Saturday, 21 June 2008

Huaraz to Huanuco

Mt Huascaran, the highest peak in Peru. Photo taken from the top floor of Joe's Place, a great little guesthouse in Huaraz.

The tunnel at Kahuish pass 4480m between Catac and Chavin

Chavin ruins
On top of the main temple housing subterranean tunnels and galleries.

Underground tunnels

The famous 'Lanzon' stone dagger in one of the chambers

Early morning at my camp at Cayashpunta 4145m. 3 young Quechuans with mules taking a break on their journey.

Landscape between San Marcos and Antamina

Antamina mine- only 3 years of mining by another multi-national consortium (incl. BHP Billiton) and the destruction is evident. Alpine lakes and streams become tailing dams and the mountains are demolished to extract the minerals. The company has built a 100km sealed road to the mine. I followed a dirt road for 20kms encircling the mine workings - after the previous days riding from the valley floor up to the wild pampa this was a disheartening sight.

I was escorted through the mine area by security guards on horseback.

10 kms south of the Antamina mine took a narrow dirt road down to Huallanca. A real delight- smooth surface, no traffic and passing through tiny villages along the Rio Ututupampa - a beautiful hidden valley.

Huanuco Viejo, the ruins of the Incan city of Huanuco standing forlorn and empty on the Pampa. It was an important citadel of the empire, linking Cuzco with Cajamarca and the northern realms. I visited this site in 1985 when it was left alone to time and the elements but since then it has suffered the modern vanadalism of grafitti. Sad to see slogans painted on the walls of the ancient city. I cycled 12 kms from La Union to the site, on probably the worst road of the journey so far.

The bell tower of a church in Pataz

Maize cobs drying in Acobamba

El Rio Maranon - my third crossing of this mighty waterway. Now at 3000m and sparkling blue waters instead of the sluggish muddy river downstream at Bellavista (300m) and Balsas (800m). It's source is high in the Cordillera Huayhuash.

On my last day, lots of trucks filled with people heading to the football match and celebrations in Chavanillo.

The road from Chavanillo to Huanuco was rocky and dusty. I rode mostly on the verge of the deep rutted sections to avoid the boulders and fine dust. I took this photo shortly before my accident.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Unlucky break- end of Andean journey Part 1

Unlucky Break - the end of the road. 30kms north of Huanuco on a very rough section of road I had a very nasty fall and broke my collarbone. Covered in dust, bleeding from elbow to knee and squirming in pain I was picked up off the road by some passengers from a passing bus and taken to Huanuco hospital. The next few days are a bit of a blur but I managed to get my bike and gear on an overnight bus to Lima, crossing the Andes one last time.

Mis amigos en Lima. Two weeks earlier I met some Peruvians in Cabana exploring ancient Incan roads in remote Ancash. I contacted one of them, David, in Lima and they helped me with my bike and luggage and got me on a flight home. Gracias por todo - David, Isaac , Carlos (the marathon man), Rodriguez (el huesero) and (doctor and nurse at the clinic). I'll see you all in May next year!

David and Carlos Bravo

David, Pete & Isaac

I'm resting at home, Hobart Tasmania. We have decided to return to Peru in May next year to complete the Andean ride. I'll have to locate that fateful stretch of boulder-strewn and dust-clouded road so I can pick up where I left off. Until then, I'll complete this blog, get some work teaching English in Tasmania, dreaming of Andes Part 2 - another cycling sojourn.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Cordillera Huayhuash May 31 - June 5

Left my bike in Huallanca and spent 5 days trekking in the Cordillera Huayhuash.
Hitched a lift on a truck heading to the Mitsui mine. My first view of the cordillera as we came over a pass on the pampa.

Viscacha (alpine hare) among the boulders

Meadow and stream below the peaks near Laguna Carhuacocha

Dawn near L. Carhuacocha

4 year old Quechuan girl doing push-ups near her house above Laguna Carhuacocha. Uno, dos, tres......

Mt. Jirishanca 6094

Reflections in Laguna Siula

Reflections Laguna Quesillococha

Condor flying above the rocky cliffs

Waterfall and ice

Melting glacier. The glaciers in this cordillera have shrunk by 50% in the last 20 years.

Another sign of global warming - glacier lake and floating ice

Laguna Mitacocha at dawn

Mt. Yerupaja 6617m in dawn light (the second highest peak in Peru)

Jirishanca, Yerupaja Chico and Laguna Siula

Siula Grande 6344m, the peak made famous by Joe Simpson in 'Touching the Void'.

My high camp at 4850m - you can see my tent in the far bottom right of the photo. Great views of Siula Grande across the valley.

My trekking companions for a day. L to R - Susana & Lukas (Czech), Tom (Belgium) and Lucho (Argentina).

Alpine flowers