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Arriving in Huaraz, the outdoor sports capital of Peru, was quite special.  It was the first place in South America which I visited again.  After a couple of days I was ready for my first trek.  It started in the village of Cashapampa.  For the first few hours I was passing houses going up and down before starting a long, exhausting ascent.  The path climbed up in a zig zag up to a lake, but I knew I had no chance to get there in 1 day.  In the afternoon it started to rain but there was nowhere to camp.  I just kept going and arrived at a campsite in the dark, wet and miserable.  After gaining 1500m in altitude with 35kg on my back, the first day was probably the hardest.

In the morning it was sunny again, and after drying my tent and jacket I was going up again.  The same zig zag that seemed to never end.  After 4 hours I arrived at Cullicocha lake and pitched my tent.  By then, it was snowing heavily and I knew I had to stay there.  Anyway, I had fewer and didn´t feel well.  In the evening clouds started to break and I was snapping photos of a beautiful sunset and the lake surrounded by high mountains.

Day 3 again started with no clouds in the blue sky.  I climbed over 2 passes and descended to Quebrada Alpamayo.  The path followed the river for 5 km and I arrived at the campsite quite late.  There were 3 organized groups already.  They had donkeys, guides and big tents to sit in after dark, which is before 7pm.  I went to sleep early listening to the sound of rain and hoping for good weather to return.

I woke up at 3am, and I still heard the rain.  Then at 6am, but it was cloudy.  I didn´t feel like getting up at all.  But at 7am I saw clear sky!  I quickly had breakfast and was on my way to the Alpamayo base camp.  I followed the path up the valley towards the glaciers of Santa Cruz mountains.  It´s huge walls of rock and ice reach 6200m.  The path was easy to follow until the big moraine at the end of the valley.  There it climbed hundreds of meters until a beautiful green lake sitting inside was visible below.  By then, it was cloudy again.  I decided to wait a little, and it paid off.  After a couple of hours, I felt warm sunshine on my face and I climbed up the rocks to the ridge at 5200m, just below Santa Cruz glaciers.  The views of Alpamayo and Quitaraju were stunning, but I wanted to climb a rocky mountain to my right.  It was going well until I hit a difficult section covered in snow.  When I slipped and almost fell down, I decided it was enough.  I returned to the lake where I left my rucksack and was on my way down.  I then realized it was late.  Not a problem, but the people at the campsite didn´t know where I was.  I came back in the dark, and they even had dinner for me!

Day 5 again started with a long ascent, with great views of Alpamayo again.  This mountain is dubbed the most beautiful in the world, and looking at this huge pyramid of ice, I could see why.  After a long climb I reached the pass at 4800m and was surprised to see just rocky hills on the other side.  No glaciers, no walls of ice.  But after a few hours I crossed another pass and the views were back.  The multiple picks of Pucajirca were illuminated by the afternoon sun and I couldn´t take my eyes of them.  I decided to camp by Safuna Baja lake, but I had to cross a river barefoot first.  I arrived in the dark again.

I was hoping to enjoy the views of the lake below Pucajirca glaciers and spires but it was cloudy next morning.  I went down the valley passing grazing alpacas and cows.  There is a tiny Quechua community in the valley, leading a traditional way of life.  They were some of the poorest people I have seen.  That day I had to cross another steep pass before I arrived at Sactaycocha lake.  The next day, I was walking down the valley, passing numerous houses where children run up to me asking for sweets or money.  Finally I got to Pomabamba, where my 7 day trek ended by soaking in the hot mineral waters.

Pisco 5752m

After resting for a few days, I was ready for something more difficult.  The Pisco mountain is not a technical climb, so I could do it on my own.  Normally people go to the campsite and climb the next night, but I decided to do it all in one go.  So I took a bus and arrived at the start of the route at 10pm.  It was cold but the full moon made it easy to follow the trail.  By 1am I was in the refugio drinking hot water.  I left at 2am, crossed a huge moraine and reached the glacier still in the dark.  From there, it was still 700m to the top.  There were a few other groups, everyone climbing slowly despite good conditions.  No wind, but clear sky and freezing air.  Finally, the sun appeared and my frozen toes started to recover.  I arrived at the top around 9am, tired but so happy!  Going down the glacier was quick.  At the bottom I changed, crossed the moraine, passed the refugio and was happy until I wanted to listen to the music and realized my mp3 player was missing.  I left it at the bottom of the glacier, together with wool pants.  I had no choice but to go back up, despite being exhausted.  It took 2 hours but I got it back.  Because of this delay, I arrived back to the road in the dark and there were no cars.  I walked for an hour and a huge lorry was driving slowly without lights.  It gave me a lift to the town, lasting 2 hours despite the distance of 25km!  I didn´t complain of course.  After 20 hours of non stop walking and climbing, I just wanted sit down and rest.  I will never forget this mountain for sure!   photos