We did our first turns in Peruvian snow!
But first things first. We gradually approached our first five-thousander and after preparing the trip and getting all information we started the journey to the Ishinca Valley, where three summits, Urus (5,495m), Ishinca (5,530m) and Tocllaraju (6,034m) awaited us.
After driving north on the main road for some time we turned into a very bumpy dirt road and arrived at the small huts of the locals.
The women's traditional clothes consist of long, thick skirts, long woollen tights, big high hats and colourful shawls. Once again we realise that this is a completely different culture and how lucky we are to be able to embark on this adventure.
After an hour we arrive at a small plateau at 3,900m. Here we meet our donkey driver with his donkeys! In no time our luggage is on the robust animals and we can continue our journey. The donkeys seem to know the way and as soon as everything is packed they start walking.
The Ishinca Valley is really beautiful and the huge rock faces are pretty imposing – we can already see the Hatun Ulloc.
After walking for two-and-a-half hours in slowly rising terrain we arrive at our camp site at 4,400m. Owing to our preparations in Hatun Matchay we have no problems sleeping or climbing at this height, so we decide to go about the first 500 vertical metres and lodge our skis for the next day to save some energy for the climb to the summit.
Afterwards we get comfortable in our base camp and enjoy the view at sunset. We can see the majestic Tocllaraju rising into the sky and we learn that just the other day four mountaineers had to be rescued from the mountain. It took the rescue team two or three days to reach the climbers. This serves as a good reminder to plan every detail of our mission.
Our alarm wakes us at 5am the next day. After breakfast we start to hike and after reaching our ski depot we use our skis to make our way up to the summit. At 5,000m the air gets noticeably thinner, but after a few breaks we reach our final destination at noon – 5,420m – and for all of us the first five-thousander on skis.
The mountain landscape is breathtaking and it's hard to not get too emotional. Now we get to enjoy the descent. It's only a few vertical metres, but each turn is worth it. Unfortunately it starts to rain and we have to speed our descent. We pack the donkeys and start back for home. Shortly before nightfall we reach the huts at the end of the valley.
Exhausted but happy we drive back to Huaraz. After the fairly easy Urus Este as a warm-up we plan our next tour which will take five to six days.
Our next destination is the Quitaraju – 6,034m high and with a 50 degree slope.