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Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Mon 31 Jul, 2017 8:20 pm
by deadwood
In May/June we headed off to Peru to spend 5 weeks hiking in the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash. The plan was to have 4 days acclimatising in Huaraz (3100m) with a couple of day walks up to around 4600m, and then tackle a 12 day circuit of Alpamayo in the Cordillera Blanca, have 2 days rest back in Huaraz and then head off for 14 days in the Cordillera Huayhuash. We chose to go for guided walks for a number of reasons including in no particular order:-
    Only having to carry day packs, meant we could carry more camera gear
    If anything went wrong (altitude sickness, accident, whatever) we had some local help at hand to get us out
    We could stay in the mountains for far longer each place than if we were carrying all our own food
    It's nice getting to camp and your tent is already set up waiting for you so you can spend more time looking around
    Speaking of tents - an expedition 4 person tent is nicer than squeezing in our lightweight 2 person tent
    Local knowledge helps for doing some extra side trips
    Booking early meant we could choose the maximum group size (6). More people means it's a bit cheaper.
    You really only see the donkeys and their handlers at the camp and then briefly as they jog past you on the trail.

The agency we chose was Peruvian Andes Adventures and they were faultless. The guides, cooks, transport and general organisation were spot on. They also have a hotel standard guest house in Huaraz which was perfect for pre and post walk stays.

Despite the 4 days acclimatisation, walking uphill at over 4000 meters in altitude still took a while to get used to. The third lung just doesn't grow that fast! Cordillera Blanca is a little lower and not quite so cold overnight, so going in that order worked very well. With the less exertion required for the guided option, going to both locations in the one holiday also worked out really well and meant that by the time we got to the over 5000m meter pass in Cordillera Huayhuash, we were well acclimatised and weren't even really struggling with the breathing at altitude.

I was asked to compare the two cordillera given we were going to one after the other. It's a bit of an unfair comparison for Cordillera Blanca because we had some unseasonal rain there and also being better acclimatised at Cordillera Huayhuash I think meant we were able to relax and enjoy it more. Cordillera Blanca has a lot more vegetation and wild flowers than Huayhuash, but both have their spectacular peaks and passes.

A picture allegedly covers a thousand words, so lets have some photos...
Cordillera Blanca First up, Cordillera Huayhuash in the next post

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Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Mon 31 Jul, 2017 8:26 pm
by deadwood
Now for some Cordillera Huayhuash snaps...

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Rocotto Relleno sure beats any trail lunch I've ever made myself!!
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Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Mon 31 Jul, 2017 8:29 pm
by deadwood
and just to finish off...

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There were stars!! The only issue with seeing the stars was the frost formed on the tent pretty early in the evening, so it was a little cool going out to take any night time photos.
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Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Mon 31 Jul, 2017 10:19 pm
by north-north-west
Stunning images! What sort of photographic gear did you carry?

Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Mon 31 Jul, 2017 10:29 pm
by deadwood
I carried a tripod, dslr, wide-angle lens, 24-105mm lens and a 100-400 zoom. I didn't really make much use of the big zoom, but until you go you don't really know what opportunities are going to present themselves.

Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Mon 31 Jul, 2017 11:27 pm
by GPSGuided
Amazing images and tale! Thank. One day...

Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Tue 01 Aug, 2017 3:56 pm
by biggbird
Fantastic photos, thanks for sharing! You're certainly not making me any less excited for my trip to South America next year... I just wish it was now!

Out of interest, how did you find the temperatures whilst you were there? What was the lowest you had overnight? We are most likely going to be there sometime around April/May, so not too dissimilar to you.Did you bring your own sleeping bag, mats etc, or was everything provided by the company? Were there any side trips on either walk which you would rate as can't miss? Any other day walks you did from Huaraz that you particularly enjoyed?

Sorry for all the questions!

Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Tue 01 Aug, 2017 7:49 pm
by deadwood
Hi biggbird - Happy to answer a few questions. Temps during the day were pretty good - I was mostly walking in a light icebreaker 150 t-shirt with one of their long sleeve 260 tops once the day warmed up and a heavy fleece on before that. Overnight was quite cold especially in the Cordillera Huayhuash with frost on the tent every morning, ice in puddles and frozen mud (easier to walk on than bog!). I didn't have a measuring device so I can't tell you exactly how cold it was, but I would guess minus 5 to minus 10. I found wearing my heavier down jacket over my lightweight down jacket quite comfortable at night though! April can still be wet and we had some rain into May, so make sure you have very good wet weather gear if you're heading to the mountains in April especially. We took our own sleeping bags and mats, but you can hire them.

On the Alpamayo Circuit, we had extra days either side of Alpamayo to walk up the side valleys to the base camps closer to the mountains, both of which were good. There is a few options in places at the Cordillera huayhuash - where possible, just go higher is the best advice! The Peruvian Andes Adventures web site has some maps and itineraries that show where we had extra days, but not all the side walks we did on the rest days were well marked.

Day walks, we did the Laguna Churup day trip first which is fairly close to Huaraz. It's only 6km long - but it goes to 4600m so for your first day walk at altitude, assume 5 hours. Yes FIVE hours for SIX kms. Second up we did the walk to Laguna 69 which is further from Huaraz, so longer travel time and a longer walk at 13km. It's longer at altitude, so I found by the time I got to the lake, progress was very slow indeed! They are good acclimatisation hikes and Churup followed by 69 is the best order. They are both nice walks in themselves.

Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Wed 02 Aug, 2017 9:14 am
by Walk_fat boy_walk
Awesome :)

#^(&'ng list just got bigger...

Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Wed 09 Aug, 2017 8:05 am
by biggbird
Hey Deadwood, thank you for answering all the questions! Very helpful. Sounds like a -9C sleeping bag for me, and a -15C for my other will suit just fine. I had heard of those two day walks from Huaraz, Laguna 69 looks lovely! Did you get much wind whilst you were in either range?

And just to confirm, frozen bog is definitely the best sort of bog.

Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Thu 10 Aug, 2017 8:59 pm
by deadwood
Hi biggbird, we really only had wind over a few passes like caracara pass in the Cordillera Blanca. Once over the pass it settled down again, but you definitely want to be carrying a windproof jacket for going over the passes.

Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Sun 13 Aug, 2017 10:52 pm
by roysta
Excellent stuff. You chose probably the best company in Huaraz.


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Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Fri 18 Aug, 2017 7:43 pm
by Drew
Nice one! Thanks for posting. My partner and I were there in June doing Ausangate and Alpamayo. I'm getting there with the trip reports. We went independently, which was great, but carrying a tripod and a big zoom was a bridge too far - it would have been nice to have a horse to carry them or me!

Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Sat 19 Aug, 2017 11:35 pm
by biggbird
Drew wrote:Nice one! Thanks for posting. My partner and I were there in June doing Ausangate and Alpamayo. I'm getting there with the trip reports. We went independently, which was great, but carrying a tripod and a big zoom was a bridge too far - it would have been nice to have a horse to carry them or me!


Definitely not cruising the forums a couple of times a week just waiting for these... :lol:

Re: Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2017 5:29 pm
by Drew
Definitely not cruising the forums a couple of times a week just waiting for these... :lol:


Almost done with the first one!