¡¡¡ Felices Fiestas Patrias !!!


Good morning folks

I trust you’re having a mightily fine and splendid week.
Taking the opportunity to give you a one day Micro-blog on Independence Day.

V1 V2Two years apart and her Peruvian half is showing strongly!

July 28th is a big day in Peru and this year there is a change of President too.
The last Presidente (Humala) didn’t do a lot, nothing especially bad, but nothing especially good either. (His wife told a few porkies allegedly and has done some spending allegedly, but that is nothing to do with me). The successor to Humala, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Godard (a bit of a mouthful here, pronounced (ˈpeðɾo ˈpaβlo kuˈtʃinski ɣoˈðaɾð ) is simplified to PPK, not to be confused with James Bond’s pistol!

panampost“I’ll take 9/4″
(Pic courtesy of Panampost.com)

The 77 year old Politician/Economist is a very well educated chap (Markham, Rossall College-Fleetwood, Oxford and Princeton. If he was at Rossall, he must have been to Blackpool at some point in his life, so he gets my vote (if I could vote here, but I can’t/couldn’t).
In his opening speech he has promised some very promising things, let’s hope they come to fruition. He could be the change that Peru needs…

An adventure before breakfast!

dr7Powered by SONI POWER!

With just over a week before the BIG race at San Andres de Tupicocha (11830ft, not that I’m worried about starting at that altitude, much), I need to pull my finger out, so after a 5am alarm and a lot of faffing I was on the road by 6 o’clock and in the hills by 6:20am. Another crack at “Doubtful Round”. We are in the depths of winter here, which means fog, fog and more fog.
Damp, but not raining. Cool, but not especially cold. If I could point my nose in the right direction, I should have no significant problems…

dr5Chuckling at my navigation!

The only person I saw all morning was a bloke walking down from the mobile phone mast station, after his nightshift. “Good morning, good exercise that” he said. I grinned and wished him “Happy 28th July” (the longer version is Felices Fiestas Patrias, but I can’t pronounce that very well, so “Feliz Veinte Ocho” is a bit easier off the tongue. Up and down the first peak, crossing the usually chaotic “Av. Raul Ferrero”, a road so busy that it is probably the most dangerous part of the route. With it being Bank Holiday, the traffic was a trickle. The second riskiest hazard was the guard dogs across the road, guarding I don’t know what, but they are very protective of their territory and usually chase me for a hundred yards up the sandy foothills. Just as I had got away from them, there suddenly appeared the offspring of the hounds, two cute looking puppies. Appearances can be deceptive and they snapped at my heels for another two minutes, until they got bored/tired (the first I reckon).

I’ve found a new route up “Cerro Sentinel” which is steep and loose, but cuts off 5 minutes. I managed to lose this and more as I took completely the wrong line off the summit and had to traverse for half a mile. Now my navigation is suspect at the best of times, but I’m going off no maps and a dodgy memory on this route. The middle bit is a case of following a big wall (keep it on your right) and the last bit is into the mysterious unknown.

dr3On a good day it is plain sailing.

I’ve only got as far as halfway in previous recces, powered by the magical forces of SONI POWER gels and chewy bars, bananas and 2 pints of water I had plenty of sustenance, but with the clag making visibility about 10yds at best I wasn’t holding my breath…

Probably the third most risky part was passing through the shantytowns en-route. Pamplona Alta II was the first of these pueblos, but everybody was sound asleep in the murky half-light, as I slogged up the hill. Not quite everybody was asleep though.

dr2Beware of the Wolves!

Three wolves (or dogs possibly, it was difficult to tell) started chasing me up the rocky path. I love animals and I like dogs, but these weren’t looking for a stroke, nor a tickle under the chin. Normally if you motion that you are picking up a rock, they slink away. This didn’t work.

Step II with wild hounds is to lob a rock in their direction. As I am such a crap shot, this isn’t usually very effective. If dogs could laugh!

Step III is to launch something in their immediate direction. This is normally the last option and with my best shot I got within a foot of the black wolf, (who didn’t realise I was aiming for the grey beast). The barking subsided as they sloped off, looking for another victim…

In the mist it seemed that there was a lot more uphill than down, but I was in no major rush, just enjoying the solitude of the hills on a Thursday morning. Since I had last been here there had been a green explosion of life from tiny plants. These hills are the dustiest, most barren set of rocks I have ever been to. It is almost like a vertical, rocky desert. However with the arrival of winter, opportunist clover and tiny, bright green lichen/moss had started to cover the chaotic boulders in a haphazard fashion. I reckon in a month it’ll be even more spectacular here.

dr6Always time for a platano.

It wasn’t a day for photos, which was just as well as I didn’t have my camera, (the Nipper had hidden my charger somewhere). Apart from the sound of dogs barking down in the valleys of La Molina and Villa Maria de Triunfo (uneasy neighbours if ever there were!) It was deathly still and quiet until the unexpected explosion of fireworks to start Fiestas Patrias in VMT, sounded at 8am. With plenty of tucker to tuck into, I was cruising nicely and enjoying the moment.

dr4Somewhere around here, I made a mistake…

I knew the descent would be tricky, especially if I missed the fork in the path, (which I did), so my Plan B was to bag another peak on the round and take it from there. “Pride comes before a faceplant”, overambitiousness and all that. After the summit I suddenly found myself lost.

I first started learning about Mountaincraft when I was about 10 years old, taught by an amazing man called Ray Green, when I was in Scouts (it was more like a Youth Club in our group, we didn’t have a uniform as such and it wasn’t like “Dib, dib, dib” round a campfire. It was more like meeting up on a Wednesday and doing something exciting/dangerous. Weekends were a bit more organised, but equally as exciting. Winter mountaineering and camping in the Scottish Highlands as a youth was an amazing and life-changing experience).
Anyway, in my training as a lad, we were told/shown what to do do/what not to do, when you get lost. Following rivers is a no-no (water follows the easiest/steepest route), blind gullies are to be avoided too.

I could just see the summit, so I headed back there 3 times, frantically trying to find a route off. This wasn’t a very frequently trod peak, so paths were sketchy and with no map…
In the valley bottom I could hear the distant cries of “Tamales, tamales…”

aprendamoseswordpress“Are you looking at my tamales!”
(Pic courtesy of aprendamoseswordpress.org)

A popular corn snack, served luke-warm, wrapped in a banana skin. I personally can’t stand them (they always, but always give me bad guts), but with the sound of the Hawker’s monotone cries, I could roughly pick a route down. It could have gone badly wrong. It was really steep, but after about 5 minutes slipping-and-a-sliding, I found a traversing path, which led through an angular boulder field. This was not a place to twist an ankle.Five minutes later I hit the main path down and fifteen minutes later I was down! Caked in dust and sweat, which made me look like the bog monster from the knees down.

dr1On a sunny day, not today!

All that was left was to catch a combi home. One was waiting, and empty too, so I bagged the middle seat at the back (most legroom). A family of four got on (the still empty, bar me, bus) and chose to sit next to me. The bloke was wearing freshly pressed cream chinos, and I cringed as my filth transferred to his slacks as we trundled towards Salamanca.

One stop before mine, I decided to try to get a bit closer towards the door, so I vacated my back seat. I heard gasps of horror and glanced as my sweaty self had left a dirty pool sweat on the vacant back seat, it was a relief to get off and get home for a shower, and some brekkie.

Next stop. Sunday, to the distant and high hills of San Andres de Tupicocha. Recce time…

Have an awesome weekend. Usual weekly blog on Monday morning…

Johnny, Lina and the Nipper

p.s. This is how it all started here, 12 years ago!








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