappings, the station was clean and secure feeling, the but arrived right on time and no one demonstrated even the remotest intention of disturbing my space.

The trip to Huaraz gave me a great respect for Peruvian bladders. The bus was full of men, woman and children and with the only one brief stop before heading in to the mountains, our eight hour bus trip was non-stop. I also faired well, as a combination of good planning on snacks and inadvertent mild dehydration kept me reasonably comfortable.

The ride itself was a fascinating tour of the extremes. Starting in the seas level slums of Lima we passed through the hovels and crowds of this 8 million person city all immersed in the seasonal dense haze which is created by a combination of fog and air pollution. we ascended gradually until we entered the vast and barren coastal desert at about 500 elevation. Sand dunes stretched as far as the eye could see with the only interruption or sign of life being the occasional lean-to shack inhabited by people surviving on God only knows what.

The unnamed great desert of western Peru

As the ground rose further we encountered gray lifeless mountains that abruptly rose from valley floor.

Gradually rising in to the Andes. Fertile foreground with the parched desert hills behind.

 

Rivers were evident in the valley and with the water there was life. There were groves of banana and avocado trees surrounded by lush vegetation and corn crops. At one point there were acres of red and yellow peppers laid out on the ground to dry creating a bright patchwork tapestry.

Peppers laid out to dry in the sun

 

As for the bus accommodations, the seats were more comfortable than either Untied Airlines or LAN and we were entertained (in the most liberal sense of the word) by a Feliniesk Spanish language martial arts film. With out going in to the details of the movie, it would be what you would get if you threw David Lynch, Kill Bill and Jean Claude Van Damme in a food processor, in Spanish.

With in five hours we climbed from sea level to 14,000 ft and as we crested a pass at 13,000 ft I got my first view of the Peruvian Cordilleras. There 20 major Cordilleras or glaciated ranges in Peru accounting for the largest mass of tropical glacier on the planet. My view was of the Cordillera Huayhuash, which Mo and I would be trekking around in about 4 weeks, and the very southern end of the Cordillera Blanca that I would be climbing in in a few days.

We then dropped 3,000 ft in to a lush agricultural valley before finally and gratefully arriving in Huaraz. I was met by Chris Benway who had arranged my ground travel from Lima and most of the future travel that would come in the next 6 weeks. I lugged my stuff off the bus and with a little help we made it down the street to Chriss mother-in-laws boarding house, better known as Mama Mases Inn. Mamas place is four small rooms in a courtyard behind Caf Andino and Caf Andino is the international climber and trekker hot spot in Huaraz. I met my neighbors Skip and Tommy, had a little snack and tucked in for the night.

 

Peru Adventure Part II

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