CONGRATULATIONS to all the Challengers on our first six Charity Challenges of 2011, biking from Guatemala to Honduras, the inaugural Nicaragua Volcano Challenge, Brazil's Chapada Diamantina Challenge , Guatemala's first Caribbean Kayak Challenge, Perú´s Cerani Pass and Ecuador's Volcano Challenge. Nicaragua's second volcano Challenge is set for 3rd-6th November and the third Guatemala Volcano Challenge dates are set for 27th November -2nd December.

Click on the following for our most recent official project reports for Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Perú and Brazil.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Cerani Pass is Challenged and conquered in Perú

Between 25th-29th July, 12 hardy challengers, 7 mules, 5 guides and cooks, 4 nights in freezing tents at high altitude, killer cactus balls (well, not really killer), over 40km hiked, toffees, indoor tent snow, volcanos, blisters, ice waterfalls; and put altogether, what did all this achieve?...climbing over the 5225m (17,000 feet) Cerani Pass near the Colca Canyon to raise money for Phoenix Perú, that's what!

On Day 1 we set off around 3am from Arequipa, arriving in Chivay at around 6am for breakfast, then headed out to Cruz del Condor to watch these magnificent birds and getting a first sight of our goal, way off in the horizon, the Cerani Pass.

Further along the windy roads, we geared up at the Puente Choco at a piffly 1900m and the climbing started for a few hours, along narrow mountain paths which offered incredible scenery of the Colca Canyon, before heading up to the small village of Choco at 2000m, where we ate and camped on a football field!

Day 2 saw us rise early and head on up the Miña Canyon, following the river all the way to the tiny mountain hamlet of Miña, nestling at 3500m!

After lunch we set out on the gruelling afternoon trek, to climb a further 1000m to our campsite on the other side of the Miña valley; the climb went on and on and we arrived at the campsite at 4500m after dark, cold, hungry and exhausted, though warmed by the fire and into the tents to escape the cold.

Day 3, the push to the pass, traversing quite incredible scenery, frozen rivers and waterfalls, the occasional uplifting turn of the head to see where we had come from, far down the valley, only to be rebuffed when looking back uphill to see how much further we had to go up rubble, scree and sand.

Pausing at intervals and trekking at a slow, though necessary, pace as we picked off the metres one by one. The landscape surreal, mountain lakes frozen, snow-capped peeks all around, and still, the pass lurking up ahead.

And then, early afternoon, we made it, the Cerani Pass at 5225m or 17,000 feet was conquered, buffetted by wind, the views were quite incredible and a celebratory Cusqueña beer was toasted, of course, giving a little to Pacha Mama (Mother Earth), before heading to the campsite at 4500m and rest.

Plan B was needed on Day 4 as we were a little behind schedule, and the transport was delayed by landslides and rocks. Though a bit of hiking, looking back upwards to the pass, and a trip in an open top truck, coupled with a potato crop and firewood, we made it to Chachas at 3025m and after a well-needed rest in a local tavern and an explore around town, it was to the tents and sleep, in a churchyard!

Day 5, the Valley of the Volcanos, after crossing a river and a 5 hour hike dodging cactusses and one of the 80+ volcanos, it really was something out of the Wild West. We finally made it to Andagua, thinking all was over, though one little chestnut awaited us.

Las Gemelas are twin volcanos at the head of the valley, and to finish off the challenge with a bang, we "raced" up the tallest one for the views down the valley, exhausted though truly amazed by our achievements over the past 5 days. 9 hours later, following extreme mountain roads, we were back in Arequipa, exhausted though pumped with adrenalin.

I would like to thank each and every Challenger and their sponsors for this truly amazing Challenge; the guides were incredible and the food amazing. I'd like to thank Pacha Mama too, as it is her land anyway! Most of all, I'd like to thank the communities and kids we work with, truly inspiring what can be done. Cheers and bring on Ecuador!!!


How does GVI Phoenix make a difference?

The following film was made in Guatemala, though the message is the same across all GVI Phoenix projects