For my 5th and final day hiking in the mountains, I intended to just go and visit the famous "Laguna 69" (no idea why it's called that — but it is a cool name!), which is about a 2½ hour walk from my campsite (from last night) of Cebollapampa. Nothing more: simply visit the lagoon, then come back. But instead, I accidentally took the route up the mountains, to the Pisco high camp. Anyway, all turned out well in the end, and I had a much bigger and better day than I originally bargained on.
Steep 2-hour walk up, from Cebollapampa to Pisco high camp.
Stunning scenery along the way.
Including that of Huascarán itself, the highest mountain in Peru (6,768m).
I'd met some people on the bus yesterday, who are volunteer workers at the lodging of Refugio Peru, which is just next to the Pisco high camp up top. They went up to the high camp yesterday: and I got the impression (from my bad Spanish listening skills) that the Laguna 69 is right next to it. But it's not — it's on a completely different path, quite a distance away.
Anyway, I didn't realise that I was on the wrong path, until about 1 hour up the mountain, when I met some Austrian mountain-climbers coming back down. Had a short but heated conversation with these incredibly rude adventurers, who enlightened me as to where I was:
Me: Excuse me, is it much further to Laguna 69?
Austrians: Vhaat? Laguna 69? Vhaat ahr you torkking about?
Me: Is this the right way to Laguna 69?
Austrians: Laguna 69?!?! No, ziss iz zee road to zee Pisco haigh camp! Oh mein GOTT! Vhaat ahr you dooing here? Don't you have a map?
Me: Yes, I...
Austrians: Ziss iz compleetly zee rhong vay! Ach, mein GOTT!
Me: Oh, right... well, can I get to the Laguna 69 from the top?
Austrians: No, of khorse not! Didn't zey tell you vhere to go? Didn't zey give you a map?
Me: Yeh, they told me it was this way. They gave me a map...
Austrians: Vell you have to REED it, you know! It's no good sitting in yohr pocket!
Ach, mein GOTT, what rude ba$tards! Anyway, I was almost at the top as it was, so I thought what the hell, I'll go the rest of the way up, and check out the Pisco high camp anyway. So, after another hour, I reached the high camp, as well as the Refugio Peru. Beautiful and scenic place — and when I got there, I received a warm reception at the refugio, from the volunteers that I'd met at the bottom yesterday evening. Scored a free cup of tea, and a free ½ hour of relaxing in their dining hall: not bad.
Refugio Peru, perched on a hill below the Pisco mountain.
Pisco high camp itself, just below the refugio.
Refugio Peru is quite an amazing place: it's completely staffed by volunteers; and since it was founded by a group of Italian mountaineers, it retains an ongoing link to various organisations in Italy. Apparently, they always have at least some volunteers from Italy staying there and helping, all year round. It's not a bad deal: you volunteer to work there; and you get free food and board, for several months, at the top of the world. Pity I'm not Italian!
Refugio Peru: staffed by volunteers.
The guys at Refugio Peru were very helpful: as well as giving me a cup of tea (most welcome), they also explained that — contrary to the advice of the rude Austrians — there actually is a path from Pisco high camp, over to Laguna 69. So after chilling out there for a little while, I followed their instructions, and proceeded along the path that cuts across through the mountains, to the laguna. Sweet: I'd kinda given up hope of reaching the laguna today ("have to save it for my next trip to Huaraz", I thought); but as it turned out, I could visit the Pisco high camp, and see the stunning laguna, all in one day.