Why did I decide to go
The idea for this trip was born during the summer of 2005
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
had climbed a couple volcanoes there. He had ended his trip
a trek through the Cordillera Blanca range and convinced me
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
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
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
, 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
hotel rooms, to bus tickets, to porters, etc. I can not
how value added having all of this taken care of for you is.
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
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
thing was a success. I may have only ended up with one (easy)
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.
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
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
- 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.
Andino has the best coffee.
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
lighten up, we aren't curing cancer.....
- I can not stress how much acclimatization is necessary. To
climb at the same level you do at home allow for a couple weeks of
easier climbs before wandering into the technically difficult.
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,
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
- 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
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
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
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
.50 soles a minute for calls to the US and .50 soles/hour for Internet
- 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.