Cordillera Real Trek Day 5: Jistana Khota To the Upper Kelluani Valley

Previous Post: Day 4 – Chojña Khota To Rio Jallpa Below Jistaña Khota

  • time: 7:40 to 1:35
  • distance: 7.5 km
  • high point: 5064 m
  • campsite: 4635 m

A day of dramatic views began as soon as we left our campsite on the banks of the Rio Jallpa below Jistaña Khota. The tracks on the Google Earth satellite image below show our approximate route up a steep slope with five hundred meters of altitude gain in the first two kilometers. Our initial rest stops had us looking back at the valley we were climbing out of to get a view of Jistaña Khota not possible on the valley floor.

the steep ascent to start Day 5

Google satellite view – the steep ascent to start Day 5

Day 5 - 7.5 km. : 5064 high point for the day: camp at 4635 m

Day 5 – 7.5 km. : 5064 high point for the day: camp at 4635 m

The day’s goal was the next valley over – we were heading for the upper Kelluani.

Trans-Cordillera Real Day 5 (Rio Jallpa below Jistaña Khota to Rio Kellhuani)

Trans-Cordillera Real Day 5 (Rio Jallpa below Jistaña Khota to Rio Kelluani)

A half-hour into the day's walk - above our Day 4 Jistaña Campsite

A half-hour into the day’s walk – above our Day 4 Jistaña Campsite

panorama of the Cordillera Real above Jistaña Khota

panorama of the Cordillera Real above Jistaña Khota

fellow trekkers taking in the above scene in their own ways

fellow trekkers taking in the above scene in their own ways

The highlights of the day included our first real views of the Nevados Chearucu  (6127 m) and Chachakumani (6074 m), two of the six 6000 meter + peaks of the Cordillera Real.

I’ve already noted the multitude of spellings for Aymara place names in English; how it ends up being written depends on how you transcribe the sounds from Aymara to English.  Filter the sounds through Spanish language rules and you get something very different than if you go directly from Ayamara to English. The O’Brien map spells Chearucu as Ch’iyaruq’u but other sources have Ch’iyar Juqhu or Chearaco or Chiarroco!  It certainly makes googling for information interesting!  Apparently the word comes from the Aymara words for “black” (chiar) and “muddy place” (juku).

a view of Nevado Chearucu

a view of Nevado Chearucu

a view of Nevada Chachakumani from 18-track on the map

a view of Nevado Chachakumani from 18-track on the map

a discernible path through a scree field

a discernible path through a scree field

One last uphill and we would get to see our campsite area. Our arrieros (muleteers) had beat us there and we got to watch as they went up diagonally on the sandy slopes ahead of us. From where we were the “path” looked like nothing more than a rumour; we’d later find a well-trodden trail.  Once we got to the top of the ridge  we could look down to the Kelluani Valley.

our arrieros lead the donkeys up to the pass

our arrieros lead the donkeys up to the pass

the donkey caravan on the way up

the donkey caravan on the way up

the Kelluani Valley from the top of the ridge to the west

the Kelluani Valley from the top of the ridge to the west

Google satellite view of the Kellauani Valley

Google satellite view

looking up the Kelluani Valley

looking up the Kelluani Valley

And then it was downhill and we quickly lost all the altitude we had gained in the morning’s initial two-kilometer stretch.

Day 5 - Kelluani Campsite

I pulled out the Mountain Kingdoms brochure at a rest stop before we got down to the valley floor and reread the description of Kelluani.

At the bottom of the grassy valley near Kelluani river (the river of the Sea gulls), you will follow the river until a plateau in front of the glaciers. You will be very deep inside the Cordillera Real, surrounded by elegant mountains, rock and ice faces.

It would prove to be a somewhat exaggerated description of the reality. No glaciers or “ice faces” nearby, just a very scenic spot about 2.5 kilometers down from and 100 meters lower than the glacial lake which sits below the glacier fed by Chearucu to the north and Chachakumani to the south.  The donkeys were certainly appreciating the grazing opportunities the upper valley provided. After camp was set up, I did head for the glacial lake and the “ice faces” and the “elegant mountains” but never did make it that far, contenting myself instead with some donkey shots!

the beginning of the final steep descent to the Kelluani Valley floor

the beginning of the final steep descent to the Kelluani Valley floor

our Kelluani campsite in the late afternoon

our Kelluani campsite in the late afternoon

our donkeys at rest in the Quebrada Kelluani

our donkeys at rest in the Kelluani Valley

Quebrada Kelluani - work day done

Upper Kelluani  Valley – work day done

Next Post: Day 6 – The Upper Kelluani Valley To Chachakumani

Your comments and questions are always appreciated, as are any suggestions on how to make this post more useful to future travellers. Just drop me a line or two!

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