Moai on Easter Island

Moai on Easter Island

Monday, September 1, 2014

Peru, Part I

Checking out our route on Yanapaqcha
After my first visit to Huaraz, Peru in 2009 I knew I was going to come back.  It was my first real international trip—Canada didn’t count—and I was hooked.  That was only 5 years ago and since then I’ve logged hundreds of flights and thousands of miles flying between all 7 continents. 

Yanapaqcha Basecamp
Huaraz, Peru is a black hole much like Missoula, Montana is.  If you leave you will always come back and if you visit for a few days you will end up staying for much longer.  I’ve met so many people that have arrived in Huaraz with the intention of only staying for a very short time….and I meet them many months later and they usually had no intention of leaving.  So far it is the only place outside of the US that I could see myself living for more than just a few months.  The offer of work there keeps presenting itself, but life keeps getting in the way. 

Organizing gear for the climb.
This was my third time to Huaraz and I was hoping to be on the every other year plan, but last winter in Antarctica messed that up.  This year I was leading a group of students from the University of Montana on the Santa Cruz Trek and a six-day mountaineering course on an 18,000 foot mountain called Yanapaqcha. 

3am alpine start
Huaraz in the jumping off point for any climbing in the Cordillera Blanca range.  This is the mountain range for alpine climbing in the Peruvian Andes.  It provides convenient access to easy 18,000 foot peaks and also to some the of the hardest routes on 20,000 foot peaks on earth.  It might be the only place in the world where you could wake up to a full breakfast at a hotel and be at a 16,000 basecamp by early afternoon.
Our amazing cooks for the mountaineering course.
But this doesn’t mean you take the 8-hour bus from Lima (sea-level) to Huaraz (10,500 feet) in a day and head into the mountains right away.  So to acclimatize we did a couple of day hikes to 14,600 feet around Huaraz before heading out on the trek and mountaineering course.

One of the best things about mountaineering in Peru is that it is cheap and easy to get donkeys to carry your gear!

Just like the first time I climbed Yanapaqcha five years ago it was again in a whiteout with no views from the top.  In fact, I haven’t had a view from the top of a mountain in Peru since that first trip to the Cordillera Blanca. 

The scary, death road that we had to travel on 3 times!
It was slightly lonely after the UM students left because we’d been a solid group for two weeks exploring Peru together and attempting to navigate the Spanish language.

1 comment:

  1. Great Photos Ben, makes me want to go there!
    :-D Jen