Cusco, Historical Site

How to be mindful while scaling La Montaña de Machu Picchu


Machu Picchu Mountain is one of the four that surround the Sacred city of Machu Picchu. It is a must see if you make it to the ruins. The mountain peak stands 2000 ft above the ruins making the trek treacherous and completely necessary. Here are some tips for those interested.

  1. Keep your head down and climb.

As you climb to the top, and oxygen levels run low you may find yourself becoming dizzy especially towards the top. The stairs which make their way along the last third of the voyage are the most steep and narrow. Allow yourself to look down only if you are focusing on your feet. Save the view for the top where you can afford to lose your breath.

2. Make sure to switch lead feet

IMG_8231 (1)If you find yourself leading with your right or left foot, make sure and spread the love. Remember, as hard as it is to climb up the mountain, you will still need to climb down. The last thing you want is exertion imbalance and a sore leg, or worse, a cramp.

Take a seat every now and then.

The climb is exciting and enjoy the adrenaline rush, but do not keep yourself from stopping to rest every few minutes. There are terraces with large rocks you can rest at on the way up. At least do yourself the service of stopping to take a few long deep rejuvenating breaths.

3. Don’t listen to nobody.

IMG_8320There will be whiners, and complainers, hecklers and worse, cheer leaders. It is a tough trail and any negative thoughts or reactions can curb your momentum. Of course their self pittying comments should be blocked out, however be especially careful with those who shout praises to provide comfort. Do not fall into their super charged enthusiasm telling you you are almost to the top. They are most likely wrong you’re more likely much farther away than their optimistic estimation. Empty reassurance is destructive.

4. Bring along ride food.

IMG_4312Carbs, a banana, water. Make sure you are stocked to battle both hunger and altitude sickness. Luckily, Peru is a storehouse for the most fresh, most beneficial fruits and vegetables. I suggest grabbing a Chirimoya from the local market before hitting the trail.

5. Count your steps.

Maintain focus in counting your steps. This will keep you moving at a timely rate and will help push out negative thoughts of weariness and pain.

6. Remember the Inca

IMG_8289 (1)Not only did they live, acclimate vegetation to the altitude, domesticate cattle, raise families, and thrive as civilization, but they built the route to the highest peaks of the surrounding mountains. Chanel their valor and in moments of fear, focus on them and their brevity. Yours simply cannot compare to their strength and perseverance. Be the Inca, become acclimated, and hike.

7. Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.

IMG_8325 (1)..or pick up a rock. The Inca used stones that they found along the mountainside. The boulders are beautifully buffered White Granite. One thing I did to remain present in climbing the mountain was to pick up a rock and examine it when I felt fearful or tired. While it may have been a bit silly, the act of searching for just the right one and the happiness of finding the perfect pebble worked magic during the toughest times.

8. Be the cloud. Take comfort in the cloud.

Don’t let the cloud cover get you down. Let the obstruction of the view lead you gently into the reality that you are in fact higher than the clouds, and you have to get yourself down at some point. The clouds will clear enough periodically to see the entire view. You may want to find a good place to squat as they disappear in case the view knocks you off your feet.


9. Most importantly

… bring a Poncho. ‘El clima es loco’ is a phrase that I hear more and more often throughout Peru. It is true, the climate is crazy. While it is not currently rainy season, I found myself at the top in the middle of a rain storm.



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