Writings by Deia Schlosberg
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Writings by Gregg Treinish
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Peaking Through the Clouds
By Gregg Treinish

November 23, 2006


So I must first start this update by saying that what has happened just twenty days ago seems ancient.  As if it was an entirely different chapter of the trip.   What has happened over the last few days has perhaps been the greatest part to date, easily the some of the best few days of my life.  

The Andes range is constantly active and extremely subject to the forces of seismic activity and volcanic activity, the evidence of this change is all around us, sometimes more visible than others.   Immediately after climbing out of Luchubamba we were in awe of the uplifted and folded ridges all around us.  Looking back over millions of years of formation, it was incredibly easy to see where the mountains had collided, retreated, and faulted.   It wasn't bad to have a geologist hiking alongside me either (Deia).  The mountains around us are only portions of the once gigantic ranges that were uplifted in the area.  Basically, we can only see the 15000ft remnants of sheer immensity.  It made this section of the hike one of the most educational portions of my time outdoors, and was incredibly interesting to be able to see the power of Mother Nature right there in front of us.

Everyday as we would ascend to the passes, at increasing elevations, we would be hoping to see the white mountains of the Cordillera Blanca on the other side.   We climbed to pass after pass, through valley after valley, though I am unable to say that we were disappointed, because what we did see was entirely amazing, we were still without views of what we have dreamt of seeing for so long.   For several days, this continued as we crossed several small towns in the valleys below, all of which the inhabitants were very curious as to why two gringos were walking through town with those huge things on their backs.   We trekked on, sleeping by incredible high mountain lakes above 14000ft at one of which the strange noises from before returned convincing us more so that they are not of this world, climbing through the most spectacular mountains either of us have yet seen, and all the while waiting to see the Blanca.   As we climbed one more ridge line, there in the distance was a long rise to the greatest thing I have seen on this hike, the mark of our first major accomplishment, the snow caps. Our first views would come from far away, though I will say that the yell that I let out only captured one fifth of the excitement that I was feeling.   They were off in the distance, but outrageous to see.  They meant proof for ourselves that we are actually making progress towards Tierra del Fuego , oh what a feeling.


We would continue our habit of climbing, crossing over a ridge, descending the other side where we would hit a river below and again climb up to a ridge.   As we hiked along covering map after map, we would again be without views of the mighty Blanca as the rains and peaks would block the way.  For almost a week straight we would walk in the rain, ready at any moment for the giants above 20,000ft to pop out of the clouds, it wouldn´t be long.   Just after climbing out of Cohechan (thanks to Ima for putting us up) we would soon arrive at the first peaks above 16,500ft that mark the beginning of a very long, very huge Cordierrlla Blanca.   All around us, more indescribable than anything else I have ever seen, peaks would rise to single points, massive snow covered things that I guess you could call mountains would rise from the lakes below.   As the clouds revealed the beginnings of our home for the next month or so, our excitement grew and the cold rains above 14,000ft soon were no longer an issue.   With the thoughts of two of our best friends from Leadville coming to join us in what is perhaps the greatest portion of the greatest mountain range in the world, we would go to sleep beaming with smiles from ear to ear, both really excited for the month to come.  Waking up to the single greatest thing that I have ever seen, we would have our first clear day and hence our first views of world famous Alpamayo, Nevado Santa Cruz Norte, and Nevado Champara, all giants all close to or just above 20000ft.  Gregg and Deia=Happy.   

Needing to get to Huaraz to meet our friends Jesse and Dave who will spend the next month trekking with us, we rode on the roof of a bus down the incredible 10000ft deep Canyon del Gato and through some truly amazing scenery.  With only a couple of days before the arrival of Thanksgiving, we decided to put off returning to the trek and go summit the 18871 ft , Nevado Pisco.  Nevado Pisco sits in the heart of the Cordillera Blanca and is surrounded by the tallest mountain in Peru. The dreams that are Piramide, and Huandoy sit adjacent, and are best seen from Pisco.   The only thing standing in our way from climbing it would be the weather.  We have moved well into the rainy season, and getting a clear day is hit or miss.  We weren't sure if the summit would be a possibility or not. We would make our way to Parque National Huscuaran at night and camp 7,000ft below Pisco in a river valley called Cebollapamba.   The next morning we would wake at sunrise to what is perhaps the most inspiring view of my life.  Nevado Chacrarajiu standing at an outrageous   6112m or 20052ft was glowing orange with the morning sun and towering above the field which we had called home for the night.   As I reattached my jaw, we started up towards the mighty giant which sits next to Pisco.   It was about a 3500ft. climb to Campa Morena at 16076ft and only a half an hour to an hour below Pisco´s glacier, we would arrive just before 1pm.   As the anticipation of the climb built, we were all unable to sleep, partially due to the lack of oxygen and partially due to the thoughts of being on top of the highest mountain any of us ever had.   Because the snow becomes very soft in the afternoons, we would need to begin our climb at 3 am the next morning.  We reached the glacier in less than an hour and after tying into our ropes and affixing our crampons, we started up in the darkness of the early morning.   Clouds passed overhead and we continued to worry about the weather keeping us from the summit.  Next, in what was perhaps the greatest morning of my life, the sky cleared and the sun began to rise.   Finding ourselves high high above the valleys below, views of the greatest mountains in the world began to get more and more awesome.  First light hit the peaks around us in the order of their elevation, imprinting the memories of orange glowing masses forever on my brain.   First Huandoy which towers at 20980ft, then as we reached the ridge, Piramide at 19307ft was lit in all of its splendor, next the summit of the mountain we had been climbing for over two hours now was glowing as the sun continued to rise.   Soon we were experiencing the first views of what we had been climbing and though the photos may give some idea, never in my life have I dreamed that such beauty exists in one place.   Crevasses hundreds of feet deep, fragmented glacial ice looking as if the creator itself had carved through it with giant fingers, and spectacular views of the mountains around us all led to Dave and I exchanging at five minute intervals the thoughts that, ¨That is the sickest thing I have ever seen.¨   We continued climbing and the altitude continued to take hold of us.  As we reached 18000ft, now completely socked in by snow and clouds, we could barely walk due to exhaustion.   Determined, we pushed on continuing to fight the weather and the highest elevations we have ever been at.  Several times I felt like stopping, Dave felt sick, Deia couldn´t go on, Jesse was beat, several times we kept climbing.   We climbed a small ice wall, we crossed very scary very deep crevasses on ice bridges no wider than two feet.  We set anchors as we crossed one heart pounding crevasse and then finally at 830am or so we were there 18871ft above sea level on top.   Tears filled my eyes as I took my last steps to the top and the four of us embraced in more joy than any of us have ever felt before.  Relief to be done with one of the hardest undertakings of our lives was definitely part of the excitement.   Harder than I have been, I was pushed and succeeded, the feeling of reaching the summit is what I live for, it is the most intense and amazing feeling that I have had, and chasing that feeling is why I do what I do.  


After some celebratory Pisco Sours (the national drink of Peru), we rested up and will spend Thanksgiving today with 20 other Americans who live and love Huaraz.   This marks the first year I am away from family for Thanksgiving and it isn´t easy.  This is one of the many battles we must face with our hike and perhaps one of the hardest ones to get over.   I promise I will be there next year mom.