Thursday, July 4, 2013

Peru: Hatun Machay

On 28th of July Hamik and I finally arrived in Peru. We will stay for seven weeks and hopefully do a lot of climbing, eating, and sight-seeing. My first encounter with danger came a few minutes after we left the Airport, still far from any mountains - in a taxi cab. Drivers in Lima are nuts! Coming from United States with a RN license, I am sure no one would hire me to drive a cab in Peru. Anyway, we didn't get into a wreck and were delivered to a bus station, from which we caught a bus to Huaraz.
Mountains are calling
Spires of Hatun Machay with a hut where most people stay
Cordillera Huayhuash as seen from one of the laps up a 4,800M peak
Small but beautiful
Huaraz is a much smaller town with great access to Cordillera Blanca (mountain range where we intend to do majority of our climbing). It kind of reminds me of Bishop, but bigger, dirties, much more polluted, and lacks a certain bakery I developed an addiction to (not a bad thing). So far Peru reminds me of Ukraine - typical third world country. Islands of wealth are surrounded with oceans of poverty. Even thought you gotta watch where you eat and where you place your belongings, majority of people here seem warm hearted, and natural beauty of this country is stunning. So far my favorite inter-cultural experiences come from riding in a "collectivo" - something between a taxi and a bus. First world problems do not exist here - if there is not enough space driver simply places an extra person (Hamik) in the trunk, and I get a privelage to be in the front seat, with another passanger of course. And the seat-belts....nevermind, no one uses seat belts.

Hamik onsighting his first 5.11b
Hatun Machay has a lot of cool rock
Me leading an awesome 5.10c
 After one day in Huaraz, Hamik and I took a trip to Hatun Machay - a rock climbing area. Purpose of this trip was not just check out beautiful scenery, escape from polluted Huaraz, and climb on warm rock, but to acclimate. Altitude of a camp where we slept was 4,300M, which is like sleeping on a California 14er. To further help myself acclimate I hiked up a 4,800M (15,748 ft) peak, three times in three days.
We both led this 5.10c which starts with an overhanging bulge - super fun
Me leading an AWESOME 5.11a
Sunset over 4,800M unknown peak
New friend we met at the hut
Hatun Machay offers awesome sport climbing, with a variety of routes ranging from 5.8 to 5.13. Routes tend to be very well protected and almost always involve face climbing. A lot of crimpy holds and thin edging dominate majority of climbs. Rock quality on popular routes is excellent. Potential for new routes here is HUGE. We climbed for three days and got on a good amount of climbs (most in 5.10-11 range). We even "worked" on a 5.12a. For me, the highlight of our trip though was not sending gnarly 5.11s, but meeting new people. Hatun Machay attracts a variety of climbers and hikers from around the world. Not only did I hear about how this area was originated from a guy who put up the first route, but also met a great European couple who shared with us a tasty Austrian dish called Kaiserschmarrn.
Hamik, me, and our new friends from Europe
More flowers
Great views of Cordillera Blanca
We are packing for a trip to high peaks!
Now we are back in Huaraz. Hopefully my next entry will be about a climb of some mountain. Weather up high has been nasty for the last 4 days, but change is coming. If it hasn't dumped too much snow and avalanche danger isn't too high we are hoping to climb Churup. It should be a good brush up for our mixed climbing skills and another step in successful acclimation.

PS: Did not try "Cuy" yet because I am saving it for a post-climb celebration. :)


  1. Yerupaja is the peak dead center in the your photo of the Huayhuash.