Mountain man, Marc MasconiMountain man, Marc Masconi

Posted

December 8, 2017

5 min read
Words: Helene Ravlich

French-born Marc Masconi leads a double life – but it’s an exceptional life. For the past 16 years he has divided his time equally between the Swiss Alps and the Peruvian Andes, at one with the mountains and still in awe of their power. He also founded Andean Adventures, a sustainably aware travel company that introduces others to the wonders of Peru’s peaks, leaving behind the smallest footprint possible. We talked to the 40-year-old insatiable traveler about why you should experience his world.

Where are you based at the moment?

Right this moment I’m in Lima, Peru, about to head back to the Andes for a few weeks. Then I leave for Nepal, which is a pure vacation. I need a little time to recover after a busy summer season in Peru, and then prepare for a busy winter season in the Swiss Alps where I work as a ski instructor. It’s a tough life!

So you divide your time evenly between Switzerland and Peru?

Yes, during winter I will be in Vallée, Switzerland then I spend May til September in the mountains in Peru. I’ve been doing that pretty much every year since 2001.

How would you describe what you do?

I’m the owner and one of the founders of Andean Adventures, a trekking and mountain climbing agency for tourists, which launched in 2001. I studied logistics at university in France so I take care of that for the company, and I’m also a Trek Creator. We try to offer treks that are very much off the beaten path, so I spend a lot of time exploring the different mountain ranges in Peru and finding new areas to take our guests.

You first visited Peru when you were 17. What took you there?

I was a tourist with a love of mountain climbing. In 1994 I became the first person in the world to snowboard down the highest mountain in Peru, the Huascarán. It’s a very high summit – around 6800 metres high. I loved every minute.

Cordillera Huayhuash
01
  1. Cordillera Huayhuash Ttek out of the beaten paths.

“Peru is just so full of possibilities for people who love the outdoors as much as I do.”

Marc Masconi
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  1. Marc Masconi, founder of Andean Adventures.
What were your first impressions of Peru? Was it what you expected?

Oh yes, Peru is just so full of possibilities for people who love the outdoors as much as I do. I started exploring the most amazing new places to climb and snowboard straight away.

In the last 25 years Peru has been changing very, very fast though, and not always in good ways. The effects of global warming have been huge – I’ve seen small glaciers literally disappear.

Are all of your tours adventure-based, or can people take a more leisurely approach to Peru when they travel with you?

Of course, we organize all of our treks according to our clients’ wishes and what they are looking to get from Peru. We do specialize in trekking and mountain climbing, though.

The Yerupaja
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  1. Last trekking pass. The Yerupaja (second peruvian highest peak) looming in the background.
Cordillera Huayhuash
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  1. Cordillera Huayhuash Ttek out of the beaten paths.
Time for breakfast
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  1. Time for breakfast! Carhuacocha Camp, Cordillera Huayhuash.

“In Peru the effects of global warming have been huge – I’ve seen small glaciers literally disappear.”

What is the most popular destination for visitors?

For mountaineering it’s definitely the Cordillera Blanca, a mountain range located about seven hours’ north of Lima. Cordillera Huayhuash is another spot nearby that’s also popular. I like to think of that area as my “office” because about 90 percent of our clients choose to visit that specific area of Peru.

What would you say are some of the essentials to know about Peru, for someone that hasn’t visited?

Well, for nature lovers there are lots of things to do, and the culture and the archaeological sites are also amazing. I love the food too; the local cuisine is definitely to be explored.

The local cuisine beyond guinea pig, or is that rightfully the most-loved protein there?

It is! It’s a very healthy white meat and can be prepared in so many ways.

Cordillera-Huayhuash
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  1. Cordillera Huayhuash Ttek out of the beaten paths.

“In 1994 I became the first person in the world to snowboard down the highest mountain in Peru, the Huascarán.”

Lunch break
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  1. The Andes at its best. Cordillera Huayhuash.
What is one way you keep sustainable tourism in mind when you take tours through a country as easily exposed to climate change as Peru?

Well, we provide our customers with organic, locally sourced food. Peruvian cuisine varies so much from region to region, and we try to showcase it all using local chefs. Over a fifteen-day trek you’ll never eat the same meal twice. We present the food using only foraged flowers and herbs, and take all of our garbage with us.

Also super important is education: showing our clients where the landscape is always changing, and not always for the best.

Lastly, what does nature mean to you?

Without nature I wouldn’t be alive; I need to be connected with it. If I’m in a big city for more than ten days I go crazy. I need to return to my core, which is nature.

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