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.
I was awake even before Mabel’s 5.30am alarm sounded, I guess I was more excited than I thought to go trekking that day! Unfortunately due to a slight hiccup, we didn’t actually start the trek until 7am. However, it meant I got to watch the sunrise just out of the refuge hut. The morning mist engulfed the mountains, but had cleared by the time we stood at the foot of the steep, rocky steps at the start of the trail.
The ascent was steady, albeit a bit steeper than my lungs cared for at such an early hour. I was grateful for my hiking poles because they really do save my knees. We were blessed with great weather that day, though what truly kept me going was the view of the glaciers in a stunning sky blue backdrop. I never really understood why people liked hiking, well that was until I stood at the top of my first mountain two years ago.
Less than two hours into the ascent, we came to the first lot of large boulders. My short legs have never enjoyed this kind of rocky terrain, especially going downhill. I could hear my breathing get louder and less rhythmic, so I slowed down the pace until I could regulate my breathing again. That’s something more experienced hikers taught me about being at altitude, always pay attention to your breathing because your body will need every bit of oxygen it can get.
We were mindful of the time and around 10.30am, we saw a sign that told us we were less than 400m from the moraine camp. With the descent still to come and another three hours walk down to Cachipampa, we decided that this would be our turn around point. Touching the glacier would have to wait another day.
Much like most of my adventures, the rain caught us on the walk down to Cachipampa where we were planning to catch a colectivo back to Huaraz. After reaching Huaraz, we had a quick pollo a la brasa dinner together.
It was lights out by 8.30pm and let me tell you, I always have the best sleep after these day-long treks. Here’s to Sunday adventures with awesome friends and exploring more of what the Ancash region has
Ronna la Exploradora is Ronna Grace Funtelar - a thirtyish storyteller, creative, writer and poet currently working and traveling in Peru.
A woman with a curious mind who lives for hiking mountains, outdoor adventures and eating pizza. She has a unique brand of optimism that
is a combination of her great enthusiasm for life and cups of coffee during