The last week has faced us with challenges but also rewarded us with once in a life time experiences. After our couple of days at sea level in Lima our bodies had to reacclimatise to high altitude. Our single day acclimatisation trek led us to a “very blue” (in Sophia’s words) Laguna 69. The altitude hit some of us harder than expected and we were truly shattered by the end of the day. Luckily our 4am start the next day was delayed as Jimmy fell ill and we we were allowed a much appreciated day relaxing on the terrace of our hotel, kick starting our digestive systems into action with an exotic fruit salad, and bathing in the suspiciously brown thermal baths. Unluckily Jimmy’s illness was more serious than altitude sickness and our trek was temporarily called off. Thankfully Pete came to the rescue andthe following day we were en route deep into Huayhuash.
Day 1 set us off to a steady climb and we ate our lunch overlooking our first view of the snow capped summits. After smores around the camp fire we clambered into our not so warm sleeping bags. Frost forming in the porches of our tent we soon learnt that hot water bottles were a necessity. Day 2 started with a rather dramatic delay. Pablo, our local guide, while demonstrating how to cross the river on horseback, was thrown off the horse into the rapids as the horse buckled beneath him. Plan b, we all removed our boots and socks (and trousers for the more daring) and clung to a rope as we staggered across the freezing water. Even our loyal companion, Bear the shaggy dog, braved it across the icy waters. Finally on our way we trudged for 8 hours – our longest day – over our first pass at 4,800m. Zandie and Matty passed the time demonstrating their extensive knowledge of Disney films in endless games of ‘guess the character’. We were welcomed by a stunning campsite burried in a valley of towering snow capped mountains. We took our communal (unplanned) 11.40 pees under a cover of millions of stars. On day 3 we climbed the 5,000m pass, snapped a couple of wind whipped photos of the 360 degree view over the spectacular Huayhuash mountain range, before heading back down into the valley to have lunch and a quick snooze in the flower filled field overlooking a turquoise lake. We completed our final climb on day 4 and took token photos on the emergency horse (which we are proud not to have needed) as the sun rose over the mountains.
An overall successful trek was made better by our combined effort to raise our dining standards in a ‘Come Dine With Me’ cooking arrangement. Menus varies from vegetable curry to pisco pasta, finished off with camping Banoffee Pie. We kick started out days with bacon and eggs, porridge with apple and cinnamon, and fried potatoes with mushrooms and onions.
We hurried back to civilisation to scrub up and head for a nice meal at a French restaurant to celebrate Zandie’s birthday. Zandie’s birthday was fully completed with a massive princess cake, a few too many drinks and dancing.
We rounded off the brilliant week by raising adrenaline levels with a bridge jump and some rock climbing. A day later we are now on a beach about to ride the waves – knarley dude.