Attempting to trek the Ausangate Circuit solo (Day 418)

Typically, the stories I tell on this blog are about adventures that go well (or at least, turn out well).  Here is one that does not :)  I decided to trek the 5-day Ausangate Circuit near Cuzco.  This hight-altitude trek is about 80km.  It requires you to cross several high-mountain passes, a couple of which are over 5000m.  It circumnavigates the 6372m Ausangate mountain, the highest in southern Peru.  This is a bit ambitious as it is rainy season in this part of the Andes, but it can be done.  I didn´t have a trekking partner; I admit to not looking too hard, as I wanted to do this solo.  I have done over-night adventures alone before, but nothing of this length, and I wanted to experience it.

So, I get to the village where the trek starts around noon.  I was anxious to start walking right away, but it was raining hard, along with thunder and lightning.  A sign of things to come.  I get a hostal room and spend the night.  The next morning the weather is still shitty, but I start anyway.  On my back is about 65 pounds of tent, sleeping bag, fuel, stove, and food for 6 days.  I walk about 5 hours to camp 1, during which time the weather clears for a bit.  I feel great.  At my campsite, I make a wonderful discovery:


Let me show you:

Bam.  At this point, things are looking good.  But not 30 minutes after this video, the weather goes bad.  Hail, thunder, lightning, snow, rain, all the nasty stuff.  I take cover in my tent for the rest of the night.  I decided that the mountain is angry, and I should let it be.  The next morning I will walk back out.

But I wake up to this:

Wow!  Ausangate, nice to meet you, how you doin?  It’s amazing how such a view can inpire you.  Since I have nobody else to talk to about to do, a conversation with myself ensues.  I won´t go into detail, but it was quite heated.  I decide to walk to camp 2.  After a few hours, it starts to hail hard.  Shit!  I throw up my tent in record time then precede to spend the next 20 hours in it taking cover from more hail, thunder, lightning, snow, etc.  That night, I again decide that I´m going to walk out of here.  The next morning I awake to this.

Mother Nature, you are a tricky one!  Hmm… I’m sensing a pattern.  Another self-conversation ensues.  This time I stick to my guns.  As much as I love trekking in the mountains, spending most of my day in my tent hiding from the weather is no fun.  I commence my long retreat back to civilization.  On the way out, the weather held just long enough for me to score a few more pics

A beautiful alpine lake:

Shortly after this pic, the storms resumed and I got hammered with rain, haha.   Yucky.  I have bailed from a few adventures in my day, and I never like it, but this trek was turning out to suck.  But, on the positive side, I got to spend 3 days in the backcounty alone and see some incredible views!  Furthermore, my South American trekking adventures are just getting started.  I am heading south, towards the great Patagonias, where summer is coming, and I think the weather will be more sympathetic.  Stay tuned.  And, next time, I´m going to find a partner in crime so I don´t go completely off my rocker while talking to only myself for many days in a row.

Oh, the other interesting thing about this trek was that the few people I did see were very interesting:  they live up in those high valleys the same way they have for centuries.  They don´t every speak Spanish, only the ancient Quechua.  I couldn´t talk to them.  A couple times I tried to wave at them, but they just stared at me.  I don´t think they are unfriendly; more likely, they simply have no idea what the significance of waving is.  We can forget sometimes that simple acts such as waving are part of our culture that many people of the world have never been exposed to.

After a little more time in Cuzco, I went to the stunning Lake Titicaca.  This massive lake lies at 3,812 m (12,500 ft). Here is a pic of one of the approx. 40 artificial islands (the home to 1500 people) created on this lake.  They are made primarily of reeds.

That’s it for Peru.  I sort of rushed it, as I thought I was in a hurry, although in the end it turns out I wasn’t (a long, good story, tell you later, this post is already too long).  As is my practice, I have put an album of Peru pics on my photos page.  Enjoy.

I’m in La Paz, Bolivia now.  I am pumped about Bolivia, despite the cold rain that is the season here.  Also, I´m working on a few How To videos.  Hasta luego.

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One Response to Attempting to trek the Ausangate Circuit solo (Day 418)

  1. Bartek says:

    shawn, beautiful pics…even though the hike didn\’t work out. hot tub looks killer…wish i was there bud. nature in bolivia is even more remote…hope you have better luck with the weather!

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