Meinholz's Machu Picchu
In June, pro skateboarder Joel Meinholz joined brothers Elias and Simon Bingham, who run the No Comply skate shop in Austin, Texas, and their father, Ben, for a special trip to one of the most breathtaking (literally, it's nearly 8,000 feet above sea level) ancient sites on the planet: Peru's Machu Picchu. The group spent time on and off the Inca Trail, getting to understand traditional and skateboarding culture in the Andes. (The Binghams are the great-grandsons of Hiram Bingham, who introduced the modern world to the ruins in 1911 through the National Geographic Society). Meinholz, pictured here, amassed a wealth of photos that speak to the vibrancy of the place and its people.
Hiram Bingham, great-grandfather to Simon and Elias, who took photographer Joel Meinholz on this trip, reintroduced the world to the spectacular ruins of Incan site Machu Picchu in the early 1900s with the assistance of the National Geographic Society. The area sees hundreds of thousands of tourists per year.
Off the plane and straight into Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun, in Cusco, Peru. The modern Inti Raymi is a theatrically staged re-enactment of an ancient Incan festival honoring their sun god. The original festival was a nine-day celebration.
Part of the Peru trip involved exploring more modern cultural sites. Frontside noseblunt at Miraflores Skatepark in Lima.
During the Inti Raymi ceremony, Mama Occlo -- the counterpart to the Incan emperor figure, Sapa Inca -- is carried on a litter.
A magnificent view of Machu Picchu from the trail to the Sun Gate, or Inti Punku. The sun shines directly through the gate (not pictured) as it rises each morning.
This spot in Lima is actually a former nightclub that's been painted over and built up into skateable surfaces. Melon grab to fakie on a patchy transition to wall.
Nom, Nom, Nom
Wild, wooly and free in the warmth of the Andean sunshine in Machu Picchu.
Do backdrops get better than this? Seaside switch blunt by Elias.
Ubaldo Quispe Esquivias, left, works for a charitable organization that helps to preserve the culture of Incan Peru. He carries on a legacy of exploration begun in modern times by Hiram Bingham, explorer and great-grandfather to Elias Bingham, right.
"The club that was right on the water was super fun to skate," Simon says of this spot. "You couldnt take a bad picture there; every angle was covered in artwork." Frontside hurricane in Lima.
Father, Son, Spiritual Guide
Clockwise from left: Simon Bingham; his father, Ben Bingham; and David McGrain, aka Chimu. Chimu and Simon work together on a nonprofit organization that helps people around the globe preserve their native traditions, including the Incan Inti Raymi festival held annually near Machu Picchu, Peru.
Full moon in Ollantaytambo, the departure point for the journey up the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Cliffside Incan ruins on the Sun Gate trail. Many theories exist as to the function Machu Picchu was originally intended to serve, from settlement to prison to sacred site. Because the Spanish did not discover this area when they entered Peru in the 1500s, it has survived the centuries without defacement.
Selfie! Gap to backside tailslide at a DIY spot that once was a nightclub in Lima, Peru.
Taking a dip in an Andian natural hot tub are, from left, Ben, Simon and Elias Bingham near Machu Picchu. The hike up the Incan Trail can take anywhere from two to four days, traditionally, and is limited to only a few hundred people per day.
Women in traditional celebration attire join hands during the sun-god festival. The ceremony takes place at the ruins of Sacsayhuamn and is conducted in Queachua, the native Incan tongue.
Simon lives two lives, really: one as co-owner of skate shop No Comply, in Austin, Texas, and another as a sort of cultural ambassador for communities around the world that are trying to preserve their traditions. Deep end heelflip to fakie, Miraflores.
Brothers Elias, left, and Simon, right, flank their father, Ben, mid-hike in Machu Picchu. The family has been coming to Peru for decades, carrying on the explorer spirit handed down by the boys' great-grandfather, Hiram Bingham.
Nighttime dance session at the Inti Raymi. The 15th-century version of the festival, which honored the Incan sun god as well as the winter solstice, lasted nine days. That's a heck of a party.
Cityscapes were a harsh contrast to the quiet, age-old backdrop of Machu Picchu. Backside crail at the Miraflores Skatepark in Lima.
Today's re-creation of the Inti Raymi is vibrant and joyous and enjoyed on June 24 every year by hordes of tourists. (Thankfully, the llama sacrifice is only faked these days.)
The cobalt skies and deep-green mountains of the Andean landscape are complemented by the rich jewel tones used to dye the ceremonial clothing worn by the actors who perform the modern-day re-enactment of the Inyi Raymi.
Machu Picchu was founded by the Inca in the 15th century, but the site, which may have been erected as a royal estate, was abandoned after the arrival in Peru of Spanish conquistadors about 100 years later. The area remained lost to non-natives until Hiram Bingham shined light on it through his 1911 expedition.