And so it begins: Week One in the Cordillera Blanca

June 4, 2014

And what a week it’s been! Firstly, flying in to Lima with the sun rising over the huge expanse of the Amazon basin, I was greeted by stunning aerial views of the Cordillera Huayhuash mountains as they rise from the jungle clouds. For this reason alone, it’s highly recommended that you take a window seat on the starboard side of the plane (that’s the right side, looking North!) if travelling in from Europe. Having said this, the views to the South were not to shabby either as the Andes continue to wind down towards Bolivia.

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At least one “Ande” seen from the plane.

Once in Lima, I took the first bus heading to Huaraz, the main city of the Cordillera Blanca. Perhaps slightly surprisingly, long distance buses in Latin America are remarkably comfortable outfits with armchair-meets-bed-style seats and hot meals served on board. The road North from Lima takes a fascinating journey perched on the side of huge sand dunes between the crashing Pacific Ocean and the vast Peruvian desert before turning East up into the hills. The hills soon become mountains and the mountains soon become giant plateaus before the journey is crowned with majestic white peaks.
 
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The desert-ocean road North of Lima, where gigantic sand dunes meet the Pacific.
 
During my first week, acclimatising to the altitude has been the main constant (of which I am reminded every time I take the stairs!), but I have also visited our incredible partners Andean Alliance and seen firsthand the inspiring work they are doing in their community (more about that coming soon). Furthermore, I have been mesmerised by whizzing humming birds, witnessed almost daily festivities, tasted the delights of Pisco Sour and Ceviche, and yesterday made my first summit of the season. Vallunaraju, a 33 hour round trip from Huaraz, was an awesome warm-up climb but I haven’t ached so badly since… well, since I was last here!
 
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My climbing partner atop Vallunaraju’s false summit. The Vallunaraju climb is available with Project Cordillera as a bespoke option.

By Sam Williams, 4 June 2014

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