Back from Peru: Cordillera Blanca complete

Another fab three weeks trekking/climbing courtesy of Val, exploring some of the lesser known locations in the Cordillera Blanca after a humbling few days acclimatising in Quishuar where Val’s LED charity funds the school and the health post (Medics, volunteer!). On arrival in Quishuar, we were welcomed by dancing children strewing flower petals along our path and then serenaded by the young women of the village – everyone in their best traditional dress.

Peru 2014 - Val Pitkethly School, Quishuar
Peru 2014 – Val Pitkethly School, Quishuar

Once on the trek proper, vertiginous passes with gale force winds (I’m talking about you, Gara Gara / Cara Cara) led to plenty of wild campsites with stunning views – the one at the foot of the Nevados Pucahirca and the Safuna Lakes being a particular highlight.

Peru 2014 - Looking back at Pucahirca
Peru 2014 – Looking back at Pucahirca

Plenty of Inca ruins en route, culminating with the aqueduct and channels at laguna Cullicocha – with its stunning array of peaks.

Peru 2014 - Laguna Cullicocha and the Santa Cruz mountains
Peru 2014 – Laguna Cullicocha and the Santa Cruz mountains

Throughout, Val distributed solar lighting units to new recipients and checked that all was well with those who had received lights on previous trips. When you see just how basic life is here, you realise how big a difference having a light must make.

Peru 2014 - One of LED's Solar Light Units, in the Southern Blanca
Peru 2014 – One of LED’s Solar Light Units, in the Southern Blanca

On the upper slopes of Nevado Viscacha (aka Nevado Christina Vegetariana) in the Northern Blanca, Mike and I were trained in how to use crampons and ropes in readiness for our subsequent successful ascent of Nevado Pastoruri (5240m) via its glacier, as we rounded off the trip with three days in the Southern Blanca.

Peru 2014 - Crampons and ice axes, helmets and rope: Mike, Val and me on Nevado Viscacha
Peru 2014 – Crampons and ice axes, helmets and rope: Mike, Val and me on Nevado Viscacha
Peru 2014 - Dave and Melky crossing the Pastoruri glacier
Peru 2014 – Dave and Melky crossing the Pastoruri glacier

A super group – thank you Dottora Anna, Vegetarian Christine, Pirate Dave and Marathon Mike for your good company, conversation and scrabble / dice / card sharp skills. And muchas gracias to Val, Melky and Antonia, Amner, Augustin and Luis – I’m sure we’ll all forever share those memories of Aguaaaar paraaaaa lavaaaaargh.

February 2015 Update: Read about the trek day by day in Cordillera Blanca: photos and notes.