By Erin Hancock
Huaytapallana (Quechua for “a place where you collect wildflowers”) is a spectacular place to visit in the Peruvian Andes. Few places in the world provide the opportunity to actually climb up a glacier and walk to your heart’s content. This is one of them. It is the highest peak in the Andes. When you hike up, you cannot mistake that feeling of being super old (it’s just altitude). Pace yourself.
Adrenalina Tours offers daily excursions to the glacier leaving from Huancayo. After a short drive, you arrive at the bottom of the mountain. Along the way, do not believe the tour guide when he says you are almost there. You are not. But keep going because it is definitely worth it.
You’ll probably see llamas and alpacas as you scale the mountain. It’s a medium difficulty hike. Take breaks as you need them. It’s mostly the altitude that gets you. Take lots of water and food. It’s a 6-hour hike in total.
The glacial lagoon is a glowing turquoise (above left). It serves as a focal point when climbing to keep track of how far you’ve made it.
The guide explained that we should take a break before we took on the last leg of the journey. We had a little pit for a sacrificial ceremony for a good journey and a good life and giving gratitude to the gods and many others things it seemed. It entailed drinking pisco straight from a bottle that got handed around to everyone in the tour group, taking a couple drags of a cigarette and tossing some fruit and chocolate into the pit.
Don’t worry about bringing the proper equipment for climbing. Your guide will simply leap up to the top of the glacier in one fell swoop (in rubber boots) then hold a simple rope and invite you to grab then climb up the 25 m up. When in Peru…
It’s cold up there. A snowstorm came through while we were up on top of the glacier which made the climb down a little tricky with icicle hands. 100% survival rate though (ok, 1 broken arm). Marius and Heather tried the surfing approach with moderate success 🙂
This little guy on our trip saw snow for the first time. That’s right. That is a snowman…ish…type thing.
Missing my European adventure buddies (Heather, Marius, Eliyse, Michelle and Bernard).