About two months ago, I was struck by the possibility of making an article out of my upcoming experiences in Huaraz. Well, I’m super-excited to say that there was more to my idea than piss and vinegar because Adam Roy, the very nice editor at Matador Sport, just dropped me an email to say that my piece on bouldering the rocks of the Cordillera Blanca has gone live!
It is great to see a pre-trip pitch turn into something put up on a nice big website like Matador, and I have to say I’m addicted; what next? Llama racing? Extreme pisco drinking? I know…shark wrestling.
I’ve really enjoyed being involved in the editorial process and getting a nuts-and-bolts look at what goes into putting an article up at Matador. My writing has definitely improved for it.
You can see the bouldering article by following the link, and while you are at it I heartily suggest having a browse of Matador’s range of sites; there is some inspiring writing and some fantastic articles.
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This, apparently, is a ‘sneeze page’.
Clever online marketing people use it to re-hash old content and give a second life to popular articles and blogs.
Tardy travel bloggers also use them to present a big lump of posts that should have been done a month ago as sequential posts on the actual date-stamp of posting.
I’ll leave it down to the intellect of the reader to guess which category is mine.
My trip to Huaraz in August was a wonderful, life-changing milestone in the never-ending journey that is this Jolly Bloody Nice Outing. If you’d like to browse the gallery of my experiences, I offer the following.
- Trying out hitching for the first time in Peru, against all the advice and odds
- A blast from the past – old friends in new places
- Walking into a dream-bubble at Keushu
- My first glacial meltwater-drinking experience
- Outwitted by piles of rocks
- The Jolly Nice version of the Santa Cruz trail
- What was left of my fingers after researching a climbing article
- The marvellous disaster that was the return hitch back home
Good bless all those who make it to the bitter end. I wish I had a cash prize to offer.
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This is what happens when one’s pansy soft fingertips slip off climbing holds a few too many times. Needless to say, my plans have changed as the majority of research for an article on bouldering in Huaraz must be conducted from the position of a spectator. Bugger.
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Striking out from Huaraz a little later than our optimistic 6am start (ok, ok, it was 9. Happy?), Miri and I make our way across the morning chaos of downtown Huaraz to the combi stop which will take us to Yungay. A two-hour bumpy ride takes us to the bus station and a short wander around town links us up with a colectivo taxi rank that eventually pulls us up into the hills as Yungay sprawls below us. An indigenous woman with a pungent odour merrily bullshits with the driver in Quechua, leaving us both to do little more than stare out of the window into the face of the Cordillera Negra on the other side of the valley.
Dropped after a circuitous route at a junction on the way up to the national park entrance, we engage in a heated debate with our driver who has decided to increase the price of our ride. We decide to shed him a couple of kilometres short of our destination, and continue on foot as he rolls a sulky 3 point turn and bounces off down the track into town.
We’ve made a good decision; the shutter button on my camera is pushed to near melting point as we climb steadily through farmland overlooked by glacial peaks. Fragrant blue meadow-flowers wash us with their perfume and the sound of running water tickles our ears as the tidy zig-zag of irrigation ditches run through the fields above and below our path. The sun beats down on us and it feels like we are walking through a dream, a million miles away from anywhere despite leaving a bustling marker of civilization barely an hour ago.
Eventually our route winds its way to a junction at which we have no idea of the correct path, but the cogs of circumstance are running in our favour. A truck laden with wood appears shimmering in the heat and dust, shaking its way up towards the junction from the other direction. It is headed with building supplies to the very same place that we are searching for, Llanganuco Lodge, and the driver points us up the track before rattling off ahead and leaving us to lapse back into our day-dream as if nothing had happened.
The path curves and beyond the hill there’s an electric blue lake, Keushu, sitting in a baked mud hollow overlooked by swollen peaks. A quick scout of the area reveals Llaganuco Lodge, tucked behind the crest of a hill, and its amiable host Charlie Good accompanied by his gigantic and faithful hound, Shackleton. Before rushing off into town on an errand, Charlie introduces us to the surroundings and we pitch our tent behind one of the larger boulders that surround the lake. Pulling the already-tattered map from my bag, I begin flicking through pages that were emailed to me almost two months previous of climbing routes in this remote corner of Peru, eager to begin a bouldering campaign.
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A trip has been planned to Huaraz for over a month, and still there has been no sign of getting into shape for the inevitable climbing that Miri and I both want to do. Following the inspiring but inevitable determination of my German friend, we walk up to the heap of rocks above Huanchaco known as Hill Of The Virgin that we passed on our accidentally epic walk to Cerro Campana a couple of days previous.
“I’m sure there were some boulders around here to climb,” Miri muses as we scramble over the chalky, rounded formations before coming face to face with the Virgin herself, resplendent and smug in her alcove of innocence atop the hill. A few steps around the corner reveal a slightly overhanging rock with large, juggy hand-holds that occasionally crumble, giving the spotter plenty to stay alert for. I go first, awkwardly heaving myself from hold to hold, scraping pale skin from my knuckles, shins, knees, elbows and forearms. Miri follows, moving fluidly across the residue of my scrapes. Eventually we establish a simple route and both complete it, scooting over the top of the boulder.
Hungry for more following our success, we wind our way amongst the bizarre rock formations, slipping in and out of gaps, pulling loose pebbles from cracks and clinging to edges as well as our soft fingertips will allow. After a couple of hours we retire to Huanchaco covered in dust with aching forearms and hands but secure in the knowledge that we are a little more prepared for Huaraz.
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