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
- kml file of GPS track for the day here
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 day’s goal was the next valley over – we were heading for the upper Kelluani.
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).
One last uphill and we would get to see our campsite area. Our arrieros (muleteers) had gotten there before us, so we got to watch as they went up diagonally on the sandy slopes. 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.
And then it was downhill; we quickly lost all the altitude we had gained in the morning’s initial two-kilometer stretch.
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 certainly appreciated 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!