Early on my 80th birthday, I found myself struggling to reach 3,350 meters on Mount Ampato in southern Peru. This is not so impressive as it is meant to sound; up to the snow line, Ampato is no more than a grade-three scramble, and I had no intention of going for the top. Even so, I was puffing like a grampus and wondering if I could manage the next 914 meters. In fact, the only reason I was there at all was that my climbing club had gotten wind of a happening at a stone hut overlooking the glacier lake just short of the snow line, and had asked me to investigate. The climbing bug is incurable, so up I went.
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