Christie Lake Climb for Kids is in Cusco!

We have made it to the ancient Incan capital of Cusco! After 17 hours of traveling, we have arrived and are starting to acclimate to the high altitude here. We are at 3400 m and at this height, your body quickly starts to act in strange ways. A flight of stairs is a feat, repacking your bag is a challenge, walking up a beautiful street can leave you panting with a racing heart.

street scene in Cusco

This is a beautiful place. Cusco is nestled in the Andes, the people are welcoming and the streets are bustling with energy and life. Our group is excited and ready to go and now after a good rest, is in great spirits and adjusting to the altitude challenge.

Acclimatization is an interesting process. The first day is a bit of a shock, there are a lot of breathless moments. Tomorrow will be better so we will have our first short hike of 3 kilometers in the morning. The key will be to walk slow, slower than you would ever walk on a downtown street in Ottawa. The next day will be even better, then we start trekking in the Andes at over 4300 m for five days. We can see the mountains now and we know this will be a great challenge.

The bustle at the end of a Cusco day

While we still have wifi, I will continue to write. This is a very positive group and we are raising money for a great cause. The physical and mental work ahead is daunting, but I am sure that we are all up to it.

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Christie Lake Climb for Kids Takes Off!


So Climb for Kids is going to happen!

After months of planning, talking and promoting we have the 16 people we need to allow this project to take off.

Last week four more people signed on to the expedition and the entire group met for the first time at our house. This is a great group of positive people who are excited to take part in a great adventure and raise money for an organization that is actively working to change the lives of children living in poverty here in Ottawa.

All of our participants have their Canada Helps pages up and running and all have pledged to raise at least $1000.00 for Christie Lake Kids. I think they will all surpass this goal and some members have already done so.

We have group fundraisers coming up, the first one will take place on March 23 at Fatboys in the Ottawa Market. The second one will be in May.

We begin to train as a group this week and this is something that we will continue to work on together right up until the summer. This will be a tough trek at high altitude. All participants will need to be in excellent physical shape.

We are now looking into corporate sponsorship. There is a really important story to tell here and we need to have the means to do this. This will not just be the story of climbing to Ausangate, it will be the story about how Christie Lake Kids is actively engaged in changing the lives of children every day.

Rainy day ball hockey

There will be lots to write about here. It is wonderful to be working with such a positive organization that is truly committed to bringing about change in the lives of young people.

We really hope that Climb for Kids attracts donors, supporters and sponsors. Now we totally expect that this will be the first year in a project that will continue to support social transformation in the years to come.

During our first gathering, several people talked about places they would like to trek to in the years to come.

We are going to Peru this year. Where do you want to go after that?

A Virtual Tour of the Ausangate Region – Climb for Kids!

Welcome to Rainbow Mountain Cusco Journey through an undiscovered land of wild desert landscapes, snow capped peaks, herds of alpaca, and arrive at the ultimate destination – The “Rainbow Mountain” hidden deep in the Andes. Throughout your journey you will pass through a vibrant green valley with the impressive Ausangate mountain towering in the distance. You will experience first hand how locals live in the mountains and even have a chance to speak with them. As you get closer to the Rainbow Mountain you will begin to see the first signs of the colored minerals that formed the painted hills. Your guide will explain what makes up the existence of the “Rainbow Mountain”, and finally with one last push you will hike up to a vantage point that gives you a 360 degree view of the beautiful landscape that makes up this sacred land.

Trip Advisor

For the past week, I have been featuring photos that I received from the wonderful people at Merit Travel, the people who are organizing our Christie Lake Climb for Kids! adventure planned for August 2018.

The photos are truly amazing and most are shots that I can’t find anywhere else. Even the locations like this shot of the Red Sand Pass are unsearchable on Google. To me, this is a good thing. It shows how remote this area is. Even a recent Netflix documentary we watched called Peru: Tesoro Escondido had no mention of Ausangate or the Rainbow Mountains.

We are certainly trekking into territory that is remote and obscure. That is great!

I have also found some amazing 360 images on Google Earth using a feature I didn’t know anything about called Photo Sphere. Take a look at the Google Earth shot of Ausangate Mountain below – each of the blue dots are Photo Sphere shots taken around the mountain. The shots are spectacular and all are done in 360. They make up a beautiful virtual tour of the Ausangate region.

The arrows point out some of the Google Photo Sphere shots.

 

Here is one of the Photo Sphere shots. Unfortunately, I can’t make it 360 in this post.

I would give this a try. While this is a remote area, there are easily 30 360 images you can take a look at that are most likely a part of our upcoming trek.

A great way to dream away wintery days!

Climb for Kids: Photo of the Day Ausangate Mountain

Ausangate Mountain by Peruvian Mountains https://www.flickr.com/photos/55373852@N03/

 

Ausangate mountain itself is considered a holy mountain (or mountain spirit) by local Peruvians and is the deity of Cusco. Since pre-Inca times the mountain has been a place of worship and offerings and this tradition continues today.

Ausangate Trek – Complete Guide to the Highest Trek in Peru

I think our trek will be dominated by Ausangate Mountain. We hike around the mountain and at 6372 m, we trek to its base but we do not climb it. It is one of the highest mountains in Peru and is certainly a challenging technical climb.

It is interesting to watch the videos that have been made about the trek around Ausangate. This is high altitude and you can hear this in the videos. Breathing is laboured and trekkers take it slow.

The passes on the trek are beautiful and daunting as you can see in the video below. The highest, the Palomani Pass is at 5200 m.

One big difference from the video above is that we will be staying in tambos or lodges which will be great after challenging days trekking. The video is good however as it gives a more gritty look at what the trekking will probably be like.

There is no question that training will be essential for this trip. Referring back again  the Complete Guide:

The trek is classified as grade C which means the trek is fairly long and many sections are at high altitude. You’ll need a good level of fitness and stamina as you’ll be trekking over many steep sections in which the altitude changes significantly over a short space of time.

Thanks to Merit Travel for many of the beautiful images over the past few days. The trip is coming closer every day and it is great to see more of what we will be experiencing as a group this August.

If you are reading this and want to come on the trip, just write a comment on this post and I will get in touch with you.

Halfway to the Rainbow Mountain Christie Lake Climb for Kids!

We are getting closer!

Today, we signed up our eighth climber, we are now halfway to getting our group of 16 climbers for our first Christie lake Climb for Kids!

This is something we have been working for. A team of 16 climbers, an eleven-day excursion to The Rainbow Mountains of Ausangate. An opportunity to raise funds for Christie Lake Kids and their transformative recreation programs.

This what Christie Lake Kids is all about and this is why our group will be climbing in Peru:

All kids deserve a safe, healthy childhood.

All kids deserve the opportunity to learn, to achieve, and to succeed.

Teaching skills of all kinds not only builds those particular skills; it also builds self-esteem, social skills, and other positive qualities.

Children from low-income families deserve the same recreational and skill-development opportunities as other children.

Caring for children and youth is not just a private issue; it is a collective responsibility.

from CLK Basic Principles

Now we are assembling the elements of our first expedition. Our fundraising page will be ready soon. Each climber will have their own individual page so they can solicit donations from friends and followers, the proceeds will go directly to Christie Lake programming.

We will be climbing as high as 5200 meters – this is a really challenging physical and mental endeavour. To make sure we are successful, we will be training as a group. We are planning to work with Canadian Strength Institute here in Ottawa to develop a group fitness plan. This is essential, for a climb as high as this, people will need to be in excellent shape.

We will plan a series of fundraising events this spring to bring people together who want to help support the climb. These events will be great ways to learn more about the climb and celebrate with this year’s group.

We are also working with Great Escape Outfitters to help us with our gear selection. To complete our team, Merit Travel is planning the trip to Peru and booking our flights. You can’t do a trip like this without great partners and we are certainly in good hands.

What’s next? We would like to fill up the group as soon as this Christmas. As soon as this is done we will be able to launch our group fundraising page. By the new year, we should be able to start training as a group.

This is a really exciting venture. We have great partners and we as a group will be starting something brand new here in Ottawa. I am very excited about the group we have now and its just going to get better!  The idea of taking part in a group adventure to raise funds for a very worthwhile organization is exciting and something worth training hard for.

In the months ahead there will be more updates as the group grows and trains together. You will all be invited to our fundraising events and all the members of our team will be introduced here on this blog.

So, if you are interested in taking part in this great adventure, you need to sign up soon. The way things are going the last eight spots will be going soon!

Christie Lake Climb For Kids! Join the Adventure!

Our official logo for Christie Lake Climb for Kids!

 

This is a great day and the start of a new adventure.
We are very happy to announce that the Christie Lake Climb For Kids fundraising trek is now ready to sign up participants.
The August 2018 trek will be taking place in Peru, starting in Cusco and will head towards Ausangate Mountain. The trek reaches an altitude of 5200 m which is a real mental and physical challenge. Are you interested in a big challenge?

Each participant on this expedition will be asked to raise money for Christie Lake Kids, a wonderful organization in Ottawa that provides recreation opportunities for low-income children throughout the year.
The trip is being planned and coordinated by Merit Travel here in Ottawa.
Christie Lake will provide each participant with their own fundraising page and will help each team member to raise money throughout the upcoming year. This is really a big community fundraising event that will take Christie Lake all the way to Peru.

A full itinerary is available here along with a booking form for those who are interested in signing up. We will be taking 16 people and to reserve your spot, you need to complete the form and make a $500.00 deposit. You can contact Darren Prashad at Merit Travel to secure your spot he can be reached at DPrashad@merittravel.com

We are planning an information meeting for mid-November to go over all the details and to introduce people to the personal training group we plan to use to get everyone in great shape for the trip!

You can now sign up for the information meeting here. The meeting will take place on November 20th at 6:30 PM at Great Escape Outfitters 369 Richmond Road in Ottawa.

This will be a terrific adventure and a unique way to give back to a wonderful organization. Having done one of these trips to Mt. Kilimanjaro last April, I know this is a great way to help others and yourself at the same time.

 If you can’t go but would like to help with the fundraising, I will share our fundraising page once this is up.

Looking forward to a great year and a terrific climb!

 

 

Linking Adventure to Support for Kids: Christie Lake Climb for Kids!

 

our new logo for Climb for Kids by Mairi McGuire

A few weeks ago, I put out a brainstorming post on ways that adventure travel could be used to fundraise for non-profits.

I have learned that to raise money for any project or cause, you need to have an idea that really captures people’s imagination. It is a very competitive market out there and your idea really needs to stand out if you are going to attract funding.

Linking Adventure to Support for Kids

Now, after a few weeks of planning and consultation, we are ready to announce a new venture that will raise money for Christie Lake Kids – a wonderful foundation here in Ottawa that provides recreation experiences for low-income kids throughout the year.

At Christie Lake Kids we believe the experience of growing up in poverty does not define a person or limit their potential. We build physical, social and character skills in children facing barriers associated with poverty through Transformative Recreation experiences.

Christie Lake Kids Website

We will be working with Exodus Travel who have really taken to the idea of adventure travel as a way of fundraising for organizations. Their philosophy, as stated on their web page is a good indication that these are people willing to take adventure travel in a new direction.

It is all about adventure. That is what Exodus was founded upon and what the company is still all about. Discovering countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles; exploring this amazing planet we all live on.

Exodus Travel web page 

The plan is to trek through the Rainbow Mountains of Ausangate a truly beautiful part of the world.

So, the adventure begins. We want to make this a great trip for all involved, first, of course, to raise money for Christie Lakes Kids but equally important, we want to make this a wonderful adventure for the people who will be our team of fundraisers. This way we can have an experience that will continue into the future.

Are you interested? Send me a note at mcswa1@gmail.com and we will get in touch.

Itinerary 

  • DAY 1

    Start Cuzco (3400m); free time to acclimatise.

    Set amidst hills in the Andes, the Imperial City of the Incas, Cuzco (3,400) was the geographic, cultural and political centre of a vast empire which, at its peak, stretched from present day Quito in Ecuador to Santiago in Chile. After the Spanish conquistadores invaded the city they started building on top of the Incan structures, resulting in unique architecture, a fusion of the Incan and Spanish colonial styles.

    The group flights usually arrive in the mid-afternoon, giving time to wander the cobbled streets admiring the old houses, visiting its interesting museums, churches and pre-Columbian buildings, or to sit in a café and sample a coca-tea.

    It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (3,400m).

    There will be a welcome briefing in the hotel lobby this evening.

    Hotel San Agustin Plaza / Eco Inn (or similar)

  • DAY 2

    Four ruins acclimatisation walk, including Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay.

    The hills above Cuzco city are dotted with some of the most interesting Inca ruins. We drive to the highest, Tambomachay, and return on foot to Cuzco via Puca Pucara, Qenco and Sacsayhuaman: an easy acclimatisation walk to get used to the altitude. An open-air picnic lunch is included during the hike near the spectacular ruins. The day walk is about 7km in total.

    A packed box lunch is included today.

    Hotel San Agustin Plaza / Eco Inn (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 7 km / 4 miles
  • DAY 3

    Free day in Cuzco.

    Free day in Cuzco to relax and further acclimatise before starting the trek. A range of optional activities and sightseeing excursions can be arranged, including visits to Inca and pre-Inca sites south of Cuzco, or walks in the hills surrounding the city but we recommend taking it relatively easy in order to adjust to the altitude in preparation for the start of the trek tomorrow. Please see the Optional Activities section in the Trip Notes for further details and prices.

    Hotel San Agustin Plaza / Eco Inn (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • DAY 4

    Drive to trailhead at Chillca; short walk to first lodge (4368m); traditional music performance.

    We drive for approx. 4 hrs by coach beside the Vilcanota River, stopping en route to visit the temple of Checacupe, then the upper valley of Pitumarca. When we reach Japura, we leave the transport behind and trek a short distance to Chillca – our first tambo (mountain lodge). We will be greeted by people from the local communities, usually playing Andean instruments, and there’s the chance to try some coca tea.

    Comfortable Eco Lodge (Tambo)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 3 km / 1 miles
    Activity (hours): 1.5
    Andean Lodge Trek, Peru
  • DAY 5

    Trek past glaciated mountains, waterfalls and llama territory to Machuracay (4814m), at the foot of sacred Mt. Ausangate.

    After breakfast, we trek alongside huge herds of alpacas and llamas in the glacial valley of Phinaya. We will ascend past the Pjachaj waterfalls and come to more glaciers at Santa Catalina. We continue walking for roughly five hours amidst huge walls of glacial moraine, and passing glaciers and glacial lagoons to reach Machuracay Tambo. Our bags, carried by a llama caravan, meet us there and the family that runs the lodge will welcome us.

    Comfortable Eco Lodge (Tambo)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 15 km / 9 miles
    Activity (hours): 5-7
    Andean Lodge Trek, Peru
  • DAY 6

    Over the Palomani Pass (5150m) to Anantapata (4750m) via the ‘Nevado del Inca’ sandstone formations.

    Today we take in our first mountain pass (5,150m) from the top of which we are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Descending alongside the glaciers, we trek to the Ausangate Cocha Lake for lunch. After lunch, we see a stark contrast in the landscape as we enter a region of red sandstone sediment formations. Here, we will usually see vicuñas (a smaller relative of the llama) and sometimes condors can be seen soaring overhead. We stay at Anantapata Tambo tonight.

    Comfortable Eco Lodge (Tambo)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 12 km / 7 miles
    Activity (hours): 5-7
  • DAY 7

    Follow an isolated trail through multi-coloured mountains to Huampococha (4800m).

    After breakfast, we set off along a trail towards another mountain pass. Dropping down, we walk past Lake Kayrawiri, surrounded by rugged mountain peaks and the great valley below. Striations of colour are embedded in the hillsides (a geologists dream). Then we go on to Cerro Laya Grande via the extensive Glacier del Inca, and the most striking colours in the sediments of Yauricunca. We take lunch here amidst this unique landscape. On our way to our last lodge, we should see Andean geese nesting in the cliffs of Anta. Just before reaching Huampococha Tambo we pass the flat iron formations of Apu Labrayani.

    Comfortable Eco Lodge (Tambo)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 12 km / 7 miles
    Activity (hours): 5-7
  • DAY 8

    Cross the Anta Pass and descend to the valley where the trek ends; transfer to Cuzco.

    We wake to fantastic mountain views and set off on our final walk. A steady climb brings us over our final pass, the Anta Pass. We descend from the pass and encounter some peculiar looking shapes of limestone – formations of Cretaceous age. We hike here until the end of the trail in Trapiche, where we have lunch before returning by bus to Cuzco.

    Hotel San Agustin Plaza / Eco Inn (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 11 km / 6 miles
    Activity (hours): 4-6
  • DAY 9

    Visit Pisac market and the fortress of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley; continue by train to Aguas Calientes.

    Today we visit the magnificent Sacred Valley of the Incas, including the incredible ruins at Pisac and the fortress of Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo we take the train to Aguas Calilentes (the town below Machu Picchu).

    The Sacred Valley, which runs along the Urubamba River near Cuzco, is the true heartland of Incan culture and tradition, which is still strong today. The high-Andean scenery is dotted with old towns and villages dating back to pre-Columbian times. The ruins of the Citadel at Pisac guarded a road from the lowlands and gives way to a picturesque landscape of terraces carved into the solid rock itself. Whilst the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo give you a sense of the scale of what is to come as huge stone terraces scale the valley sides. This was the royal estate of Inca Emperor Pachacuti as well as being of religious and defensive significance.

    Hotel Casa Andina (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • DAY 10

    Guided tour of Machu Picchu; return to Cuzco by train and by road.

    Machu Picchu ruins Cuzco, Peru

    One of the highlights of the trip is the visit to the greatest ruin in the world, the lost city of Machu Picchu. This is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world, in a mountain setting of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records about it, so Machu Picchu remains a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham.

    We wake early to make the short bus journey up the winding road to the ruins (approx 30 mins). Your leader will give you a two/three hour guided tour of the ruins and afterwards there will be free time to explore at your leisure. There are some spectacular walks around the site that you may wish to do, including following the path to the Inca Drawbridge or even up to the Sun Gate for that iconic view of the ruins.

    In the afternoon we take the train back to Ollantaytambo, from where we continue the remainder of the way to Cuzco by road.

    Hotel San Agustin Plaza / Eco Inn (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • DAY 11

    End Cuzco.

    • The tour ends after breakfast. The group flights depart Cuzco this morning.

      Meals included:
      Breakfast
    Altitude charts
    TPO Altitude Profile

    Our ESRI Story Map

    We will update this story map as Climb for Kids! develops throughout the year.

Extend Your Trip

Amazon Rainforest extension (from Cuzco)

Code: XPC

Easily accessible via a short flight to Puerto Maldonado from Cuzco, the Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest and home to an astonishing array of wildlife, as well as countless plant species. Spending three nights at a lodge in the incredibly rich Tambopata Reserve, we use motorised canoes to explore its lakes and rivers, and follow jungle trails to discover its dense forests.The detailed itinerary can be found here.

Please ask your sales consultant for more details.

Lake Titicaca extension

Code: XPT

Journey across the spectacular high altiplano to Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable fresh water lake (3,800m). Explore its waters by boat and visit the descendants of the Uros Indians who live on floating reed islands, and are also known for producing fine textiles. Back on the mainland we visit the pre‐ Incan site of Sillustani, comprised of burial towers with fantastic views over the region. The Titicaca Extension is only available after your main tour as we do not recommend arriving straight into Puno due to the altitude. 

 

Andean Lodge Trek, Peru