Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Day 323: Days off and Mountain Summits

While Peru celebrated its anniversary as a nation, many of us PC volunteers were romping around the country with three days vacation. A few of us chose to climb the high mountains surrounding my village in the Cordillera Blanca. We were able to summit Ishinca, a peak just over 5,500m. Then Lib and I stayed on to hike several hours to 'high camp'. My guide awoke me at 11:3opm to prepare for a second summit, the much taller, Tocllaraju. I left Libby (who decided that her phobia of heights would keep her from joining me) in the warm tent. After a grueling, frigid 6 hour climb on sometimes extremely steep terrain, we reached the peak at just over 6,000m. I was nearly in tears as the sun rose over the distant Amazon in the east. Up to now the hardest thing I had ever done was working as a wilderness guide in northern Minnesota and Canada, occassionally portaging a canoe and heavy food pack simultaneously across uncertain terrain. Mountaineering at almost 20,000ft has officially become my greatest physical achievement. Here a some photos of our adventure:Arrival at base camp.
climbing Ishinca....the guide pointing out the peak....more or less there...just a few more steps
Summit of Ishinca with PCV pals Angela and Patrick.Hangin with the Apus, mountain spirit gods of the Andestent gear prep at high camp (5,ooom - note the snow in the background)
Practicing saving my guide (Lucho)'s life.At sunrise, we are just below the final steep ascent and above a nasty crevasse on Tocllaraju (unfortunately, you can't see either the steepness of the ascent above the my guide or the depth of the crevasse below the rope in this photo)Big, beautiful crevasse along the way.
Sunrise over the Amazon, east of the Cordillera Blanca.
the mountain man and the Bixby family reunion hat sitting pretty at about 20,000ftThe long path back down...looking north
holy pickax, I made it to the top!