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Alpamayo, Peru: A Journey in Discovering the Inca Culture

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Join us this summer as we return to Alpamayo, Peru, with San Juan Mountain Guide, Andres Marin! Long considered one of the world’s most beautiful mountains, Alpamayo remains one of mountaineering’s most coveted summits. Situated in the “Himalayas of South America,” the Cordillera Blanca is much more accessible than its Asian counterpart, yet there are scores of peaks over 19,000 feet and 6000 meters.  This expedition takes advantage of the rich Peruvian culture and the magnificent alpine terrain to climb the French Direct on the Southwest Face of Alpamayo.


Besides the incredible journey to summit Alpamayo, there is a cultural perspective of this trip that will give you a deeper understanding of the indigenous Inca culture in Northern Peru. The Incas are popularly known for Machu Picchu near Cuzco but on our trip, you will have the first hand experience of the Inca Culture within the Cordillera Blanca Mountain range as they survived in mountainous conditions among peak up to 18,000 feet tall and higher! Below, Andres Marin talk about the culture. Check out Andres’s other Q&A on why you should join our trip as well!


What is your favorite dish in the Alpamayo region?

That is a tough question. Up in the mountains a lot of quinoa and quinoa dishes with potatoes but my favorite would be called Cachamanta (pictured to right).

What makes the Inca people so special?

Everything about the Incas is special. The way they live their lives is so simple. They use techniques that their ancestors have developed for farming and they base a lot of their daily living of cycles- cycle of the moon, cycles of the seasons and so on. They are simple and so strong. For example, Inca children must walk very far to catch the bus to school and even up to 65+ year old guy may be able to hike for many hours without a problem.

What has the Inca culture taught you in your past trips?

The importance of genuinely living simple and off the land. They call people who are dependent on techonology and materialistic resources, the “Little Brothers” and “Little Sisters” because dependency on these things makes life more dynamic. These people simply depend on the earth to provide for them.

What is one interesting fact about Peru and the Alpamayo course that many don’t know?

How the Incas use the coca leaves, the coffee cream, for band aids, cavities, digestions, everything.

What is one of your best memories of your past the Alpamayo expedition?IMG_2862

Last year, I climbed the mountain with a client and we ended up having to summit the mountain before sunrise. We took a nap at the summit and seeing the sunrise from there was amazing. I have seen many sunrises in many parts in the world and this sunrise was the best. Seeing the Andes range in first light it was pretty unique. Another best memory is seeing people succeed in their own personal objectives – a huge reason I love guiding! Seeing people be psyched about their own personal goals whether or not the mountain is summited is very special.

What is one word or phrase (in Spanish or Inca language) you should learn for the trip?

Gracias – Thank you goes along ways for the porter and the people of the region. In Quechua, thank you is pronounced paylla (Pai-ya). Another word that the porters like to use is Wayki (Wai-ki) which means friend or partner.IMG_2886

IMG_2968Andres grew up in Ibague, Colombia. His passion for guiding has allowed him to guide in all types of terrains, such as rock, alpine, skiing and high altitude. In 2011 he and his partner received the Mugs Stump Exploratory Grant to go and climb new peaks in the Southern part of Kyrgyzstan on the Kyrgy Chinese border. They were the first American expedition on the range and established two alpine-style first ascents. During the 2011/2012 ice and mixed climbing competition season, Andres stood on the podium in every competition ranking him as a world class mixed and ice climbing competitor. Andres is an AMGA certified Rock Guide as well as an AMGA certified Alpine Guide – meaning you are in good hands.

  “I like to apply to my life something that a great person toll me long time ago: BE SAFE, BE HAPPY, TRY HARD AND BE KIND.” – Andres Marin-