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18th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest Travel
Hikers along a trail in the Rainbow Mountain region

In March 2019, I made the challenging hike to Rainbow Mountain (Vinicunca or the “Mountain of Seven Colors”) in Peru, which ascends from 4600m to 5200m. It had rained heavily overnight in the valley which meant that it was likely that it had snowed in the mountains. It was, therefore, possible that at the end of the hike, we may not see the famed colors of the mountains. We got lucky though as the hike ended with a once-in-a-lifetime view of half colors and half snow. The reddish brown, turquoise, gold and yellow colors in the region are due to sediments of iron, copper and sulfur. As beautiful as the colors are, the reason we see them today is concerning. Although the mountain is very old, it was discovered only five years ago as the ice layers covering it melted due to global warming.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 03.2019
Date Uploaded: 08.2020
Camera: NIKON D850
Copyright: © G J