OK, so I decided to climb Nevado Mateo for my 36th birthday

 
Loved this hand-made sign by Travis. It just capped off a pretty epic day for me.

Loved this hand-made sign by Travis. It just capped off a pretty epic day for me.

 
 
“Is this even real? Are we actually doing this right now?”
That’s what Travis and I kept asking ourselves.
 
Sunrise in the Huascaran National Park.

Sunrise in the Huascaran National Park.

“Is this even real? Are we actually doing this right now?” That’s what Travis and I kept asking each other.

This was my Sunday hike, and an early birthday present to myself. Climbing a glacier is certainly an unforgettable way to celebrate my
36th birthday. Last year I did a night SUP and blew out my candles in a glow worm cave, which is still up there as one of my happiest memories. It’s safe to say that I’ve certainly become more adventurous in my thirties!

Even though I was already awake before I heard the high-pitched noise
of my alarm at 3.30am, getting out of bed in the cold is never easy. Being slightly over-excited meant that I only had a few hours sleep, but we still had two hours in the car before our hike which meant I had plenty of time to nap.

Nevado Mateo is in the Huascaran National Park (it costs 30 soles per day to enter the park) At 5,150m above sea level, it’s the highest I’ve climbed so far in Peru. Mateo is considered a moderate terrain glacier, which means you don’t need experience with crampons and ice axes to ascent to the summit. Mostly it’s the luck of the draw with the weather, however as it’s nearing the end of the rainy season and we definitely had incredible luck that day. Even at sunrise we knew that we would have blue skies for most of the day.

We reached the car park around 6.30am, and after a quick equipment check and a cup of hot coca tea, we set off up the red rocky moraine. There were already other climbers there, and we met up with them
during their descent on the glacier. Having long been acclimatized to
the altitude, we had good pace up the moraine. Our guide, Cesar Vargas, did point out a few icy boulders but they were few and far between that it didn’t really slow us down.

After the red moraine, we reached the start of the snow and it was time to get harnessed and put on our crampons. Cesar did an equipment check before giving up instructions for the ascent. It was important that we had enough distance between each of us to ensure we could feel if any of us slipped. He lead the way and it took me a few tumbles to feel comfortable walking in the crampons.

“There’s a road? Why are we even walking?” Travis joked to our guide when we say the windy road we took just kept going up.

“There’s a road? Why are we even walking?” Travis joked to our guide when we say the windy road we took just kept going up.

When I first did a group hike with Travis a month ago, I told him we probably would never hike together again. He was too fast for me and I would never be able to keep up with his long legs. Yet here we were.

After the red moraine, we reached the start of the snow and it was time to get harnessed and put on our crampons. Cesar did an equipment check before giving up instructions for the ascent. It was important that we had enough distance between each of us to ensure we could feel if any of us slipped. He lead the way and it took me a few tumbles to feel comfortable walking in the crampons.

We came across the other climbers part of the way up as they made their descent. Somehow I ended up joking with on of the climbers that hot pizza at the top would give me even more motivation to get there faster.

Our group made summit around 10am, and after a few photos, we made the decision to head down. Even if the weather was improving, rain often comes in the afternoon and we knew that wet boulders meant more safety issues. Turns out that luck was on our side because We managed to make it back to the taxi just seconds before the heavens opened.

A big shout to Travis for encouraging me up the mountain, and to our
guide Cesar for making my first glacial climb an epic experience I will never forget.

Cesar, our guide, and I at the summit.

Cesar, our guide, and I at the summit.

 
 
 

 

fivefootronna is Ronna Grace Funtelar - a thirtyish storyteller, creative, writer and poet currently working and traveling in Peru. A woman with
a curious mind who lives for hiking mountains, outdoor adventures and eating pizza. She has a unique brand of optimism that is a combination
of her great enthusiasm for life and cups of coffee during the day.