Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Endless mountain adventures, Huaraz

Coming to Huaraz, was in the first place one of the main reasons for my latest trip to South America. I was aware that it is the middle of the rainy season and my biggest love, the higher peaks will not be accessible at the moment, still I can tell I discovered endless hiking and mountaineering opportunities year round.

In the next post I will talk about the highlights in general from Peru and Ecuador, but right now I will only focus on Huaraz, lodging, eating and hiking experiences.
It is a "must visit" destination if you are traveling around South America especialy if you are an outdoor person. This is a perfect gateway for all nature lovers, as Huaraz is located in the heart of the second highest mountain range in the world, the Andean Cordillera blanca.

There are plenty of daily trips you could take, such as: laguna 69 or laguna Paron (both shown on the pictures below). Both these tours are within 3 to 3.5 hours drive from  Huaraz and 2 to 3 hours hiking in the area. The tours are offered for very affordable price like 12-15 USD including transportation and a guide. (National park entrance fee is not included and it costs between 5 and 30 soles).

My hosts are "Huayhuash adventures", an adventure tour company owned by professional mountain guides who decided to share their experiences with travelers from all over the world, running the highly reccomended "Big mountain hostel" together with the agency.  The hostel is located in the center of Huaraz, only 2 blocks away from the plaza de armas, with perfect location accessible to many nice restaurants, central market and grosery stores. Yet, it is not only the location but the energy and enthousiasm of the people, trying to make this place better every day. It is what thrilled me to write more about. The staff is very helpful with all informations and logistics you need to make your stay unforgetable. They show the hidden beauties of Ancash region in a very professional way, being responsible and respectfull towards the nature.

At the same time, being here is a real challenge for advanced climbers and mountaineers. There are lot of bolted sport climbing routes and a lot more rarely climbed walls available for the trad fans. Hatun Machay is one of the largest rock climbing area, 1 hour away from Huaraz, while there are smaller cracks near the city.
The big mountains are all around, with the biggest concentration of peaks above 6000 meters, after the Himalayas.
Huascaran 6768m is the highest peak of Peru, lying in the heart of the Huascaran National park in the central Andes, Ancash region. It is the highest peak of the entire Earth's tropics and the 4th highest of the western hemisphere after Aconcagua, Monte Pisis and Ojos de salado.
There are around 660 tropical glaciers (the largest glaciated area in the tropics), and over 300 glacial lakes and lagoons within the borders of Huascaran national park, some of them available for trekking tours, while others reserved only for experienced mountaineers. Huascaran is well know for its biodiversity of flora and fauna, and designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1985.

As I am passionate climber and mountaineer with quite a bit of experience, on this trip I have climbed 2 peaks above 6000 meters (Chimborazzo and Chachani) and climbed some rock climbing routes around Peru and Ecuador.
I usually climb alone or with one or two friends that I know, and most of the time I am the guide. For the volcanos I was surprised what a stupid idea it was to go solo, while for the Cordilleras I wouldn't even dare to think of it.
The guides in Huaraz are highly professional and well trained, so do not hesitate to book a guided tour. They organize from easier to highly demanding technical climbs. As always I will repeat again, the mountain can appear so beautifull and innoncent, but it can be a real killer when showing she's alive. So, do respect her and be very careful regardless of who you are with.

Food in Huaraz is delicious and made me want to taste everything that I haven´t before. If you follow my path, you will most likely end up eating on the street or at the local markets, which I adore. My favourite choice for a powerful morning are the quinoa and macca drinks sold early on the streets near the market, a good combination with avocado sandwich or some of the wide fruity choice.

The only sad part of this story is the ecological situation which is in general present al over the country. Everything you get from the  market, street or store is packed in at least two plastic bags. All street food sellers serve the food in plastic containers, and then again in a plastic bag. The environmental conscience is rather low, which can be seen especially in the newly inhabited rural neighburhoods where all trash is thrown at the entrance or the exit of the village. Strange architecture of unfinished and mostly empty buildings is more and more replacing the green corn fields, cuting the view towards the mountains. I guess the increase of population in this part of the world pays the price for loss of nature, which is still virgin and fortunatelly still very beautiful around here.










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