This past weekend, me, 11 other classmates, and Neal (profe Bierling's husband) climbed Mt. Misti. This volcano is unavoidable from the city of Arequipa. If I walk to the university, the city center, a friends house, or just down the road, Mt. Misti is in the background. From constant sightings, I have gotten quite an appreciation for Misti and it’s beauty, but my appreciation for it’s immense size was amplified after climbing to the very top.
At 8:30 am on saturday we embarked for our journey. 4 by 4’s brought us to our starting point at 14,000 ft.
From there, we hiked for about 2.5 hrs. till 16,000 ft.
Upon arriving, we bundled up against the cold and camped for the “night”. I put night in quotes, because we woke up at 1 am to summit Misti, so a night of rest wasn’t completely enjoyed.
We climbed in the dark until about 5 am when the sun started to rise. As we stopped breathlessly for a rest, we turned around and were stunned by a sunrise above the far off mountains. Needless to say, it was a sight worthy of National Geographic.
Our climb continued for six hours. During this time we took the guide’s advice and thought about nothing, but our next step. Looking up towards the peak was prohibited, because to see the extensive and steep path was disheartening. Also, thinking about the time till the summit was discouraged, because usually the answer was in hours. So we trudged on an only let our minds wander as far as “breathe, breathe, step, breathe, breathe, step”.
When we finally summited at 19,339 ft., we collapsed. The climb had exhausted us so thoroughly that we needed to recover before taking in the beautiful scenery and relishing the fact that we had, in fact, conquered the Misti.
The view at the top was stunning. We could see the smoking crater, blue mountains in the distance, Volcanoe Chichani to the side, and Arequipa below. It was an incredible experience to be on top of the Mountain Misti that always towers over the city of Arequipa. I proudly state that our entire group summited. Some suffered from the altitude more than others, fighting nausea and pounding headaches, but each and every one reached the summit.
Overall, it was a very hard and long, journey, but I think that the majority of us would agree that it was worth the suffering. I quote from my dear friend Megan Rozeveld who stated it perfectly, “The best miserable thing I’ve ever done."
I conclude this blog post with two questions:
- Would any of us do it again? NO.
- Was it worth it? Yes.