PERU 2006
Introduction        Tips         My Trip Report (8 Pages, ~100 pictures)         Brian's Slideshow

 
 
INTRODUCTION

Why did I decide to go to Peru?  The idea for this trip was born during the summer of 2005 during many trips Brian Hynek and I would take, while climbing throughout Colorado and Wyoming.  Both of us would be turning 30 in the upcoming year and we figured a good climbing vacation would be the best way to celebrate.  Brian had already been to Peru during 2004 and had climbed a couple volcanoes there.  He had ended his trip with a trek through the  Cordillera Blanca range and convinced me that the cost and scenery would be unbeatable.  He was right.

We didn't talk much of the trip until March of 2006 but then realized we were both still set on the idea.  The nice thing about the Cordillera Blanca is that it has every level of climbing difficulty available in it and would allow us to start out and end up however easy or hard we might desire.  The Cordillera also has relatively easy access which allows most peaks in in to be climbed within a week, round trip, from Huaraz.  The wide availability of transportation, moderate weather and plentiful hired help (porters, cooks, guides) also seriously expedites the climbing.

Over the next few months we picked up gear, plane tickets, settled on peaks, and generally dreamed about the trip.  We used a book by Brad Johnson, 'Classic Climbs of the Cordillera Blanca', to pick both the peaks we would try and to find a trip planner who would arrange the in country details for us.  We used a gentleman named Chris Benway (owner of Cafe Andino , one of the only places to get real coffee in Huaraz) to organize our trip for us. Chris charges a flat fee of $100 US per traveler but is worth every cent of it.  He took care of everything from airport pickups to hotel rooms, to bus tickets, to porters, etc.  I can not stress how value added having all of this taken care of for you is.  He will send spreadsheets with dates, details and costs back and forth until you are satisfied and will still be flexible enough to change things on the fly for you in Peru.  As an example of the support Chris provided - we had chosen Pisco Oeste and Chopicalqui as peaks but an illness on my part made Chopicalqui unreasonable. When we switched to a shorter peak and returned to Huaraz a day early Chris had already arranged for a new pickup and hotel room.

Once everything had been taken care of we could only wait until our trip arrived.  Now that it has come and gone I'd have to say the whole thing was a success. I may have only ended up with one (easy) peak but the experience was invaluable.  I didn't go there to push my climbing level rather I went to see what the world looked like from higher up than I could in Colorado and to have an adventure. I only wish we had more than two weeks.

While I may have started out homesick, spent  most of my time quite ill, and ended up injuring myself, I consider this to trip to have been a great adventure. It certainly made me aware of how many things I take for granted here in the United States.  I am already planning my next visit to this unique and beautiful place.



TIPS
Several things I learned that might be useful to people heading to Peru:
  • Carry CLEAN US dollars, ripped dollars are not accepted.
  • Carry toilet paper, the bathrooms don't have any.
  • Lima sucks, it is huge, filthy, and poor, don't even spend the night, get right on a bus and head out, I preferred sleeping in the airport to seeing this city.
  • Don't drink the water.
  • The cab drivers are scary and psychotic, they were easily the most terrifying part of the trip for me, I dubbed our driver 'The Lazy Eyed Psycho' after he ran into several sheep, ran a crippled old man off the road, went through towns at 90 MPH, skidded to a halt with a fence barrier one inch from our window, almost ran into a semi when passing blindly on a corner, etc..  
  • If you are married it might suck to be away from your wife for a long time, third world countries really make you miss civilization.
  • Don't expect hot water, even if advertised it might only last a few minutes.
  • Pay the three dollars to upgrade your bus tickets, you get seats larger than those in the first class sections on airlines.  The buses are great, well worth the upgrade in price from the collectivos (local min-bus).
  • Barter, get a local to barter when possible, the native and gringo prices are very different.
  • Cafe Andino has the best coffee.
  • Monte Rosa is a must for dinner and drinks, Tell the owner, Enrique, that Jared Workman, the macaw lover, says hello.
  • Creperie Patrick is a fantastic place to eat, we went there about five times, ask locals for the location (also the only other place in town to get real coffee).
  • Allot of the climbers are aloof, arrogant types, don't expect much in the way of conversation unless they are American, British Islanders (although not all), or (non-French) Canadians.  I noticed that climbers really need to lighten up, we aren't curing cancer..... 
  • I can not stress how much acclimatization is necessary. To really climb at the same level you do at home allow for a couple weeks of easier climbs before wandering into the technically difficult.  A month should be the minimum length of a visit if you really plan on hitting D, TD, or ED routes.
  • Coca tea really helps with altitude, I managed 18,900 feet on two liters of it after several rounds of vomiting and diahrea.
  • Get a porter, they not only help with weight but cook, provide conversation, and generally know the way to the base of the glaciers where the real climbing begins.  Our porter, Marco, was an absolute delight to have with us. 
  • Conditions on these peaks change yearly.  Pisco had a 50 meter ice pitch in 2005 but it was gone when we climbed it. Get beta when you arrive as even reports from a month or two ago may be totally wrong.  
  • Bring your own reading material, it is hard to find in Huaraz and at the Lima airport a 7 dollar paperback costs 16 US.
  • It isn't all that cold in The Cordillera Blanca, maybe 0 degrees F at the worst , a 10 degree (F)  sleeping bag with a silk liner should be more than enough.
  • The temperature swings a HUGE amount between sunrise and sunset, dropping and rising quite rapidly.  Expect to spend at least 12 hours a day (non-climbing days) in your tent.  You'll find yourself waiting around for the sun to strike your tent before you get up for the day. 
  • Bring multiple layers of clothing to accommodate the temperature changes.  I found a lightweight shirt, fleece jacket, windbreaker, and lightweight down jacket to be more than adequate protection for everything I encountered.
  • If you forget a piece of gear don't sweat it, you can rent most of what you need in Huaraz.
  • There are many Internet cafes and places to place cheap long distance calls all throughout Huaraz.  Expect to pay ~ .50 soles a minute for calls to the US and .50 soles/hour for Internet usage.
  • You will be required to provide food and a tent for any local help that accompanies you.
  • If you do get a guide try to get a Casa De Guias guide (they are certified).
  • Arrieros (donkey handlers) can be hired for $10 US a day with each donkey capable of hauling ~70lbs and costing $5 US. 
  • Numerous collectivos (local transportation (small buses)) run between Huaraz and most valleys, they are cheap but often require a good deal of waiting and need to have roof racks if you want to fit your packs.

TRIP REPORT TABLE OF CONTENTS

 June 30th - July 1st


Around Huaraz July 1st - July 3rd



 Acclimatization On Vallunaraju  July 3rd - July 4th


Back To Huaraz July 4th - July 5th


Llaganuco Valley To Pisco Oeste July 6th to July 8th


Llaganuco Valley To Yannapaccha July 9th to July llth


Back In Huaraz July 11th to July 13th


Back Home To Colorado July 13th to July 14th



Back To My Mountains Page