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Old Oct 8, 14, 10:22 am
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: What I write is my opinion alone..don't read into it anything not written.
Posts: 9,591
WEll, it is pretty near impossible to find a "pickup group" for the higher peaks, in case anyone is interested. For good reason too, the (2) peaks above 20,000 ft that are ice covered in the region (and both are a full day's drive away) are Coropuna and Ampato. People who may have small groups are unwilling to take a risk on an outsider because they canot verify your physical condition (acclimatization, endurance) and if you get sick or tired or ill, 1/2 way up, the entire group must either suffer or return.

Agencies (and there are now hundreds vs the dozens that were there the last time I was there 10 years ago) that will put together a hike like this are hesitant to even start a list and float the idea out there to others.

After 4 days of nonstop agency hopping, I met with the guy who led the journey to Ampato that discovered Juanita (not the archeologist, but the guide.) He suggested public transportation to Pichu Pichu and a hike back to a town (Chiguata) 25 miles away (and bus back) as that gets you out of the 7000 ft altitude of AQP and into the 15,000+ altitudes to acclimate. Was a great idea, and I tried it the next day, but that day the bus didn't run to the Pichu Pichu area. Ended up taking a minibus to the town 1/2 way, and thumbing it to the entrance to the Salinas/Aguada Blancas National Reserve (within 10 min, a private bus stopped and picked me and another was an Andean band going to play a gig at Lake Salinas. Toatal cost for the rt bus, $3.00 soles. I gave the bus driver on the band's bus another $10 soles for his generosity in picking me up.

Finally a small group had formed for Chacahni, a 20,000 footer just outside of AQP. Our group was 7 plus a guide, 3 from 1 small group, 3 from another, and myself. After hitting basecamp at 17,030 feet, one member of each of the 2 smaller groups had gotten altitude sickness, one pretty seriously. We decided to sleep there anyway and judge the next AM (3am) if we wished to continue. Overnight a snow/ice storm had come. Between that and the (2) sick people, we decided to pack it up and return to AQP. So while this trip, due to group cost me just under $100, a small group to one of the "big" peaks would have cost $1250-$1500 (then divide that by number of group members, limited to 3-4 max) with a much longer journey. I can agree, that without a pre-formed group, such an expedition would be wise not to take on untested outsiders.

So lesson learned, solo is fine for the basic hikes (the canyons, El Misti, Pichu Pichu, or even Chachani,) but do not attempt to get a pickup group for the nevados as there is far too real of a risk of failure to the other people.

Oh, and those minbusses that people take to get around from town to town...60 people in one for a 90 min ride is very very very uncomfortable!
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