Mt Ampato - following in the foot steps of the Ice Maiden

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September 2nd 2006
Published: September 18th 2006
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Mt AmpatoMt AmpatoMt Ampato

The Martian landscape and snow capped summit.
Mount Ampato is a 6288m peak on which the Inca mummy dubbed Juanita was found in 1995. I wanted to climb a peak over 6000m and having read about the mummy back in Australia this was the perfect peak to choose. My guide was Miguel Zarate who had co-found and recovered the mummy a decade earlier!

Day 1

I was collected from the hotel at around 9am in Arequipa. We got of to a bad start as they wanted more money for the trip. A couple of days earlier we agreed on $US380 but now they wanted an extra $US90 for the driver even though that was supposed to be included in the original cost. I didn't want to waste too much time and ended up settling for an extra $US60. After a quick shopping trip for food we where off.

The drive to the base of the mountain took most of the afternoon but was very interesting. We passed a reserve for Vicunas, and I got to see some Vicunas near the road. Later we made a slight detour to see some 8000 year old cave paintings of people, Lamas and a puma. Our next stop was
The JourneyThe JourneyThe Journey

Mt Ampato can be seen straight ahead.
a lookout with all the surrounding peaks labelled. This was the first spot that I was a bit cold, there was a chilly wind.

At around 4pm we reached our final point at the base of Mt Ampato at an altitude of 4800m. As we approached this point we could see people on the mountain Miguel joked (I think) that they could be robbers, but they ended up being a group of English lads making their way down. We set-up base came here. In the evening we listened to Alborada on the CD player, a fantastic band which played a mixture of traditional Peruvian and modern music, Miguel whistled along to the music with a new instrument he had purchased at the lookout.

It was freezing cold, I was glad to have hired a jacket and pants for the climb. Overnight the water had frozen in the water bottles.

Day 2

From the moment I got up I didn't feel so great. I had a slight headache, nausea, lost my apatite and the further up we went the lazier I felt. We made our way up quite slowly but I still managed to feel exhausted. I felt like giving up but thought that I would most likely feel better overnight.

The initial slope wasn't so great. It was all brown dirt with rocks. Slowly it got steeper and the boulders got larger. We reached 5300m and Miguel and Alejandro (the driver) set-up camp. They build a small stone wall around the tent! I pretty much collapsed onto the sleeping mat and stayed that way for a couple of hours, going for a wee was a big effort!

Day 3

2 am wake up call to climb to the top. Miguel boiled some water for tea and made some sandwiches for breakfast. I felt a lot better but still didn't have my apatite, but thought it would be best, in front of the guys, if I ate something. So I forced myself to eat the sandwich, and it wasn't a great move because it came right back out! Well it was all over, Miguel gave me two options : Either climb down right now or wait till sunrise. I decided to wait till sunrise. Miguel was a little concerned that he would have to carry me down, he asked me how much I weighed.

At sunrise I felt even better, and we ended up going a bit higher (but it was too late to make the summit). We reached a hight of about 5500m when it was decided to stop. It was a great view looking down, there where rocks, ice and the black lava of a past eruption. On the horizon there was a great view of Chachani. The journey back to the jeep was quick, we made it back in about an hour. On our way back Miguel was nice enough to leave the left over food at a remote farm house.

I was disappointed at not making it to the summit, but it was still a good trip. Having had spent quite a bit of time in Cuzco and Puno before this trip I thought that it would be enough to acclimatise to the altitude but it proved not to be so.

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21



During our drive from Arequipa to Mt Ampato we passed a reserve with Vicunas.
Cave PaintingsCave Paintings
Cave Paintings

Another stop along our journey was at some 8000 year old cave paintings of a Lama and a puma.
The roadThe road
The road

The road to Mt Ampato with Sabancaya visible ahead.
Back to EarthBack to Earth
Back to Earth

A group coming back down from Mt Ampato.
Base CampBase Camp
Base Camp

When the jeep could go no higher, we setup our base camp. It was at about 4800m.
Me (left) and Miguel.Me (left) and Miguel.
Me (left) and Miguel.

Miguel co-discovered the Ice Maiden on Mt Ampato. When I wasn't feeling great he was a little concerned that he was going to have to carry me down.
Miguel and AlejandroMiguel and Alejandro
Miguel and Alejandro

Taking a rest before we made our way down.

The highest I would reach, altitude sickness prevented me from going higher. Still 800m short of the summit.
The SummitThe Summit
The Summit

Mt Ampato has a height of 6288m.
Mt Ampato and SabancayaMt Ampato and Sabancaya
Mt Ampato and Sabancaya

Sabancaya (right) was the volcano which after erupting melted enough ice on Mt Ampato to expose the Ice Maiden.

18th September 2006

Great pics!
Great photos as usual Rafski.. thats what I'm going to call you in future :-P I especially love the one of the starry sky. Hope to see the rest soon

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