Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hatun Machay

The stone-walled enclosure at Hatun Machay is supossed to keep the cows out of the camping area. However, the cows seem to believe in the saying that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. By morning, all the cows are inside the enclosure. Luckily for us we had secured a small alcove off to the side of the main enclosure and with a little rock work it turned out to be cow-proof.

Camping encloure with out tent on the alcove to the left.
Those unlucky Hot Rockers in the main compound had to suffer restless nights with cows tripping over their guy ropes ripping their tents. Having cows keeping them awake with their noisy chomping of grass and doing that other thing that cows tend to do that you don't want to stand in.

Hatun Machay is one of the best crags we have climbed in South America. The rock is sandstone of excellent quality with wind-blown delicate features. The crag is nestled in a small valley adjsent to the main valley down to Huaraz. The main valley is cut with a fast-flowing river with impressive snow-capped peaks to the east.The colours of the rock and the high alpine sky make my photos jump out with impressive detail. It's what you'd expect that South American mountains should look like.

The crag is located at 4200 meters above sea level which is just below the snow level at this latitude. However, once the sun goes down we have to put up with washing our dishes in water that turns to ice before our eyes and all our tents have a thick coating of ice in the morning. But the sun rises early and the temperature is excellent for climbing by 9am.

But we have some luxury here as there is a well-built refugio with bunk beds for 20, and a good kitchen and living area. We can cook out of the wind and there's a fire to keep us warm before we retire to our tents. This makes the hours after sundown much more enjoyable and we stay up well past HRBT (Hot Rock Bed Time of 9pm) to enjoy the fire.

The first day we arrived was Marese's birthday, so we climbed the nearest peak to 4800 metres to give us spectacular views down the main valley and picnicked on a warm rock out of the wind.

As for the climbing, it is exceptional. There are enough well-bolted sports routes to keep any climber happy for weeks and there is huge potential to put up thousands more routes. Everyone enjoyed the climbing as you can see in the video. We can see that this will become a major climbing destination in the future and we can enjoy it now while it is not so crowded. Maybe in the future they will make the stone wall higher to keep out the cows!

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