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


  1. Hey Matt,

    just read your blog post and realized that our climbing team did a trip to Huallay almost two years ago.

    Did did a bunch of first ascents up to V12 and published (or at least want to publish/ I'm not sure if it's finished yet) a guidebook.

    Go contact Alexander Förschler (alex.goclimb {at} or me (ax.perschmann {at} for more information. We'll send you a copy of the pdf-file!

    cheers from germany,

  2. Here are some more informations about this trip:

    It's written in german, but Google offers some bad quality translationservice. And there are pictures. ;-)

  3. Nice! I was there about 4 years ago, did some awesome boulders. Enjoy!

  4. And people kept on taking pictures with us and their babies.. seems they've found you too!

  5. Axel, Thanks for the info. We found your video before the trip and have been looking a bit for the problems. I think we figured out where stuff is from the context, but haven't been there yet. Looks like some really good problems, but we have our hands full with some other projects now... and only so much skin! Hopefully we'll get out and try to repeat some of your lines.