Huaraz. The "Chamonix of South America". After a jostling 7 hour bus ride from Lima the four of us roll into town, hurrying off to secure our luggage -which has transformed from large,cumbersome, inanimate, objects into what feels like our children. We are constantly lugging, always worrying about their welfare, incessently checking on their status. It's all for good reason, for the well being of that gear is imperitive if we want to accomplish what we've set out to do in Peru.
The gear is secured.....now what? We decided in Lima that we would stay at a hostel called Jo's Place. It appeared to be reputable, and hey, its name was so easy to pronounce! As we walk up to the curb we are immediately assailed by locals trying to vie for our money in exchange for their taxi services. After beating back several we settle on one that can for our luggage and bodies (barely) and head off to Jo's. The driver is paid his 5 soles (the currency in Peru is the Nuevo sol - the exchange rate is roughly 3 to 1) and we walk into a quaint courtyard filled with exotic looking flora.
We crash and burn for the night, the excitement of being in a different country in a different part of the world finally burning off for the time being.
We plan on staying at least three nights in Huaraz which is at 10,000 feet to begin the acclimitization process. Our fist day is spent getting to know the city. The bustling nature of Huaraz makes New York seem like a buddhists Zen garden. It turns out that Peruvians are quite fond of their horns, the air is filled with incessant beeping. Add to this the smells of freshly cooked meats from street vendors and the pungent odor of diesel exhaust and you have a unique atmosphere that is called Huaraz.
Day two in Huaraz finds us heading north to Chancos. As it turns out, the aforementioned diesel exhaust can prove to be quite overwhelming so we elect to ditch the city and head for rural Peru. A 3 sole ride in a "combi" (think passanger van crammed to the max with humans and luggage) followed by a quick taxi puts us near a small cliff that is home to a few rock climbs. This little crag proved to be entertaining, we didn't leave until we had more or less climbed everything it had to offer.
Following our rock climbing adventures we embark on another voyage in search of the chsncos hot springs. We were under the impression that there were natural pools, but it turned out to be more of a spa deal. So instead we found a river framed in by pastures, with the white behemoths of the cordillera Blanca in the background.
The walk back to the village through the Peruvian countryside was a refreshing change to the hectic energy of Huaraz. It was a land of farmers and buildings made of mud bricks.
Rock Climbing at 14,000 feet:
Finally, our last day of acclimitization in the greater Huaraz area was spent at Hatun Machay (pronounced huh-toon muh-chay), or "the rock forest". This rock climbing area is an hour and a half drive from town and has almost 300 routes. The drive to this destination tested ones gastrointestinal integrity almost more than the highly featured rock that we climbed - with the mach speed approach to turns and bumps.
After surviving the drive we were immediately stunned by the beauty of the the rock forest and the surrounding highlands. The greens and yellows of the grasses and the browns of the rock coupled with the brilliant snow covered peaks of the cordillera Negra made for a truly enchanting experience...and we were going to be rock climbing i
The next chapter:
As far as the acclimitization process goes, the next step is the 4 day Santa Cruz trek. This will see us through some of the most beautiful scenery Peru has to offer, not to mentioned we'll be sanwhiched in between the massive peaks of the Blancas - the very mountains we hope to be climbing in the coming weeks.
So stay tuned for fuurther updates!