Explorations in the Highlands of Peru
"Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges—Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!"
Kipling: "The Explorer" ———
is affectionately dedicated
the Muse who inspired it
the Little Mother of Seven Sons
The following pages represent some of the results of four journeys into the interior of Peru and also many explorations into the labyrinth of early writings which treat of the Incas and their Land. Although my travels covered only a part of southern Peru, they took me into every variety of climate and forced me to camp at almost every altitude at which men have constructed houses or erected tents in the Western Hemisphere—from sea level up to 21,703 feet. It has been my lot to cross bleak Andean passes, where there are heavy snowfalls and low temperatures, as well as to wend my way through gigantic canyons into the dense jungles of the Amazon Basin, as hot and humid a region as exists anywhere in the world. The Incas lived in a land of violent contrasts. No deserts in the world have less vegetation than those of Sihuas and Majes; no luxuriant tropical valleys have more plant life than the jungles of Conservidayoc. In Inca Land one may pass from glaciers to tree ferns within a few hours. So also in the labyrinth of contemporary chronicles of the last of the Incas—no historians go more rapidly from fact to fancy, from accurate observation to grotesque imagination; no writers omit important details and give conflicting statements with greater frequency. The story of the Incas is still in a maze of doubt and contradiction.
It was the mystery and romance of some of the wonderful pictures of a nineteenth-century explorer that first led me into the relatively unknown region between the Apurimac and the Urubamba, sometimes called "the Cradle of the Incas." Although my photographs cannot compete with the imaginative pencil of such an artist, nevertheless, I hope that some of them may lead future travelers to penetrate still farther into the Land of the Incas and engage in the fascinating game of identifying elusive places mentioned in the chronicles.
Some of my story has already been told in Harper's and the National Geographic, to whose editors acknowledgments are due for permission to use the material in its present form. A glance at the Bibliography will show that more than fifty articles and monographs have been published as a result of the Peruvian Expeditions of Yale University and the National Geographic Society. Other reports are still in course of preparation. My own observations are based partly on a study of these monographs and the writings of former travelers, partly on the maps and notes made by my companions, and partly on a study of our Peruvian photographs, a collection now numbering over eleven thousand negatives. Another source of information was the opportunity of frequent conferences with my fellow explorers. One of the great advantages of large expeditions is the bringing to bear on the same problem of minds which have received widely different training.
My companions on these journeys were, in 1909, Mr. Clarence L. Hay; in 1911, Dr. Isaiah Bowman, Professor Harry Ward Foote, Dr. William G. Erving, Messrs. Kai Hendriksen, H. L. Tucker, and Paul B. Lanius; in 1912, Professor Herbert E. Gregory, Dr. George F. Eaton, Dr. Luther T. Nelson, Messrs. Albert H. Bumstead, E. C. Erdis, Kenneth C. Heald, Robert Stephenson, Paul Bestor, Osgood Hardy, and Joseph Little; and in 1915, Dr. David E. Ford, Messrs. O. F. Cook, Edmund Heller, E. C. Erdis, E. L. Anderson, Clarence F. Maynard, J. J. Hasbrouck, Osgood Hardy, Geoffrey W. Morkill, and G. Bruce Gilbert. To these, my comrades in enterprises which were not always free from discomfort or danger, I desire to acknowledge most fully my great obligations. In the following pages they will sometimes recognize their handiwork; at other times they may wonder why it has been overlooked. Perhaps in another volume, which is already under way and in which I hope to cover more particularly Machu Picchu  and its vicinity, they will eventually find much of what cannot be told here.
Sincere and grateful thanks are due also to Mr. Edward S. Harkness for offering generous assistance when aid was most difficult to secure; to Mr. Gilbert Grosvenor and the National Geographic Society for liberal and enthusiastic support; to President Taft of the United States and President Leguia of Peru for official help of a most important nature; to Messrs. W. R. Grace & Company and to Mr. William L. Morkill and Mr. L. S. Blaisdell, of the Peruvian Corporation, for cordial and untiring cooeperation; to Don Cesare Lomellini, Don Pedro Duque, and their sons, and Mr. Frederic B. Johnson, of Yale University, for many practical kindnesses; to Mrs. Blanche Peberdy Tompkins and Miss Mary G. Reynolds for invaluable secretarial aid; and last, but by no means least, to Mrs. Alfred Mitchell for making possible the writing of this book.
Yale University October 1, 1922
I. Crossing the Desert 1 II. Climbing Coropuna 23 III. To Parinacochas 50 IV. Flamingo Lake 74 V. Titicaca 95 VI. The Vilcanota Country and the Peruvian Highlanders 110 VII. The Valley of the Huatanay 133 VIII. The Oldest City in South America 157 IX. The Last Four Incas 170 X. Searching for the Last Inca Capital 198 XI. The Search Continued 217 XII. The Fortress of Uiticos and the House of the Sun 241 XIII. Vilcabamba 255 XIV. Conservidayoc 266 XV. The Pampa of Ghosts 292 XVI. The Story of Tampu-tocco, a Lost City of the First Incas 306 XVII. Machu Picchu 314 XVIII. The Origin of Machu Picchu 326
Glossary 341 Bibliography of the Peruvian Expeditions of Yale University and the National Geographic Society 345 Index 353
"Something Hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges" Frontispiece Sketch Map of Southern Peru 1 Mt. Coropuna from the Northwest 12 Mt. Coropuna from the South 24 The Base Camp, Coropuna, at 17,300 Feet 32 Photograph by H. L. Tucker Camping at 18,450 Feet on the Slopes of Coropuna 32 Photograph by H. L. Tucker One of the Frequent Rests in the Ascent of Coropuna 42 Photograph by H. L. Tucker The Camp on the Summit 42 Photograph by H. L. Tucker The Sub-Prefect of Cotahuasi, his Military Aide, and Messrs. Tucker, Hendriksen, Bowman, and Bingham inspecting the Local Rug-weaving Industry 60 Photograph by C. Watkins Inca Storehouses at Chichipampa, near Colta 66 Photograph by H. L. Tucker Flamingoes on Lake Parinacochas, and Mt. Sarasara 78 Mr. Tucker on a Mountain Trail near Caraveli 90 The Main Street of Chuquibamba 90 Photograph by H. L. Tucker A Lake Titicaca Balsa at Puno 98 A Step-topped Niche on the Island of Koati 98 Indian Alcaldes at Santa Rosa 114 Native Druggists in the Plaza of Sicuani 114 Laying Down the Warp for a Blanket; near the Pass of La Raya 120 Plowing a Potato-field at La Raya 120 The Ruins of the Temple of Viracocha at Racche 128 Route Map of the Peruvian Expedition of 1912 132 Lucre Basin, Lake Muyna, and the City Wall of Piquillacta 136 Sacsahuaman: Detail of Lower Terrace Wall 140 Ruins of the Aqueduct of Rumiccolca 140 Huatanay Valley, Cuzco, and the Ayahuaycco Quebrada 150 Map of Peru and View of Cuzco 158 From the "Speculum Orbis Terrarum," Antwerp, 1578 Towers of Jesuit Church with Cloisters and Tennis Court of University, Cuzco 162 Glaciers Between Cuzco and Uiticos 170 The Urubamba Canyon: A Reason for the Safety of the Incas in Uilcapampa 176 Yucay, Last Home of Sayri Tupac 186 Part of the Nuremberg Map of 1599, showing Pincos and the Andes Mountains 198 Route Map of the Peruvian Expedition of 1915 202 Mt. Veronica and Salapunco, the Gateway to Uilcapampa 206 Grosvenor Glacier and Mt. Salcantay 210 The Road between Maquina and Mandor Pampa, near Machu Picchu 214 Huadquina 220 Ruins of Yurak Rumi near Huadquina 225 Plan and elevations drawn by A. H. Bumstead Pucyura and the Hill of Rosaspata in the Vilcabamba Valley 238 Principal Doorway of the Long Palace at Rosaspata 242 Photograph by E. C. Erdis Another Doorway in the Ruins of Rosaspata 242 Northeast Face of Yurak Rumi 246 Plan of the Ruins of the Temple of the Sun at Nusta Isppana 248 Drawn by R. H. Bumstead Carved Seats and Platforms of Nusta Isppana 250 Two of the Seven Seats near the Spring under the Great White Rock 250 Photograph by A. H. Bumstead Nusta Isppana 256 Quispi Cusi testifying about Inca Ruins 268 Photograph by H. W. Foote One of our Bearers crossing the Pampaconas River 268 Photograph by H. W. Foote Saavedra and his Inca Pottery 288 Inca Gable at Espiritu Pampa 288 Inca Ruins in the Jungles of Espiritu Pampa 294 Photograph by H. W. Foote Campa Men at Espiritu Pampa 302 Photograph by H. L. Tucker Campa Women and Children at Espiritu Pampa 302 Photograph by H. L. Tucker Puma Urco, near Paccaritampu 306 The Best Inca Wall at Maucallacta, near Paccaritampu 312 The Caves of Puma Urco, Near Paccaritampu 312 Flashlight View of Interior of Cave, Machu Picchu 320 Temple over Cave at Machu Picchu; suggested by the Author as the Probable Site of Tampu-tocco 320 Detail of Principal Temple, Machu Picchu 324 Detail of Exterior of Temple of the Three Windows, Machu Picchu 324 The Masonry Wall with Three Windows, Machu Picchu 328 The Gorges, opening Wide Apart, reveal Uilcapampa's Granite Citadel, the Crown of Inca Land 338
Except as otherwise indicated the illustrations are from photographs by the author.
Sketch Map of Southern Peru. ———
Crossing the Desert
A kind friend in Bolivia once placed in my hands a copy of a most interesting book by the late E. George Squier, entitled "Peru. Travel and Exploration in the Land of the Incas." In that volume is a marvelous picture of the Apurimac Valley. In the foreground is a delicate suspension bridge which commences at a tunnel in the face of a precipitous cliff and hangs in mid-air at great height above the swirling waters of the "great speaker." In the distance, towering above a mass of stupendous mountains, is a magnificent snow-capped peak. The desire to see the Apurimac and experience the thrill of crossing that bridge decided me in favor of an overland journey to Lima.
As a result I went to Cuzco, the ancient capital of the mighty empire of the Incas, and was there urged by the Peruvian authorities to visit some newly re-discovered Inca ruins. As readers of "Across South America" will remember, these ruins were at Choqquequirau, an interesting place on top of a jungle-covered ridge several thousand feet above the roaring rapids of the great Apurimac. There was some doubt as to who had originally lived here. The prefect insisted that the ruins represented the residence of the Inca Manco and his sons, who had sought refuge from Pizarro and the Spanish conquerors of Peru in the Andes between the Apurimac and Urubamba rivers.
While Mr. Clarence L. Hay and I were on the slopes of Choqquequirau the clouds would occasionally break away and give us tantalizing glimpses of snow-covered mountains. There seemed to be an unknown region, "behind the Ranges," which might contain great possibilities. Our guides could tell us nothing about it. Little was to be found in books. Perhaps Manco's capital was hidden there. For months afterwards the fascination of the unknown drew my thoughts to Choqquequirau and beyond. In the words of Kipling's "Explorer":
"... a voice, as bad as Conscience, rang interminable changes On one everlasting Whisper day and night repeated—so: 'Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges— Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!' "
To add to my unrest, during the following summer I read Bandelier's "Titicaca and Koati," which had just appeared. In one of the interesting footnotes was this startling remark: "It is much to be desired that the elevation of the most prominent peaks of the western or coast range of Peru be accurately determined. It is likely ... that Coropuna, in the Peruvian coast range of the Department Arequipa, is the culminating point of the continent. It exceeds 23,000 feet in height, whereas Aconcagua [conceded to be the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere] is but 22,763 feet (6940 meters) above sea level." His estimate was based on a survey made by the civil engineers of the Southern Railways of Peru, using a section of the railroad as a base. My sensations when I read this are difficult to describe. Although I had been studying South American history and geography for more than ten years, I did not remember ever to have heard of Coropuna. On most maps it did not exist. Fortunately, on one of the sheets of Raimondi's large-scale map of Peru, I finally found "Coropuna—6,949 m."—9 meters higher than Aconcagua!—one hundred miles northwest of Arequipa, near the 73d meridian west of Greenwich.
Looking up and down the 73d meridian as it crossed Peru from the Amazon Valley to the Pacific Ocean, I saw that it passed very near Choqquequirau, and actually traversed those very lands "behind the Ranges" which had been beckoning to me. The coincidence was intriguing. The desire to go and find that "something hidden" was now reenforced by the temptation to go and see whether Coropuna really was the highest mountain in America. There followed the organization of an expedition whose object was a geographical reconnaissance of Peru along the 73d meridian, from the head of canoe navigation on the Urubamba to tidewater on the Pacific. We achieved more than we expected.
Our success was due in large part to our "unit-food-boxes," a device containing a balanced ration which Professor Harry W. Foote had cooperated with me in assembling. The object of our idea was to facilitate the provisioning of small field parties by packing in a single box everything that two men would need in the way of provisions for a given period. These boxes have given such general satisfaction, not only to the explorers themselves, but to the surgeons who had the responsibility of keeping them in good condition, that a few words in regard to this feature of our equipment may not be unwelcome.
The best unit-food-box provides a balanced ration for two men for eight days, breakfast and supper being hearty, cooked meals, and luncheon light and uncooked. It was not intended that the men should depend entirely on the food-boxes, but should vary their diet as much as possible with whatever the country afforded, which in southern Peru frequently means potatoes, corn, eggs, mutton, and bread. Nevertheless each box contained sliced bacon, tinned corned beef, roast beef, chicken, salmon, crushed oats, milk, cheese, coffee, sugar, rice, army bread, salt, sweet chocolates, assorted jams, pickles, and dried fruits and vegetables. By seeing that the jam, dried fruits, soups, and dried vegetables were well assorted, a sufficient variety was procured without destroying the balanced character of the ration. On account of the great difficulty of transportation in the southern Andes we had to eliminate foods that contained a large amount of water, like French peas, baked beans, and canned fruits, however delicious and desirable they might be. In addition to food, we found it desirable to include in each box a cake of laundry soap, two yards of dish toweling, and three empty cotton-cloth bags, to be used for carrying lunches and collecting specimens. The most highly appreciated article of food in our boxes was the rolled oats, a dish which on account of its being already partially cooked was easily prepared at high elevations, where rice cannot be properly boiled. It was difficult to satisfy the members of the Expedition by providing the right amount of sugar. At the beginning of the field season the allowance—one third of a pound per day per man—seemed excessive, and I was criticized for having overloaded the boxes. After a month in the field the allowance proved to be too small and had to be supplemented.
Many people seem to think that it is one of the duties of an explorer to "rough it," and to "trust to luck" for his food. I had found on my first two expeditions, in Venezuela and Colombia and across South America, that the result of being obliged to subsist on irregular and haphazard rations was most unsatisfactory. While "roughing it" is far more enticing to the inexperienced and indiscreet explorer, I learned in Peru that the humdrum expedient of carefully preparing, months in advance, a comprehensive bill of fare sufficiently varied, wholesome, and well-balanced, is "the better part of valor," The truth is that providing an abundance of appetizing food adds very greatly to the effectiveness of a party. To be sure, it may mean trouble and expense for one's transportation department, and some of the younger men may feel that their reputations as explorers are likely to be damaged if it is known that strawberry jam, sweet chocolate and pickles are frequently found on their menu! Nevertheless, experience has shown that the results of "trusting to luck" and "living as the natives do" means not only loss of efficiency in the day's work, but also lessened powers of observation and diminished enthusiasm for the drudgery of scientific exploration. Exciting things are always easy to do, no matter how you are living, but frequently they produce less important results than tasks which depend upon daily drudgery; and daily drudgery depends upon a regular supply of wholesome food.
We reached Arequipa, the proposed base for our campaign against Mt. Coropuna, in June, 1911. We learned that the Peruvian "winter" reaches its climax in July or August, and that it would be folly to try to climb Coropuna during the winter snowstorms. On the other hand, the "summer months," beginning with November, are cloudy and likely to add fog and mist to the difficulties of climbing a new mountain. Furthermore, June and July are the best months for exploration in the eastern slopes of the Andes in the upper Amazon Basin, the lands "behind the Ranges." Although the montana, or jungle country, is rarely actually dry, there is less rain then than in the other months of the year; so we decided to go first to the Urubamba Valley. The story of our discoveries there, of identifying Uiticos, the capital of the last Incas, and of the finding of Machu Picchu will be found in later chapters. In September I returned to Arequipa and started the campaign against Coropuna by endeavoring to get adequate transportation facilities for crossing the desert.
Arequipa, as everybody knows, is the home of a station of the Harvard Observatory, but Arequipa is also famous for its large mules. Unfortunately, a "mule trust" had recently been formed—needless to say, by an American—and I found it difficult to make any satisfactory arrangements. After two weeks of skirmishing, the Tejada brothers appeared, two arrieros, or muleteers, who seemed willing to listen to our proposals. We offered them a thousand soles (five hundred dollars gold) if they would supply us with a pack train of eleven mules for two months and go with us wherever we chose, we agreeing not to travel on an average more than seven leagues  a day. It sounds simple enough but it took no end of argument and persuasion on the part of our friends in Arequipa to convince these worthy arrieros that they were not going to be everlastingly ruined by this bargain. The trouble was that they owned their mules, knew the great danger of crossing the deserts that lay between us and Mt. Coropuna, and feared to travel on unknown trails. Like most muleteers, they were afraid of unfamiliar country. They magnified the imaginary evils of the road to an inconceivable pitch. The argument that finally persuaded them to accept the proffered contract was my promise that after the first week the cargo would be so much less that at least two of the pack mules could always be free. The Tejadas, realizing only too well the propensity of pack animals to get sore backs and go lame, regarded my promise in the light of a factor of safety. Lame mules would not have to carry loads.
Everything was ready by the end of the month. Mr. H. L. Tucker, a member of Professor H. C. Parker's 1910 Mr. McKinley Expedition and thoroughly familiar with the details of snow-and-ice-climbing, whom I had asked to be responsible for securing the proper equipment, was now entrusted with planning and directing the actual ascent of Coropuna. Whatever success was achieved on the mountain was due primarily to Mr. Tucker's skill and foresight. We had no Swiss guides, and had originally intended to ask two other members of the Expedition to join us on the climb. However, the exigencies of making a geological and topographical cross section along the 73d meridian through a practically unknown region, and across one of the highest passes in the Andes (17,633 ft.), had delayed the surveying party to such an extent as to make it impossible for them to reach Coropuna before the first of November. On account of the approach of the cloudy season it did not seem wise to wait for their cooeperation. Accordingly, I secured in Arequipa the services of Mr. Casimir Watkins, an English naturalist, and of Mr. F. Hinckley, of the Harvard Observatory. It was proposed that Mr. Hinckley, who had twice ascended El Misti (19,120 ft.), should accompany us to the top, while Mr. Watkins, who had only recently recovered from a severe illness, should take charge of the Base Camp.
The prefect of Arequipa obligingly offered us a military escort in the person of Corporal Gamarra, a full-blooded Indian of rather more than average height and considerably more than average courage, who knew the country. As a member of the mounted gendarmerie, Gamarra had been stationed at the provincial capital of Cotahuasi a few months previously. One day a mob of drunken, riotous revolutionists stormed the government buildings while he was on sentry duty. Gamarra stood his ground and, when they attempted to force their way past him, shot the leader of the crowd. The mob scattered. A grateful prefect made him a corporal and, realizing that his life was no longer safe in that particular vicinity, transferred him to Arequipa. Like nearly all of his race, however, he fell an easy prey to alcohol. There is no doubt that the chief of the mounted police in Arequipa, when ordered by the prefect to furnish us an escort for our journey across the desert, was glad enough to assign Gamarra to us. His courage could not be called in question even though his habits might lead him to become troublesome. It happened that Gamarra did not know we were planning to go to Cotahuasi. Had he known this, and also had he suspected the trials that were before him on Mt. Coropuna, he probably would have begged off—but I am anticipating.
On the 2d of October, Tucker, Hinckley, Corporal Gamarra and I left Arequipa; Watkins followed a week later. The first stage of the journey was by train from Arequipa to Vitor, a distance of thirty miles. The arrieros sent the cargo along too. In addition to the food-boxes we brought with us tents, ice axes, snowshoes, barometers, thermometers, transit, fiber cases, steel boxes, duffle bags, and a folding boat. Our pack train was supposed to have started from Arequipa the day before. We hoped it would reach Vitor about the same time that we did, but that was expecting too much of arrieros on the first day of their journey. So we had an all-day wait near the primitive little railway station.
We amused ourselves wandering off over the neighboring pampa and studying the medanos, crescent-shaped sand dunes which are common in the great coastal desert. One reads so much of the great tropical jungles of South America and of wellnigh impenetrable forests that it is difficult to realize that the West Coast from Ecuador, on the north, to the heart of Chile, on the south, is a great desert, broken at intervals by oases, or valleys whose rivers, coming from melting snows of the Andes, are here and there diverted for purposes of irrigation. Lima, the capital of Peru, is in one of the largest of these oases. Although frequently enveloped in a damp fog, the Peruvian coastal towns are almost never subjected to rain. The causes of this phenomenon are easy to understand. Winds coming from the east, laden with the moisture of the Atlantic Ocean and the steaming Amazon Basin, are rapidly cooled by the eastern slopes of the Andes and forced to deposit this moisture in the montana. By the time the winds have crossed the mighty cordillera there is no rain left in them. Conversely, the winds that come from the warm Pacific Ocean strike a cold area over the frigid Humboldt Current, which sweeps up along the west coast of South America. This cold belt wrings the water out of the westerly winds, so that by the time they reach the warm land their relative humidity is low. To be sure, there are months in some years when so much moisture falls on the slopes of the coast range that the hillsides are clothed with flowers, but this verdure lasts but a short time and does not seriously affect the great stretches of desert pampa in the midst of which we now were. Like the other pampas of this region, the flat surface inclines toward the sea. Over it the sand is rolled along by the wind and finally built into crescent-shaped dunes. These medanos interested us greatly.
The prevailing wind on the desert at night is a relatively gentle breeze that comes down from the cool mountain slopes toward the ocean. It tends to blow the lighter particles of sand along in a regular dune, rolling it over and over downhill, leaving the heavier particles behind. This is reversed in the daytime. As the heat increases toward noon, the wind comes rushing up from the ocean to fill the vacuum caused by the rapidly ascending currents of hot air that rise from the overheated pampas. During the early afternoon this wind reaches a high velocity and swirls the sand along in clouds. It is now strong enough to move the heavier particles of sand, uphill. It sweeps the heaviest ones around the base of the dune and deposits them in pointed ridges on either side. The heavier material remains stationary at night while the lighter particles are rolled downhill, but the whole mass travels slowly uphill again during the gales of the following afternoon. The result is the beautiful crescent-shaped medano.
About five o'clock our mules, a fine-looking lot—far superior to any that we had been able to secure near Cuzco—trotted briskly into the dusty little plaza. It took some time to adjust the loads, and it was nearly seven o'clock before we started off in the moonlight for the oasis of Vitor. As we left the plateau and struck the dusty trail winding down into a dark canyon we caught a glimpse of something white shimmering faintly on the horizon far off to the northwest; Coropuna! Shortly before nine o'clock we reached a little corral, where the mules were unloaded. For ourselves we found a shed with a clean, stone-paved floor, where we set up our cots, only to be awakened many times during the night by passing caravans anxious to avoid the terrible heat of the desert by day.
Mt. Coropuna from the Northwest ———
Where the oases are only a few miles apart one often travels by day, but when crossing the desert is a matter of eight or ten hours' steady jogging with no places to rest, no water, no shade, the pack animals suffer greatly. Consequently, most caravans travel, so far as possible, by night. Our first desert, the pampa of Sihuas, was reported to be narrow, so we preferred to cross it by day and see what was to be seen. We got up about half-past four and were off before seven. Then our troubles began. Either because he lived in Arequipa or because they thought he looked like a good horseman, or for reasons best known to themselves, the Tejadas had given Mr. Hinckley a very spirited saddle-mule. The first thing I knew, her rider, carrying a heavy camera, a package of plate-holders, and a large mercurial barometer, borrowed from the Harvard Observatory, was pitched headlong into the sand. Fortunately no damage was done, and after a lively chase the runaway mule was brought back by Corporal Gamarra. After Mr. Hinckley was remounted on his dangerous mule we rode on for a while in peace, between cornfields and vineyards, over paths flanked by willows and fig trees. The chief industry of Vitor is the making of wine from vines which date back to colonial days. The wine is aged in huge jars, each over six feet high, buried in the ground. We had a glimpse of seventeen of them standing in a line, awaiting sale. It made one think of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, who would have had no trouble at all hiding in these Cyclopean crocks.
The edge of the oasis of Vitor is the contour line along which the irrigating canal runs. There is no gradual petering out of foliage. The desert begins with a stunning crash. On one side is the bright, luxurious green of fig trees and vineyards; on the other side is the absolute stark nakedness of the sandy desert. Within the oasis there is an abundance of water. Much of it runs to waste. The wine growers receive more than they can use; in fact, more land could easily be put under cultivation. The chief difficulties are the scarcity of ports from which produce can be shipped to the outer world, the expense of the transportation system of pack trains over the deserts which intervene between the oases and the railroad, and the lack of capital. Otherwise the irrigation system might be extended over great stretches of rich, volcanic soil, now unoccupied.
A steady climb of three quarters of an hour took us to the northern rim of the valley. Here we again saw the snowy mass of Coropuna, glistening in the sunlight, seventy-five miles away to the northwest. Our view was a short one, for in less than three minutes we had to descend another canyon. We crossed this and climbed out on the pampa of Sihuas. There was little to interest us in our immediate surroundings, but in the distance was Coropuna, and I had just begun to study the problem of possible routes for climbing the highest peak when Mr. Hinckley's mule trotted briskly across the trail directly in front of me, kicked up her heels, and again sent him sprawling over the sand, barometer, camera, plates, and all. Unluckily, this time his foot caught in a stirrup and, still holding the bridle, he was dragged some distance before he got it loose. He struggled to his feet and tried to keep the mule from running away, when a violent kick released his hold and knocked him out. We immediately set up our little "Mummery" tent on the hot, sandy floor of the desert and rendered first-aid to the unlucky astronomer. We found that the sharp point of one of the vicious mule's new shoes had opened a large vein in Mr. Hinckley's leg. The cut was not dangerous, but too deep for successful mountain climbing. With Gamarra's aid, Mr. Hinckley was able to reach Arequipa that night, but his enforced departure not only shattered his own hopes of climbing Coropuna, but also made us wonder how we were going to have the necessary three-men-on-the-rope when we reached the glaciers. To be sure, there was the corporal—but would he go? Indians do not like snow mountains. Packing up the tent again, we resumed our course over the desert.
The oasis of Sihuas, another beautiful garden in the bottom of a huge canyon, was reached about four o'clock in the afternoon. We should have been compelled to camp in the open with the arrieros had not the parish priest invited us to rest in the cool shade of his vine-covered arbor. He graciously served us with cakes and sweet native wine, and asked us to stay as long as we liked. The desert of Majes, which now lay ahead of us, is perhaps the widest, hottest, and most barren in this region. Our arrieros were unwilling to cross it in the daytime. They said it was forty-five miles between water and water. The next day we enjoyed the hospitality of our kindly host until after supper.
So sure are the inhabitants of these oases that it is not going to rain that their houses are built merely as a shelter against the sun and wind. They are made of the canes that grow in the jungles of the larger river bottoms, or along the banks of irrigating ditches. On the roof the spaces between the canes are filled with adobe, sun-dried mud. It is not necessary to plaster the sides of the houses, for it is pleasant to let the air have free play, and it is amusing to look out through the cracks and see everything that is passing.
That evening we saddled in the moonlight. Slowly we climbed out of the valley, to spend the night jogging steadily, hour after hour, across the desert. As the moon was setting we entered a hilly region, and at sunrise found ourselves in the midst of a tumbled mass of enormous sand dunes—the result of hundreds of medanos blown across the pampa of Majes and deposited along the border of the valley. It took us three hours to wind slowly down from the level of the desert to a point where we could see the great canyon, a mile deep and two miles across. Its steep sides are of various colored rocks and sand. The bottom is a bright green oasis through which flows the rapid Majes River, too deep to be forded even in the dry season. A very large part of the flood plain of the unruly river is not cultivated, and consists of a wild jungle, difficult of access in the dry season and impossible when the river rises during the rainy months. The contrast between the gigantic hills of sand and the luxurious vegetation was very striking; but to us the most beautiful thing in the landscape was the long, glistening, white mass of Coropuna, now much larger and just visible above the opposite rim of the valley.
At eight o'clock in the morning, as we were wondering how long it would be before we could get down to the bottom of the valley and have some breakfast, we discovered, at a place called Pitas (or Cerro Colorado), a huge volcanic boulder covered with rude pictographs. Further search in the vicinity revealed about one hundred of these boulders, each with its quota of crude drawings. I did not notice any ruins of houses near the rocks. Neither of the Tejada brothers, who had been past here many times, nor any of the natives of this region appeared to have any idea of the origin or meaning of this singular collection of pictographic rocks. The drawings represented jaguars, birds, men, and dachshund-like dogs. They deserved careful study. Yet not even the interest and excitement of investigating the "rocas jeroglificos," as they are called here, could make us forget that we had had no food or sleep for a good many hours. So after taking a few pictures we hastened on and crossed the Majes River on a very shaky temporary bridge. It was built to last only during the dry season. To construct a bridge which would withstand floods is not feasible at present. We spent the day at Coriri, a pleasant little village where it was almost impossible to sleep, on account of the myriads of gnats.
The next day we had a short ride along the western side of the valley to the town of Aplao, the capital of the province of Castilla, called by its present inhabitants "Majes," although on Raimondi's map that name is applied only to the river and the neighboring desert. In 1865, at the time of his visit, it had a bad reputation for disease. Now it seems more healthy. The sub-prefect of Castilla had been informed by telegraph of our coming, and invited us to an excellent dinner.
The people of Majes are largely of mixed white and Indian ancestry. Many of them appeared to be unusually businesslike. The proprietor of one establishment was a great admirer of American shoes, the name of which he pronounced in a manner that puzzled us for a long time. "W" is unknown in Spanish and the letters "a," "l," and "k" are never found in juxtaposition. When he asked us what we thought of "Valluck-ofair'," accenting strongly the last syllable, we could not imagine what he meant. He was equally at a loss to understand how we could be so stupid as not to recognize immediately the well-advertised name of a widely known shoe.
At Majes we observed cotton, which is sent to the mills at Arequipa, alfalfa, highly prized as fodder for pack animals, sugar cane, from which aguardiente, or white rum, is made, and grapes. It is said that the Majes vineyards date back to the sixteenth century, and that some of the huge, buried, earthenware wine jars now in use were made as far back as the reign of Philip II. The presence of so much wine in the community does not seem to have a deleterious effect on the natives, who were not only hospitable but energetic—far more so, in fact, than the natives of towns in the high Andes, where the intense cold and the difficulty of making a living have reacted upon the Indians, often causing them to be morose, sullen, and without ambition. The residences of the wine growers are sometimes very misleading. A typical country house of the better class is not much to look at. Its long, low, flat roof and rough, unwhitewashed, mud-colored walls give it an unattractive appearance; yet to one's intense surprise the inside may be clean and comfortable, with modern furniture, a piano, and a phonograph.
Our conscientious and hard-working arrieros rose at two o'clock the next morning, for they knew their mules had a long, hard climb ahead of them, from an elevation of 1000 feet above sea level to 10,000 feet. After an all-day journey we camped at a place where forage could be obtained. We had now left the region of tropical products and come back to potatoes and barley. The following day a short ride brought us past another pictographic rock, recently blasted open by an energetic "treasure seeker" of Chuquibamba. This town has 3000 inhabitants and is the capital of the province of Condesuyos. It was the place which we had selected several months before as the rendezvous for the attack on Coropuna. The climate here is delightful and the fruits and cereals of the temperate zone are easily raised. The town is surrounded by gardens, vineyards, alfalfa and grain fields; all showing evidence of intensive cultivation. It is at the head of one of the branches of the Majes Valley and is surrounded by high cliffs.
The people of Chuquibamba were friendly. We were kindly welcomed by Senor Benavides, the sub-prefect, who hospitably told us to set up our cots in the grand salon of his own house. Here we received calls from the local officials, including the provincial physician, Dr. Pastor, and the director of the Colegio Nacional, Professor Alejandro Coello. The last two were keen to go with us up Mt. Coropuna. They told us that there was a hill near by called the Calvario, whence the mountain could be seen, and offered to take us up there. We accepted, thinking at the same time that this would show who was best fitted to join in the climb, for we needed another man on the rope. Professor Coello easily distanced the rest of us and won the coveted place.
From the Calvario hill we had a splendid view of those white solitudes whither we were bound, now only twenty-five miles away. It seemed clear that the western or truncated peak, which gives its name to the mass (koro = "cut off at the top"; puna = "a cold, snowy height"), was the highest point of the range, and higher than all the eastern peaks. Yet behind the flat-topped dome we could just make out a northerly peak. Tucker wondered whether or not that might prove to be higher than the western peak which we decided to climb. No one knew anything about the mountain. There were no native guides to be had. The wildest opinions were expressed as to the best routes and methods of getting to the top. We finally engaged a man who said he knew how to get to the foot of the mountain, so we called him "guide" for want of a more appropriate title. The Peruvian spring was now well advanced and the days were fine and clear. It appeared, however, that there had been a heavy snowstorm on the mountain a few days before. If summer were coming unusually early it behooved us to waste no time, and we proceeded to arrange the mountain equipment as fast as possible.
Our instruments for determining altitude consisted of a special mountain-mercurial barometer made by Mr. Henry J. Green, of Brooklyn, capable of recording only such air pressures as one might expect to find above 12,000 feet; a hypsometer loaned us by the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, with thermometers especially made for us by Green; a large mercurial barometer, borrowed from the Harvard Observatory, which, notwithstanding its rough treatment by Mr. Hinckley's mule, was still doing good service; and one of Green's sling psychrometers. Our most serious want was an aneroid, in case the fragile mercurials should get broken. Six months previously I had written to J. Hicks, the celebrated instrument maker of London, asking him to construct, with special care, two large "Watkins" aneroids capable of recording altitudes five thousand feet higher than Coropuna was supposed to be. His reply had never reached me, nor did any one in Arequipa know anything about the barometers. Apparently my letter had miscarried. It was not until we opened our specially ordered "mountain grub" boxes here in Chuquibamba that we found, alongside of the pemmican and self-heating tins of stew which had been packed for us in London by Grace Brothers, the two precious aneroids, each as large as a big alarm clock. With these two new aneroids, made with a wide margin of safety, we felt satisfied that, once at the summit, we should know whether there was a chance that Bandelier was right and this was indeed the top of America.
For exact measurements we depended on Topographer Hendriksen, who was due to triangulate Coropuna in the course of his survey along the 73d meridian. My chief excuse for going up the mountain was to erect a signal at or near the top which Hendriksen could use as a station in order to make his triangulation more exact. My real object, it must be confessed, was to enjoy the satisfaction, which all Alpinists feel, of conquering a "virgin peak."
The desert plateau above Chuquibamba is nearly 2500 feet higher than the town, and it was nine o'clock on the morning of October 10th before we got out of the valley. Thereafter Coropuna was always in sight, and as we slowly approached it we studied it with care. The plateau has an elevation of over 15,000 feet, yet the mountain stood out conspicuously above it. Coropuna is really a range about twenty miles long. Its gigantic massif was covered with snow fields from one end to the other. So deep did the fresh snow lie that it was generally impossible to see where snow fields ended and glaciers began. We could see that of the five well-defined peaks the middle one was probably the lowest. The two next highest are at the right, or eastern, end of the massif. The culminating truncated dome at the western end, with its smooth, uneroded sides, apparently belonged to a later volcanic period than the rest of the mountain. It seemed to be the highest peak of all. To reach it did not appear to be difficult. Rock-covered slopes ran directly up to the snow. Snow fields, without many rock-falls, appeared to culminate in a saddle at the base of the great snowy dome. The eastern slope of the dome itself offered an unbroken, if steep, path to the top. If we could once reach the snow line, it looked as though, with the aid of ice-creepers or snowshoes, we could climb the mountain without serious trouble.
Mt. Coropuna from the South ———
Between us and the first snow-covered slopes, however, lay more than twenty miles of volcanic desert intersected by deep canyons, steep quebradas, and very rough aa lava. Directed by our "guide," we left the Cotahuasi road and struck across country, dodging the lava flows and slowly ascending the gentle slope of the plateau. As it became steeper our mules showed signs of suffering. While waiting for them to get their wind we went ahead on foot, climbed a short rise, and to our surprise and chagrin found ourselves on the rim of a steep-walled canyon, 1500 feet deep, which cut right across in front of the mountain and lay between us and its higher slopes. After the mules had rested, the guide now decided to turn to the left instead of going straight toward the mountain. A dispute ensued as to how much he knew, even about the foot of Coropuna. He denied that there were any huts whatever in the canyon. "Abandonado; despoblado; desierto." "A waste; a solitude; a wilderness." So he described it. Had he been there? "No, Senor." Luckily we had been able to make out from the rim of the canyon two or three huts near a little stream. As there was no question that we ought to get to the snow line as soon as possible, we decided to dispense with the services of so well-informed a "guide," and make such way as we could alone. The altitude of the rim of the canyon was 16,000 feet; the mules showed signs of acute distress from mountain sickness. The arrieros began to complain loudly, but did what they could to relieve the mules by punching holes in their ears; the theory being that bloodletting is a good thing for soroche. As soon as the timid arrieros reached a point where they could see down into the canyon, they spotted some patches of green pasture, cheered up a bit, and even smiled over the dismal ignorance of the "guide." Soon we found a trail which led to the huts.
Near the huts was a taciturn Indian woman, who refused to furnish us with either fuel or forage, although we tried to pay in advance and offered her silver. Nevertheless, we proceeded to pitch our tents and took advantage of the sheltering stone wall of her corral for our camp fire. After peace had settled down and it became perfectly evident that we were harmless, the door of one of the huts opened and an Indian man appeared. Doubtless the cause of his disappearance before our arrival had been the easily discernible presence in our midst of the brass buttons of Corporal Gamarra. Possibly he who had selected this remote corner of the wilderness for his abode had a guilty conscience and at the sight of a gendarme decided that he had better hide at once. More probably, however, he feared the visit of a recruiting party, since it is quite likely that he had not served his legal term of military service. At all events, when his wife discovered that we were not looking for her man, she allowed his curiosity to overcome his fears. We found that the Indians kept a few llamas. They also made crude pottery, firing it with straw and llama dung. They lived almost entirely on gruel made from chuno, frozen bitter potatoes. Little else than potatoes will grow at 14,000 feet above the sea. For neighbors the Indians had a solitary old man, who lived half a mile up nearer the glaciers, and a small family, a mile and a half down the valley.
Before dark the neighbors came to call, and we tried our best to persuade the men to accompany us up the mountain and help to carry the loads from the point where the mules would have to stop; but they declined absolutely and positively. I think one of the men might have gone, but as soon as his quiet, well-behaved wife saw him wavering she broke out in a torrent of violent denunciation, telling him the mountain would "eat him up" and that unless he wanted to go to heaven before his time he had better let well enough alone and stay where he was. Cieza de Leon, one of the most careful of the early chroniclers (1550), says that at Coropuna "the devil" talks "more freely" than usual. "For some secret reason known to God, it is said that devils walk visibly about in that place, and that the Indians see them and are much terrified. I have also heard that these devils have appeared to Christians in the form of Indians." Perhaps the voluble housewife was herself one of the famous Coropuna devils. She certainly talked "more freely" than usual. Or possibly she thought that the Coropuna "devils" were now appearing to Indians "in the form of" Christians! Anyhow the Indians said that on top of Coropuna there was a delightful, warm paradise containing beautiful flowers, luscious fruits, parrots of brilliant plumage, macaws, and even monkeys, those faithful denizens of hot climates. The souls of the departed stop to rest and enjoy themselves in this charming spot on their upward flight. Like most primitive people who live near snow-capped mountains, they had an abject terror of the forbidding summits and the snowstorms that seem to come down from them. Probably the Indians hope to propitiate the demons who dwell on the mountain tops by inventing charming stories relating to their abode. It is interesting to learn that in the neighboring hamlet of Pampacolca, the great explorer Raimondi, in 1865, found the natives "exiled from the civilized world, still preserving their primitive customs... carrying idols to the slopes of the great snow mountain Coropuna, and there offering them as a sacrifice." Apparently the mountain still inspires fear in the hearts of all those who live near it.
The fact that we agreed to pay in advance unheard-of wages, ten times the usual amount earned by laborers in this vicinity, that we added offers of the precious coca leaves, the greatly-to-be-desired "fire-water," the rarely seen tobacco, and other good things usually coveted by Peruvian highlanders, had no effect in the face of the terrors of the mountain. They knew only too well that snow-blindness was one of the least of ills to be encountered; while the advantages of dark-colored glasses, warm clothes, kerosene stoves, and plenty of good food, which we freely offered, were far too remote from the realm of credible possibilities. Professor Coello understood all these matters perfectly and, being able to speak Quichua, the language of our prospective carriers, did his best in the way of argument, not only out of loyalty to the Expedition, but because Peruvian gentlemen always regard the carrying of a load as extremely undignified and improper. I have known one of the most energetic and efficient business men in Peru, a highly respected gentleman in a mountain city, so to dislike being obliged to carry a rolled and unmounted photograph, little larger than a lead pencil, that he sent for a cargador, an Indian porter, to bear it for him!
As a matter of fact, Professor Coello was perfectly willing to do his share and more; but neither he nor we were anxious to climb with heavy packs on our backs, in the rarefied air of elevations several thousand feet higher than Mont Blanc. The argument with the Indians was long and verbose and the offerings of money and goods were made more and more generous. All was in vain. We finally came to realize that whatever supplies and provisions were carried up Coropuna would have to be borne on our own shoulders. That evening the top of the truncated dome, which was just visible from the valley near our camp, was bathed in a roseate Alpine glow, unspeakably beautiful. The air, however, was very bitter and the neighboring brook froze solid. During the night the gendarme's mule became homesick and disappeared with Coello's horse. Gamarra was sent to look for the strays, with orders to follow us as soon as possible.
As no bearers or carriers were to be secured, it was essential to persuade the Tejadas to take their pack mules up as far as the snow, a feat they declined to do. The mules, Don Pablo said, had already gone as far as and farther than mules had any business to go. Soon after reaching camp Tucker had gone off on a reconnaissance. He reported that there was a path leading out of the canyon up to the llama pastures on the lower slopes of the mountains. The arrieros denied the accuracy of his observations. However, after a long argument, they agreed to go as far as there was a good path, and no farther. There was no question of our riding. It was simply a case of getting the loads as high up as possible before we had to begin to carry them ourselves. It may be imagined that the arrieros packed very slowly and grudgingly, although the loads were now considerably reduced. Finally, leaving behind our saddles, ordinary supplies, and everything not considered absolutely necessary for a two weeks' stay on the mountain, we set off.
We could easily walk faster than the loaded mules, and thought it best to avoid trouble by keeping far enough ahead so as not to hear the arrieros' constant complaints. After an hour of not very hard climbing over a fairly good llama trail, the Tejadas stopped at the edge of the pastures and shouted to us to come back. We replied equally vociferously, calling them to come ahead, which they did for half an hour more, slowly zigzagging up a slope of coarse, black volcanic sand. Then they not only stopped but commenced to unload the mules. It was necessary to rush back and commence a violent and acrimonious dispute as to whether the letter of the contract had been fulfilled and the mules had gone "as far as they could reasonably be expected to go." The truth was, the Tejadas were terrified at approaching mysterious Coropuna. They were sure it would take revenge on them by destroying their mules, who would "certainly die the following day of soroche." We offered a bonus of thirty soles—fifteen dollars—if they would go on for another hour, and threatened them with all sorts of things if they would not. At last they readjusted the loads and started climbing again.
The altitude was now about 16,000 feet, but at the foot of a steep little rise the arrieros stopped again. This time they succeeded in unloading two mules before we could scramble down over the sand and boulders to stop them. Threats and prayers were now of no avail. The only thing that would satisfy was a legal document! They demanded an agreement "in writing" that in case any mule or mules died as a result of this foolish attempt to get up to the snow line, I should pay in gold two hundred soles for each and every mule that died. Further, I must agree to pay a bonus of fifty soles if they would keep climbing until noon or until stopped by snow. This document, having been duly drawn up by Professor Coello, seated on a lava rock amidst the clinker-like cinders of the old volcano, was duly signed and sealed. In order that there might be no dispute as to the time, my best chronometer was handed over to Pablo Tejada to carry until noon. The mules were reloaded and again the ascent began. Presently the mules encountered some pretty bad going, on a steep slope covered with huge lava boulders and scoriaceous sand. We expected more trouble every minute. However, the arrieros, having made an advantageous bargain, did their best to carry it out. Fortunately the mules reached the snow line just fifteen minutes before twelve o'clock. The Tejadas lost no time in unloading, claimed their bonus, promised to return in ten days, and almost before we knew it had disappeared down the side of the mountain.
We spent the afternoon establishing our Base Camp. We had three tents, the "Mummery," a very light and diminutive wall tent about four feet high, made by Edgington of London; an ordinary wall tent, 7 by 7, of fairly heavy material, with floor sewed in; and an improved pyramidal tent, made by David Abercrombie, but designed by Mr. Tucker after one used on Mt. McKinley by Professor Parker. Tucker's tent had two openings—a small vent in the top of the pyramid, capable of being closed by an adjustable cap in case of storm, and an oval entrance through which one had to crawl. This opening could be closed to any desired extent with a pucker string. A fairly heavy, waterproof floor, measuring 7 by 7, was sewed to the base of the pyramid so that a single pole, without guy ropes, was all that was necessary to keep the tent upright after the floor had been securely pegged to the ground, or snow. Tucker's tent offered the advantages of being carried without difficulty, easily erected by one man, readily ventilated and yet giving shelter to four men in any weather. We proposed to leave the wall tent at the Base, but to take the pyramidal tent with us on the climb. We determined to carry the "Mummery" to the top of the mountain to use while taking observations.
The elevation of the Base Camp was 17,300 feet. We were surprised and pleased to find that at first we had good appetites and no soroche. Less than a hundred yards from the wall tent was a small diurnal stream, fed by melting snow. Whenever I went to get water for cooking or washing purposes I noticed a startling and rapid rise in pulse and increasing shortness of breath. My normal pulse is 70. After I walked slowly a hundred feet on a level at this altitude it rose to 120. After I had been seated awhile it dropped down to 100. Gradually our sense of well-being departed and was followed by a feeling of malaise and general disability. There was a splendid sunset, but we were too sick and cold to enjoy it. That night all slept badly and had some headache. A high wind swept around the mountain and threatened to carry away both of our tents. As we lay awake, wondering at what moment we should find ourselves deserted by the frail canvas shelters, we could not help thinking that Coropuna was giving us a fair warning of what might happen higher up.
The Base Camp, Coropuna, at 17,300 Feet ———
Camping at 18,450 Feet on the Slopes of Coropuna ———
For breakfast we had pemmican, hard-tack, pea soup and tea. We all wanted plenty of sugar in our tea and drank large quantities of it. Experience on Mt. McKinley had led Tucker to believe heartily in the advantages of pemmican, a food especially prepared for Arctic explorers. Neither Coello nor Gamarra nor I had ever tasted it before. We decided that it is not very palatable on first acquaintance. Although doubtless of great value when one has to spend long periods of time in the Arctic, where even seal's blubber is a delicacy "as good as cow's cream," I presume we could have done just as well without it.
It was decided to carry with us from the Base enough fuel and supplies to last through any possible misadventure, even of a week's duration. Accounts of climbs in the high Andes are full of failures due to the necessity of the explorers' being obliged to return to food, warmth, and shelter before having effected the conquest of a new peak. One remembers the frequent disappointments that came to such intrepid climbers as Whymper in Ecuador, Martin Conway in Bolivia and Fitzgerald in Chile and Argentina, due to high winds, the sudden advent of terrific snowstorms and the weakness caused by soroche. At the cost of carrying extra-heavy loads we determined to try to avoid being obliged to turn back. We could only hope that no unforeseen event would finally defeat our efforts.
Tucker decided to establish a cache of food and fuel as far up the mountain side as he and Coello could carry fifty pounds in a single day's climb. Leaving me to reset the demoralized tents and do other chores, they started off, packing loads of about twenty-five pounds each. To me their progress up the mountain side seemed extraordinarily slow. Were they never going to get anywhere? Their frequent stops seemed ludicrous. I was to learn later that it is as difficult at a high elevation for one who is not climbing to have any sympathy for those suffering from soroche as it is for a sailor to appreciate the sensations of one who is seasick.
During the morning I set up the barometers and took a series of observations. It was pleasant to note that the two new mountain aneroids registered exactly alike. All the different units of the cargo that was to be taken up the mountain then had to be weighed, so that they might be equitably distributed in our loads the following day. We had two small kerosene stoves with Primus burners. Our grub, ordered months before, specially for this climb, consisted of pemmican in 8 1/4-pound tins, Kola chocolate in half-pound tins, seeded raisins in 1-pound tins, cube sugar in 4-pound tins, hard-tack in 6 1/2-pound tins, jam, sticks of dried pea soup, Plasmon biscuit, tea, and a few of Silver's self-heating "messtins" containing Irish stew, beef a la mode, et al. Corporal Gamarra appeared during the day, having found his mule, which had strayed twelve miles down the canyon. He did not relish the prospect of climbing Coropuna, but when he saw the warm clothes which we had provided for him and learned that he would get a bonus of five gold sovereigns on top of the mountain, he decided to accept his duties philosophically.
Tucker and Coello returned in the middle of the afternoon, reported that there seemed to be no serious difficulties in the first part of the climb and that a cache had been established about 2000 feet above the Base Camp, on a snow field. Tucker now assigned our packs for the morrow and skillfully prepared the tump-lines and harness with which we were to carry them.
Notwithstanding an unusual headache which lasted all day long, I still had some appetite. Our supper consisted of pemmican pudding with raisins, hard-tack and pea soup, which every one was able to eat, if not to enjoy. That night we slept better, one reason being that the wind did not blow as hard as it had the night before. The weather continued fine. Watkins was due to arrive from Arequipa in a day or two, but we decided not to wait for him or run any further risk of encountering an early summer snowstorm. The next morning, after adjusting our fifty-pound loads to our unaccustomed backs, we left camp about nine o'clock. We wore Appalachian Mountain Club snow-creepers, or crampons, heavy Scotch mittens, knit woolen helmets, dark blue snow-glasses, and very heavy clothing. It will be remembered by visitors to the Zermatt Museum that the Swiss guides who once climbed Huascaran, in the northern Peruvian Andes, had been maimed for life by their experiences in the deep snows of those great altitudes. We determined to take no chances, and in order to prevent the possibility of frost-bite each man was ordered to put on four pairs of heavy woolen socks and two or three pairs of heavy underdrawers.
Professor Coello and Corporal Gamarra wore large, heavy boots. I had woolen puttees and "Arctic" overshoes. Tucker improvised what he regarded as highly satisfactory sandals out of felt slippers and pieces of a rubber poncho. Since there seemed to be no rock-climbing ahead of us, we decided to depend on crampons rather than on the heavy hob-nailed climbing boots with which Alpinists are familiar.
The snow was very hard until about one o'clock. By three o'clock it was so soft as to make further progress impossible. We found that, loaded as we were, we could not climb a gentle rise faster than twenty steps at a time. On the more level snow fields we took twenty-five or thirty steps before stopping to rest. At the end of each stint it seemed as though they would be the last steps we should ever take. Panting violently, fatigued beyond belief, and overcome with mountain-sickness, we would stop and lean on our ice axes until able to take twenty-five steps more.
It did not take very long to recover one's wind. Finally we reached a glacier marked by a network of crevasses, none very wide, and nearly all covered with snow-bridges. We were roped together, and although there was an occasional fall no great strain was put on the rope. Then came great snow fields with not a single crevasse. For the most part our day was simply an unending succession of stints—twenty-five steps and a rest, repeated four or five times and followed by thirty-five steps and a longer rest, taken lying down in the snow. We pegged along until about half-past two, when the rapidly melting snow stopped all progress. At an altitude of about 18,450 feet, the Tucker tent was pitched on a fairly level snow field. We now noticed with dismay that the two big aneroids had begun to differ. As the sun declined the temperature fell rapidly. At half-past five the thermometer stood at 22 deg. F. During the night the minimum thermometer registered 9 deg. F. We noticed a considerable number of lightning flashes in the northeast. They were not accompanied by any thunder, but alarmed us considerably. We feared the expected November storms might be ahead of time. We closed the tent door on account of a biting wind. Owing to the ventilating device at the top of the tent, we managed to breathe fairly well. Mountain climbers at high altitudes have occasionally observed that one of the symptoms of acute soroche is a very annoying, racking cough, as violent as whooping cough and frequently accompanied by nausoa. We had not experienced this at 17,000 feet, but now it began to be painfully noticeable, and continued during the ensuing days and nights, particularly nights, until we got back to the Indians' huts again. We slept very poorly and continually awakened one another by coughing.
The next morning we had very little appetite, no ambition, and a miserable sense of malaise and great fatigue. There was nothing for it but to shoulder our packs, arrange our tump-lines, and proceed with the same steady drudgery—now a little harder than the day before. We broke camp at half-past seven and by noon had reached an altitude of about 20,000 feet, on a snow field within a mile of the saddle between the great truncated peak and the rest of the range. It looked possible to reach the summit in one more day's climb from here. The aneroids now differed by over five hundred feet. Leaving me to pitch the tent, the others went back to the cache to bring up some of the supplies. Due to the fact that we were carrying loads twice as heavy as those which Tucker and Coello had first brought up, we had not passed their cache until to-day. By the time my companions appeared again I was so completely rested that I marveled at the snail-like pace they made over the nearly level snow field. It seemed incredible that they should find it necessary to rest four times after they were within one hundred yards of the camp.
We were none of us hungry that evening. We craved sweet tea. Before turning in for the night we took the trouble to melt snow and make a potful of tea which could be warmed up the first thing in the morning. We passed another very bad night. The thermometer registered 7 deg. F., but we did not suffer from the cold. In fact, when you stow away four men on the floor of a 7 by 7 tent they are obliged to sleep so close together as to keep warm. Furthermore, each man had an eiderdown sleeping-bag, blankets, and plenty of heavy clothes and sweaters. We did, however, suffer from soroche. Violent whooping cough assailed us at frequent intervals. None of us slept much. I amused myself by counting my pulse occasionally, only to find that it persistently refused to go below 120, and if I moved would jump up to 135. I don't know where it went on the actual climb. So far as I could determine, it did not go below 120 for four days and nights.
On the morning of October 15th we got up at three o'clock. Hot sweet tea was the one thing we all craved. The tea-pot was found to be frozen solid, although it had been hung up in the tent. It took an hour to thaw and the tea was just warm enough for practical purposes when I made an awkward move in the crowded tent and kicked over the tea-pot! Never did men keep their tempers better under more aggravating circumstances. Not a word of reproach or indignation greeted my clumsy accident, although poor Corporal Gamarra, who was lying on the down side of the tent, had to beat a hasty retreat into the colder (but somewhat drier) weather outside. My clumsiness necessitated a delay of nearly an hour in starting. While we were melting more frozen snow and re-making the tea, we warmed up some pea soup and Irish stew. Tucker and I managed to eat a little. Coello and Gamarra had no stomachs for anything but tea. We decided to leave the Tucker tent at the 20,000 foot level, together with most of our outfit and provisions. From here to the top we were to carry only such things as were absolutely necessary. They included the Mummery tent with pegs and poles, the mountain-mercurial barometer, the two Watkins aneroids, the hypsometer, a pair of Zeiss glasses, two 3A kodaks, six films, a sling psychrometer, a prismatic compass and clinometer, a Stanley pocket level, an eighty-foot red-strand mountain rope, three ice axes, a seven-foot flagpole, an American flag and a Yale flag. In order to avoid disaster in case of storm, we also carried four of Silver's self-heating cans of Irish stew and mock-turtle soup, a cake of chocolate, and eight hard-tack, besides raisins and cubes of sugar in our pockets. Our loads weighed about twenty pounds each.
To our great satisfaction and relief, the weather continued fine and there was very little wind. On the preceding afternoon the snow had been so soft one frequently went in over one's knees, but now everything was frozen hard. We left camp at five o'clock. It was still dark. The great dome of Coropuna loomed up on our left, cut off from direct attack by gigantic ice falls. To reach it we must first surmount the saddle on the main ridge. From there an apparently unbroken slope extended to the top. Our progress was distressingly slow, even with the light loads. When we reached the saddle there came a painful surprise. To the north of us loomed a great snowy cone, the peak which we had at first noticed from the Chuquibamba Calvario. Now it actually looked higher than the dome we were about to climb! From the Sihuas Desert, eighty miles away, the dome had certainly seemed to be the highest point. So we stuck to our task, although constantly facing the possibility that our painful labors might be in vain and that eventually, this north peak would prove to be higher. We began to doubt whether we should have strength enough for both. Loss of sleep, soroche, and lack of appetite were rapidly undermining our endurance.
The last slope had an inclination of thirty degrees. We should have had to cut steps with our ice axes all the way up had it not been for our snow-creepers, which worked splendidly. As it was, not more than a dozen or fifteen steps actually had to be cut even in the steepest part. Tucker was first on the rope, I was second, Coello third, and Gamarra brought up the rear. We were not a very gay party. The high altitude was sapping all our ambition. I found that an occasional lump of sugar acted as the best rapid restorative to sagging spirits. It was astonishing how quickly the carbon in the sugar was absorbed by the system and came to the relief of smoldering bodily fires. A single cube gave new strength and vigor for several minutes. Of course, one could not eat sugar without limit, but it did help to tide over difficult places.
We zigzagged slowly up, hour after hour, alternately resting and climbing, until we were about to reach what seemed to be the top, obviously, alas, not as high as our enemy to the north. Just then Tucker gave a great shout. The rest of us were too much out of breath to ask him why he was wasting his strength shouting. When at last we painfully came to the edge of what looked like the summit we saw the cause of his joy. There, immediately ahead of us, lay another slope three hundred feet higher than where we were standing. It may seem strange that in our weakened condition we should have been glad to find that we had three hundred feet more to climb. Remember, however, that all the morning we had been gazing with dread at that aggravating north peak. Whenever we had had a moment to give to the consideration of anything but the immediate difficulties of our climb our hearts had sunk within us at the thought that possibly, after all, we might find the north peak higher. The fact that there lay before us another three hundred feet, which would undoubtedly take us above the highest point of that aggravating north peak, was so very much the less of two possible evils that we understood Tucker's shout. Yet none of us was lusty enough to echo it.
With faint smiles and renewed courage we pegged along, resting on our ice axes, as usual, every twenty-five steps until at last, at half-past eleven, after six hours and a half of climbing from the 20,000-foot camp, we reached the culminating point of Coropuna. As we approached it, Tucker, although naturally much elated at having successfully engineered the first ascent of this great mountain, stopped and with extraordinary courtesy and self-abnegation smilingly motioned me to go ahead in order that the director of the Expedition might be actually the first person to reach the culminating point. In order to appreciate how great a sacrifice he was willing to make, it should be stated that his willingness to come on the Expedition was due chiefly to a fondness for mountain climbing and his desire to add Coropuna to his sheaf of victories. Greatly as I appreciated his kindness in making way for me, I could only acquiesce in so far as to continue the climb by his side. We reached the top together, and sank down to rest and look about.
The Camp on the Summit of Coropuna Elevation, 21,703 Feet ———
One of the Frequent Rests in the Ascent of Coropuna ———
The truncated summit is an oval-shaped snow field, almost flat, having an area of nearly half an acre, about 100 feet north and south and 175 feet east and west. If it once were, as we suppose, a volcanic crater, the pit had long since been filled up with snow and ice. There were no rocks to be seen on the rim—only the hard crust of the glistening white surface. The view from the top was desolate in the extreme. We were in the midst of a great volcanic desert dotted with isolated peaks covered with snow and occasional glaciers. Not an atom of green was to be seen anywhere. Apparently we stood on top of a dead world. Mountain climbers in the Andes have frequently spoken of seeing condors at great altitudes. We saw none. Northwest, twenty miles away across the Pampa Colorada, a reddish desert, rose snow-capped Solimana. In the other direction we looked along the range of Coropuna itself; several of the lesser peaks being only a few hundred feet below our elevation. Far to the southwest we imagined we could see the faint blue of the Pacific Ocean, but it was very dim.
My father was an ardent mountain climber, glorying not only in the difficulties of the ascent, but particularly in the satisfaction coming from the magnificent view to be obtained at the top. His zeal had led him once, in winter, to ascend the highest peak in the Pacific, Mauna Kea on Hawaii. He taught me as a boy to be fond of climbing the mountains of Oahu and Maui and to be appreciative of the views which could be obtained by such expenditure of effort. Yet now I could not take the least interest or pleasure in the view from the top of Coropuna, nor could my companions. No sense of satisfaction in having attained a difficult objective cheered us up. We all felt greatly depressed and said little, although Gamarra asked for his bonus and regarded the gold coins with grim complacency.
After we had rested awhile we began to take observations. Unslinging the aneroid which I had been carrying, I found to my surprise and dismay that the needle showed a height of only 21,525 feet above sea level. Tucker's aneroid read more than a thousand feet higher, 22,550 feet, but even this fell short of Raimondi's estimate of 22,775 feet, and considerably below Bandelier's "23,000 feet." This was a keen disappointment, for we had hoped that the aneroids would at least show a margin over the altitude of Mt. Aconcagua, 22,763 feet. This discovery served to dampen our spirits still further. We took what comfort we could from the fact that the aneroids, which had checked each other perfectly up to 17,000 feet, were now so obviously untrustworthy. We could only hope that both might prove to be inaccurate, as actually happened, and that both might now be reading too low. Anyhow, the north peak did look lower than we were. To satisfy any doubts on this subject, Tucker took the wooden box in which we had brought the hypsometer, laid it on the snow, leveled it up carefully with the Stanley pocket level, and took a squint over it toward the north peak. He smiled and said nothing. So each of us in turn lay down in the snow and took a squint. It was all right. We were at least 250 feet higher than that aggravating peak.
We were also 450 feet higher than the east peak of Coropuna, and a thousand feet higher than any other mountain in sight. At any rate, we should not have to call upon our fast-ebbing strength for any more hard climbs in the immediate future. After arriving at this satisfactory conclusion we pitched the little Mummery tent, set up the tripod for the mercurial barometer, arranged the boiling point thermometer with its apparatus, and with the aid of kodaks and notebooks proceeded to take as many observations as possible in the next four hours. At two o'clock we read the mercurial, knowing that at the same hour readings were being made by Watkins at the Base Camp and by the Harvard astronomers in the Observatory at Arequipa. The barometer was suspended from a tripod set up in the shade of the tent. The mercury, which at sea level often stands at 31 inches, now stood at 13.838 inches. The temperature of the thermometer on the barometer was exactly +32 deg. F. At the same time, inside the tent we got the water to boiling and took a reading with the hypsometer. Water boils at sea level at a temperature of 212 deg. F. Here it boiled at 174 deg. F. After taking the reading we greedily drank the water which had been heated for the hypsometer. We were thirsty enough to have drunk five times as much. We were not hungry, and made no use of our provisions except a few raisins, some sugar, and chocolate.
After completing our observations, we fastened the little tent as securely as possible, banking the snow around it, and left it on top, first having placed in it one of the Appalachian Mountain Club's brass record cylinders, in which we had sealed the Yale flag, a contemporary map of Peru, and two brief statements regarding the ascent. The American flag was left flying from a nine-foot pole, which we planted at the northwest rim of the dome, where it could be seen from the road to Cotahuasi. Here Mr. Casimir Watkins saw it a week later and Dr. Isaiah Bowman two weeks later. When Chief Topographer Hendriksen arrived three weeks later to make his survey, it had disappeared. Probably a severe storm had blown it over and buried it in the snow.
We left the summit at three o'clock and arrived at the 20,000 foot camp two hours and fifteen minutes later. The first part of the way down to the saddle we attempted a glissade. Then the slope grew steeper and we got up too much speed for comfort, so we finally had to be content with a slower method of locomotion. That night there was very little wind. Mountain climbers have more to fear from excessively high winds than almost any other cause. We were very lucky. Nothing occurred to interfere with the best progress we were physically capable of making. It turned out that we did not need to have brought so many supplies with us. In fact, it is an open question whether our acute mountain-sickness would have permitted us to outlast a long storm, or left us enough appetite to use the provisions. Although one does get accustomed to high altitudes, we felt very doubtful. No one in the Western Hemisphere had ever made night camps at 20,000 feet or pitched a tent as high as the summit of Coropuna. The severity of mountain-sickness differs greatly in different localities, apparently not depending entirely on the altitude. I do not know how long we could have stood it. It is difficult to believe that with strength enough to achieve the climb we should have felt as weak and ill as we did.
That night, although we were very weary, none of us slept much. The violent whooping cough continued and all of us were nauseated again in the morning. We felt so badly and were able to take so little nourishment that it was determined to get to a lower altitude as fast as possible. To lighten our loads we left behind some of our supplies. We broke camp at 9:20. Eighteen minutes later, without having to rest, the cache was reached and the few remnants were picked up. Although many things had been abandoned, our loads seemed heavier than ever. We had some difficulty in negotiating the crevasses, but Gamarra was the only one actually to fall in, and he was easily pulled out again. About noon we heard a faint halloo, and finally made out two animated specks far down the mountain side. The effect of again seeing somebody from the outside world was rather curious. I had a choking sensation. Tucker, who led the way, told me long afterward that he could not keep the tears from running down his cheeks, although we did not see it at the time. The "specks" turned out to be Watkins and an Indian boy, who came up as high as was safe without ropes or crampons, and relieved us of some weight. The Base Camp was reached at half-past twelve. One of the first things Tucker did on returning was to weigh all the packs. To my surprise and disgust I learned that on the way down Tucker, afraid that some of us would collapse, had carried sixty-one pounds, and Gamarra sixty-four, while he had given me only thirty-one pounds, and the same to Coello. This, of course, does not include the weight of our ice-creepers, axes, or rope.
The next day all of us felt very tired and drowsy. In fact, I was almost overcome with inertia. It was a fearful task even to lift one's hand. The sun had burned our faces terribly. Our lips were painfully swollen. We coughed and whooped. It seemed best to make every effort to get back to a still lower altitude for the mules. So we broke camp, got the loads ready without waiting, put our sleeping-bags and blankets on our backs, and went rapidly down to the Indians' huts. Immediately our malaise left us. We felt physically stronger. We took deep breaths as though we had gotten back to sea level. There was no sensation of oppression on the chest. Yet we were still actually higher than the top of Pike's Peak. We could move rapidly about without getting out of breath; the aggravating "whooping cough" left us; and our appetites returned. To be sure, we still suffered from the effects of snow and sun. On the ascent I had been very thirsty and foolishly had allowed myself to eat a considerable amount of snow. As a result my tongue was now so extremely sensitive that pieces of soda biscuit tasted like broken glass. Corporal Gamarra, who had been unwilling to keep his snow-glasses always in place and thought to relieve his eyes by frequently dispensing with them, now suffered from partial snow-blindness. The rest of us were spared any inflammation of the eyes. There followed two days of resting and waiting. Then the smiling arrieros, surprised and delighted at seeing us alive again after our adventure with Coropuna, arrived with our mules. The Tejadas gave us hearty embraces and promptly went off up to the snow line to get the loads. The next day we returned to Chuquibamba.
In November Chief Topographer Hendriksen completed his survey and found the latitude of Coropuna to be 15 deg. 31' South, and the longitude to be 72 deg. 42' 40'' West of Greenwich. He computed its altitude to be 21,703 feet above sea level. The result of comparing the readings of our mercurial barometer, taken at the summit, with the simultaneous readings taken at Arequipa gave practically the same figures. There was less than sixty feet difference between the two. Although Coropuna proves to be thirteen hundred feet lower than Bandelier's estimate, and a thousand feet lower than the highest mountain in South America, still it is a thousand feet higher than the highest mountain in North America. While we were glad we were the first to reach the top, we all agreed we would never do it again!
After a few days in the delightful climate of Chuquibamba we set out for Parinacochas, the "Flamingo Lake" of the Incas. The late Sir Clements Markham, literary and historical successor of the author of "The Conquest of Peru," had called attention to this unexplored lake in one of the publications of the Royal Geographical Society, and had named a bathymetric survey of Parinacochas as one of the principal desiderata for future exploration in Peru. So far as one could judge from the published maps Parinacochas, although much smaller than Titicaca, was the largest body of water entirely in Peru. A thorough search of geographical literature failed to reveal anything regarding its depth. The only thing that seemed to be known about it was that it had no outlet. General William Miller, once British consul general in Honolulu, who had as a young man assisted General San Martin in the Wars for the Independence of Chile and Peru, published his memoirs in London in 1828. During the campaigns against the Spanish forces in Peru he had had occasion to see many out-of-the-way places in the interior. On one of his rough sketch maps he indicates the location of Lake Parinacochas and notes the fact that the water is "brackish." This statement of General Miller's and the suggestion of Sir Clements Markham that a bathymetric survey of the lake would be an important contribution to geographical knowledge was all that we were able to learn. Our arrieros, the Tejadas, had never been to Parinacochas, but knew in a general way its location and were not afraid to try to get there. Some of their friends had been there and come back alive!
First, however, it was necessary for us to go to Cotahuasi, the capital of the Province of Antabamba, and meet Dr. Bowman and Mr. Hendriksen, who had slowly been working their way across the Andes from the Urubamba Valley, and who would need a new supply of food-boxes if they were to complete the geographical reconnaissance of the 73d meridian. Our route led us out of the Chuquibamba Valley by a long, hard climb up the steep cliffs at its head and then over the gently sloping, semi-arid desert in a northerly direction, around the west flanks of Coropuna. When we stopped to make camp that night on the Pampa of Chumpillo, our arrieros used dried moss and dung for fuel for the camp fire. There was some bunch-grass, and there were llamas pasturing on the plains. Near our tent were some Inca ruins, probably the dwelling of a shepherd chief, or possibly the remains of a temple described by Cieza de Leon (1519-1560), whose remarkable accounts of what he saw and learned in Peru during the time of the Pizarros are very highly regarded. He says that among the five most important temples in the Land of the Incas was one "much venerated and frequented by them, named Coropuna." "It is on a very lofty mountain which is covered with snow both in summer and winter. The kings of Peru visited this temple making presents and offerings .... It is held for certain [by treasure hunters!] that among the gifts offered to this temple there were many loads of silver, gold, and precious stones buried in places which are now unknown. The Indians concealed another great sum which was for the service of the idol, and of the priests and virgins who attended upon it. But as there are great masses of snow, people do not ascend to the summit, nor is it known where these are hidden. This temple possessed many flocks, farms, and service of Indians." No one lives here now, but there are many flocks and llamas, and not far away we saw ancient storehouses and burial places. That night we suffered from intense cold and were kept awake by the bitter wind which swept down from the snow fields of Coropuna and shook the walls of our tent violently.
The next day we crossed two small oases, little gulches watered from the melting snow of Coropuna. Here there was an abundance of peat and some small gnarled trees from which Chuquibamba derives part of its fuel supply. We climbed slowly around the lower spurs of Coropuna into a bleak desert wilderness of lava blocks and scoriaceous sand, the Red Desert, or Pampa Colorada. It is for the most part between 15,000 and 16,000 feet above sea level, and is bounded on the northwest by the canyon of the Rio Arma, 2000 feet deep, where we made our camp and passed a more agreeable night. The following morning we climbed out again on the farther side of the canyon and skirted the eastern slopes of Mt. Solimana. Soon the trail turned abruptly to the left, away from our old friend Coropuna.
We wondered how long ago our mountain was an active volcano. To-day, less than two hundred miles south of here are live peaks, like El Misti and Ubinas, which still smolder occasionally and have been known in the memory of man to give forth great showers of cinders covering a wide area. Possibly not so very long ago the great truncated peak of Coropuna was formed by a last flickering of the ancient fires. Dr. Bowman says that the greater part of the vast accumulation of lavas and volcanic cinders in this vicinity goes far back to a period preceding the last glacial epoch. The enormous amount of erosion that has taken place in the adjacent canyons and the great numbers of strata, composed of lava flows, laid bare by the mighty streams of the glacial period all point to this conclusion.
My saddle mule was one of those cantankerous beasts that are gentle enough as long as they are allowed to have their own way. In her case this meant that she was happy only when going along close to her friends in the caravan. If reined in, while I took some notes, she became very restive, finally whirling around, plunging and kicking. Contrariwise, no amount of spurring or lashing with a stout quirt availed to make her go ahead of her comrades. This morning I was particularly anxious to get a picture of our pack train jogging steadily along over the desert, directly away from Coropuna. Since my mule would not gallop ahead, I had to dismount, run a couple of hundred yards ahead of the rapidly advancing animals and take the picture before they reached me. We were now at an elevation of 16,000 feet above sea level. Yet to my surprise and delight I found that it was relatively as easy to run here as anywhere, so accustomed had my lungs and heart become to very rarefied air. Had I attempted such a strenuous feat at a similar altitude before climbing Coropuna it would have been physically impossible. Any one who has tried to run two hundred yards at three miles above sea level will understand.
We were still in a very arid region; mostly coarse black sand and pebbles, with typical desert shrubs and occasional bunches of tough grass. The slopes of Mt. Solimana on our left were fairly well covered with sparse vegetation. Among the bushes we saw a number of vicunas, the smallest wild camels of the New World. We tried in vain to get near enough for a photograph. They were extremely timid and scampered away before we were within three hundred yards.