After reading trip reports from Peru for so many years I decided I better go on down and see what all the fuss was about.
Peru...wow...I would go back in a heartbeat - what a great place and wonderful people. Did all the tourist stuff including Manu biosphere in the Amazon jungle, inca trail to Macchu Piccu, the homestay in Lake Titicaca etc etc. And all was wonderful and fine but well reported but...there is a place...Cotahausi canyon. And now, ya'll know I'm hooked on canyons so just had to go see.
And you're not going to...except for an incredible spot where mummies and artifacts are tumbling out of a hillside. No this trip report is going to be about Firuna and the first recorded ascent in recent times (a couple of volcanoists might of beat us but it wasn't noticed by the locals and maybe not so)And what locals anyway? It was one desolate peice of landscape.
I met up with Vic from Summitpost who was the Cotahuasi guide. We were going to do Coropuna but stayed down in the canyon way too long and weren't acclimatized for a big one. So we decided that a first ascent on a minor peak far away from anywhere might be in order. Well certainly an adventure anyway. First we did an acclimation hike up to the Rock gardens el. 12500. And then it was time to try the drive up the fresh new bulldozed road to somewhere that had never had road access before. The switchbacks were not for the faint of heart. Even in just a Toyota van you had to back down to make each corner. And it was a long long long way down. I don't normally get worried about one lane roads up impossible cliffs but this one was not for looking out the window if you happened to be on the long drop down side. But once we got to the small village and found a great Peruvian shepherdess we were on our way. The first part was through a break in the cliff band onto sort of a high plateau. Through this stretch trails were for llamas and herders. Yes, I have llama photos. Once past that it was a trek past lakes and rocks to the Christian brothers hovel. We cooked inside the enclosure to their hut but camped in freezing windy conditions outside. My camelbak resevoir had leaked while in the van and soaked my down sleeping bag. Need I say more. Next morning dawned bright and cold. It was a rapid ascent to the main rock strewn plateau of around 17,000 feet and then a long long slog of precarious boulders leaning every which way until the actual summit block. The ascent up on snow is good and easy, soon you are on the flat summit ridge with little bits of higher rock and which one is it? They all seem to be the same size. We reached the summit ridge at dark (maybe 8 pm) and it was incredibly breezy and cold - elevation at around 18,000 or so. Yes, I said a minor peak. But it was possibly first and certainly first woman (yay!) and definitely first Canadian woman and surely oldest first Canadian woman. So there. On the way back down we discovered red things swimming in our treated water but so far (back here in the frozen north) so good. How about you Vic? Had a great time, loved Peru and I'm going back to bag Coropuna with Vic!!