Looking out over the lake, a team of archeologists, scuba divers and mountain climbers saw the wind pick up as the waves on Lake Sibinacocha turned to white caps and dark clouds appeared on the horizon. The team descended Mt Yayamari, a sacred peak looming above the lake, arriving at an archeological site just in time for the storm to pin them down in a boulder field. In the high Andes of Peru, storms like this can arrive without warning, turning a sunny day into thunder, hail and zero visibility.
The multi-disciplinary team was gathered in Peru from around the world to study a unique archeological discovery in the mountains outside Cusco, where an environmental scientist stumbled upon Inca ruins and artifacts within a high-alpine lake. They would be the first professional archeologists to examine the site, and documentarian Jim Aikman joined the expedition for National Geographic. But the coverage was not easy.
“This is one of the most challenging locations I’ve ever worked in,” said Jim. “Our base camp is at 16k feet, already higher than anywhere in the contiguous US, and we only go up from there - or down, into the icy water of the lake, where conditions become even more complicated.” The team would be ascending the surrounding peaks and descending into the lake to properly explore this landscape, with Jim a step behind.
But for him, the work was not without its rewards. The chance to join a cutting edge archeological expedition in one of his favorite countries was a once in a lifetime opportunity, combining his background as a climber and his love of history and anthropology. Not only that, these scientific studies and Jim’s documentary could be the area’s only hope of survival. Its fragile ecosystem was under constant threat of mining, and the only thing standing between a healthy watershed and total annihilation was the cultural significance of their findings.
“Nothing is easy up here,” Jim said. “So there isn’t any time to worry about equipment. I have to trust that everything is up to the task, miles from the nearest power outlet.” The only solution for working in this remote landscape is a mobile power system that has the energy storage and charging capacity to keep all of their equipment running: cameras and sound gear, dive computers, GPS devices, specialized drones, communications equipment, and more. “Without Goal Zero’s Yeti 400 battery system and Boulder solar array, we would be dead in the water. But thanks to this gear, we’re able to stay charged and capture these incredible moments in the field.”
Look for the film “Lost Temple of the Inca” playing on the National Geographic Channel worldwide.