I woke up to moo-ing. Of course.
However, when I got out of my tent to pee, I didn’t expect to have to stand for an hour defending my tent and my person from the ever-so-curious cows/bulls/calfs… in the middle of whose grazing meadow I was clearly camped. Oops. Poor choice last night in the fog.
After having multiple conversations with each of the cows who approached me, I packed up in a jiffy (went tent, yuck). Fortunately or unfortunately, I witnessed one of the cows lick the lid of my waterbottle with its obnoxiously long tongue. Impressive. (I washed it off later)…
Long day ahead –> goal: up and over the fatty ridge (5200m – 17,060feet) and down into the Quebrada Cojup. Here is looking at the greenest of green lakes, Lago Cuchillacocha. (similar color to my neighbor’s swimming pool when I was 8.)
Greeting cows along the way and rock hopping like its the in thing, I cruised along. I stopped on the side of this ridge for a while and emptied my pack. Talk about a yard sale. Dried the sleeping bag and tent, repacked, and carried on.
Note the two passes in this photo. The left pass and the right pass.
I went right. Closer and steeper. The only reason I went there, climbing some fourth class boulders and scrambling up steep scree, was because one of the guides I spoke to pre-trip emphasized how important it was to follow the cairns (the stacked rocks) to get over the pass the correct way.
So I did. And I witnessed one of the most beautiful and humbling 360 degree views that I’ve ever seen. Looking back at the ridge to the south. Pucaranra (6150meters – 20,177 feet), Cayesh (5721meters – 18,769feet), San Juan (5840meters – 19,160feet). Paradise.
When I reached the top of the pass, my eyes bulged, my stomach churned, and I took a moment to breathe. My decision based upon my view: downclimb, go back, around the ridge to the west, and head to the other pass in the distance. I made this decision while thinking:
“Ah, clearly I forgot my skis — this double black diamond pitch sure does look like a hell-of-a descent.”
I downclimbed, it started snowing, and I rock hopped my way around the base of the ridge. As the sun was getting ready to settle for the evening, I cleared some rocks and pitched my tent. Ridge bivouac. At 5100meters. That’s 16,732 feet. I closed my eyes and the wind blew sweet sweet tidings over me as I fell asleep.