There never was a better time for me, those first steps into the Cordillera Blanca, in Peru. The White Range of the Andes held amid the glaciers a feeling of magic—magic and beauty, and enchantment. But it wasn’t the spectacular, snow-capped mountains, sharp against the indigo skies, or the gorgeous, turquoise glacial lakes that made the Cordillera enchanting; the adventure of it all did that.
I was young, then, perhaps twenty-four. I had been on many adventures before, but this climb in the Andes was my first when if mistakes were made, we were on our own. No one would come for us; no one could help us. The risk of death, or the very least trouble, was genuine. It was exhilarating beyond description.
Three weeks of trekking into a remote place for two weeks of climbing was, in those days, as good as it got. No doubt about it, we were climbing bums (truthfully, I was a climbing/fly fishing bum), some of us living in our cars for years at a time to save on rent to finance trips and gear. Irresponsible? You bet. Incredible life? Oh, yeah.