A Quick & Dirty Guide to the Cordillera Blanca Traverse

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In the summer time of 2014, I put collectively a traverse of Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. One of the world’s highest and most stunning mountain ranges, to one of the best of my information, it was the primary time that such a trek had been accomplished.

Beginning on the village of Hualcallan and ending at Pastoruri Glacier, the route consisted of a mix of established trails, cross-country scrambles, and the occasional stretch alongside backcountry dust roads. Measuring roughly 400 km (249 mi) in size, it took 16 days to finish and included greater than 20 mountain passes ranging between 4,347 m and 5,201 m (14,262 ft-17,064 ft). After eight years and fairly a number of requests, I’ve lastly put collectively a “quick & dirty” information for the route (no level speeding these items 😉 ). The article contains GPS information, logistical suggestions, alternates, and trekking notes for the route’s 4 levels.

Views from just under Ishinca Pass (5,201 m), the best level on the CBT (Stage 2).

CBT Shout-outs: Before getting began, I’d like to say two individuals in regard to the CBT – Austin Lillywhite and Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva. The former accomplished three of the trek’s 4 levels in 2017 and was variety sufficient to supply data on a few alternate routes. The latter is an previous pal who, together with a pair of mates (Bobcat and Stef), accomplished the CBT in 2018 and has contributed up to date logistical data, photographs, and route choices from their journey (Note: For extra on Austin and DM see on-line assets under).

Contents

Nearing Paso Yanayuca (picture courtesy of Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva) (Stage 1)

At a Glance

Distance:  249 miles (400 km) approx.

Average Duration:  16-22 days

Start / Finish:  

  • Northern Terminus:  Hualcallan (3,133 m/10,279 ft)
  • Southern Terminus:  Pastoruri Glacier (5,033 m/16,512 ft)

Highest Elevation: Ishinca Pass (5,201 m/17,064 ft)

Lowest Elevation: Hualcallan (3,133 m/10,279 ft)

Total Elevation Gain: 25,417 m (83,389 ft)

Highlights:

  • Nevado Alpamayo at sundown
  • Ishinca and Cashan Passes
  • The archeological website of Chavin de Huantar
  • Puya Ramondii round Lake Qishqiqucha
  • Regenerating swims in bone-chilling alpine lakes
  • The friendliness and hospitality of the Cordillera Blanca’s residents

The pyramid-shaped Alpamayo (5,947 m/19,511 ft) illuminated by the late-afternoon solar (Stage 1)

Growing as much as 10 m (33 ft) excessive, Puya Raimondii crops are endemic to the high-altitude areas of the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes. They are the world’s largest Bromeliad and are often called the “Queen of the Andes.” (Stage 4)

Cordillera Blanca Miscellanea

  • Situated within the Ancash area of Peru, the Cordillera Blanca is a sub-range of the Andes mountains. It’s roughly 13 miles vast (21 km) and 124 miles (200 km) lengthy because the condor flies.
  • The Cordillera Blanca comprises a dozen peaks which might be greater than 20,000 ft (6,096 m), with an extra twenty-four topping 18,000 ft (5,486 m).
  • There are estimated to be 722 particular person glaciers inside the Cordillera Blanca vary, which is the biggest focus of tropical-zone glaciers on the planet. Since the 1970’s they’ve retreated greater than 15%. A staggering discount, particularly contemplating their hydrological significance to a rising Peruvian inhabitants.
  • In 1970, the Cordillera Blanca was rocked by an earthquake (7.9 on the Richter scale) that worn out 95% of Huaraz (the regional capital), fully destroyed the city of Yungay, and was liable for the deaths of as much as 70,000 individuals. It was the worst pure catastrophe in Peru’s historical past, and the ensuing avalanche is taken into account the deadliest in world historical past.
  • For historical past buffs resembling myself, a not-to-be-missed facet journey throughout the CBT is the historic village of Chavin de Huantar. Located on the japanese flanks of the Cordillera Blanca, along with its picturesque plaza and dramatic setting, Chavin is house to a World Heritage-listed archeological website that dates again greater than 3000 years. Chavin de Huantar was the spiritual heart of the Chavin individuals, one of many main pre-Inca cultures of Peru.
  • Legend has it that Artesonraju Peak (6025 m/19,767 ft) is the inspiration behind the well-known Paramount Pictures icon. Just a few miles north of there lies Nevado Alpamayo, a pyramid-shaped mountain that was voted the world’s most stunning mountain by a global survey commissioned by the German Alpine Club within the Nineteen Sixties.

Cordillera Blanca Range Overview Map

One Route, Four Stages

For the needs of resupply, I cut up the CBT into 4 levels (click on on the hyperlinks under for journal entries from 2014). Each of the stage trailheads is accessible by public transport, which means that people that aren’t curious about thru-hiking the CBT might doubtlessly do a number of of the levels as stand-alone hikes (Note: Distances have been up to date as of 2022, and can differ relying on route selections):

Cordillera Blanca Traverse – Google Map Overview

National Park Permit

The CBT takes place in Parque Nacional Huascarán. For any multi-day hike within the park, you’ll have to acquire a trekking allow from their workplace in Huaraz (-9.53203, -77.52984) earlier than setting out.

Season

  • May to September is the dry season within the Peruvian Andes. Technically talking, that is late autumn/winter within the southern hemisphere, nonetheless, attributable to the truth that the Cordillera Blanca is located so near the equator, temperature fluctuations are comparatively minor all year long. I hiked from late August to early September and had high quality climate all through many of the 16 days. Temperatures ranged between highs round 20°C and lows of -10°C (Note: The latter was skilled when tenting just under 5,000m).
  • What’s too early? What’s too late?:  Obviously, situations will differ from 12 months to 12 months, however given common annual snow ranges, I wouldn’t suggest beginning the route earlier than early June or later than the tip of September. A living proof is Austin Lillywhite’s May 2017 hike, the place he was unable to go over Stage 3’s Cashan Pass due to snow situations.

Cashan Pass in late August (5,157 m/16,919 ft) – One of the hardest of the CBT’s 21 passes, Cashan could also be snowbound early within the mountain climbing season (Note: The southern facet of the go nonetheless had fairly a little bit of ice/snow when this picture was taken) (Note 2: The go is the little notch within the centre of the picture)(Stage 3)

How Long Will it Take?

  • My CBT Experience: I took 16 days to finish the CBT. Some of these days have been spent route discovering, visiting archeological websites, and customarily testing different factors of curiosity alongside the best way. I took one full “zero-day” (relaxation day) in Huaraz and one other “nero” (nearly a zero) in Chavin. Pushing just a little bit more durable and with out the diversions, route-finding, and relaxation day, I think I’d have taken round 13 days to finish the hike.
  • Average Duration: This is a route that ought to solely be undertaken by skilled long-distance hikers who start the path properly and really acclimatized. If you tick these bins, together with turning up in good condition and carrying a lightish pack, I’d estimate the common time wanted for the CBT could be between 16 and 22 days (together with a relaxation day or two).

Laguna Cullicocha (4,620 m) – The first of many lakes alongside the route (Stage 1)

Pre-CBT Acclimatization Strategy

After the preliminary climb out of Hualcallan, nearly all the CBT takes place above 4000 m (13,123 ft). I can’t emphasize strongly sufficient that this can be a hike for which you want to be well-acclimatized earlier than setting out.

In order to keep away from attainable points with AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), plan to spend on the very least two or three days in Huaraz (3640m / 11,942 ft) earlier than starting the CBT. During your keep within the regional hub, do some quick excursions such because the Laguna 69 (-9.01074, -77.61178) and Laguna Churup (-9.48503, -77.42871) trails, each of that are simply accessed by way of public transport from Huaraz. If you’ve got the time, I’d additionally counsel mountain climbing the close by Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit earlier than the CBT. For extra data on acclimatization, see Tips for High Altitude Hiking.

Snow-capped horizons close to Alto de Pucaraju (4,615 m) (Stage 1)

Transport

  • Northern Terminus: Hualcallan Village. I took a collectivo (minibus) from the city of Caraz to the village of Cashapampa, from which I walked 9 kilometers to Hualcallan. If you need to go on to Hualcallan, personal transport/taxi could be organized from Caraz.
  • Southern Terminus: Pastoruri Glacier is a well-liked vacation spot for day-trippers from Huaraz. If you arrive earlier than late afternoon, there needs to be no points getting a spot on one of many buses that usually ply the path to and from the regional capital. 
  • From the tip of Stage 1, you’ll be able to both hitch or take one of many common buses that go by to the close by village of Chacas. Returning to the path, catch a bus certain for Huaraz, and ask to be dropped off at Pompey/Huallin.
  • From the hamlet of Pitec on the finish of Stage 2, you’ll be able to catch a journey down the mountain to Huaraz. Alternatively, stroll west for an extra 4.5 km to Llupa and take one of many common collectivos that go away from there.
  • From the tip of Stage 3 on Road #110 overlooking Lago Querococha, hitch or flag down one of many common buses that head eastwards to the village of Chavin de Huantar.

The village of Hualcallan is the place to begin of the CBT. This picture was taken from the switchbacks above the village.

The rapidly-shrinking Pastoruri glacier, the southern terminus of the CBT.

Water & Resupply

  • Water: Abundant all through many of the hike. Generally talking, I handled with Aquamira within the low-lying areas and/or wherever there was livestock or human settlement. In the upper reaches, the place water was coming instantly off the glaciers, I drank straight from the supply. I had no intestinal points on this or every other hike I’ve accomplished throughout my journeys to Peru.
  • Resupply: From north to south, the principle resupply factors are Huallin, Chacas, Pitec (Huaraz), and Chavin de Huantar (see Transport above). The regional hub of Huaraz has a variety of “traditional backpacking” meals accessible, resembling dried fruit and nuts, cereals, pasta, tuna, powdered milk, chocolate, and so on. Choices are far more restricted within the villages alongside the best way. On the cooking entrance, you’ll have the ability to decide up a gasoline canister or denatured alcohol in your range in Huaraz.

Meandering stream in Quebrada Honda (Stage 2)

Camping & Accommodation

On the route itself, you’ll be able to wild camp just about wherever you want. That stated, I’d keep away from establishing too near villages or shepherd encampments (which can be patrolled by territorial guard canines).

There’s one full-service mountain hut alongside the route – Refugio Ishinca. Situated within the shadows of  Toclarraju (6,032m) and Polcaraju (6,110m) peaks, Refugio Ishinca was an surprising bonus. Half anticipating a semi-dilapidated backcountry outpost, what I obtained as a substitute was comfortable beds, good meals, useful workers, and even a solar-powered bathe!

In Town: The regional capital of Huaraz has a large number of choices to swimsuit all budgets. During my time on the town, I stayed on the Hotel Churup, which I can extremely suggest. Juan Quiros Romero and his household have been wonderful hosts, the breakfasts have been first-rate, the rooms snug, they usually saved my additional baggage once I was out within the boonies. Double thumbs up.

Regarding the opposite cities alongside the route, in Chacas, I arrived late and ended up staying at a dodgy place whose solely redeeming function was that it was centrally positioned. As for Chavin de Huantar, I stayed on the characterful Hostal La Casona on the Plaza de Armas. I’m 99% sure that this was the identical place I stayed at in 1996, and for the sake of nostalgia, I couldn’t resist returning 18 years later. On the distant likelihood that they’re studying this submit, shout-out to my 1996 touring/mountain climbing companions, Sylvia, Fleischy, and Dave.

Campsite (Stage 2 – Shallup Pass Alternate)

Chacas Village

Refugio Ishinca

Photogenic llama at Chavin de Huantar archeological website (semi-obligatory facet journey between levels 3 and 4).

GPS & Maps 

I put collectively the CBT route in 2014 with the assistance of the below-listed topo maps, Google Earth, and Jim Bartles’s basic Cordillera Blanca textual content (see under). When mountain climbing the route, I used stated maps and a Suunto M-2 compass for navigation. I additionally took alongside a Garmin Foretrex, with which I took waypoints of notable spots alongside the route. 

FWIW, since 2015, Gaia GPS (along with Google Earth) has been my go-to mapping software when planning these kinds of journeys, although I’ve periodically used Caltopo when placing routes collectively within the States. 

  • Cordillera Blanca Traverse – Google Map: Includes greater than 270 waypoints, indicating junctions, vital landmarks (each pure and artifical), resupply factors, and alternate routes. Note: The fundamental route is denoted by crimson markers, resupply cities are denoted by yellow markers, and alternate routes by blue markers.
  • Maps: I used two mapsets throughout the CBT: 1. Alpenvereinskarte (German Alpine Club): Consists of two 1:100,000 sheets which cowl your entire vary – 0/3a Cordillera Blanca Nord & the 0/3b Cordillera Blanca Sud, and; 2. Skyline Adventures: Also, two maps cut up into north and south. Both are 1:75,000. The Skyline maps don’t cowl essentially the most southerly a part of the Cordillera Blanca vary (i.e. Stage 4).
  • What do you suggest for people planning a CBT hike in 2022?1. Import the waypoints from the CBT Google Map right into a mapping app resembling GaiaGPS; 2. Download the maps for offline use in your smartphone, and; 3. While mountain climbing the CBT, complement your digital machine with a compass and one of many above-mentioned overview mapsets (Tip: With this form of route, all the time carry a navigational backup of some kind, whether or not or not it’s a paper map/compass and even an additional telephone that additionally has the maps downloaded).

Old faculty assets for CBT planning.

Online Resources

  • Austin Lillywhite’s CBT VideoCordillera Blanca Traverse YouTube video (10 min). Austin was the primary particular person to investigate concerning the CBT in 2016. The following 12 months, he and a pal flew to Peru and accomplished many of the CBT, the lone exception being Stage 3, which they have been unable to complete due to early season snow/ice on Cashan Pass. Here’s a hyperlink to his web site, which incorporates data and movies for different superb hikes such because the Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit, Wind River High Route, and the Sierra High Route.

Lago Akilpo (Stage 2) / Photo courtesy of Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva

Trekking Notes: The Passes 

The collective crux of the CBT are the passes. Depending on route selections, there are between twenty-one and twenty-three in whole, ranging between 4,347 m and 5,201 m. By any standards, it’s a rollercoaster of a visit, with a lung-busting, knee-wobbling whole elevation achieve and lack of round 50,000 m (164,000 ft).

When placing the route collectively, the vast majority of the passes have been marked on the above-mentioned topo maps. However, throughout the southern half of the journey, there have been a handful that weren’t, and a few of these represented essentially the most difficult side of the planning section. The passes for which I had no data on the time included Urus/Akilpo (5,040m), Ishinca/Palcaraju (5,201m), Shallap (5,001m), Cashan (5,157m), Rurec (4,350 m), Pucaraju (4,583 m), Maraytaca (4,611 m), Landslide (4,951 m), and Huarapasca (4,930 m). Please observe that the majority of those names merely replicate adjoining peaks, valleys, or within the case of “Landslide”, a comparatively latest geological occasion, and might not be the names utilized by locals for a similar excessive factors.

Here’s the record of passes (from North to South), with their respective elevations in parentheses. Stage 1 passes are in black font, Stage 2 in blue, Stage 3 in crimson, and Stage 4 in inexperienced:

    1. Osoruri Pass (4,848 m/15,906 ft) 
    2. Vientunan Pass (4,760 m/15,617 ft)  
    3. Gara Gara Pass (4,840 m/15,879 ft)  
    4. Mesapata go (4,450 m/14,600 ft)  
    5. Yanacon Pass (4,601 m/15,095 ft)  
    6. Tupatupa Pass (4,347 m/14,262 ft)  
    7. Alto de Pucaraju (4,615 m/15,141 ft)  
    8. Punta Yanayuca (4,790 m/15,715 ft)  
    9. Punta Olimpica (4,909 m/16,106 ft) 
    10. Portachuelo de Honda (4,763 m/15,551 ft) (Alternative choice accessible) 
    11. Urus Pass (5,040 m/16,535 ft) 
    12.  Ishinca/Palcaraju Pass (5,201 m/17,064 ft) (Alternative choice accessible)
    13.  Choco/Huapi Pass (5,073 m/16,644 ft)
    14.  Shallap Pass (5,001 m/16,407 ft) (Alternative choice accessible, although not really useful)
    15.  Cashan Pass (5,157 m/16,919 ft) 
    16.  Rurec Pass (4,350 m/14,272 ft)
    17.  Pucaraju Pass (4,583 m/15,037 ft)
    18.  Maraytaca Pass (4,611 m/15,128 ft)
    19.  Punta Raria (4,801 m/15,751 ft)
    20.  Landslide Pass (4,951 m/16,243 ft) (Alternative choice accessible)
    21.  Huarapasca Pass (4,930 m/16,175 ft)

Osoruri Pass (4,848 m)………one down, twenty to go.

Looking again in the direction of Urus Pass (5,040 m) from its southern facet (Stage 2)

Descending from Ishinca Pass (5,201m)(Stage 2) – Photo courtesy of Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva.

Trekking Notes – The Stages

In placing collectively this Q&D Guide, I plugged all the info I had into Gaia GPS, created a route, and got here out with the next up to date figures for distance and whole elevation. For these doing the hike sooner or later, relying on route selections, last totals will differ as much as 10 %.

CBT  Stage 1 – Hualcallan to Pompey/Huallin

Distance: 152 km (94.4 mi)

Total Ascent: 10,517 m (34,504 ft)

Max. Elevation: 4,911 m (16,112 ft)

Min. Elevation: 3132 m (10,276 ft)

Notes: 

  • The first stage of the CBT was totally on established trails. The preliminary couple of days coincided with the Alpamayo Base Camp Trek, and later the route intersected briefly with the area’s hottest multi-day hike, the Santa Cruz Trek.
  • During stage 1, the route goes up and over 9 passes, all of that are marked on the topo mapsets listed above.
  • Apart from the beginning and ending villages, you could possibly complement your provisions within the blink-and-you-miss-them hamlets of Huaripampa, Colcabamba, and Yanama.
  • Apart from a one-mile (1.6 km) stretch between levels 3 and 4, the one time you’ll stroll on a paved street throughout the CBT is on the finish of Stage 1, from the Punta Olimpica tunnel to the villages of Huallin and Pompey. Both earlier than and after the tunnel, a lot of the street part could be prevented by following (typically) faint and sometimes steepish trails that bypass the numerous switchbacks on both facet of the go. These paths have been utilized by locals within the days earlier than the street was constructed.

A cruisy stretch of path alongside the ground of Quebrada Alpamayo (Stage 1)

Campsite in Quebrada Alpamayo (Stage 1).

View from Gara Gara Pass (4,840m) (Stage 1)

Sunrise from Quebrada Jancapampa (Stage 1)

Lago Huecrococha (Stage 1)

Laguna Sactaycocha (Stage 1) – (Photo courtesy of Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva).

Artesonraju Peak (6025 m/19,767 ft) as seen from Quebrado Huaripampa. This is the height that’s stated to be the inspiration behind the Paramount Pictures brand. I’m not too certain concerning the veracity of this declare, although, for film buffs, it makes for a superb story.

Walking by way of the Punta Olimpica Tunnel (4,735 m), which is the best vehicular tunnel on this planet (Photo courtesy of Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva).

CBT Stage 2 – Huallin to Pitec

Distance: 108 km (67.1 mi)

Total Ascent:  5,978 m (19,613 ft)

Max. Elevation:  5,201 m (17,064 ft)

Min. Elevation:  3,416 m (11,207 ft)

Notes:

  • The first go of Stage 2 – Portachuela de Honda (4,763 m) – is bookended by dust street walks in Juitush and Honda Valleys. At Portachuela de Honda, there are a few completely different excessive factors from which to decide on; each DM in 2018 and myself in 2014 took the blue route, which is shorter, steeper, and (maybe) much less well-defined than the crimson route (at the very least from what I can collect on the topo maps).
  • It’s value noting that the japanese finish of Quebrada Honda has a mining presence, and you’ll probably see autos touring to and from the mines when you attain the dust street that runs alongside the valley ground. Neither I nor DM encountered any points with these of us; quite the opposite, they have been uniformly pleasant and nobody appeared bothered by our presence. This was the state of affairs in 2014 and 2018, I can’t say if the temper has modified within the ensuing years.
  • If I needed to decide my favourite part of your entire CBT, it could be the roughly 50-55 km (31-34 mi) stretch between the western finish of Quebrado Akilpo and the northeastern reaches of Quebrada Quilcayhuanca. Beginning with the “enchanted forest”, the route goes up and over three 5,000 m plus passes – Urus/Akilpo, Ishinca/Palcaraju, and Choco/Huapi. The first two of those excessive factors have been among the many group for which I didn’t have any pre-trip information, and although I used to be pretty certain each would go, I used to be over the moon after they truly did. All that zooming out and in from completely different angles on Google Earth wasn’t for nothing………. I’ll have even accomplished a celebratory jig! (Note: Both passes had small cairns at or close to the highest, so locals acquainted with this a part of the Cordillera Blanca undoubtedly knew of their existence, even when I didn’t). For anybody studying this submit who’s curious about doing a bit of the CBT relatively than the entire trek, that is the stage I’d suggest. It’s difficult, however the rewards greater than compensate. For my cash, one of many best stretches of high-altitude mountain climbing in your entire Andes vary.
  • It’s normally attainable to catch a journey all the way down to Huaraz from the tiny village of Pitec on the finish of the stage. Pitec is the beginning/ending level for one of many space’s hottest day hikes – the path to Laguna Churup (4,480 m). If nothing’s accessible once you arrive in Pitec, stroll for 4.5 km all the way down to the neighboring village of Llupa, the place common collectivos run up and down the mountain to Huaraz.

“Chester” – a neighborhood canine that adopted me by way of the enchanted forest of Quebrada Akilpo, which was the longest woodland stretch of the CBT (approx. 8 km lengthy) (Stage 2).

Laguna Akilpo (4,690m) (Stage 2)

Descending from Ishinca Pass (5,201m) in the direction of Quebrada Cajup (Stage 2).

Descending into Quebrada Quilcayhuanca from Choco/Huapi Pass (Stage 2) / Photo courtesy of Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva.

Campsite sundown in Quebrada Quilcayhuanca (Stage 2) / Photo courtesy of Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva.

Bucolic stretch to complete the second stage / Quebrada Quilcayhuanca.

CBT Stage 3 – Pitec to Chavin

Distance: 65 km (40.4 mi)

Total Ascent:  4,520 m (14,829 ft)

Max. Elevation:  5,157 m (16,919 ft)

Min. Elevation:  3,747 m (12,293 ft)

Notes:

  • The third stage traverses 4 passes, particularly Shallap (5,001m), Cashan (5,157m), Rurec (4,350m), and Pucaraju (4,583m).
  • Cashan is the final and probably essentially the most difficult of all of the passes. As talked about above, anybody trying the CBT earlier than mid to late June in a mean snow 12 months is more likely to encounter fairly a little bit of snow/ice on the northern facet and appreciably extra on the even-steeper southern facet. If you’re adamant about doing the hike early season, be sure you take microspikes and an ice axe. Maybe a rabbit’s foot as properly.
  • Descending into Quebrada Rurec after Cashan go, the panorama transitions from rock and ice to pastoral. The following go, which I unimaginatively known as “Rurec”, is principally only a lengthy grassy slope (see picture under). The similar goes for “Pucaraju” close to the tip of the stage (-9.68107, -77.34529).
  • During the ultimate few kilometers of the third stage, you’ll attain Laguna Querococha, the biggest lake on the route. Both DM and I skirted the lake’s northern shore earlier than making a beeline to the street to Chavin. A greater choice could be to observe the lake’s western facet after which swing round its southern finish to affix the street at a lookout (-9.72753, -77.33123). This would minimize a number of kilometers of street strolling off the start of the fourth and last stage.

Lago Shallap (Stage 3)

Lago Shallap on the best way as much as its namesake go / Photo courtesy of Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva (Stage 3)

View from the slim notch of Cashan Pass (5,157 m) (Stage 3) / MLD Exodus pictured (Note: As with MLD’s Burn and Prophet fashions, the unique Exodus is notably smaller than the present iteration).

Outside a shepherd’s hut in Quebrada Rurec (Stage 3)

Looking again in the direction of Quebrada Rurec from the slopes of Rurec Pass.

Heading up in the direction of Rurec Pass (4,350m) (Stage 3).

Lago Querococha (finish of Stage 3)

Ancient underground tunnel / Chavin de Huantar archeological website.

Chavin de Huantar archeological website / Photo courtesy of Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva)

CBT Stage 4 – Chavin to Pastoruri Glacier

Distance:  72 km (44.7 mi)

Total Ascent: 4,402 m (14,442 ft)

Max. Elevation:  5,040 m (16,535 ft)

Min. Elevation:  3,865 m (12,680 ft)

Notes:

  • Starting from the Lago Querococha viewpoint, hike for a mile (1.6 km) down the street to the place it passes over the lake’s outlet stream. Leave the street right here, and start descending WSW alongside the watercourse’s true left facet.
  • After a pair extra kilometers, ascend the ridge you’ve been paralleling and drop into Quebrada Pamparaju. Head south till you attain Quebrada Maraytaca, which you’ll ascend to the SW. After simply over 4 km, go away the valley and climb steeply SSE to an apparent go (-9.80422, -77.30218). You’ve now entered the Puya Raimondii zone, the botanical spotlight of the route.
  • There are some unbelievable lakes throughout this stretch, and in high quality situations, I’d extremely suggest taking a dip within the crystal clear Lago Acococha. Around its perimeter, there are many flattish rocks upon which to soak within the solar’s warming rays after your swim.
  • From a route alternative perspective, the ultimate resolution you’ll must make comes upon arrival in Quebrada Puchua. In 2014, the plan was to move over a col I’d recognized on the valley’s southern finish between Nevado Gajap (5,208 m) and Nevado Huayacu (5,418 m). Taking off in that path, I quickly encountered a gaggle of native shepherds who knowledgeable me that it was unpassable attributable to a latest landslide. I continued to press them about its viability, however they remained adamant. I in the end accepted their recommendation and ended up taking an alternate route (see blue markers on Google Map). Things clearly stabilized within the ensuing years, as in 2018, Dirtmonger and buddies got the inexperienced mild by locals to go over what I dubbed “Landslide Pass.” (Note: The different route can also be very scenic and provides some unbelievable views to the east of the Cordillera Blanca. Nonetheless, assuming it’s secure to take action, I’d suggest taking the route over Landslide Pass. There all the time appears to be locals floating about in Quebrada Puchua, so be sure you ask about present situations earlier than making your resolution).

Puya Raimondii above Lago Qishqiquch (Stage 4)

Overnighting in a shepherd’s hut throughout a stormy evening (Stage 4) (Note: The quilt within the picture is my trusty Katatabatic Sawatch, which I’ve had for the reason that 12 Long Walks journey of 2011/12, and which remains to be going sturdy greater than a decade later).

Lago Qishqiqucha (Stage 4)

Lago Acococha (4,594 m) / It was right here I took my third and last swim of the CBT (Stage 4).

Heading in the direction of Punta Raria (4,801m)(Stage 4).

Descending Landslide Pass (4,951m) (Stage 4) / Photo courtesy of Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva.

Yours really at Pastoruri Glacier (5,033 m) – the southern terminus of the Cordillera Blanca Traverse. The End.

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