Ashwin and I recently summited our second glacier of this trip in Peru - it's called Pisco and peaks at 18,870ft! To be honest, given that the first glacier we summited (17,100ft) wasn't like SO hard, I figured, "What's another 1,800ft?" 😂 It was so hard.
Summit day started with a 12:00am wake-up call followed by a bread-and-butter breakfast, and by 1:00am we were on the trail (backpacks fully loaded w boots, water, and gear). The sky was completely clear and the moon was nearly full. It was absolutely beautiful.
By 4:00am, we reached the border of the glacier and Julio, our amazing guide, spent the next 45 min helping me put on my crampons. (Pretty sure those crampons were from Sir Shackleton's voyage across Antarctica)
5:00am and we were finally making our way up the glacier. By 5:05am, though, things slowed down for me. The weight and awkwardness of the boots (think ski boots w spikes) made it feel like I was lifting my knee up to my ear every time I took a step. Plus my crampons still wouldn't behave so Julio had to keep readjusting them.
Poco a poco.
By 7:00am the sun was just starting to peek over the mountains. Little did I know we were still 5hrs from the summit. The glacier was so massive. It just kept stretching and expanding and brightening as the sun rose. Every time I thought we were approaching the last climb there would be another mountain just around the corner. By the time we were halfway up, I was taking 50 steps for every 10 [very snotty] breaths. And by the time we were a few hundred feet from the summit, I couldn't go more than 10 steps for every 10 breaths. I sat. I cried. I actually thought I wouldn't make it.
Poco a poco.
I made it. I arrived at the summit dragging my heavy feet, face covered in snot, my sunglasses slipping down the bridge of my nose, my helmet crooked, and I had almost none of my 3 liters of water left.
But WOW. It was the most spectacular thing I've ever seen. It was like the shit you see in movies, but better! 360 degrees of glaciated mountains upon glaciated mountains - some taller than the one we were standing on. It felt like a fairytale. And we had this beauty all to ourselves.
So I sat. I cried. And I thanked my body for bringing me to one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Our patient, thorough, and all-around amazing guide, Julio. (He summited his first mountain when he was 15. Now he's 27!)