Beyond the comfort zone: Rock climbing at Los Olivos

Beyond the comfort zone: Rock climbing at Los Olivos

I’ve been rock climbing a total of two times. My rock climbing technique can be described as something between a baby deer and a kid learning to cross the road - it’s often clumsy and hesitant, but getting better each time.

I’m lucky that somehow being a native English speaker affords me a valuable bartering commodity, and by living in Huaraz means I’m around mountain guides and climbers a lot. All have been patient with me, especially knowing my lack of experience, they’ve been eager to share their skills and knowledge. So, here we are, giving rock climbing a go!

My morning started by hiring my climbing shoes and meeting up with Carlos, my climbing teacher for the day. It took us about 15 minutes to walk to Los Olivos where we’d be climbing. He took me to my training rock face, the same one Guido had taken me to a few weeks before.
They all assure me that it’s ‘easy’, and I hope to be able to call it that as my confidence and skills improve. To be honest, I’d just like to tie the knots with confidence!



OK, so I decided to climb Nevado Mateo for my 36th birthday

OK, so I decided to climb Nevado Mateo for my 36th birthday

“Is this even real? Are we actually doing this right now?” That’s what Travis and I kept asking each other.

This was my Sunday hike, and an early birthday present to myself. Climbing a glacier is certainly an unforgettable way to celebrate my 36th birthday. Last year I did a night SUP and blew out my candles in a glow worm cave, which is still up there as one of my happiest memories. It’s safe to say that I’ve certainly become more adventurous in my thirties!

Even though I was already awake before I heard the high-pitched noise of my alarm at 3.30am, getting out of bed in the cold is never easy. Being slightly over-excited meant that I only had a few hours sleep, but we still had two hours in the car before our hike which meant I had plenty of time to nap.

Nevado Mateo is in the Huascaran National Park (it costs 30 soles per day to enter the park) At 5,150m above sea level, it’s the highest I’ve climbed so far in Peru. Mateo is considered a moderate terrain glacier, which means you don’t need experience with crampons and ice axes to ascent to the summit. Mostly it’s the luck of the draw with the weather, however as it’s nearing the end of the rainy season and we definitely had incredible luck that day. Even at sunrise we knew that we would have blue skies for most of the day.



Exploring Laguna Llaca and trekking the Vallunaraju moraine

Exploring Laguna Llaca and trekking the Vallunaraju moraine

I’ve made it no secret that Laguna Llaca is one of my favourite places in Peru, there’s something about it that just makes me feel like home. For this adventure, we got to stay overnight at the Casa de Guías refuge hut which made it easier to start the early morning trek up the Vallunaraju moraine. We didn’t make up to the glacier, but at least 4,500 m above sea level with rocky terrain, it proved a challenging one for my knees.

We arrived at the refuge hut on mid-Saturday afternoon, and after dropping off our packs inside, we headed to the lake. It was good to explore the other side of the lake (which I didn’t get to do on my last visit), and we spent a couple of hours walking along the rocky mounds and islands in the middle of the glass-like, turquoise water. The cold wind and fading light (plus we were getting hungry too!) eventually brought us back to the hut.



Misa de Cruces at Laguna Willcacocha

Misa de Cruces at Laguna Willcacocha

It was Martes Guerra and the last few days of Carnaval 2019 in Huaraz. Denis, Mabel and I headed on a Tuesday trek to the village of Willcacocha to join in the festivities. One of the mountain guides we knew, Señor Hugo had a house there and he had invited us to join him and his family.

Willcacocha is a popular acclimatizing trek, and I had been there as one of my earlier adventures in 2018. It’s easy to get to, just less than 20 minutes outside of Huaraz by colectivo.

Misa de Cruces (Mass of the Crosses) is a procession of large, handmade and beautifully decorated crosses. It’s lead by local musicians usually playing the queña (a traditional flute made of wood) and drums. It’s a result of the Spanish Catholic influence, as well as native traditional music. I noticed that the musicians were older, and Mabel said that many of the younger generation no longer wanted to learn some of the traditions.



A day out in Unchus: The Yunza tradition - a tree full of presents!

A day out in Unchus: The Yunza tradition - a tree full of presents!

What is the Yunza tradition? Think of it like a giant piñata, except it’s actually a tree. The tree is chopped and brought down from the mountains, which is then adorned with colourful ‘presents’ such like laundry baskets, baskets and tubs (for real!). Sometimes you get baskets, boots and even the odd fruit. Watching the tree get decorated can often be hilarious - as the tree gets fuller, it becomes top heavy and it’s a race against time (and the wind) to finish decorating before it topples over!



Why you want to explore the three lakes at Laguna 69

Why you want to explore the three lakes at Laguna 69

Laguna 69 is the most famous and popular lake in Peru - it may surprise people that it wasn’t one of my first hikes in Peru. At 4,604m above sea level, it’s the highest so far and to be honest, it was probably the fact I’ve lived at altitude for four months that allowed me to truly enjoy the hike even more. Yes, even that steep zig zag section! I recognised the familiar glazed-eyes and fatigue in many of the hikers, and all I could offer was a smile and encouragement that the lake is worth the burning in their lungs.