The Stunning Cordilleras - Huaraz

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September 25th 2011
Published: October 19th 2011
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This is going to be a short entry like the last, once again I am desperately trying to catch up and get this blog up to date - I am currently writing whilst on board a cargo ship heading to the Amazon from Pucallpa, still in Peru, albeit over a month later, that of course will be written about later (hopefully not too far in the distant future... The most important thing about this entry once is the photos of the beautiful Cordillera mountains.

I spent a few days in the capital, Lima, which were underwhelming and uninteresting and so I havenĀ“t written about them. I returned later though and began to appreciate the city a little more and so I will write abou that time somewhere down the line.

I arrived in Huaraz with a pair of girls from Israel who were just beginning their travels, they of course both spoke Hebrew, but in addition one spoke good English and the other good Spanish.

As is fairly routine, we grouped together to head to the same hostel, it was their choice and I shouldn't really have gone, but I will get there. On arrival a group of people were getting ready to head off canyoning (abseiling down waterfalls) and although I was incredibly tired I joined and the 4-5 hours of the day getting soaking whilst flailing my way down waterfalls in incredibly cold water that had presumably recently left the top of one of the mountains recently. It was a good start to Huaraz, although my primary objective there was took hook up with some other people to go climb one or two of the peaks, hopefully to finally reach my 6000m goal.

The first evening in Huaraz was a dull one to me, the thing with most Israeli travellers is that for one reason or another, for the most part they shut themselves off from other travellers. A lot can speak good English and have spent time in the States, but the majority (they confirmed this), a Hebrew website that gives the the locations of hostels that are more specifically meant for Israeli people. This meant that I was the non-Israeli in the hostel and had to find dinner alone whilst everyone else went to a restaurant that gave basic kosher food to Jewish people as long as they listened to a religious speech first.

The second morning we all awoke early and headed off on a mini-bus for a few hours to the starting point for the Laguna 69 trek - why it has that name is a mystery. I became quite good friends with one of the girls, but was happy to find an Australian guy on the bus as well, it is very typical when you are amongst a group of people who share a language to share it and unfortunately leave any person who doesn't speak it out in the cold.

The Laguna 69 trek is the best one day trek I have ever taken. Passing first through a wide plateux with began ascending beneath tremendous waterfalls on either side of the trail which rose up to the base off some superb snowy mountains. There were mixed feeling regards to the trek from out group, those who had only just arrived at altitude suffered considerably, leading two people to be sick. I was fine fortunately, my long stay in Bolivia and recent activity prevented my from feeling any effects of the altitude, even at 4500m where the stunning blue lagoon lay being filled by waterfalls and surrounded by mountains. Laguna 69 was absolutely stunning and we were lucky enough to be there on a day when the sun was blazing allowing us to sunbath until we had to head back to the mini-bus and to the city once more.

The next couple of days passed quickly, I changed hostels - I had attempted to fit in somewhat in the Israeli hostel, but it was too difficult and in the end I decided I would be much more comfortable elsewhere. On arrival in a different hostel, Jo's Place, I met a Swedish guy in the garden, Leon and we headed out for my first of many Chifa meals, Peru's variation of Chinese food - super cheap and a volume of food that is virtually impossible for any human to finish alone.

An Australian arrived and the three of us walked to a brewery that had recently opened and spent the majority of the evening there before heading drunkenly into town. It was a messy night, but more and more people arrived at the brewery which was good, but ultimately disappointing as most of the people were leaving the followed day and not going to be doing any climbing in the near future as a result.

The following day was unshockingly a hangover day and very unproductive, but the following one Leon and myself heading to Laguna Churup for another one day trek. This one took us through some villages which were good fun, another good view of agricultural societies, quiet but busy lives. The trek was unspectacular in comparison to Laguna 69, but the walk was harder, which I preferred, and there was a good section where you are required to do some light rocking climbing to get to the plateux where the Laguna sits.

I failed to find any people to climb with again on this trek, things weren't looking good. In Huaraz it was the end of the season and there was only a couple of possibilities, if the weather on any particular day was good, but being the end of the season there were hardly any people around anyway. As a result I decided on one last attempt to hook up with some other people by paying up and heading out of the four day Santa Cruz trek.

There was a Dutch girl on the bus whom I started to chat too, she seemed really nice and I was disappointed when I found out she was only doing the Laguna 69 trek on this day. This left a group of four for the trek - a Czech couple and another Englishman. Another Alan even, one in his sixties.

So we set off from a small village, Pampamachay and descended into a valley, passing through numerous villages, enjoying seeing the farm animals lazing in the sun and the rustic way of life the locals live. Following our group was our donkey guide, along with the three donkeys who were responsible for carrying our tents, food and other gear for the trip. We stopped for the evening in a small camping area completely full of midges which wasn't exactly ideal. Every one of us suffered being bitten far too many times to count, despite haven't set a fire, the smoke of which is usually a good repellent.

The second morning we left our campsite, a beautiful location vaguely resembling a stereotypical photo of Norway, mountains surrounded by plush green landscapes and rivers. We progress rapidly upwards, by which point I was ahead, followed by the Czech couple with Alan and our guide walking at the back. We were heading up towards a mountain pass and I was happy to manage to, for the second time in Peru, keep pace ahead of the donkey train. We along along the base of the mountains, gradually making our way up increasingly steep paths. I stopped when I saw an interesting looking rock to pose for a self-timed ridiculous Lion King photo to keep myself entertained. Eventually I made it to the path, plenty ahead of the Czech's so I spent half an hour climbing higher onto the pass and walked into the clouds at 5000m. The view atop the pass is a division between ranges, with snowy peaks and gorgeous lagoons dotting the landscape, a very special place to be able to spend some time.

The others caught up and we had some lunch before eventually beginning our decent into the second valley and walked until we reached the camping spot for our second night. Everyone had coped with the trek and the altitude very well, no-one felt any sickness, no-one had headaches and we were all in good shape so we had enough time to add a side trek in the afternoon to a mirador of a rather large mountain.

The second night was cold, brutally so. I slept with all of my clothes on, as did the others, in our sleeping bags, but sleep was very hard to come by. On exitting the tent in the morning, it was obvious why. The rain clouds from the previous night had subsided, leaving a clear sky and as a result the rain had frozen on our tents rendering them basically ice boxes for the night. It was a beautiful when the sun finally rained down as we packed up to begin hiking.

The trek was meant to be four days, but we had found ourselves excelling, it was not a difficult trek at all (at least having had good acclimbatization) and so we decided that we would complete the trek in three, although theoretically this meant the last night was a long one, taking in almost 20km.

It was a cripplingly hot day, but fortunately it was almost entirely downhill. I passed people hiking in the opposite direction and felt sorry for them. Doing the trek in the opposite direction looks much more challenging. We were heading into a canyon and being being throw out into the village at the end, Huaripampa, we walked passed many more lagoons and waterfalls en-route.

When we stopped for lunch I had decided to attempt to finish the last 3 hours of the trek in as quick a time as possible, I really needed to do something more challenging and so I ploughed on ahead once more and arrived in the village in 90 minutes, melting in the sun, but feeling nicely victorious with my days effort.

I relaxed outside someone's home, drinking an ice cold Inka Cola whilst the others caught up before we all spent an irritating few hours waiting for a taxi to finally arrive to take us onwards with spectacular valley views to another town, where we caught a minibus back to Huaraz.

I bumped into Leon as soon as I got back into the city and joined him for dinner before we went out drinking once more, my very last ditch attempt to find someone else who was looking to go climbing. Sadly I failed once more, despite it being a busy Friday night.

I left Huaraz hugely disappointed two days later for Trujillo, disappointed that I had not found climbing partners, but optimistic that I will have more opportunities to complete my 6000m ambition in Ecuador. I enjoyed my time, the canyoning was good fun and the views whilst trekking were spectacular, but all the while I wish I had arrived during the main season with better weather conditions and more people.

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


19th October 2011
Explosive Huaraz Sunset

That right there is an AMAZING shot!!! like the blogs too!!
4th November 2011

You inspired a forum topic. :)
14th November 2011
Explosive Huaraz Sunset

Fantastic picture.

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