The incredible feat of a group of Japanese adventurers is documented in a black and white photograph which depicts the victorious explorers poised on the perfectly triangular peak of Mount Salkantay. The mountain name comes from the Quechua word ‘sallqa’ translating to ‘indomable’ in Spanish and meaning untamable or savage.
Being the highest peak of Cordillera Vilcabamba range, the sacred mountain has made a name for itself in the hiking world. However back in June 1965 the Japanese team were only the third group ever to successfully ascent the 6,271 meter high peak.
The team was made up of Takeshi Rito, Seihei Iwama, Mitsumasa Miyamoto, Tetsuju Kawada, Masami Ogawa, Yoshiaki Sawa, Reiji Horie and group leader Yasushi Egami. They ascended the mountain up the East Face and Ridge; an unexplored, new route. After a challenging month in the mountains the team made the final climb to the East Summit on June 21st and 22nd.
The photograph features the signatures of all of the Japanese mountaineers and is also signed to ‘Srs. Montes’. It was gifted to the owner of the property in which the explorers stayed before embarking on their adventure. Abel Montes, the then owner of Hacienda Pincopata passed the photo down to his grandsons along with the property.
Today, Miguel, Fernando and Raul Montes have taken over ownership of the land, located a few miles along from the sleepy town of Mollepata and have developed the first Ecocamp Pincopata on the land of the old Hacienda. Although the site has changed substantially, the hacienda remains practically unchanged. The beautiful white building sits with its back to the impending hills of the Vilcambamba mountain range with views into the sweeping valley below. The house is now the staff accommodation for the team of ambitious workers at the Pincopata Ecocamp.
Walking along the peaceful veranda, the faint sounds of creaking floorboards are a reminder of the history which the house holds and a hint at those who walked the corridors before. The original stove still stands on the lower floor of the Hacienda and is often used by the staff who cluster around the gently burning fire, offering the perfect setting for evening stories among the crackling logs. The landing is filled with old chairs and even a time-honored bath tub which acts as a portal to the past, stirring the stories of old in the mind of the present witness.
Back in 1965, Abel Montes played host to the Japanese travelers when they arrived in Peru. The team settled into Pincopata as they planned their route and then they headed for Soraypama, now the location of the second Ecocamp. Here the team acclimatized to the increased altitude of 3,850 meters (12631 ft).
They spent most of month exploring the surrounding mountain range surrounding in order to consider the best ascent. After the successful trip, the team returned to the Hacienda to debrief and rest up after the testing time in the ‘savage wild’.
Raul was just a small boy at the time but has keen memories of the explorers arriving with all the modern gear and hiking equipment. Their exciting expedition into the wild fed Raul with a passion for exploring and adventure as well as offered him his first experience with tourists, a concept still foreign to Peru back in 1965.
The Hacienda stands testament to the efforts to preserve history in an environment that welcomes visitors to its land every day.