The Lonely Planet guide to Peru (see below)
mentioned, and highly recommended, hiking up Putucusi ("allow three hours"), a steep hill just east of Machu Picchu. With that in mind, I booked a train that would bring me to Aguas Calientes early in the afternoon. However, the man from my hotel who picked me up at the train station in Aguas Calientes didn't have encouraging news: he told me that the track was out of order. I didn't understand what the problem was, but he said I could go look for myself. And so I did.
He was right. The track has a couple of steep sections, secured by ladders. However, the recent rainy season had destroyed a lot of these, changing it from a hike to a scramble here and there. At the most exposed section, most of the ladders were broken or gone completely, but there was a thick steel cable hanging down. I guess that it was for the workers who were fixing the trail. Not that I saw anybody doing anything at the time.
A climbing harness and a bit of gear would have been useful, to secure myself to the remains of the ladders occasionally, or to the steel cable, but I had not expected this problem so I hadn't brought anything. Fortunately, mostly there were enough holds for my hands and places for my feet, and where is was a bit tricky, I used the steel cable for additional support.
An interesting "hike"!
By the way, those three hours? That's easily enough to get up and down.
A few facts
Location: 13.158°S / 72.536°W
Total elevation gain: 503m. The first 280m or so is the steep part, with the ladders. Above that, it's relatively easy.
Elevation: A sign on the summit says it's 2500m high. I hadn't calibrated my altimeter, and didn't have a map either, so I don't know. It appeared to be marginally higher than Machu Picchu.
Lonely Planet Peru, 7th edition, 2010. ISBN 978-1-74179-014-6.
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