The Cordillera Huayhuash is considered one of the most spectacular areas of the Andes. It is located northeast of Lima, about a six-hours’ drive from the classical starting point Huaraz in the Ancash region. Beyond the Himalayas there is no area in the world with a similar concentration of mountains of more than 6,000 meters of altitude. Compared to other trekking circuits, like the Santa Cruz trek in the Peruvian Cordillera Blanca or the Chilean Torres del Paine, the Huayhuash mountain range is less known and explored. The remote location, barely populated and with a minimal level of infrastructure, makes it an absolute wanderers’ Mecca that gives the impression of a pristine and wild landscape.

We got to the city of Huaraz at the beginning of October, thus at the beginning of the rainy season. Due to highly unstable weather conditions, the (very helpful) tourist office advised against doing the trek. Most of the time, the guides‘ office (Casa de Guías) was already closed, and we were unable to ask them for their opinion. We were truly concerned about weather conditions, but after some acclimatization hikes around Huaraz (Laguna Churup, Glaciar Pastoruri, Laguna Llaca) we were still not able to let go our plan of doing the circuit. We studied all available maps of the mountain range, talked to guides, locals and employees of the Café Andino and Café California, but then we made our plan: Instead of hiking the entire 12-day circuit, we wanted to do a customized 7-day trek starting off in Llamac and finishing in Cajatambo.

During our stay, the weather sometimes changed every 10 to 15 minutes. In many situations, snow, hail and heavy rain made it not only a challenge of physical fitness, but also a mental challenge for ourselves. On some days we encountered not a single soul, heavy rains poured down and we were following an uncertain path, only identifiable by a mixture of mud and donkey shit. However, I will never forget the moment when the clouds opened up on day three and we were able to see the peaks of 6,635m high Yerupajá and 6,344m high Siula Grande for the first time. I almost got the impression that the harder the effort, the more rewarding the beautiful moments.

The fascination of these enormous mountain range is difficult to describe. Rugged peaks, overwhelming lagoons, very diverse landscapes and absolutely stunning glaciers. Our 7-day trek included an overall distance of 100km and one mountain pass between 4,600m and 5,100m per day. The nights were freezingly cold but starlit: I have rarely witnessed a similar uncountable number of stars. The Huayhuash Trek is unique and does not need to fear any comparison to Patagonia or the Himalayas. In the following weeks I want to provide you a detailed description of our customized tour. Thereby, to be able to really go into detail I want to dedicate an individual blog post to each trekking day (except for days one and seven). Let me take you with me on this journey alongside the Northern and Eastern flank of the Huayhuash circuit. You’ll find the first report here.

 

 

 

 

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