When I stay at the Hostel Pinar, my morning view is the stunning western flank of the middle of the Cordillera Blanca. When I dip my head out the window and peer north, Huascaran is often beaming white and soaking up the sun. It’s pretty alright, if I do say so myself.
On our stroll yesterday, Gary pitched the idea to hike from El Pinar to Laguna Llaca in the back of Quebrada Llaca…and back.
A walk from my window to the base of Ranrapalca? Count me in!
There’s the entrance to the Quebrada in the nearing distance! Just after this photo was taken I caught up to a woman herding sheep and goats. There was also one pig. We chatted for a bit because we were both heading the same direction and I shared my plan for the day. Once we reached the approach ridge, she stopped to graze her animals and I continued!
Unfortunately my 21 day, 65 soles, National Park Pass just expired. When I met the park guard at the trail / road junction, I prepared to pay 10 soles for my day entrance pass.
“No tengo boletos hoy. Tendre boletos mañana. Buena aventura!” (I don’t have tickets today, I’ll have them tomorrow. Have a good adventure!) -park guard
Hot diggity dog! Sounds good to me!
As I entered the Quebrada, the steep granite walls stooped over me, arching as if they could fall at any moment. These walls have popular trad climbing routes and the back of this short Quebrada has immediate access to glaciers and ice climbing. There is a refugio near the lake at the back of the Quebrada with road access directly from Huaraz. The refugio is the base camp for the popular mountaineering routes on Vallunaraju and Ranrapalca and Ocshapalca.
Horses and cows and donkeys dotted the thin valley floor as I walked high along the dirt road on the north side. No humans to be seen!
Favorite bird call of the day, from the yet-to-be-identified navy blue, sparrow like bird:
Wep, wep, wep…..cheep cheep cheep!
(Noa, this is your bird call twin.)
A straight shot back to the lake with the wind at my back left me standing, stunned, staring at the steep walls of Ocshapalca (5888meters, 19,318feet) and Ranrapalca (6162meters, 20,217feet).
The south side of Vallunaraju (5675meters, 18,619feet) is rocky and barren, unlike the north west side that I saw from the shores of Laguna Mullaca.
For sure my favorite thing about exploring the different Quebradas is seeing the same mountains from different sides. I could see the base of Ranrapalca from my time in foggy Cojup and just the other day I was sitting at the base of Ishinca, which is the mountain directly north east of Ranrapalca. So cool to feel oriented within these glacial valleys!
On the hike out and back to El Pinar I met only one other person in the Quebrada, the man who lives in the hut at the entrance. He keeps an eye on the animals who graze in the Quebrada.
I have forgotten his name, for our interaction was only a few minutes, but he did ask me for my waterbottle. (I kept it. My trusty Nalgene has been my partner in crime since the year 2000. BPA and all.)
Marvelous day. No crowds. Birds and conejos andinos (Andean Rabbits) and a stiff breeze.
Met the same woman, herding her animals down the hill, and laughed and smiled about the day. She commented on the length of the hike and I ran down the hill. Running to stay ahead of the close-behind weather.
I escaped the rain. Truly a feat! It rained and thundered around me for my entire descent, but I made it home just in time before the downpour.