PreparativesIt was a friday afternoon and I was standing by the door looking how the last day's sunrays warm up the surrounding eastern mountains of my hometown, Quito.
People walked up and down the streets of La Mariscal, Quito's touristic area. Bars, pubs and discoteques were opened, and I started to get ready to head out of the office I was working at.
Suddently Cristian shew up from the crowd. He smiles as always even though his plans of visiting La Cordillera Blanca in Peru just faded away. His friends changed their minds in the last moment and decided to remain in Ecuador instead of traveling south to Peru.
He tells me about it and how he still would like to go to Cordillera Blanca to climb a couple of peaks there.
Two hours later, after a long talking we made a deal and we agree to depart from Ecuador next weekend for a week-trip to Peru. It sounds like the adventure; to go climbing to another country with Cristian (also known as Chikidracula), a guy I barely know and met a week ago but with a courage and enthusiasm that could convince anybody; This is how our trip started.
Another 8 hour ride through and amazing scenery and by the dry dusty roads of La Cordillera Negra.
Once the bus topped out the pass of Cordillera Negra, the view became even more amazing. We could see the coastal plains below the early mist to the west, and the endless chain of white mountains to the east, La Cordillera Blanca.
HuarazGot to Huaraz around 6 am and an hour later we had a place where to stay at. The owners of the accomodation, Marial and her sister made us feel welcome in their house and even took us for a city tour and to a temporal amusement park. We spend a couple of days in Huaraz hoping for the weather to change. It rained every single day since we got there.
It wasn't until thursday when we finally got good weather, so we took advantage of it. After searching for information along the local travel agencies, we decided to climb Vallunaraju, which is one of the closest 5,000 m peaks to Huaraz and with a high rate of success.
We took a colectivo (shared taxi with 4-5 people) and rode up in it for 30 minutes to the village of Marian from where our hike started. It took us 5 hours to get to the refuge (4,700 m) above Laguna Llaca. We set up our tent far below Ranarapalca/Oschapalca's glacier...and hung out until sunset. We had an amazing sunset view from up there.
We left our tent at 3 am and gained altitude by climbing a steep hill located just below Vallunaraju's glacier. We stood on the glacier an hour later. Kept climbing up for 3 more hours, crossed a few creavasses, a couple of them deep and continued walking on compacted snow.
It felt great when we got to the saddle between the two summits. We chose to climb the highest one which was very corniced. Climbed up 20 more minutes and we got it! What an amazing feeling, Cristian and I on top of this beautiful mountain 5,686 m (18,963 ft), with all those tall steep mountains surrounding us. I think we climbed them all with our sight! Took a few pictures and got down to our camping site.
ReturnAs soon as we got back to Huaraz, we booked two seats on the next bus to Ecuador the next day. It was a long way home for both of us.. but we celebrated our succesful short trip to Cordillera Blanca right at the ecuadorian border with a couple of beers and good music.
It was a great experience which have kept me going back-and-fort to that wonderful place in the Peruvian Andes through the years. Can't wait to visit it again.