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Published: February 16th 2007
5'100m Palamoni Pass
Looking across the lake and up, up, up to the pass. Photos are incapable of showing the scale of the view. This is actually two photos put together.
1999……….6wks SOUTH AMERICA-ARGENTINA, PERU.........Martin woke me at 6am I think as it was light and he would have been so cold as the ground was white with frost and small bits of water had frozen ice sheets on them. It's crazy, thinking of Martin, but my problem during the night was that the TWO compressed mattresses I have are not enough for my hip and I got too hot during the night! The cooking stove seems to take forever to boil...because of the altitude I guess. After breakfast of a stale roll (again) and a carrot, we set off about 8.30. Martin had made lunch of rice and beans so that we wouldn't have to unpack the horse. We came across a Peruvian guy with an American accent who was travelling alone like me. He lives in the Sacred Valley where he is building a 4 star hotel. He loves trekking and has done most of the treks to be done in Peru. He thought this one was pretty good.
Today was the big day with the 5'100m pass Palamoni Pass. I realized talking to the Peruvian guy that Martin is trying to stretch the walk out and that’s why we
stopped so early yesterday where we did and not go on further where there were camping areas (flat and protected) with equally outstanding views. It seems if he can make the trek longer then he will get paid more...which makes me think again that he is not the guide I booked through Top Vacations. The small pass before going down to the valley was pretty demanding and with unbelievable views wherever you looked...on one side is the souring snow peaks with frozen waterfalls...in another direction its like the desert mountains of America...there even is small cacti. Looking down the valley from the small pass was a spectacular turquoise lake (Ausangatecocha) contrasting with the perfect white of the mountains and lying ahead and up, up, up was the day’s real challenge...the Palamoni Pass.
Martin said the lake was at 4,000m which is a hike of 1,100m. It certainly was a long steep climb. While the legs were OK I was panting and panting and needing to stop frequently. Just as well I'm as fit as I am. I would set myself small goals...the next big rock...the next bit of flattish ground. The views from the top were breathtaking ....as if that
wasn't happening already...looking one way to the lake and Ausangate and where we had come and then the other side with more snow high, high mountains and up front a red mountain with yellow alpine growth on it and to the right desert like landscape...no vegetation, the colour of the soil varying from red to yellow to sandy.
We had lunch just down from the pass at about 12.30 but it was 5 degrees or less with some snowing so we made it short. We went down into the valley and following round the other side of the series of mountains that are connected to Ausangate. From this side it was incredibly high still but with very little snow...just lots of red scree spilling down from the top.
Martin wanted to stop but it was only 1.30 pm and I was feeling better and wanted to walk as it was not uphill. I said that we should walk for another 2 hours and then camp. I convinced him, but he was reluctant and I went ahead of him quickly as he was dragging his feet even though he didn't look tired...he just didn't want to cover so much
ground. We walked along a marshy valley of pincushion and peat and camped before the next pass of 5,000m (Campa Pass) which is not in view yet. Martin suggested we stay here two nights but I said no way...I don't think so! If we get to Paccanta tomorrow night that will put me on track for the package I paid for (6days, 5nights). I just had boiled eggs, tomato and cucumber for tea which was what ·I needed in its simplicity. Martin had one of his vegetable soups. I've given him my waterproof trousers tonight. He's got a lousy spot to sleep...it’s a bit rocky and cold as anything...Jees I'm a mean bastard! He doesn't complain but hints at staying in the tent and even continues to make me Mate de Coca before he settles down when it gets dark about 6.30pm. What a long night it must be for him…I at least can read and do my diary with my 'head job' torch on.
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