Peter reflects on 15 years of guiding as he makes final preparations to launch the new website for Peru Andes Guide
I have often been described as being light-hearted and jovial in nature, tireless in my work ethic, professional, and most of all, passionate about the mountains. Originally from Huaraz, Peru, I relocated to Calgary (Alberta, Canada) in 2018, which has served as a perfect base to allow me to explore the Canadian Rockies. Although Calgary is geographically miles apart from my hometown in the Andean highlands, it offers some of the same advantages that I enjoyed in my native Peru - primarily easy access to mountains that are practically in my own backyard!
My story starts when I was a child in a little farmer's town called Llupa in the foot of the Cordillera Blanca, Peru. I was 7 years old and I remember that I started thinking, "What were those big boots of my dad's used for?" They were made from leather and he used to put some grease cream on them before laying them out in the sun. I also remember hanging around were some metal plates with sharp teeth, a set of straps and fittings, axes (one with a pointed end and another with a flattened or hammered end), a hard-padded protective hat (which I saw military soldiers wearing and one time when we were watching the parade in Huaraz city for our Independence Day celebration), ropes, many coupling links some with a safety closure, and other different gear. I used to wonder when and where he uses them because at home or any part in the town or city, I never saw him wearing or using them. As well I noticed that in some part of the year between May to August they used to disappear from their place and of course my dad used to go when it happened.
Later, when I was in school in Huaraz I stared learning many different things and learned to speak different languages as well than my mother language, Quechua. I figured out what those gear were and what they were used for, and I was totally exited about them! The time passed and when I was 16 years old, I had an opportunity to join a 20-day trek into the heart of Cordillera Blanca as a Expedition Cook’s helper. This trip was remarkable for my life and the relationship I have with mountaineering nowadays. I loved meeting different people from different cultures, I made deeper connections with mother nature and I fell in love with the beautiful snow-capped peaks rising to the sky, almost touching the blue colored “cielo” above us. I heard many histories from people climbing them and I gained a better understanding of how they used the equipment to practice their climbing. Is this not exciting?! For me, it was the best thing ever to start building my curiosity and passion for mountaineering.
Since then, I have been going to the mountains more and more, following my curiosity to see what is behind the rock, snow, and ice walls, and to see how the world looks from the summits. I am really thankful to have had the opportunity of having Mark Houston and Kathy Cosley, both IFMGA/UIAGM Certified Mountain Guides, in my life. They were my father’s (Emilio) good friends. Mark and Kathy started guiding in the early 80’s in the Cordillera Blanca and ran many expeditions in the area for some decades. When I developed my love for mountaineering, they helped me to develop my skills and thanks to them I have honed my mountaineering abilities. For me, Mark and Kathy have been like parental figures too. This feeling is not just because they were responsible for teaching me all about mountaineering; it goes deeper than that - they have been present since I opened my eyes to this beautiful world and they have witnessed my growth along with me.
I did experience in my younger age doing some solo climbing of some 6,000 meter peaks in my backyard in Peru. These peaks included 1,000 meters of snow and ice face, doing this length in 4 hours round-trip with a terrain angle starting from 50 degrees and in some parts going to 80 and 90 degrees. These ascents involved hanging from tiny holds or climbing over some overhanging cornices after an extended ice wall climb, where I felt like an insignificant molecule with tiny muscles getting pumped from the strenuous work of the challenging climb. I remember shaking my arms to get the blood to flow back through them again and to get some freshness and relaxation, knowing that I have just barely two minutes of vertical fall before crashing to the bottom of the wall if something goes wrong. This was a thrilling realization.
Despite being based in Western Canada, I have remained involved in the climbing community in South America and have been back to Peru and Ecuador annually to lead climbing trips. I always look forward every season to new adventures in familiar or new settings, looking for ways to build my skills or help others to develop theirs. Given my deep familiarity with and ties to the climbing community in South America, I wanted to ensure that those connections remained strong and that I would continue to be able to share my passion for climbing in the region with others. Hence, Peru Andes Guide was officially launched with a new website to provide information on how my team of professional guides and I can help to build customized trips for mountain enthusiasts and aspiring alpinists looking to explore the mountains in South America. My skills and familiarity with different regions in the Americas puts me in a unique position as a professional guide who is able to navigate vast terrain and is culturally adaptable. Those who spend time with me in the mountains will find that I am equally knowledgeable about mountain life and climbing in the Canadian Rockies as he is with South America.
I became an IFMGA/UIAGM/ AGMP Certified Mountain Guide in 2006. My life as a Mountain Guide has given me many rewards and opportunities to meet people and guide private and organized trips in various countries including Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, and Canada. While chasing my passion on climbing projects, guiding a day of rock climbing, or a multi-day alpine expedition, I am very happy sharing my time in the mountains with friends and guests. I consider each day in the mountains an opportunity to learn and further develop my skills. I believe each day out in the wilderness is a new experience and learning opportunity because climbing the same mountain can be totally different each day. My main goal is helping people complete their dream climbing projects in a safe manner. I am an easy going and friendly person, whether I am in a tent on a mountain on a stormy day or out enjoying blue sky summer days. My favourite part of guiding is to see people's satisfaction when they achieve their goals. For me, it is personally rewarding to be a part of my guest's journey and to know that I contributed to their goal. This is what continues to motivate and re-energize me in the mountains.