Chopicalqui - Millisraju Expedition
Return to Huaraz, Lima, & Home
July 16, 2005 – Back to Huaraz
We had a half a day and only four miles to travel, days just do not get any easier than that. The sun was well up in the head of the Santa Cruz before I came out of the tent to greet a blue-sky morning. Elias was doing breakfast light and Joaquin had to coax G out of his tent with his hypothesis that G was “kaput.” Not one to take Joaquin’s “kaput!” declaration lightly, G came to life and joined us for breakfast. Clean up followed quickly as Elias and Saltille packed the group gear and we gathered our gear for the last loading of the pack train.
G, Joaquin and I bid the Llama Corral adieu and started down the trail to Cashapampa, albeit at a bit slower pace than over the past four days. We had time to look around, snap a few more photos and of course step aside for the many burro trains heading up hill in support of the trekking parties making their way across this portion of the Blanca. We paralleled the creek until the start of the steep section where the creek falls in a series of cascades while the trail snakes its way along the canyon wall, switching back and forth to lose elevation. With every foot lost, the vegetation gets a bit thicker and the smells of the “low” lands begin to come back to the senses as compared to the heights above.
After four miles, the stone gate guarding the entrance to the canyon comes into view and we emerge at the mouth of the canyon. The irrigation canal leads to Cashapampa proper and soon enough we are at the burro corral and helping to gather the gear being taken off the burros by Saltille and crew. We are a bit early, 11 a.m. but our ride arrives about an hour early and by noon we have packed the Toyota van for the ride back to Huaraz. Elias takes care of Saltille for his five days of effort and off we go in search of . . . Inca Cola.
The trip down the dirt road to the highway at Caraz was an opportunity to catch a few z’s but once we got the Caraz, the word was Inca Cola. We stopped at a tienda and I took care of the acquisition of the necessary refreshment for the passengers and driver. Next stop Huaraz, two hours and more than a few z’s distant.
We unloaded the van at the Meza lodging and made arrangements with Elias and Joaquin to meet for dinner. Since Elias had been the cook for the duration of the trip, we figured it would be fun to take the gang out for Thai food. They were up for the challenge and we met at six for the trek up the street. Naresuan worked his magic and I hope Elias and Joaquin had a good feed on us this time. We also took care to formally note our appreciation for their services before the end of the meal. For the second year, these guys really made our trip happen and I cannot understate the import of their efforts over the two-week period.
After dinner we also caught up with the other group of Americans who attempted Chopi after we returned from our attempt. They had a good approach but ran into trouble above the Col Camp when one of their packs got away from them and fell into the abyss separating the summit from the base camp far below. With the pack went on of the guys glacier glasses, hence they made a retreat but not before one of their party took a serious hit from the intense light. I was disappointed that these three guys did not achieve the summit as they gave it a serious effort both in preparation and on the mountain. However, they were in high spirits and I have a feeling they will be back again.
July 17, 2005 – Return to Lima
We slept in as we were going to return to Lima on the 11 a.m. Movil bus. A final Café Andino breakfast was in order after which we wandered about Huaraz so G could buy souvenirs for his staff at work and we could both get some refreshments for the 8 hour bus ride to Lima. We also made the obligatory phone calls to the states to let folks know that we were homeward bound and that we had exited the mountains in one piece.
We caught a cab up to the Movil terminal and waited to board the bus as Chris had already picked up our tickets while we were in the Santa Cruz. He had also arranged for us to have the front seats on the upper deck, true suicide seats in the event a collision. The bus left exactly on time, as expected, and we were soon threading our way through the heart of Huaraz and onto the highway toward Recuay and the descent to the sea. The Movil ride is clean, comfortable and hassle free, unless of course you choose to steal the plastic tray from the attendant as our neighbors across the aisle tried to do. The attendant was having no part of their antics and by the time she recovered the plastic tray, she just about took the miscreant’s head off as she extracted the tray from the bag he had nestled on the floor between his legs.
The bus made its way along the highway west of the Huayhuash and then made the turn to descend to Barranca and the sea. We passed through Barranca and then onto the barren seaside highway until the sun set and we eventually arrived in the teeming outskirts of Lima. The impression made on me both times I have arrived back in Lima at night is that the city never sleeps. The street economy that teems in the day seems to carry on right through the night, venders hawking their wares, three wheel taxis scooting about and shops and stores open, fully lit and doing business as during the height of the day. The bus makes its first stop on the outskirts of Lima and for those heading directly to the airport, this is the spot to catch a cab to the airport, avoiding downtown Lima and making for a more likely to be smooth connection to the late evening outbound international flights.
We arrived at the downtown terminal and caught a taxi to the Aleman for the night. We thought that we had a reservation for that evening but in fact we did not; however, the staff of the Aleman took us in anyway. A touch of Italian food for G and a hunk of Argentine beef for me brought the day to good conclusion.
July 18/19, 2005 – Sea, Land and Air to the States
The next morning we went shopping across the street from the Aleman for flying food and of course a six-pack of Inca Cola to go. Our next objective was the Pacific Ocean, which would consume the majority of the morning as we were going to get there on foot. The distance from the Aleman to the beach is probably a bit over a mile hike first through a higher end commercial district and then through a comfortable high residential neighborhood before reaching a shopping center perched on the cliffs above the ocean. We wandered about, snooping for souvenirs, and then took the stairs to the beach below.
Lima’s beach is not a sandy strip but instead a combination of gravel and cobbles that, at this time of year (winter) was attracting just a few surfers and couples out for a walk. We walked up the beach past a local surfing spot and then took another set of steps up to the higher ground for the walk back toward the Aleman. We stopped for lunch at the Solara restaurant that we had found the year before and then took a siesta at the Aleman. Boredom set in early in the evening and we went back to the lunch spot for dinner. Ever the adventuresome eater, I believe I had the same dish for the second time that day, but given that our evening would be spent enroute to Atlanta and onward to Denver, having to not sweat another meal was a good deal.
At about 8 p.m. we left for the airport and found ourselves early arrivals as compared to being relatively late the year before. We spotted another climber from Huaraz and sat with him for an hour before the Delta agents started the check in process and we were on our way back to the states.