Trek from Pachaspata to Jampa via Campa Pass
June 20, 2011
The next leg of our trek required that we cross Campa Pass to access our next climb and to continue in the direction that would eventually take us to Pitumarca, our exit trail head. Rather than make a loop or return to Tinqui, we planned this trek to be a point to point hike with opportunistic climbs en route rather than a destination hike and specific climbing target.
We had no particular need to get going early but breakfast was on the table at 7:00 with the group tents falling as we ate. I think that after 4 nights at Pachaspata, we were all ready for some new scenery and the crew was especially antsy to do something other than just hang out and wait for us to tire of this location. We broke our individual tents down, packed the duffle bags and put what we might need for the day's hike in our packs. We only had to cover about six miles and the first two of them were quite familiar from our prior recon and climb of Nevado Campa.
We started for Campa Pass and soon met with the now anticipated squall of some Andean bird that seemed to take predictable offence at our crossing through its territory. We walked on, our group stretching out as our speed varied with lingering fatigue from the day before and the remnants of stomach issues that were still clinging here and there. We each hiked at our own pace, knowing that we'd reform at the pass before heading down the other side. The route was really pretty this day as we enjoyed bright blue skies and the icy bulk of the 5800m peaks that formed the valley opposite Nevada Campa.
We held up at the pass, taking a brief stop to chat with a one Italian & two Peruvian & two mule group headed toward Pachaspata and then out via Tinqui. This fellow had made a quick solo of Campa that morning and his arrieros had just caught up for the downhill portion of their day. We ate some of our "box lunch" and then hefted the packs to start the downhill leg to Jampa. The top of the pass provided a few rolling up and down segments but there was no doubt that this pass, our last one from the trekking perspective, would bring the "uphill" portion of the trek to a close. We intentionally chose is one wasy route as it offered but this one high pass between the start and finish points . . . a far cry from our up and down Apolobamba experience where a "Campa Pass" equivalent could be expected to occur no less than 2 or 3 times on a long trekking day.
The top of the pass was populated by cairns everywhere, small ones, big ones, and balanced ones of every shape that some trekker could arrange in a balanced pile. We stopped at the "local" cairn at the top of the pass and placed one more stone in tribute to a safe trip so far and the hope for a safe trip overall . . . a little nod to Pachamama when in her neighborhood surely cannot hurt. We passed through the cairn jungle for perhaps a quarter mile before the trail started down for good. We were now in the upper Rio Chillcamaya Valley with its incredible views of the ice fields that filled in the upper reaches of the valley along the flanks Nevado Jatumpampa and the other surrounding 5800 and 6000 meter peaks to the north. We could also now see Nevado Huayruro Punca, the 5500m peak that we anticipated climbing from the Jampa camp.
The trail made a broad sweeping turn as we descended into the valley, hugging the right side of the slope and dropping toward Jampa. We stopped after perhaps a two mile descent to finish up the lunches that Domingo had packed and take in the views. There was no doubt that regardless of stomach bugs and lousy nights, we were spending time in an incredibly beautiful place and that the trek would continue to provide mountain views to last a lifetime.
Leo and Rocque passed with the pack train and stopped to inquire if we wanted to camp at Jampa proper or stop about a mile short of the hamlet in a more secluded area. We chose the stop short option and the horses were soon again on the move. We hiked another two miles and came to the adjusted Jampa camp spot, which was located on a flat where the local campesinos had constructed a number of alpaca dung silos. These ten to fifteen foot high conical structures resemble a beehive kiln like those constructed in the western U.S. one hundred years ago for the production of charcoal. Here, the structures serve to store alpaca dung out of the wet so that it can dry and be readily accessible for fuel. The silos are made of blocks of sod that are cut from the ground surrounding the silo which are stacked igloo style to result in the tapered form.
The crew had the group tents up in no time and we got the personal camp in order at about the same pace. Domingo made an afternoon snack and then another dinner while we rested up and wandered about the area trying to gain the best views of the surrounding peaks. Our plan to climb Huayruro Punca fell by the wayside as we gained a more first hand perspective as to the distance from our camp to even the base of the climb. A climb of Huayruro Punca would have a very long approach up a valley that did not boast a substantive trail. None of us really wanted to cover 8 miles above 15k just to get to and from the climb. Instead we settled on a climb of 17,850 foot Cerro Lliani, which resembled a Colorado Elk Range 14'er with a bit of snow on top. We knew that bit of snow would be a substantial snowfield but the peak looked like a close in full day climb where climb would be the operative word rather than hike.
We packed light gear for the next day, did dinner and set the alarms for a reasonable hour. We'd figured that while the afternoon brought clouds, it did not bring electrical storms, hence a 7:00 departure for our target peak would be just fine . . .