Spending 4 days in the Andes mountains was intense! Getting used to the altitude was a little rough, especially the first day, but overall I had a great trip with some awesome people! I went with 3 other UW women and 1 woman from Finland. After an 8 hour bus ride out of Lima, we arrives to the city of Huaraz. It always feels good to get out of Lima for a while, having a whole different pace of life. It’s like vacation away from a vacation.
We decided that we would be doing 3 different treks during our stay in Huaraz. We did the Pastoruri Glacier, Ice Climbing in Lago Llaca, and then the big hike up to Laguna 69. The first day we decided to climb up to Pastoruri. The walking required was very minimal but the altitude was going to be the highest we’d reach. So, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to go to Pastoruri the first day because I was sure feeling the altitude sickness hitting me. It was about a 3 hour drive to the park where we’d be going and 3 hours of altitude and bumpy roads didn’t make my head or stomach feel very well. After the 3 hour car ride, we finally reached the foot of Pastoruri. There were two options on how we could get up: we could take a horse up, or walk. Now, the hike wasn’t bad at all, but the altitude killed me and I couldn’t’ really decide if I’d rather have a short bumpy horseback ride or a longer walk that would drain me even more. I ended up taking a horse up, but I still had to walk from that point up to the glacier. That part was a little rough but I finally made it and caught up with my friends. The glacier was beautiful. I’ve never actually seen a glacier before, and being up on this mountain was awesome.
The next day we headed out early in the morning for ice climbing! We were taken to Lago Llaca, another part of the Cordillera Blanca. We were with some other people from France and Denmark. It was a pretty good group, mostly because we could all laugh at each other while we fell on the ice. It was about an hour hike from where we were dropped off to the ice climbing area. It was really nice because besides us, there was no one else there. Total seclusion from the rest of the world, and it was so peaceful! Our guides showed us the proper techniques of ice climbing, which requires assuring your ice picks are firmly placed in the ice, and trying to keep your climbing shoes are perpendicular to the ice. So basically, you are climbing up on your toes and using some arm strength to move yourself up the wall. Our guides made it look so easy, but we all knew that it was going to be a bit of a struggle. It wasn’t as hard as you might think, but it was very tiring! Especially since I have like no arm strength. It was so much fun watching everyone scale this ice wall, cheering on from below and laughing when we fell. Well, when it was my turn, I was a little nervous! But, I did make it to the top, even though I was pretty eager to get back down to safe grounds. I had to wait on top for a while because someone else was climbing below me but I finally made my way down when I kind of slipped and started going sideways…..this wasn’t good because I kept getting pulled into the cave area, which we were trying to avoid. Well…..I fell and I landed in the cave. It was pretty funny as a flailed about trying not to let gravity overtake my body, but I was defeated and landed inside the cave.
The next day we had our long trek up to Laguna 69. It turns out that this was going to be a 7 hour hike. 4 hours up and then 2 hours back down with one hour at the top for lunch and photos. This hike really kicked my butt. We started way below the mountains and we had no idea where we’d be going. All we thought was, well it’s not like they could possible expect us to get all the way to the top of this mountain in the time allotted. Well we were super wrong. Not only did we have to climb to the top of that mountain, but there was a second one waiting for us as well. I almost died when we realized that we had to climb up a second mountain.
As you can tell from that video, the hike up there was totally worth it. The laguna was incredible. The water was so blue that it matched my sweatshirt and I really enjoyed making it to the top with my friends. We’ve got some great stories from this trip! Plus, we all had a good time looking at all the nature, being cut off from society for a while and embracing the views that you normally only see on National Geographic shows. We made it!!!!