As I shuffled my seemingly lead-filled boots up the scree slope – lungs squealing for oxygen, feet blistered, back aching, knees twingeing – I decided the payoff for all this pain had to be more than just a pretty view.

By Will Jackson from The Bearded Wanderer.

It was day five of our eight-day 170km jaunt around Peru’s Huayhuash Cordilleara, widely regarded as one of the world’s great treks, right up there with Nepal’s Annapurna circuit, and I was rooted.

We had trudged about 100km by this point and were already well desensitised to the jaw-droppingly spectacular views that had, at first, left us in breathless awe.

“Oh, another series of razor sharp ice-covered peaks stabbing spear-like into the sky like an army of titans challenging the gods? Whatevs.”

Up and down, up and down we had walked, rarely straying below about 4,300m above sea level. I’ve no idea how many kilometres of elevation we climbed and descended and then climbed again, but it was a shitload.

We had already crossed two passes at 4785m and 4950m that day and around mid-afternoon were heading up to the reputedly spectacular 5050m-high Mirador San Antonio.

After about an hour of agony the 75 degree slope still gave no hint of how far there was to go. Every time it looked like we were nearing the top, a new horizon was revealed. And the loose pebbly surface made it feel like we were walking up a bastardly-big sand dune.

The seemingly-endless grind had left me muttering to myself like a booze-addled tramp.

“Stupid shiting hill. Grrrrr. Freakin’ lack of oxygen. Aaagh. Sunnavabitch cold. Brrrr.”

To distract myself from the ordeal I tried to think of what would make a good memento to make it worthwhile.

It was unlikely there would be anything but rocks up the top to take home as a physical souvenir so a photo was the only real option, but I didn’t just want one of the view. Every other schmuck who had been up there would have the same pic.

We had already done plenty of amusingly posed snaps during the walk – mainly shots of us leaping into the air in heroic poses against the stunning cerulean sky. For something truly memorable I’d have to kick it up a notch.

And then I had a thought…

Australians have a long and proud history of what we call “nuding up”. Usually we do it at sporting events but occasionally we like to flash some flesh outside of the stadium, like at Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall or more recently Rhianna’s “flying tour bus“. Mass nude photographer Spencer Tunic always gets his best turnouts Down Under. We even have an annual naked foot race at a popular music festival.

I decided that was it. When I reached the top I’d get into some high-altitude nudity. I’d make my nation proud.

Let me be clear, I’m no naturist and I’d never done anything like it before. I’m deeply ashamed of my hairy, pudgy body and jelly-like bottom and will normally only let people get a peek on condition that I get to put my penis in them.

But, you know what they say, travel is all about getting out of your comfort zone. And there are few things more uncomfortable than stripping on top of a mountain range with a sub-zero wind whipping your naked flesh while your fellow trekkers giggle and point.

Finally after what seemed like an eternity – and several moments when my heart was pounding so hard I thought I might black out – I made it to the mirador.

The view from the rocky saddle was pretty freaking great. Looming over a wending river valley and stunningly beautiful azure lake far, far, far below was the monstrous 6,344m Siula Grande, made famous by the book and documentary Touching the Void.

It would make a fine backdrop to my bare ass.

I realised I needed an accomplice in order to pull off this stunt. A one-handed Facebook profile-style selfie really wasn’t going to cut it and I didn’t want to have my arse turned into a raspberry iceblock while I set the camera on timer.

Marion, a German lass I’d befriended in Huaraz a few days before the trek seemed to have a sense of humour, so I worded her up.

“Hey, once everyone else leaves could you hang around for a bit. I’m going to get naked and need someone to take a couple of photos?”

She grinned and agreed. Perv.

With the plan in place, I took a couple of quick G-rated snaps and then huddled out of the wind against a rocky cliff face.

For about 10 minutes the group milled around taking photos and admiring the view but eventually the wind chill became too much and in ones and twos they started back down the hill.

Meanwhile, I was having second thoughts about the whole thing. It was cold with all my clothes on as the wind cut through all five layers. What would it be like if I took them all off? Not only could I be risking hypothermia, I feared the prospect of suffering frostbite on a particularly important appendage.

But just then, as if from divine intervention, the wind died, the clouds parted and the mirador was bathed in warming sunshine. God was obviously keen to see me get my kit off.

I shed my woollen scarf, blue outer shell, leather jacket, thick Peruvian woollen jumper, t-shirt and long-sleeve thermal top, boots, jeans, thermal long johns and undies.

Then, pink bum cheeks jiggling in the clear Andean light, I ran over to have my photo taken.

Will Jackson is an itinerant Australian journalist. He’s 33. He has a beard. And a blog. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook.



Readers: How far have you gone to get a good souvenir of your travels? Share your stories!



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40 Response Comments

  • Pablo  February 1, 2013 at 6:17 am

    Genius! Buahaha That is seriously one of the most awesome/badass (coldass?) ideas I’ve come across. I don’t know if I would have the balls to do something like that.

    This brings an entire new venture to travel photography! haha

    • Torre DeRoche  February 1, 2013 at 6:19 am

      I’m pretty sure Will didn’t have the balls AFTER he did this.

  • santafetraveler  February 1, 2013 at 7:01 am

    Happened on a link to this post on Facebook as I was about to log off for the night. Had to check it our-bare buns at 16,000 ft. Who was this crazy person? Glad I did. Must have been kismet!

    • Torre DeRoche  February 2, 2013 at 4:18 am

      I’m sure he’ll let you take his photo next time. 😉

  • Lisa McKay  February 1, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Awesome post. Bought back memories of deciding to skinny dip in the Zambezi when I was 16. I forgot the guide and half our group was up on a nearby bluff. With binoculars. Also, the current took my clothes once I had them off.

    • Torre DeRoche  February 2, 2013 at 4:19 am

      HA! Lisa, that’s hilarious. When skinny dipping goes wrong…

  • Britany  February 1, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Ha! Love it. I’m thinking about doing this trek as well. Better start brainstorming a way to top this! 🙂

    • Torre DeRoche  February 2, 2013 at 4:21 am

      Yes! And if you do, please send me a post about it.

  • Gigi  February 1, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Hahaha! I love the cow picture at the end. Nice touch.

  • Sarah Somewhere  February 1, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Ha! This WAS hilarious and really well written (I love the paragraph that ends in “…put my penis in them.” A nudie run at 5,050 meters? Why didn’t I think of that?!

  • Sarah Somewhere  February 1, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Ha! This WAS hilarious and really well written (I love the paragraph that ends in “…put my penis in them.”). A nudie run at 5,050 meters? Why didn’t I think of that?!

  • budget jan  February 1, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    Congrats on the doozy of a guest post. I am sure glad the sun came out and made it all worthwhile for you. Maybe this could become a series….

    • Torre DeRoche  February 2, 2013 at 4:24 am

      Hmm… true, except I think this piece might be one of a kind.

      • Torre DeRoche  February 2, 2013 at 10:24 am

        THAT is a great idea. Pitch it to the Discovery Channel. Now!

      • budget jan  February 2, 2013 at 11:49 pm

        Go for it, you never know, with all the exposure, you could get a tan where previously there was none.

  • Angela  February 2, 2013 at 8:19 am

    Hahah oh lord, this really is getting out of your comfort zone!

  • looloolooweez  February 2, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    This is hilarious. I’m dying laughing.

    You, sir, are a fine example to us all and I am proud to share a species with you.

  • Marcy  February 3, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Oh man, I laughed so hard when you described your condition for letting someone see you naked! Great story! Love the scarf in the pic.

    I am going to hike the Inca Trail in the summer. I am very worried about how tough it will be, but I can guarantee you with 100% certainty that I will not be getting naked at the top of a mountain to commemorate my achievement.

    • Will Jackson - The Bearded Wanderer  February 9, 2013 at 6:55 am

      Fair enough.

      I trekked to Machu Picchu back in 2009 and timed my arrival with my 30th birthday.

      To celebrate I climbed up to the top of Huayna Picchu and did birthday shots with all the folks up the top.

  • TammyOnTheMove  February 5, 2013 at 6:23 am

    LOL! “It would make a fine backdrop to my bare ass.” Classic!!!

  • erica @ expatria, baby  February 5, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    I’m super happy you posted this as it brought back happy third-year-of-uni-abroad memories involving nakedness and forgotten ruined castle. I would like to include an awesomely terrible pun regarding anatomy most commonly hidden from view, but that’s not really my deal, so um, thanks for introducing me to an other wonderful travel blogger?!!

  • Adventurous Andrea  February 16, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Oh my god, this was hilarious! He seems like a very entertaining buy. My favorite picture was that of the confused cow!

  • Freya  February 17, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    That was hilarious. Made my day 🙂 I’m going to do an Atlas trekking in Morocco end March an the Inca Trail beginning May. Up till now I thought a photo proving I made it would be sufficient. Now I’m not so sure anymore, I urgently need to start thinking what I can do

  • Jenn  February 20, 2013 at 12:56 am

    The cow, the cow! I can’t stop laughing about the cow!

  • Maureen  April 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Awesome – just awesome!!! 🙂

  • Kadri  February 21, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Hahaha, it’s hilarious.


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