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

Steamboat ŕ Denver ŕ Miami ŕ Lima ŕ Huaraz ŕ Cordillera Blanca ŕ Huaraz ŕLazy Dog and LlacaŕCordillera Huayhuash ŕ Huaraz ŕ Lima ŕ Miami and home

6/15/2006: Huayhuash Quebrada: 14,420 ft:

 

Day

Trek

High Point

15,830 ft

15,830 ft

Ascent

2,987 ft

8,651 ft

Descent

2,302 ft

7,926 ft

 

Got up early to fish again.  The lake was like a mirror with out a ripple.  It was cool with a frost inside and outside our tents, but the day promised sun and their was not a hint of wind.  The only thing I caught was one of the line of a fisherman from the local village.  He in tern did have a beautiful two pound trout on his line.  After some apologies he gave me the fish.  Zack cooked it up with some special Peruvian spices and we all enjoyed it for breakfast.

Once packed we headed southwest along the shore line of Carhuacocha and gradually climbed to Siula Punta. As we climbed Siula Punta a series of three glacial moraine lakes came in to view.  The first was Laguna Gangrajanca, which had become over time a refuse for glacial debris from the peaks above.  The second lake was a dark blue and the third lake, Laguna Siula, was a ski blue turquoise. 

The three lakes of Siula Punta, Laguna Siula closest, followed by unknown and just barely visible at the top of picture is Laguna Gangrajanca

The peaks above from RŕL: Jirishanca Chici, Jirishanca, Yerupaja Chici and Yerupaja(just out of sight)

 

The trail followed a ridge with the lakes and peaks to our right.  Every half hour or so we would hear a huge roar like thunder echoing though the valley, but there were no clouds and no lightning.  The thunder was the energy being released by huge avalanches created by the calving of glacial seracs.  We could often identify the source by a cloud of white debris and the cascade of old snow and ice running a hundred miles an hour down the mountain.  In some areas the new avalanche material would spread over old avalanche debris like vanilla frosting layered over caramel and fudge. 

500-1,000 ft deep upside down vanilla, caramel and chocolate Sunday.

 

Every time we thought we had seen the most spectacular view we had ever seen there was another that topped the last.  It was like we were in a continuous slow moving reel of natural mountain wonders.  There is an unexpected comfort in experiencing our insignificance on this planet.  At the same time humans are like a mosquito on the back of a bull elephant.  In terms of size we are insignificant, but in terms of potential harm we the carriers of the germ that can potential fell the elephant.

Quike, Mo and I about 1 mile below the summit of Siula Punta

 

I reached the summit of Siula Punta at 15,800 ft a ways in front of Mo and Quike and as I approached the pass I could see two people standing at the summit.  Since I had not seen any trekkers ahead of us I assumed that a group must be coming counter clockwise on the Huayhuash Valley Loop.  When I got to the top instead of trekkers, I found two small children, Boncho age 9 and Botto age 6.  Bancho was wearing a black balaclavas and cowboy hat and Botto was going with a bright blue drooping fedora very similar to something I had worn in my youth).  They both had well worn pants and layers of sweaters and shirts.  Their English was non-existent and my Spanish was just adequate to carry on a little Q&A. 

They were curious as to where I came from, but when I responded “Estadas Unitas” they seemed baffled, not by my Spanish, but they had not heard of the United States.  They also had not heard of North America, but they did understand when I said I had come from Chiquian.  Chiquian being the last town on the road before you enter the Huayhuash.  I also was able to find out that they had never been to school and that they lived way down the pass and up a valley where their family herded sheep and they had two horses.  They had no interest in Iraq or President Bush.  I am quit sure they had never been to a town or in a car or ridden a bike had an iPod or worried about war or what was cool or not cool.  The other thing that was clear is that I was standing in their back yard.

Boncho and Botto standing at the top of Siula Punta

 

About thirty minutes later Mo and Quike arrived and after a brief introduction and chat we started on down the other side of the pass.  As we descended Boncho and Botto ran along beside us jumping off of rocks and literally bouncing their way down the mountain.  Mo and I were terrified they were going to kill or injury themselves and with the closest town two to three days by horse back it would be an epic evacuation.  Somehow each crash was followed by laughter rather than tears and screams and in the end they headed east to their home and we headed north to our next camp.

When we got to our camp at Quebrada Huayhuash a few hours later and after eight hours of trekking, Quike said that as he approached the summit he was very scared when he saw the two people standing next to me, one wearing a black balaclava.  It had only been a few years since the Moist terrorist organization, Sendera Luminosa, had used the Cordillera Huayhuash as their head quarters.  Their MO was to wait at the tip of passes in the Huayhuash, wearing their trademark black balaclavas, and rob and sometimes kill trekkers. 

Things had gotten bad enough that all trekking in the Huayhuash had come to a halt.  Finally Peru's president Alberto Fujimori suspended the nation's constitution, assumed dictatorial powers, and in a relatively short period of time crushed the Shining Path organization in Peru and captured their leader Abimael Guzmán Reynoso.  Trekking and climbing in the Huayhuash had only returned to normal in the past 5-10 years and the memory of the Shining Path was still fresh in the minds of Peruvian’s.

Tomorrow is another big day, but we will end the hike at an area known for its natural hot springs.

 

 

Peru Adventure Part Two Chapter XIII

Journal Index