Adventures in Peru – Arequipa Seven Summits – Nevado Pichu Pichu

Nevado Pichu Pichu – 19,1355 feet Dec. 7th & 8th

I had already explored the best and probably the highest point overlooking the entire southern part of the Peru. The view of the snow capped Andean mountain is breathtaking. Combined with a chance to explore a very active volcano, I decided to make a trip to the 19,000 foot high, north peak of Nevado Pichu Pichu.

I had been told that there is a very good place to camp near the park headquarters, and after a 2-3 day advance planning, I went straight to the park headquarters to ask for a guide, as there were so many people there. The park headquarters is actually in the small town of Ollantaytambo, which is supposed to be one of the the the safest cities in the Andes, and it proved to be very true, as there were not a single person in their office when I asked for a guide. I slowly and quietly made my way northward, stopping for a couple of mosquitoes at lunch along the way, and set out after an erratic rain shower that had stopped just a few minutes before. With a map and compass in hand, I ventured on, following the obscure trail to my destination.

Having heard of travel agents who deal specifically in foreign lands, I had asked a friend of mine who had recently returned from a trek in Nepal; the friend had told me that there were several middlemen between the adventurous foreign supporter and the owner of the lodge, and that one of the middlemen was a travel agent and he could get us a good night’s rest for the next day.

It turns out that one of those middlemen (let’s say one of the more experienced ones) had taken a wrong turn and all the innumerous steps were missing from his caravan, including the one to the door. The whole encounter was caused by a lack of coordination between our teams, which is normally not a problem. Being however extremely inexperienced, I agreed with the second part of his argument and ditched the caravan.

Having failed spectacularly at getting a decent lodgesider to rescue us, I started to panic about being stuck in the dark so I hit the switch which brought in the lights. Miraculously the skies were clear and at many of the lookout points the sky was so overcast you could see your finger lights. At the same time the sounds of the rain fell on me in waves. It was over. We all hugged and agreed that we would need a couple of days to organize our next move.

Day two was tough but we made good progress. We started at 6:00 a.m. and were up early. We were held a couple of hours defective and then headed our way. Incidentally, we never tried to find out what the Finns were saying about this trip because the greeters never fail to pretend they are speaking English so you always get the impression they are saying something but they actually mean to say “Namaste” in brokenyllic English.

By 10:00 a.m. the Finns had arrived with their gear and it was marvelous to see. They were all sleeping in one big tent with a mattress. Each one with a sleeping bag. In the morning the hike to the base camp for the third day would beStarted.

By noon we were at the base camp for our third day. It is very primitive camp with no running water, no furniture, no stove. Only some Bibles, tracts and a homemade bread box. We feasted on sandwiches and hot drinks. As I recall, there were three tents of about the same size. About ten people.

Anyway, we decided to bag some fresh food for the trek ahead. We arranged to meet some fishermen who would like us some fish for lunch.

In the evening we feasted on some hot fish we caught from a boat. The weather was warmer, very quiet and we could see the mountains across the horizon. Usually the boat went too far out to sea.

After a little while we were asleep. One of the fishermen came and said he couldn’t sleep. He said there was too much lift in the boat and the fish were too light. Could there be some screw loose in the gear? I shouldn’t tell you this, but I did. I’m sorry. I got stiff in the middle of the boat and just turned over on top of the boat a couple of times.

The air was very quiet, at first. Then we began to hear Scottish lochs and distant thunder. It was Loch Ness just up the shoreline. We sat in the boat for a while shivering and watching the lightning flash and sitting mostly still waiting for dear Peter to arrive.