Alpamayo is one of the most conspicuous peaks in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range of the Peruvian Andes, rising up to 19,511 ft. It is a steep (60 degrees), almost perfect pyramid of ice, one of a number of peaks that compose the Santa Cruz massif, the northernmost massif of the Cordillera Blanca. Although smaller than many of its neighboring peaks, it is distinguished by its unusual formation and overwhelming beauty. It actually has two sharp summits, North and South, separated by a narrow corniced ridge. Alpamayo is famously known as "The Most Beautiful Mountain in the World." On July 18th, 2012, Nelson Dellis set out on an expedition to climb Alpamayo and its neighboring peak, Quitaraju. While his training before the climb had been intense, the trip was slightly interrupted by a stomach infection that he caught while in town before heading out to the mountains. The combination of his body trying to fight the infection and trying to acclimatize above 17,000 ft proved to be too much for his body to handle. He started to experience strong symptoms of altitude sickness and was forced to turn back down after reaching High Camp on Alpamayo. Such is the nature of mountaineering; always tricky business trying to stay clean and healthy when in remote locations. The body needs to be in perfect condition to properly and safely acclimatize and unfortunately for Nelson, he was not able to do that this time around.
No matter, the summit was not the goal! The goal was and always will be to climb for memory and to cherish the memories of the journey it takes to get there. The mountains will always be there but our memories may not!