I left the hotel at 7:20 & managed to buy a bus ticket after trying all day yesterday. I met up with Oliver & Sarah a French couple I had met the previous day.
The bus left at 8 & I began to relax a little feeling a little more happy to finally be underway. We stopped to pick up some passengers then it was on into the canyon.
Another spectacular canyon. The bus hugged the road taking up its entirety. As we made tight switch back after tight switch back. Every time we rounded a switch back ( which was often ) I could see the bottom of the 700mtr drop.
After bumping & jostling our way down we finally crossed the river this of course marking the bottom of the descent. A slight wave of relief washed over me, halfway there.
We bounced our way along for a few km before starting the switch backs heading up the other side. Again the bus took up the entire road.
Thankfully we only encountered 1 car. We got to Llamac dropped off the locals paid our 20 soles tourist tax & rolled on to Pocpa. Of course we were the only gringos on the bus.
We started at around 3,500mtr. We quietly meandered our way along the road that was put in by the mine. It was a gradual slope so nothing too strenuous.
We stopped for a snack after about an hour. We met a bunch of other gringos that had mules carrying all of their stuff. We sat down after another hour or so.
It was so beautiful to sit with our backs against the cool rock that doubled as our back rest & a farmers fence. Just as we got settled in a car came along. He pulled over & we jumped in.
We were stoked a lift for the last 5km. We arrived at possibly one of the most beautiful camp sites I have ever camped at. Perched lazily at 4,100metres above sea level.
We were on a slightly sloping grass plain with cows & mules wandering aimlessly around. There is a small creek running right through the place. It is beautiful.
The sun was still high as it had just turned 1pm. We found a nice patch away from all of the other tents. Of which there are more than I had expected.
There we're probably 40 tents here. Cooking tents & guided groups of up to 15. We sat on the grass enjoying the view & the sun. It was a magnificent way to spend the afternoon.
At 3 I decided to make a coffee. My stove decided it wanted none of it. I spent an hour or so trying to get it working. To start with it wouldn't stay a light. Then it was blowing a huge yellow flame.
I stripped it tried to clean it & took out the plunger. I did this 5 times still no luck. All I managed to do was use a huge amount of fuel. :/
I eventually just put the pot on this yellow flame & got it to boil. At 5 it was dinner time. Again I tried cleaning the stove etc but nothing same deal.
After fighting with it for close to an hour I ate my pasta cold & my onion uncooked I can assure you that cold soaked pasta that is literally a as cold as if you just pulled it from the fridge is NOT NICE. In this time the temp had dropped from 20c at 4 pm to 5c by 5:30.
I was not happy. I have a long way to go & my stove is not working. I have probably used 200ml of my 600 so now I am on rations. Urgh.
After washing my soot covered well everything I went over to a group tent & found a guide who knew how to strip the stove. He didn't manage to get the jet out but showed me how to take the top of to access the jet.
After trying to get the jet out & failing he decided we should light it so he could see what was happening. Of course we lit it & it worked perfectly. I think he may of dislodged something when trying to get the jet out.
We came back to our tents & it's bed time. It's freeeeezing. We have a beautiful nights sky with a half moon & no clouds. Making it even colder. It's 7:30 :)
16-7-16. HAPPY ONE YEAR TO ME
Today marks one year since I left Melbourne. I couldn't think of a better place to spend it. It is picture perfect here surrounded by mountains :)
The long open plain with towering glaciated mountains all around. Perfect blue sky. What a morning. I got my stove running finally, after doing a longer pre heat.
It was freezing cold but nice to be out of the tent. I packed up & was ready at the same time as Olivier & Sarah. We started the gentle climb together.
There were a few switch backs but nothing too steep. We started at 8am. Olivier & I chatted as we made our way up to the pass. These 2 are such great people. I am really lucky I keep meeting awesome people.
After an hour or so I decided it was time to head off. I was much faster than they were & felt I needed to push myself a little. I enjoy working hard up a climb.
Just before the pass I caught a group of 5. I stuck with them until the pass. We all stopped at the top. We had finally hit the sun & it was instantly too hot.
Everyone stopped to remove layers. They were all very impressed I was solo as they were part of a guided group. They gave me a few snacks as they said they had too much food. Not the same problem as I had.
The view from the pass was incredible. Too the right you could see a huge 6,000mtr glaciated peak with a number of smaller peaks surrounding it.
The valley opened up into a huge plain with a small creek snaking it's way through. The colour of the grass varied from dark Browns to a very lush green.
Of course I decided on the alpine route. I got out my map & headed in the general direction. There was no real trail but it was just keep the big peaks to the right & don't drop too low.
I stopped a number of times, second guessing myself & wondering if I was on the right path ( not that there was a path )I persisted for 2 hours & finally made the lake.
I was stoked. Route finding in a wilderness like this solo can be very testing as you have nobody to ask for a second opinion. The thought of backtracking is always in your mind.
I took some pics & kept on moving. I had a second pass to cross today :) I decided not too try the alpine route through this section as it was not marked on my map. Instead I took a shortcut that was steeper but linked up with the main trail.
I steadily trekked up the pass,again soaking in the solitude & the incredible mountain views. It was a fairly open pass probably 300metres across with low tussock grass making the walking nice and soft.
These views certainly rival Nepal. The constant proximity to 6,000+ metre mountains is jaw dropping. After 4 hours without seeing another person I caught up to Ross & Jeff. I had met these 2 the other day at the climbing spot.
I slowed down to walk with these guys as I knew it was not far to camp. We walked & talked & enjoyed the surrounds. We took a minor detour to find a better view point.
It turned into another mini choose your own adventure. It was so worth it. The views are just mind blowing. We could see the Laguna that was the camp for the night from about 4km away.
We got into camp just as a group of 15 did. We managed to find a nice flat spot waaaaaay away from the group thankfully. The sun disappeared quick & it got cold. Then it started to hail & rain so it was into the tents for an hour or so.
Thankfully the rain stopped pretty quickly so I jumped out & cooked pasta with tomato sauce. There was a huge Avalanche as we sat around chatting.
I got in my tent at 7 & ate the sublime Wolfgang had left as a present for me. I'm really happy today. I am in such an amazing place. Did I mention the view ?????
There were some very loud avalanches through the night & the last one was at 5:30am. You could feel the ground rumbling. We were probably 6km from where they were rolling down.
I left camp at 9 about a half hour before Jeff & Ross. I hiked alone around the lake. It was a magic morning. The reflection on the lake was amazing. I stopped a few times to take pictures.
I continued around the awe inspiring views nice & slowly. It was spectacular. The mountain peaks were right there. A stones throw away.
I went past the next Laguna & met a Belgian couple also out solo. I had a brief stop off with them before continuing along solo. I got to the second of the three lakes. It was so amazing.
The green water with the pure white snow above. Glaciers in all directions. Sun shining. Just wow. I got to the last lake & stopped to take a lot of photos.
The climb started straight after that. It was pretty steep to start but nothing to serious. I lost count of the number of times I stopped to take pictures
The climb was steady but you knew you were climbing. As it climbed away from the mountain range Suila Grande came into view. Wow amazing mountain. It makes you want to learn to mountaineer.
I reached the top of the pass right on 12. The group of 15 who had left a little over 2 hours before me were having lunch at the top. The pass was at 4,800 metres.
On the one side you had huge glaciated jagged peaks & on the other was this wide open valley of rolling green & brown tussock grass.
The contrast was incredible.
I sat on the pass for almost 2 hours before I decided I had had enough of the incredible views. The glaciers were just so close & small avalanches continued to fall.