It took only three hours to climb up from our base camp at 15,500 to the summit of Cerro Austria at 17,698 feet (5,396 meters). Thankfully we had left early because a storm was moving in. If we didn’t get down soon we would be trapped.
I had never heard the eerie sound of thunder in the high mountains before. It is a sound you don’t want to hear. Every rumble and boom bounces off the mountains, echoing in a loud, frightening way. It wasn’t too close yet but it was moving in.
We headed down gingerly given the slippery slopes. The clouds grew more and more laden with rain. But at least the views were stunning.
Javier told us that llamas are pretty intelligent and can sense when a storm is dangerous. They find shelter and wait it out alongside a hill that protects them from getting struck by lightening. When the danger passes, they leave.
Wet and tired, we arrived at our base camp. Unfortunately the weather only got worse and we spent the rest of the day cold inside our tents. But it was a hike I’d never forget.
And I knew we would have a delicious hot meal awaiting for dinner.