Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca


Nevado Chakraraju (6,108 m / 20,039 ft)



Huaraz is a small city 8 hours north of Lima, which sits at 3,100 m. It is completely surrounded by picturesque snow-capped peaks and rocky cliffs, and is basically an adventure wonderland. Our hostel, directly across the street from the central market, is an old building with colonial Spanish architecture, and we discover that it is one of the few buildings that survived the “great earthquake of 1970” which leveled most of the city.

We come for a few days and stay for almost two weeks of rock climbing and hiking through the Andes, including a fabulous 3-day venture on the Akilpo-Ishinka trek. Some photos:



Day 1: Blue skies in the Rio Akilpo valley. We set off with a pep in our step, thoroughly enjoying the fact that we don’t see a single other hiker in the whole valley.


We crisscross the river on a series of bridges made of logs laid across the stream and covered with dirt and rocks. They are a bit unnerving because they look and feel solid, but sometimes have holes where someone clearly fell through.

The weather is changing rapidly, with big, dark clouds rolling in and out.



After a couple of detours due to encounters with cows and a longer and slower day than expected due to high altitude, we decide to camp at the head of the valley, below our desired campsite at the lake. Exhausted, we find a delightful, cozy spot for the turtle sheltered behind a large rock which protects us from the night’s violent gusting winds.



Wait, but why is it snowing?? The next morning, off-trail hiking towards Akilpo Lake.



And then, the weather cleared! C glacier stomping at Akilpo Lake (4,700 m). From here, the established trail ended and we took off up the slope on a social trail towards the pass. The views grew more and more spectacular as we rose, surrounded by no less than six peaks 6,000 m or higher.



At Urus Pass (5,047 m / 16,558 ft), we encounter snow that all of our prior trip research told us should be melted by now. This made route-finding a bit more difficult, and our progress a little slower. This photo taken just beyond the pass. We spent about 27 seconds at the actual pass, since the wind made it difficult to stand upright and pelted us horrible ice-bullets.



Descending into the Ishinka Valley.



3 1/2 hours of steep, difficult, off-trail stumbling later, we arrive at Ishinka Base Camp. Our egos are slightly soothed when we chat with a local guide embarking on an 8-day glacial trek, and he is impressed when we tell him our route.

The next day, we hike an easy, sloping 16 km back out the Ishinka Valley, and, back in civilization, catch two collectivos back to Huaraz.



A truly awesome trek.

Other photos from our time in Huaraz:


C, taking a chilly dip on a day hike to Laguna 69.



J, taking her beers for a chilling dip in Laguna 69.



Rock climbing for J’s birthday with a view over Huaraz.



We spend a couple of awesome days rock climbing. Since it’s difficult/dangerous to take photos while belaying, this was the only action shot taken (C safely at a bolt). We tackle mostly 6a and 6b climbs, and C takes her second major leader fall, which J expertly catches.



In between all this activity, we spent some delightful down time in Huaraz, as illustrated by this photo of J making breakfast in our hostel room. We thoroughly enjoy the market and have our go-to ladies for vegetables, bread, and fruit. We discover a couple of nice locals restaurants and an awesome brewery with a delicious IPA. It’s a great place to spend our last days in South America.

36 hours of travelling later, we now find ourselves stateside in Miami!!

Next post: South America summary, and Miami with family and friends.


Lots of love,

C & J


2 thoughts on “Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca

  1. What a wonderful trek! Laguna 69 is magnificent. You are having such great adventures. But back at Huaraz, leader falls … Eeee … what a way to make your father nervous. I zoomed in and was relieved a bit to see you were wearing a helmet (I hope that’s what I saw). And glad J expertly caught you. All in all, what a beautiful area. Lots of fun and memories. Is there a next trip in the planning stage? Love, Dad

  2. You must be in awesome shape!! J and beers at Laguna 69 looks like an ad!!! And yes, no leader falls! Time for some r & r . . .

    See you soon! Hugs!! ILY

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