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The Trip (Mountains)

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S: Trip Part 2

FC: The Trip Cocuy, Cotopaxi, Huascaran

1: Sierra Nevada del Cocuy | A national park of Colombia, Cocuy is located about 8 hours by bus west of Bogota. The park boasts over 14 peaks above 5000 meters.

2: The views of the mountain range were stunning as we took a van ride to the park

3: Pictured to the left was our esteemed guide, Freddy. We met Freddy while rock-climbing in a small town outside of Bogota, called Suesca. Freddy joined our journey after I convinced Steve that we had to go to El Cocuy, no matter how likely our odds of getting kidnapped were.

4: The terrain in this picture is known as Páramo. It is located in high elevations and is a result of past glacier activity. The majority of Páramo is found in the northern Andes mountains. | A picture of me standing in the middle of the valley. My Performance Fishing Gear a.k.a. PFG shirt makes me appear nearly invisible.

5: Sleeping Beauty | It's really cold | Home sweet home

6: After one of the gnarliest vertical hikes, we found ourselves traversing the ridge of Pan de Azucar. The rocks on the left are used as trail markers. They guide climbers from the valley below the mountain up to the base of the peak.

7: A view of our destination. The peak of Pan de Azucar is to the right. El Pulpito del Diablo is the shear rock wall to the left.

8: First night preparing to camp at the edge of the glacier. The next day we planned to hike to El Pulpito del Diablo to give Steve and Freddy a chance to climb.

9: A look at our campsite. Looking back, it probably wasn't the most intelligent idea to camp on the top of the mountain. Left - Steve about a quarter of the way up El Pulpito del Diable. Freddy and Steve both reached the top of the wall. Their hands must have been cold as hell.

10: Bagging the peak. 5150 meters = 16896 feet

11: The journey to the top was difficult but worth it. The wind was howling and the ridge to the summit was only about 5 feet wide. Falling was not an option. | It's lonely at the top! Steve captures me enjoying the view. Whats the fastest way down a mountain? Slide down and use your ice axe to self arrest. Not the safest way, but definitely the most fun.

12: Parque Nacional de Cotopaxi, Ecuador | Pictured above are friends we traveled with to the park from our hostel in Quito, the capital.

13: Cotopaxi is one of the largest active volcanoes in the world. | It is also has one of the few equatorial glaciers found in the world.

14: Before climbing Cotopaxi we decided to do a warm-up hike around the surrounding area.

15: The hostels 2 resident dachshunds, Bangers and Mash, made the climb with us. | I now have a much greater respect for wiener dogs after seeing them summit the mountain.

16: The mountain above once used to be a volcano as well. Hundreds of years ago it erupted from the side instead of the top because the pressure was so intense!

17: View from the front yard

18: Altitude = 5,896 m (19,344 ft)

19: Pictures of base camp and the Andean fox that roamed the area

20: A little ice climbing practice with the posse before the ascent. Steve, Ed (England),

21: All climbers start in the middle of the night so that the ice is hard for the ascent and decent. There was a blizzard when we began, our guides considered canceling.

23: We reached the peak before sunrise, and got to see a sunrise at nearly 20,000 feet. We were all elated and exhausted. I have never been colder in my life. I didn't think i needed an extra set of gloves and I could barely enjoy being at the top because my fingers were in so much pain. Still, one hell of a view.

24: Other volcanoes in Ecuador pierce the clouds and the skyline in the distance.

25: Heading down and loving it. Our guides said we did it in amazing time, just proving gringos from sea level still dominate.

26: Bonanza in Ecuador. I got the lazy horse, Steve got the fast horse. I would have paid to see Steve galloping around a corner and fall off, only to recover a second later.

27: An alpaca aka Nelsy Mane. Living the good life.

29: Huaraz, Peru

30: The mountains dominate the vista around the city. It was awe inspiring to walk around a city in the middle of the Central Andes.

32: These pictures are actually from a town in the south of Peru called Arequipa. The city is very dry and is located next to a huge canyon. Steve and I met some locals to go rock climbing for a couple of days.

33: A small town right outside of the mountain range. This is a view from our $20 a night hotel room. So awesome! | A church in the town. Everything seems older due to the Spanish colonial architecture everywhere.

34: The path into the mountains. A local needed our help with the load he was carrying. Steve obliges the villager.

35: Llamacorral was our first nights camp ground. Dozens of pack animals and livestock existed throughout the canyon. | The whole trail ran along glacial streams and lakes. The whole valley on this side of the mountains was lush and full of life.

36: We attempted to throw our packs on the back of the Donkeys but they were unwilling assistants | We met some friends along the way that loved Cheetos and apples.

38: Even filtering water was awesome on this trail. Still, an extremely mundane task. | Steve found a nice cattle skeleton that he promptly put on a stick for a photo op.

39: Steve playing the stupid flute he bought in Trujillo. Man was that thing annoying. | Can't beat a lunch break next to that.

40: I decided to go for a swim in the lake. I figured it would be cold. The water was literally melting off the glacier a thousand feet above us. | Absolutely beautiful scenery. It was hard to stay on track because of all the places you just wanted to spend a whole day soaking in.

42: Views of the surrounding mountains | We didn't have the energy or the desire to summit any of these peaks. They looked gnarly anyways.

43: A view of the valley.

44: A picture of one of the lakes and the bottom of the glacier that feeds it. | Steve posing on the way to the top. A view of the valley right below the cloud line.

46: Punta Union is the highest point along the trail, acting as a pass between the mountains.

47: There were a ton of rainbows in the mountains because of all the low hanging clouds. | The weather on the other side of the pass was terrible. We were rained and misted on for 2 days straight. Luckily our gear stood up to the test but it was miserable.

48: Natives use the trail between the mountains to commute between towns. We saw several groups of Peruvians transporting supplies on foot or with donkeys on the trail. | Cuy (Coo - E) a.k.a Guinea Pig is a delicacy in Peru. I decided to not try the cuy while in Peru. Never had the desire to eat a glorified rat.

51: These pictures are from the van ride we took to leave Huascaran. I don't think I have ever been more scared to ride in a van in my life. It was raining outside and the road along the canyon twisted and turned like something from a scary cartoon.

52: A well deserved rest break after the mountains. Cable TV and 2 beds for $10 a night. | Baby llama and his buddy. The kid knew tourists were suckers and he charged to pet the llama.

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