Back to the Blanca

Anyone who’s been paying the slightest attention to my tracking map has no doubt noticed that the trip has somewhat ground to a halt in recent months. I’d be the first to admit that southerly progress has been minimal at best, in fact, negative progress has even started to feature. Following Sam and I’s soggy escapades in Peru’s Southern Andes, I’ve since retreated to the comfort of Huaraz and its multitude of cake shops, to continue beavering away on a side project. All fairly un-blog-worthy, but fear not, normal service is about to be resumed….

That being said, with the Cordillera Blanca on my doorstep, a break in the weather was all the temptation I needed to down tools and head out on a cheeky bikepacking foray into the mountains. A mission straight into the heart of the Blanca to Laguna Rajucolta. Whilst only a one-night affair, it was a cracker and for me represents the essence of what Andean bike adventuring is all about.

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A few minutes from Huaraz’s chaotic centre and cacophony of taxi horns you can be on little used dirt winding your way up into the Blanca

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Yep, beats the South Downs Way

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Complete with sketchy, largely unrideable gulley down into Quebrada Rajucolta

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Before then plugging my way up the valley, using little trails for the most part, passing small villages where kids would literally run away and hide in bushes. Most probably the overwhelming chest hair on display…

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Back into thin air as I pass 4000m

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And just before sundown I reach the stunning Laguna at 4300m, with the peak of Huantsan towering above

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Perfect timing as it turned out…

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No shortage of camping spots either, all with sunset views

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Paying the price for a clear morning sky I awoke to ‘bloody cold’ conditions

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And a completely frozen waterbag, not really something you want to be lugging around with you. Desperate for a hot coffee some loud expletives may have been uttered when my temperamental Optimus Nova stove refused to light. Almost certainly the last time I’ll be using it.

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Finally the valley’s bathed in warm-ish sun, with the hulking 6300ish m Huantsan stealing the show

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Hoping my new $10 sunglasses are as UV protected as they claim to be, following the loss of my Oakleys on the Divide Route (ironic given the complete lack of sun)

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Not wanting to backtrack I left Quebrada Rajucolta via this inviting little trail with a view of linking up with the next valley along. The rideable singeltrack was short lived though and soon a good old hike-a-bike commenced…

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Stunning view back to the valley and beyond though

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And then this beauty at the top…

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Having lost the trail by this point some helpful shepherds told me to simply bomb down the valley side to link up with Quebrada Shallap. A ‘rip-roaring’ descent ensued, before then discovering that the trail I’d intended to take up the next valley appeared to have been replaced with a concrete irrigation channel. At this point I decided to simply head back and linked up with a dirt road to fire me back into Huaraz….

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And back to the hustle and bustle in time for lunch at the local ‘Chifa’ (Chinese) where, along with the cake shop, I’m a pretty familiar face….

All in all a cracking little leg stretcher.

Route Info

Thanks to Cass for suggesting the route. His route description is here.

GPX file of my route here

 

9 responses to “Back to the Blanca

  1. hi Paul (or is it Pikey!?)
    It’s great to hear your progress, your writing style contains your excellent dry humour and the photos are pretty damn good too! Glad you’ve not had a repeat of the arrest and that you are now out of the lousy weather. Relieved to hear you have found some cake shops too! The side project sounds v. interesting, good luck with it – Ben mentioned it to me. I’m still taking lots of photos myself, having ‘invested’ in a Canon 1DX, which is a beast and the absolute DBs for me. Take care my friend and hope you have a great Xmas, wherever you are! cheers, Nige

    • Thanks Nige, great to hear from you, mildly jealous of your new camera I have to admit! I’ve been limping along with a smashed LCD for the past couple of months so…. Cheers, Paul

  2. Great to hear of your escapades once again. Just to keep you in the loop, Ludo is in Thailand and Becky is in Malaysia, Marcus is back in Canada and Luke is back in Australia. As for me, Christmas will be in Sydney – how about you? Where will you be singing Feliz Navidad?

  3. Awesome!

    Lovely shots and some fantastic light over the Laguna.

    Such incredible potential straight out of the place.

    I need to get myself back there!

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