Cordillera Huayhuash

I recently completed a 10-day circuit trek in the Cordillera Huayhuash of Peru.  The first day was driving to the start of the trek and camping at 13,700 feet.  This happened to be the coldest night of the trip, at about 10°F for the low.  The first three days were beautiful days, sunny and warm once the sun rose above the mountains.

Click here to see photos from Cordillera Huayhuash and Peru.

Quartelhuain Sunset

Day 2 
High of the Day: Cacanpunta Pass 15,411 feet
Distance: 4.5 miles to Janca Camp and 2.5 more miles on a day-hike to Mituacocha Lake. We arrived at camp after about 4-5 hours .  Our cook and horseman traveled ahead and set up camp for us, as they did each day.
The highlight of the day was walking out of the dinner tent to a dark sky with no moon ….and a sky full of stars.  On one side was the silhouette of the mountains with the milky way arching above. On the other side was the gentle glow of tents with stars above. Beautiful!

Day 3
The overnight temperature was about 17°F.
Today we hiked 3 miles to Cajuapunta (Pass), elevation 15,200 feet.
We continued down another 3.1 miles to camp beside Carhuacocha (Lake) at 13,600 feet.
We left Janca Camp in the morning at 7:40 and arrived at the next camp at 12:10, 4 1/2 hours on the trail with breaks.  Easy.

Notes from Day 3:
Beautiful day, hit my stride, green meadows with snowy peaks, hiking ahead and taking photos while the others catch up. Leading the way at times.

Suila Grande (20,814 ft) and Yerupaja (21,768 ft) dominate. Breathtaking! We are enjoying a break at a magnificent spot above the lake and below the snowy mountains, on a high ridge.  In a short while we’ll drop down to our camp by the lake. Every day gets better.


Beautiful Day! Marcos told me of a great viewpoint near the lake, where I spent most of the day.  I watched the sunset on the mountains from this spot and plan to go again at sunrise.  A full day. After dinner, again the night sky was full with so many stars. Even saw a few shooting stars! Oh, yeah! Saw a fox today.

Our group consists of 3 trekkers, a guide, a cook, a horseman, a horse and seven donkeys.

The next three days were stormy! It was a great adventure with dramatic clouds, but the views of the snowy peaks were mostly hidden.  We had drizzle, rain, and snow.

Day 4 started out with low clouds and rain.

Day 4
Started hiking at 7:30. Finished at 3:00
8.5 miles in 7.5 hours
High: Suila Pass at 15,800 ft

Snow and More Snow
Day 5 was rainy and snowy.  In the afternoon, we soaked in hot springs in the cold rain.

Day 5
Started at 8:00. Arrived in camp at 1 PM
7.1 miles hiked in 5 hours
Pass Elevation: 15,700 ft
Viconga Camp Elevation: 14,200 ft

It started raining around 4 AM and continued off and on all day with the addition of snow flurries. The snow somewhat made up for the lack of vistas.  On the way we saw herds of alpacas. Cool! After getting to camp in poured all afternoon until 6 PM. There were some natural hot springs that we soaked in while it poured.

Stone Wall
By the end of day 6 we were getting more and more blue sky again.

Day 6
Started at 7:30. Arrived in camp at 1:30 PM
5.3 miles over 6 hours
Paso Punto Cuyoc elevation: 16,600 ft
Elephante Camp elevation: 14,800 ft

We woke to light snow falling.  The mountains were mostly hidden by clouds with some sun breaking through.  We saw some wild vicugna, a cousin of the llamas.

Day 7

Ahh! The bad weather has been left behind.  Literally!  We crossed to the west side of the mountains yesterday.  The stormy and cloudy weather drifting up from the Amazon jungle in the east butts up against the mountains where they hang and stop.  You can see this in the photo below. On the west side of the mountains we have sunny skies!!!

16,664 feet
San Antonio Pass ~ 16,664 feet

Today I hiked with Marcos to the top of San Antonio Pass at 16,664 feet, the highest elevation of the trip.  From there we came back down the way we went up and continued down a long valley to catch up with the others.  The total miles today was 11.2. After leaving camp at 7:30 am, we reached the village of Huayllapa at about 3:25 pm. Huayllapa’s elevation is 11,600 feet, so we dropped about 5,000 feet.

I enjoyed walking around the village and giving out pencils.  I was surprised that pencils were is such high demand. Young and old wanted them.  Pretty soon I had a problem.  Word spread that I was giving out pencils.  And soon I had too many kids around me and no more pencils.

Lights Out
Camp at Gashpapampa

Day 8
Today we hiked about 7.1 miles in 7 hours including breaks and lunch in a meadow.  Over the course of the day we gained back 4,000 feet in elevation.  The high point was Tapush Pass at 15,580 feet. The highlight of the day occurred after dinner, when the sky was again full of stars and I figured out how to use my camera to capture the starry sky with the tents glowing.

Sheep Again
The storm is behind us on the east side of the mountains.

Days 9 and 10
Jahuacocha (Lake) was a very scenic location. Our hike was about 6 miles and took 5 hours.  We were in camp by around 1 PM again. This was our last camp before hiking out to Llamac the following day.

Other Side of Camp
Jahuacocha Camp
Woman and Hut near Jahuacocha

Click here for all my photos from Peru.

Huaraz, Peru

I am in Huaraz, Peru acclimatizing to elevation. Yesterday I did a hike up to 14,600 feet at Laguna Churup yesterday. The day before we hiked to a Wilacacocha Lake at 12,500. Today is a rest day in Huaraz, Tomorrow, we drive to the start of our 9-day, 65-mile Cordillera Huayhuash trek. Our highest elevation will be a pass at about 16,600 feet. I will be traveling with a Canadian couple and guide. There will also be a cook, a horseman, and several donkeys. Very exciting!

There is very little English spoken here. I am fumbling through a crash course in Spanish. Amusing. 🙂

Click here for some photos from the past few days around Huaraz.

Laguna Churup
I have been meeting people. It is almost magical the way you meet certain people. Some you meet and and then you find them sitting beside you on the airplane or in the same hotel or on the same hike. I found a consistent circle of connected friends for a few days here in Huaraz. Very nice.
It is morning …and I am drinking a cup of coffee in my hotel.