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Salkantay Mountain is a good mountain

Salkantay Mountain is one of the tallest mountains in Peru. Close to Cusco, the historical center of the Incan empire (and the universe), the mountain is steeped in mythology and practical importance to the region’s agriculture. In celebration of this important landmark you’ll hopefully see on your adventures in the area, here are some interesting Salkantay facts and stories:

When you head out for the Salkantay Pass, you’ll depart early in the morning, before the sun rises. That’ll increase the chance you’ll catch the mountain with clear weather. As the day continues, hot air rising from the valleys below is transformed by the giant ice cube of the mountain.

Salkantay controls the weather.

In the Inca culture, Salkantay Mountain was believed to be key to controlling the weather. On the right days, any ceremony performed on Salkantay Mountain would be transmitted to Inti, the spirit of the sun, who would then order the weather to be favorable for the people.
When you’re up there, it does look like the weather originates from the mountain, like it’s a cloud factory manufacturing and shipping out rain clouds.

It's literally a wild beast.

The name “Salkantay” is derived from a Quechua word meaning “wild” or “stubborn”, like an untamed, wild beast. It will not listen to you. That’s the kind of mountain you’re dealing with. Up close, it looks like a big guy wearing a white poncho, crouching, about to tackle you. As I was walking up to the Salkantay Pass, the mountain shrugged off a little avalanche.

These Pucara Bulls protect the entrance over the glass igloos at Salkantay Trekking’s base camp. They’ll protect you and hope for good fortune on your trek. Salkantay is hiding in the background, shrouded in clouds.

This could be your route to Machu Pichu.

You can hike past Salkantay on a journey to Machu Pichu. The Inca built the famous site on a foothill of Salkantay, directly north from the peak. The Salkantay Trail is an alternative to the usual Inka Trail trek. The trail is a bit rougher but you can stay in cabins, whereas only tents are allowed on the Inka Trail. The Salkantay Pass (4600 m / 15090 ft) is higher than Dead Woman’s Pass (4215 m / 13828 ft), the highest point on the Inka Trail trek.

Salkantay is high, really high.

The Salkantay Pass you’ll hike over on the way to Machu Pichu is almost higher than Mt Blanc (4800 m / 15777 ft), Western Europe’s tallest mountain. Mt Blanc is only 200 meters higher than the Salkantay Pass, which you’ll walk over, well below the peak. The peak of Salkantay measures in at 6277 m / 20577 ft. That’s taller than the tallest peak in North America, Denali (6190 m / 20310 ft). This is all even more wild when you consider that Salkantay is only the 10th tallest mountain just in Peru! In the entire Andes, this is a baby-sized mountain. Consider that when you’re hiking in the Cusco region: you’re high and you’ll need to adjust to the altitude or it’ll derail your adventure.
As imposing and beastly as Salkantay may be, it’s a good mountain. Waters from its glaciers nourish farms in the valleys down below. But the glaciers of that white poncho over the mountain are melting due to global warming. Let’s take care of the planet and respect Apu Salkantay, so it doesn’t end up naked!

Your Guide, and his guide, Fredy, at the highest point of the Salkantay Pass.

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