¿5,100 Meters is How High? (Day 2)

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.)

Looking north toward the pass…it’s way in the distance, after all the green steppes.

Did I mention that ducks were calling my next door neighbor’s swimming pool home? Incredible color. ¡Que increible!

So today became the walk for 30 steps (or 20, or 10) and then stop and breathe day. One step at a time. Looking back at my route. Down and to the right is the Quebrada Quilcayhuanca.

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.


I nearly licked this glacier as I continued up the last steep pitch to the top of the pass.

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.

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1 Response to ¿5,100 Meters is How High? (Day 2)

  1. Blake Boles says:


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