I visited the Peruvian Cordillera Blanca in 2006 mostly with the intentions of climbing ice. Probably I stayed too long, and by the end I was too tired of ice climbing and I was crabbing some rock climbing for a change. One of the first rock climbs we did there was The Sphinx. The Sphinx is a 2000 feet, 23 pitches long rock climb that takes you through the clouds into the 18,000’ quota.
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Matt and I took the micro-bus from Huaraz to Caraz, which is 30mi north. These two towns span the latitude of the Cordillera Blanca. During the trip you are treated to a display of the Peruvian highest summits, most notably Huascaran and the Huandoy group. Huascaran twin summits stand at 22,000 feet, and below them there is a myriad glaciers and routes. We pass by the town of Yungay, which during a 1970 earthquake got burried by a mega land slide that fell from Huascaran’s west side. Now the entire former town is a burial site. Once in Caraz, we took a taxi to the trail head at the Laguna Paron, about 15mi up towards the Sierra. The road snakes up incountable switchbacks as you gain altitude fast. At one point on the ropad to Paron, we passed under the Paron tower, which is a 4000 feet wall into the stratosphere. Some friends gave it a second try while we were in Peru, but they got a flu and had to abort. The laguna Peron is already as high a Mt. Whiney. From there, there is a trail that ascends a couple thousand feet to the cave at the base of the route. The cave is a space big enough for 5 people underneath a large boulder. It is very clean , and it is atmospheric enough that it beats a tent.
The next morning we woke up with the sun light and started climbing the 85 route, or the normal route. This route was open by Sevi, a great guys that happened to be in Huaraz these days, and we hanged out with him.