Sunday, March 2, 2014

Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca

Tim:  Amber and I made a quick return to Lima after our time in the Amazon and continued on directly to Huaraz. From the Lima airport we took a short cab ride to the Plaza Norte Terminal for a comfortable 8 hour bus ride to Huaraz. We arrived in Huaraz at 10 PM. We already had reservations at a nearby Hotel.

The Cordillera Blanca Mountain range is the second highest mountain range in the world after the Himalayas with many mountains over 6000 meters. The city of Huaraz sits at 3000 meters above sea level.

We visited Huaraz at the rainiest time of year. In our 7 days there, it rained during 6 of them. The climbing season in the Cordillera Blanca is concentrated in the winter months of the Southern Hemisphere when temperatures are a little bit colder, but much less precipitation.

The cloud cover was so dense most of the time that we got limited views of the top of the mountains. Having said that, the area is beautiful! And because many of the mountain valleys are lightly populated, this makes for mountains and valleys that are much more accessible than those found in Alaska. Although multi day treks are popular in the Cordillera Blancas, we opted for only day hikes because of the persistent rain. We did three beautiful days hikes into high mountain valleys with the peak of the hikes ending at beautiful mountain lakes. All of our hikes topped out at around 4500 meters (almost 15,000 ft).

Our first hike lead us to a magnificent glacier fed lake with crystal blue water surrounded by jagged 6000 meter peaks and hanging glaciers. Unfortunately, the cloud cover didn't make for the best photos, but it was still a very pleasant experience.

Amber and I seem to do fairly well at high altitude. During our climbs were definitely got short of breath near the top. For the first few days at high altitudes, I usually take a few ibuprofen to avoid the headaches. We spoke with a Swedish couple who were also staying at our hotel. They had done the same day hike that we had done, but the young Swedish man experience acute altitude sickness including profuse vomiting during the hike. I felt fortunate that neither Amber and I have experienced those symptoms.

On our last day in Huaraz we planned another day hike to Laguna Awuac. What we thought was to be a 2 hour leisurely hike was actually a strenuous 4 hour uphill hike of over 1200 meters. We were fortunate as our last day also had the best weather we had had during our time in Huaraz with no rain. There was still a lot of cloud cover so the photos just couldn't do the scenery justice.

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