Peru: Cordillera Huayhuash Trek – To Cuartelhuain

20 07 2017

Last night’s dinner at the Club Andino Huaraz was simply exquisite! With the exception of dessert, which was apple pie, I feasted on Peruvian delights. The starter was a Causa, which is layers of magically whipped and seasoned potato separated by choice of chicken, shrimp, or perhaps trout, kicked with Aji Amarillo – a type of chile. If is absolutely to DIE for if you ever get to Peru. Did you know Peru has more than 4,000 types of Potatoes? Next a bit more emotionally difficult choice – Alpaca. It was thinly sliced and kind of like a combination of steak, lamb and maybe a bit of bacon. Good!

 

causa

A Causa featuring shrimp.

 

OK, then dessert, and of course some Peruvian Malbec, made me ready for bedtime. Tomorrow, it would be a 5-hour drive to 13,776′ camp at Cuartelhuain! This would be camp #1 from which we’d be trekking. The drive, plus today’s hike to 12,650′, and spending the evening in camp, would aid our acclimatization. So, back in the hotel room, it was time to sort thru stuff I’d leave at the hotel, and the stuff I’d take on the trek.

I brought an extra light duffel and lock for the hotel storage part. I’d leave stuff like wall electronics chargers, my passport, tips for my guide, city clothes, some tourist booklets, and most importantly as it was going to turn out, an end-of-trip change of FRESH clothes!

After a 6:30 a.m. breakfast, it was time to board the bus, which would take us on the long and windy road to camp.

Cuartelhuain Drive3

The road left Huaraz, paved, but would eventually become rock and dirt, descending and climbing steep canyons. Sometimes the bus would scrawl underneath overhanging boulders!

All along the way we’d glimpse numerous what I’d call ranches at river bottoms, where cattle gathered to eat the grasses.

This was a one-way road. Coming round a bend, we’d sometimes encounter a vehicle going the other way. We’d stop. Back up, and find a “shoulder” so the other vehicle could pass. Everyone was OK.

 

Cuartelhuain Drive4

Like the Himalayas, the Andes lifted ocean crust, resulting in unimaginable twists in once horizontal rock layers.

 

The Andes rose some 70 million years ago due to plate tectonics. The Pacific Plate came into “combat” with the Nazca Plate. And from that point on, the sea floor rose, which was to become the 20,000+ ft Andes, the longest mountain chain on Planet Earth. We’d find ocean fossils on our trek.

This drive took us to our first views of the steepness of Andean Valleys.

Cuartelhuain Drive1

The heights of the peaks, the depth of the valleys, and the amazing clinging villages in between are images we’d glimpse for the next two weeks. Ha! And, oh yes. We’d be trekking/climbing those very same places with our own two legs, lungs, and hearts!

Cuartelhuain arrival

OK arrival at Cuartelhuain – our tents all set up and our duffel bags inside, ready for our first night’s camp. As you can see, all is SUNNY, I am still in shorts, regardless of the 13,776′ elevation. Snow? Not at this level. This is pretty as it would be the rest of the trek. Late afternoon, warm. But once the sun falls below the mtns in the valley, a BIG CHILL starts. Time to layer up. Tomorrow, it’s up to the Continental Divide at Cacanampunta Pass which is our 1st big one at 15,387′!!!!

When it comes to dinner, Cathy Ann Taylor’s mantra is “Eaters are Succeeders,” so no problemo asking for 2nds!

 

 


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