Sunday, June 24, 2012

Peru -- The Big City of Huaraz

So I've finished my time in Huayllay and am now hanging in Huaraz in the valley of the Cordillera Blanca. This city is definitely a cool hang and in a beautiful location. The mountains around here are inspiring… I can see why people get so psyched to climb these though for now I think I'll still stick to rock. It's nice to be back in a city with a bit more to offer in terms of internet and food. It was interesting being the only group of gringos in all of Huayllay, but it is also nice to not stand out here as much.

My final days in Huayllay were great and I finished up almost all of the things I wanted to do. I completed a few more cool lines I had cleaned off. The coolest was the pocket project I mentioned in my last post. It clocked in at about V11 and had a really cool sequence. I named it Pickpocket, not because I've had any problem here in Peru yet, but because there are a bunch of bad pockets to choose from and you have to find the sequence that works. I got some good footage. I also did the stand start to another project and called it Wolf under the Sheepskin V11. In some ways, that line was cooler than the Pickpocket. I came agonizingly close to sending this sit start to this line which was really cool and probably would have clocked in around V13. On my last try, I split two tips and fell on the very last hard move. A bit disappointing, but that's how it goes with climbing some times.

The journey from Huayllay to Huaraz was long and enduring, though much worse for Adam because he had a stomach bug the whole way! We started at 7am catching a van from Huayllay to Huaral. This took us from 14,000ft. to almost sea level in the course of 4 1/2 hours. What was amazing was that we pretty much followed a single valley down the whole way: winding dirt roads, big drop offs, cows and sheep in the road, cool old stone walls from many generations past. The river we were following just kept getting bigger and bigger and was beautiful except for the trash along the banks. It seems fairly common here for people and cities to dispose of their trash in the rivers. Bummer. About halfway along the drive, we stopped and picked up a bag from a random guy in the middle of nowhere. About 15 minutes later, we dropped off the bag at a food stand at which point I realized it was filled with fish (troucha). Once in Huaral, we had to wait for about 4 hours to catch another bus to Huaraz. Huaral was a dirty, grimy city with a constant haze of smog, fog, or smoke hanging above. Not really a pleasant stay, but soon enough we were off on the bus to Huaraz. The 6 hour bus ride to Huaraz turned into 7 because we spent an hour parked in the road next to a hairpin turn midway up a windy steep climb. I'm still not exactly sure why we stopped, perhaps we overheated or something else was wrong with the bus. I was thinking we'd just be stranded, but eventually we got going again. We finally arrived in Huaraz around 10:30pm after climbing back up to 10,000ft. Adam and I caught a taxi to the hostel and met up with Sandy and Bayes who had been in Huaraz for a week because Huayllay was too cold and the altitude was making Bayes not sleep well.

We've hooked up with our friend Omar in Huaraz (he lives here), and he's shown us some cool bouldering around here. So far, the best has been repeating a beautiful overhang called the Shining Path V10 that Jason Kehl put up about 7 years ago. To start the problem, you have to stand on bunch of stacked pads so it's a bit arbitrary. I wanted to find a sequence that goes from an obvious crack feature that is right below the problem and you can reach from the ground. Unfortunately, nothing worked out there. However, I did figure out a way to climb in from the left starting on an obvious jug you can reach from the ground. I did the problem from here and it added a few cool moves and made the start a bit less arbitrary. Still, the beauty of this line is the upper section. The full version I climbed still clocks in around V10. Fun line. We've got a few more days in Huaraz so we'll check out a few more areas and then the climbing portion of my trip will be over. I'll head down to Cusco to check out Machu Picchu for a couple days and then it's back to the states. Gonna make the most of my last few days here and will hopefully find some more amazing problems to climb.

Adam on Black Sheep V8

Adam doing the FA of Jump Monkey Jump V11 (I did this one my last day, fun!)

Soft serve on wheels powered by generator.

Me and the shepherd who let us climb near his flock

FA of Pickpocket V11

FA of Counting Sheep V8

Alpaca passing as I get ready to try Thin Air V9

Will I stick the last hard move on the project sit to Wolf under the Sheepskin?

No I will not... Bummer

Rest stop between Huayllay and Huaraz
Gorgeous mountains above Huaraz

Shining Path V10

Omar Rodriguez doing a new problem above Huaraz

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Project I hope to finish tomorrow

So I didn't try the pocket project yesterday. Instead I tried this new line I scoped and cleaned. Awesome problem. Probably V11 or 12 from the stand and 12 or 13 from the sit. Lots of moves which is hard in this thin air. Here´s a short video of my best attempt at the stand. Sorry for the low quality and size but uploads are difficult here in Peru.

Wolf Project from Matt Wilder on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Peru - 1 Week In

So I made it to Peru safely and have been having a great time so far. The first few days were a bit tiring with all the traveling but now we're getting in our groove. I'm here with my wife Sandy, my 1 year old son Bayes, and our friend Adam Markert. Quick synopsis for those that would rather not read much and just look at the pictures: at first we were skeptical and then we started finding amazing boulders. Now we are on a first ascent spree putting up some amazing lines in an extraordinary location. 

The day of travel to Lima was long and interesting as it was my first flight with my son… I guess I just jumped right into that. We woke up at 4 am, missed the bus to the airport and drove instead. Then a 1.5hr flight to Salt Lake, 4 hour flight to Mexico City, 5 hour flight to Lima. We arrived in Lima around 11:20 and waited in an hour plus line at customs. Surprisingly, Adam who had a totally different flight was just a bit ahead of us in the customs line. We all got our luggage (none missing thankfully) and found the driver from the hostel we had reserved waiting for us. A 30min crazy drive through Lima got us to the hostel and we were in bed shortly after 1am. All in all, Bayes did as well as anyone else… I'm sure that if I didn't have the ability to mute my emotions, I would have been a lot worse than him. 

The next morning, we hooked up with our friend Omar who lives in Huaraz, Peru and bussed down to Lima to join us on our Huayllay adventure. We passed the day in Lima and made plans to get to the city of Huayllay where a vast boulderscape awaited us. The next day we caught an 9 hour bus ride through the mountains to the city of Cerro de Pasco. We went from sea level to 14,000 feet in the city and went over a 15,000 ft pass. The drive was beautiful, but rugged and a bit sketchy with lots of truck passing. We arrived so late that we decided to stay the night in Cerro de Pasco and do the 1hr taxi drive to Huayllay the next morning. 

Finally after lots of travel, we arrived in the town of Canchocucho just outside of Huayllay and right in the center of the Bosque de Piedras (the stone forest of Huayllay). We got lodging right next to the boulders and set out to explore. With no beta on any areas, we just had to go out and find boulders that looked good. The problem was that there is about an infinite amount of rock there so where do we start. After a bunch of roaming, we were a bit disappointed to not have found too much good bouldering. Lots of the rock was too juggy and low angled and there weren't as many stand alone boulders as we had hoped. Still we found some cool stuff to climb on the next day. That following day, we went out and had a great day cleaning and climbing new lines on a cool boulder. The highlight was a fun V5 up a really cool vertical rail feature. We also did a nice steep V9 with a super technical heel hook. Best of all, it was just nice to be out climbing and to have all the travel behind us. However, with this first taste, we were beginning to question how long we'd stay in Huayllay. It didn't seem like we'd find great climbing here. 

With uncertainty in the air, we decided to do more exploring. We headed to the town of Huayllay and hiked into the boulder field above the city and below a huge cliff. Unlike the volcanic rock we found in the rock forest, the rock up here was a more solid, medium-grained granite. We hiked around the talus and saw a bunch of cool lines that got us psyched to come back. We found a few things that looked like they had been cleaned, but there wasn't chalk on anything. There were a few attractive lines that looked to be untouched as well. This mission got our stoke up and returned our confidence in the decision to come to Huayllay. The decision became even better when we realized that there was a hot springs facility nearby where you could dip for less than $1US. Not that we needed extra motivation to go to the hot springs, but there was conveniently a cool looking boulder field right near there that we wanted to check out. We went and had a dip and then Adam and I cruised down to check out the boulders. 

DAMN! These blocks were amazing! Huge granite boulders with crazy pockets and edges with line after potential line. We saw a bit of chalk on a really hard looking line in a short cave and a few other signs that people had climbed there, but most of the obvious big lines looked untouched. There was potential for rad, scary highballs as well as fun medium-sized problems and the difficulty looked to range from easy to quite hard. We were super psyched. We became even more psyched when we realized there was a hotel (albeit somewhat cold and loud) and a restaurant next to the hot springs ($10US per night and about $3US for a big dinner). We decided to move camp and focus our efforts on these boulders. 

So far we've had 2 days of climbing and cleaning out there and it's been a blast. We've put up about 15 problems some of which are super classic. Yesterday I did an amazing line up cool pockets on a huge face which clocked in at V5 (easier up high too). We decided to call it "On the Edge of Scary". I also did a tall V9 perfect face that was quite scary. After giving it a good clean on a rope, I pulled on to just feel some of the moves and ended up climbing though the crux and through the topout with a totally different sequence than planned. It was a great experience climbing on the fly and being in the zone in a situation that could have become dangerous if I wasn't confident. Today is a rest day in Huayllay with the extremely slow internet. It'll be tough to post a lot of updates, but here are some pics from the trip so far. I'm excited for tomorrow because we'll be getting on the gem project of the area. A tall, slightly overhanging face with cool pockets and crimps. Sure to be a classic. Can't wait!

At the hostel in Lima with lots of luggage

Our friend Omar flagging a taxi to go to the bus station

Rest stop half way through 9 hour bus ride to Cerro de Pasco

Cerro de Pasco

Yummy food in Cerro de Pasco

This was what our taxi driver was doing on the ride to Huayllay

Arriving at the Bosque de Piedras

Our lodging right next to the rocks

Adam making his first trek out to explore the stone forest

Great V5 vertical rail problem

Sunset on the stone forest

With locals in the town of Huayllay

Boulders above Huayllay (haven't explored these yet)

Big talus field above Huayllay that we did explore

Walking back down to Huayllay from the talus

Rad boulder field near the hot springs

Amazing pocket project (tomorrow will go!)

Great new V8 arete at the Hot Springs boulders

Doing the FA of an amazing V5: On the Edge of Scary