I summitted Chopicalqui yesterday morning! Here is the official notification of our summit:

Congratulates Skyline Adventures team for their outstanding summit success on Chopicalqui at 10:25am yesterday morning. Under partly cloudy skys the team departed their camp at 5400m a little 2:00am. Once they topped out on the South West ridge they encountered deep snow guarding the exposed ridge. After 2 hours they managed to break through and gain the final plateau at 9:00am then 10:25 the summit.

Well tomorrow morning I will be heading out into the Cordillera Blanca to climb some mountains. Besides a slight sinus cold I picked up in the jungle, I´m feeling great and I´m looking forward to heading up even higher into the Andes.

I´ve included my itinerary below with specific dates. Needless to say there won´t be any more posts for a while. I still have some catching up to do and I want to get my Inca Trail post up as soon as possible.

Hopefully when I return to Huaraz I´ll be posting some photos of me standing on the summit of Chopicalqui. :)

June 16 Cebolla Pampa
Transport to Cebolla Pampa (Yanapaccha trailhead) and from there do a day hike to Laguna 69, (4950m). Return to Cebolla Pampa and camp there (4100 meters).

June 17-21 Yanapaccha Base Camp
From Cebolla Pampa hike to the Yanapaccha Base Camp (4750m).

June 22 Yanapaccha Summit
Rise and shine about 3:00 am for breakfast and gearing up for the climb. Head up to the glacier and begin the summit attempt (5460m)!

June 23 Cebolla Pampa
Pack up camp, and begin the hike out to the trailhead (Cebolla Pampa) and camp there. Spend the afternoon relaxing at a lower elevation.

June 24 Chopicalqui Moraine Camp
From Cebolla Pampa hike to Moraine Camp of Chopicalqui (4930m).

June 25 Chopicalqui High Camp
Ascend to the high camp located at 5300m on the glacier.

June 26 Chopicalqui Summit
Summit day! Go for the summit (6386m) then descend all the way to moraine camp.

June 27 Back to Huaraz
Hike out to the trail head and return to Huaraz. Back in town around 4:00pm That night a celebration dinner!

I´ve had a lot of requests for some pictures. Well I´m finally able to upload some so here are some pictures from the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. I´ve also added several new posts.

At 4:00 am we were woken by the porters. After quickly getting dressed and packing up our belongings, we all met in the dining tent for a quick breakfast. After eating we made our way back to the trail. On the trail just past the hostel, there is another gated control station. Every trekker must pass through this control station and show their permit. The station does not open until 5:30 am, so we had to wait in a rather long line of approximately 200 trekkers. Thankfully we weren´t at the end, but I´m guessing we were around the middle of the line.

Today´s goal was to reach Intipunku (the Sun Gate) and then ultimately Machu Picchu. For several of us in the group`we also had another goal in mind: to climb Huayna Picchu, the steep mountain located at the backside of Machu Picchu. Unfortunately there is a limited amount of people allowed to climb Huayna Picchu (400 per day), so we would have to get to the Huayna Picchu control station, located inside Machu Picchu, as quickly as possible or we would be most likely be unable to get a ticket.

At 5:30 am the control station opened its gates and all the trekkers slowly started making their way through the gates. Led by Enrique, Andrew, Ross, Lawrence(an engineer from San Francisco), and myself began our mission: to get to Machu Picchu as quickly as possible and get our Huayna Picchu tickets before they ran out. Depending on a person´s speed, it can take anywhere from one to two hours to reach the Sun Gate. We literally ran the entire way up to the Sun Gate passing every other trekker along the way. After 30 minutes we arrived at the Sun Gate. What an adrenaline rush!

As we stood at the top of the Sun Gate catching our breath, we got our first view of Machu Picchu. I was speechless. It´s one thing to see photos of Machu Picchu, but to actually se the fabled site face to face for the first time, well I can´t think of any words to describe that initial feeling.

After several minutes spent gawking at Machu Picchu and catching our breath, we began the decent down to Machu Picchu, which was still a ways away. The decent from the Sun Gate down to Machu Picchu can take up to one hour. We made it down in around 15 minutes. :)

Although not the hardest, today would be the longest day onthe trail as we would travel approximately 15km. Today we would also have the opportunity to explore several Inca ruins along the trail: Runcuracay, Sayacmarca, and Phuyupatamarca. All of these ruins were amazing, but the one noticable thing today is that the remaining trail is the original work of the Incas. The previous portion of the trail has been restored by the Peruvian government and really doesn´t compare in quality and beauty to the original Inca path. Today´s portion of the trail is what I imagined the trail to be like, and is also what you tend to see in most photos. The trail also passes through several Inca tunnels.

As I mentioned, today was a long day. We left camp at 6:30 am. After leaving the Inca Ruins of Phuyupatamarca at 1:30 pm, we began the decent down a beautiful stone staircase into the cloud forest. Apparently there are 2,250 steps. I´m sure glad it wasn´t my job to count the steps as I would surely lose count as the scenery is so mesmerizing and dreamlike.

Two hours later we arrived at the Intipata terraces. From here you could see the damage from a recent forest fire on one of the nearby mountain sides. Then from Intipata we made our way down to our next campsite, which is located beside another set of Inca ruins, Huiñay Huayna.

We located our tents and explored the five-star campsite. This campsite was not as primitive as some of the others. In fact, I really didn´t care too much for this site as I felt it intruded on the serenity of the Inca Trail and the overall experience. Hot showers, food, and drinks are even available for purchase at the trekker´s hostel.

On a plus note, the Huiñay Huayna ruins were quite spectacular. The name of the ruins means ¨Forever young.¨ Hmmm… I wonder if Rod Stewart named his famous song after these ruins? Ross and I explored the ruins as the sun was setting. On our way back to camp we had a great view of the nearly full moon. What a site!

After dinner, Andrew, Ross, and I each had a cerveza and excitely talked about life and of course our big day the next day as we would finally see Machu Picchu. After finishing our beers we all retired to our tents. We would need the rest for tomorrow as we would be getting a wake up call at 4:00 am.

After a decent nights sleep the tent, I was woken up by one of the porters. The porter supplied each one of us with a bowl full of hot water. I washed my face, got dressed, and headed to the dining tent for breakfast. After breakfast the entire team of porters, guides, and trekkers all formed a giant circle and everyone then took turns introducing themself in español. In total our group consisted of 13 trekkers, 1 guide (Henry), 1 assistant guide (Enrique), 1 cook, and 18 porters. Quite the expedition! With this many people involved, I felt that we should be climbing Mt. Everest, not trekking the Inca Trail.

At 7:30 am we made our way up the trail. With Enrique leading the way, Andrew, Ross, and myself made our way up through the cloud forest. At approximately 10:30 am we arrived at the small village of Llulluchapampa for a quick rest and another great photo opportunity. From here we could see the dreaded Dead Woman´s Pass, which is the highest point on the trail at 4,200m.

At 10:45 am we began the climb up to the pass. It was now getting really hot outside and the air was getting thinner. Once again along with Enrique leading the way, Andrew, Georgina, Ross, and myself made our way ahead of the group. After a gruelling 45 minutes, we all reached the top of Dead Woman´s Pass. We all gave each other high fives and hugs as we celebrated our achievement. The four of us then climbed up a small hill located on top of the pass and took a bunch of photos. We cheered on the rest of our group as they each made their way up the mountain side. It was definitely a challenging day and everyone did an amazing job. Today we travelled another 11kms.

Once everyone arrived at the top, we took some more group photos. With our spirits high, we began the decent down to our next campsite, Pacamayo at 3,600m. After dinner a bunch of us gathered in the dining tent to play some cards. At first we played Asshole, but then Henry decided to teach us new game that was similar to Asshole, but which turned out to be a much better game. This game was called Shithead, and ultimately the loser of each round would become the shithead. :)

Well today I would embark on the adventure of a lifetime, South America´s most fabled trek, the Inca Trail (Camino del Inca). This morning we woke up nice and early. I had one last shower and ate a quick breakfast before heading to the bus. Thankfully I had prepared all my gear the night before, so I felt nice and relaxed in the morning.

At 7:00 am our bus departed the hotel in Cusco and we made our way to the town of Ollantaytambo, where we would have the opportunity to stock up on snack food or any other last minute items that people felt were necessary. I bought several Snickers bars. :) We all then hopped back on the bus and headed to Km 82, the start of the Inca Trail.

Once we arrived at the drop off zone, everything seemed so chaotic. There were trekkers and porters crawling all over the place. After a few minutes spent going to el baño and applying sunscreen, ourguide for the Inca Trail, Henry, called us over to where he was so that we could get a move on. We made our way down a path that ran alongside the Rio Urubamba (Urubamba River). Within a few minutes we approached the official starting point of the Inca Trail, which was indicated by a large wooden sign that you must pass underneath. After taking several photos, we all passed through the starting point and made our way down the path alongside the Urubamba.

After a few more minutes we arrived at the first control station at 9:45 am. At the control stationwe were given our Inca Trail permits and our passports were checked and stamped. Once everyone successfully passed throughthe control gate, we made our way across a swinging bridge that crossed the Rio Urubamba. What a great feeling! We were finally on our way.

Once we all crossed the bridge, Henry gave us a little speech and welcomed us to the Inca Trail. After the speech we began our jourey. As we began walking, I couldn´t believe I was actually trekking the Inca Trail. This is something that I´ve dreamed about since I first learned about it in junior high, and now I was actually living it! What an amazing feeling!

The first portion of the trail passes by local families´ homes who live along the trail. Occasionally the local people have stands setup to sell trekkers candies and beverages.

As we hiked on, dozens of porters flew by us at incredible speeds. These guys are amazing! Each porter is only allowed to carry a maximum of 20 Kgs (44 lbs), but when you actually see some of the loads that these guys are carrying, it´s pretty evident that they´re carrying more than they´re supposed to. To top it off, most of the porters will run, not walk, in poorly designed sandals. And guess what else? They do it with smiles on their faces. It seems that they all take great pride in their jobs. It probably also helps that being a porter on the Inca Trail is a decent way to earn a living in this region of Peru. Let me tell you, the porters definitely earn their money. In fact, after seeing these guys work, I feel that they´re grossly under paid. My hat goes off to all the porters! You guys are amazing!

At around noon we arrived at the first set of Inca ruins along the trail, Llaqtapata. After Henry gave a brief explanation of the ruins, we continued along the trail for approximately 30 minutes before arriving at a small village for lunch. Upon arrival at the village, all of our porters clapped, cheered, and gave us high fives as we each arrived at the dining area. This would turn out to be a reoccuring event everytime we would reach a new destination. It felt great to be greeted this way.

For lunch we had rainbow trout. After lunch we continued along the trail for a couple more hours until we arrived at our first campsite, Huayllabamba, at around 3:30 pm. Today we travelled approximately 11km and climbed from 2,500m to 3,000m. Huayllabamba is a small village and even has a small store.

After setting up camp we were treated to tea and popcorn. Before dinner Georgina, Ross, and myself explored some local ruins and briefly watched a soccer game being played by some of the locals and porters.

The evening was pretty relaxing. After dinner several of us were awestrucked by the moon and the starry sky. I took several photos of the night sky. Craig and Ellen, a couple from Seattle, were also inspired to take photos. I even managed to get some photos of the Southern Cross.

Ross and I each bought a cerveza from the local store. After drinking our cervezas and relaxing for a bit, we all called it a night and went to sleep. Tomorrow would turn out to be a big day as we would be passing the dreaded Warmiwañusca pass, also known as Dead Woman´s Pass.

Tomorrow morning (Thursday, June 4) I will be starting the Inca Trail. The plan is to be on the trail starting at 9:00 am. I will arrive at Machu Pichu Sunday morning. :)

So there won´t be any new posts for a while. I´m still behind on my posts, but I hope to post them after I get back from Machu Pichu. I have them all written, I´ve just been so busy and I´ve had no time to get on a computer.

Well, I´m off to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day!

Today we got to sleep in. I woke up at 8:00 am, had a shower and then ate breakfast. For breakfast I had coco pebbles in strawberry yogurt, a ham sandwich, and a cafe con leche. Aren´t continental breakfasts great?

At 9:00 am our tour bus arrived. Today we would be taken to several Inca ruin sites. On our way to the firsty set of ruins we stopped at a couple of markets. I didn´t buy anything this time. After the market we headed to the Pisac ruins. The drive to Pisac took close to one hour. The Pisac ruins were pretty amazing. There are a series of farming terraces, along with several stone structures on top of the mountain. We followed a steep trail up the mountain to another set of structures before numberswiki.com

heading back down to the bus.

After everyone was back on the bus we went for lunch at some tourist trap in Pisac. It was crap. It took them an hour and a half to make me a chicken sandwich that consisted of a piece of chicken slapped between two pieces of bread. That´s it. No lettuce, no sauce.

After lunch our next stop was the Ollantambo ruins. These ruins were extremely impressive and consist of more steep terraces with an unfinished temple and a fortress on top of the peak. We explored the ruins for about an hour and a half before getting back on the bus and making the two hour drive back to Cusco. The next day would be a big day as it would be the start of the Inca Trail!

Although today was a pretty uneventful day, it was also exciting as we were travelling to Cusco, the Inca´s capital city. The bus ride to Cusco took close to eight hours and we arrived mid-afternoon. After checking into our hotel, Hotel Villa Hermoza, David took us on a walking tour of the city.

Cusco is full of Inca culture and architecture. We saw lots of the typical Inca stones, including the famous 12 sided stone. After our walk around the city, we all went to a restaurant called Jack´s. Everybody loved their meals. I had an Inca Cola and a juicy cheeseburger. It was awesome!

After eating, Andrew, Ross, and I met up with Robert and Nicola, a couple from Manchester, at an Irish pub for some cervezas. We polished off several beers and some nachos before heading back to the hotel and going to sleep. The next day would be a busy day exploring Inca ruins.