Landy climbs HIGH!!

12th April 2012 by Helen

How high do you think Landy can climb?

Well, he climbed right up to 4,900 metres when we crossed a big mountain range in the Andes in Peru.

The mountains are called the Cordilleras Blanca.  The tallest mountain is 6,900 metres.  The roads and pathways that go between the mountains are called ‘Passes’, because they pass between the mountains.

The zig zap road climbing the mountain. See how steep it is!

The roads that lead up the sides of mountains to these ‘passes’ would be too steep if they climbed straight up the mountain so they often make a zig zag pattern as they get higher. 

Climbing all the way up the mountain side to the Pass we drove through lots of small towns and villages where mainly indigenous people live.  That’s the descendents of the people who lived here long before the people from Europe came here to live.  The villages got smaller and fewer in number the higher we climbed.

We could see the bottom of a glacier from where we were driving on a mountain road.

Near the top we saw the bottom of a glacier.  Then we passed higher than the bottom of the glacier.  We passed up through what is called the ‘snow line’, the point where the snow has not melted.  Until right at the top there was lots of thick snow and even a small avalanche. 

Landy driving through one of the mountain villages on the way to the high pass.

The higher we climbed up the mountains the fewer other cars we saw on the road.  Until, right at the top there were only three of us left crossing the pass.  A big coach was just a little way in front of us.  I’m really glad I wasn’t on that coach.  I think it would have been very scary.  The bus couldn’t get right over the mountain.  It had to get help from a big JCB earth moving truck that sits at the top of the pass just to help people who get stuck.  The road is very narrow at the top and we watched as the JCB earth mover carefully towed the big bus up the last half mile before it could travel down the other side on its own.  There was lots of snow to slip on.  If any of the drivers had made a mistake they would have had a very nasty fall down the steep mountainside.

Next to cross the pass was a small car.   He had problems too and his wheels kept slipping in the snow and mud.  Eventually he asked for help from the JCB earth mover too.

Once the car had crossed over it was our turn.  We were a bit nervous, after seeing everyone else have problems.  But we shouldn’t have been.  Landy was more than capable of getting over the last bit of snow and mud, even though it was very steep and narrow, and we cheered loudly as we passed the big JCB earth mover without having to get his help.

Right up high on mountains there is less oxygen in the air.  People who climb really high mountains like Everest carry extra oxygen to help them breathe.

At 4,900 metres there was plenty enough oxygen for us to breathe OK, but we might have found it difficult to do lots of exercise.

But did you know that cars need air too.  For Landy’s engine to run he needs a mixture of fuel and air.  He’s designed to run really well on the amount of air that we normally breathe where the land is not very high above the sea.   But when we go higher such as into the mountains or in aeroplanes the air around the earth gets thinner (there’s not so much of it).  And so, although Landy has lots of fuel he doesn’t have as much air to breathe.  So, like us, he huffs and puffs a bit when we get very high up.

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