near Arequipa, Peru
El Misti is a 5800m active volcano that last erupted in 1985. It is a stunning two day hike with incredible views. Being a volcano it goes straight up, so anticipate plenty of climbing and be prepared to deal with the effects of altitude.
It is a non technical trekking route, but as it is seasonally snow affected you may well need to take an ice axe (I needed mine on an unplanned slide on the descent!)
A guide is a must. I broke my two day trip at the snow line on the way up and set up camp until 1am in the morning when we continued the climb to the summit, arriving around 9am. After summiting you continue all the way down to trail’s end.
It was a bitterly cold climb in the dark and snow, despite plenty of clothing layers, and I was fortunate enough to be blessed with ideal conditions – a full moon and not a breath of wind.
- Use water bottles, not a camel bak (unless its insulated). My tube froze within half an hour and I had to complete the climb without water
- Take easily eaten and digestible snacks for the way up. It will be too cold to take your gloves off for long and your tastebuds will lose much of their function. Don’t take anything that is likely to be too hard in the cold (like a fat slab of chocolate) or you risk breaking your teeth!
- Layer up. Even though conditions couldn’t have been better for me, I was too cold to stop for more than a few minutes on the whole eight hour climb from camp. This was despite wearing a considerable amount of technical clothing. You can always take the layers off later when the sun comes out.
El Misti – One of the highlights of my hiking ‘career’.