In mid August I set off with the Long Haul Trekkers (Jen, Dave and dog Sora) to round Nevado Ausangate
At 6384m, the massif is one of the largest in Southern Peru and the trek bounces between 4500 and 5100masl, making it extremely difficult even if the trek was relatively flat.
Of course it’s not, but the hardness of the terrain is contrasted by the frienly Quechua populations that dot the region and make the hike even more rewarding than off of the physical challenge alone.
After ferrying 2 dogs, a bike and 5 days worth of kit via bus and taxi, we set off from Chillca via the wrong track.
When we picked up the trail we were amiss as to how we’d lost something so clear.
The glaciated and moody Nevado Ausangate quickly asserted its presence as we approached the valley proper to begin our traverse around.
Though dwarfed in comparison to Ausangate, there was no shortage of visual stimulation in the surrounding peaks, most grazing 6000masl.
The last of the flat ground, it was all uphill to Abra Campo at 5076m from here. Cautious optimism for the weather ahead.
A Brazilian climbing team trailed us up into the valley, but quickly retreated – perhaps better at reading the mountain weather than we were.
“Why have you brought me here?” Sora’s face says it all. I found Dave sheltered behind a large boulder in a snow storm (which the local’s called rain).
As the snow stopped briefly, a local offered to quicken our pace off over the pass with his trusty steed. Humbly accepted.
Though just in time for small patches of blue sky, the forecast was for 2 feet of snow overnight. We were happy to clear the pass without our packs.
Puka Punta (5600m) stood guardian over the descent past Abra Campo.
The range through the backside of the trek was more beautiful, but didn’t convey the same emotional exterior of Ausangate – always standing guardian to show what a mountain should be.
Passing Abra Campo at 5076m. Jen humbled in the presence of Jatunhuma (6093m).
Ausangate couldn’t let us leave without one display of young emotion. We descended until dark where we were welcomed into a local guesthouse with popcorn, soup and pasta in bed. Like they read our minds.
The following morning the hospitality continued with pancakes. Afterwards we were adorned by our hosts and invited to their grandaughters first hair cut, a ritual we learned welcomed us into the family.
Our subect was, of course, incredibly photogenic.
The final cur, I didn’t dare touch the massive dreadlock at the back.
Shortly after, we shed our new clothing and prepared for the squiggly road back to Cusco, where we would sleep for days.