La Esfinge (The Sphinx) is a vast granite formation in the Paron Valley, in the Cordillera Blanca in Peru.
It is famous for being probably one of the largest Big-Wall site in Peru (750 - 1,000 vertical meters), (2,460 - 3,280 vertical feet) and it has been discovered for climbing relatively late.
Initial lines, dating back to the Original Route by Antonio Gomez Bohorquez and Onofre Garcia in July 1985, were lengthy big wall extravaganzas using considerable aid.
The real potential of the Sphinx as a wonderful free climbing venue was realized in 1997 by the Spanish-Peruvian team of Julio Fernandez, Guillermo Mejia and David Rodriguez, when they made a two-day free ascent of the Original Route (first climbed with nine bivouacs) at the relatively 'easy' grade of 5.11c.
Lima’s Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chavez is located in suburban Callao (about 12 km west of downtown). Taxis can be taken inside the airport’s terminal, but it’s more recommendable to take those cabs outside the pedestrian gate which charge less for a ride downtown or to any bus station than those parked inside the terminal.
Every bus company runs its own office and station in Lima. It’s recommendable to take those that cluster around Javier Prado Este in La Victoria neighborhood. Some of these companies are: Cruz Del Sur, Tepsa and Civa. It’ll take you about 8 hours to get from Lima to Huaraz.
From Huaraz you can take mini-buses (combis) to the town of Caraz. It is a two and a half-hour ride and it costs costs 5,00 Soles per person (USD. 1,50). Once in Caraz you will need to go for a short walk to Paradero Paron, which is located not too far from Plaza de Armas (Main Square) and then take another combi to the town of Paron which is located almost beginning of Valle de Paron. It costs 5,00 Soles as well (USD. 1,50).
You can also negotiate and additional ride and fare with the driver, around 10,00 Soles (USD. 3,00) extra each and you can even get taken as far as the valleys entrance. That way you could save 1 hour-hike.
Once in Laguna El Paron, leave the permanently manned Guard’s Hut at the lake (porters can usually be arranged there), walk out of the gate and just before crossing a bridge take a small path on the right.
Follow this for 30 minutes, past the entrance to two valleys, until a third valley rises up to the right. Leave the path just before a small stream, at the point where there is a green slab and large pointed block on the ridge above. Ascend a vague track up a large hill until it Levels off after approximately two hours. Stay high near the scree and reach Base Camp, which lies in the direction of La Esfinge, in a further 15 minutes.
From Base Camp it is again best to approach all the routes on the East Face by staying high near the scree. While the sunny East Face is beautifully featured golden granite with great potential for free climbing, the impressive 1,000m high South Face is probably the venue for big aid routes, as it is very cold, remaining in the shade all day.
The South West or West Face is largely snow-covered and probably not that steep. Cloud tends to cover this wall without spilling over the summit ridge to the East Face.
A Taxi from Huaraz could cost you around 160,00 Soles (USD. 53,00) one way and around 220,00 Soles (USD. 73,00) Round Trip, but it can take you all the way up to Laguna El Paron where you will find a refuge. You can do the same from Caraz for around half the price too.
If you know already how many days you will stay, you can arrange to be picked up again with your driver. (Usually 3-4 days).
Expect to pay USD. 10,00 entrance fee to the community (Not to the Parque Nacional Huascaran). A National Park fee is not required for La Esfinge.
You are entitled to stay as long as you want by paying this fee to the community.
Hiring a mule driver costs USD. 10,00 a day, and donkeys about USD. 15,00 a day ea. You always have to pay for an extra day for the mules and driver, for them to return to their town, that means a 5 day trip will cost you as a 6 day trip.
The best season to climb is from mid-June till late July and early August.
In an average year you can probably start as early as May and continue until the beginning of September, but the rainy season will usually drop in mid-September.
No limitations whatsoever.
Existing lines to date are listed below, (but new other routes are being opened little by little through the years). More detailed route information is available in the Casa de Guias in Huaraz. The length of the route rather than its vertical height is quoted.
(1) South Face (Bohorquez/Vicente, August 1988: 950m: 5.10a and A4: 15 bivouacs: probably unrepeated, takes the sunny right edge of the face, left of the photo and not in view).
(2) East Pillar; Volveras a Mi (de la Cal/Madrid/Olivera/Polanco, August 1987: 900m: 5.10a and A3: probably unrepeated).
(3) Cruz del Sur (Bole/Karo with Strmsek: July 2000: 800m: 7c+, 7a obl: unrepeated).
(4) Original Route (Bohorquez/Garcia, July 1985: 750m: 5.10a and A1: 10 days. FFA probably Fernandez/Mejia/Rodriguez, 1997: 5.11c or E4 6a. Many ascents with the fastest by Perkins and Wainwright in seven hours during July 2000.
(5) Riddle of the Cordillera Blanca (Davis/Offenbacher, May 2000: 750m: 5.10+ and A3: unrepeated.
(6) Lobo Estepario (Cruces-solo, July 2000: 650m: F6b and A3: unrepeated).
(7) Papa Rellena (Cruaud/Devernay/Peyronnard/Plaze, July 1999: 600m: F6c+ and A3: partially repeated).
(8) Here Comes the Sun (Bigger/Regan, June 2000: 700m: E3 5c and A3. FFA Houlding/Whittaker, July 2000: E6 6b).
(9) Todos Narcos (Fernandez/Lacueva July 2000: 750m: F6c and A3: unrepeated).
(10) Little Fluffy Clouds (Dyer/Hammond, July 2000: 650m: E5 5c: unrepeated).
(11) Ganxets Glacé (Ortuño/Salvador, July 1996: 650m: F6a and A2: unrepeated).
(12) Intuition (Miyamoto/Sharratt, July 2000: 600m: 5.12c: unrepeated).
(13) Dion’s Dihedral (Dolecki/Isaac, June 1999: 600m: 5.9 and A3: 10 days. FFA Hammond/Sellers in four days during July 2000: E5 6b).
(14) North East Ridge (Huber/Koch/Schmidt, June 1955: easy scrambling: many ascents and forms the standard descent route).From the lowest point on the ridge make three rappels down the east flank to the screes, though originally the crest was approached via the easy west flank).
Edu Marin & Dani Moreno break a record twice with the quickest ascent in 1 hour 45 min.