Hiked the Lago 69 loop to the lake of the same name. It was a breathless hike with the high altitudes, but the views were worth it!
By Sarah Belau
Aji a Todo Color
Brightly coloured chili at a small market in Yungay, Peru
By Sarah Belau
Mountaineering in Huaraz
After completing two separate 4-day mountain treks in Peru, I was hooked on mountains. I was volunteering in Huaraz for a month in the heart of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range of the Andes, and so the call of the snow-capped mountains was strong. I had used a recommended travel agency for my first trek in the Cordillera Blanca, but did not have a good experience with them, so I did more research and found Monttrek to be the best fit for ice-climbing/trekking and Mount Vallunaraju was the best peak for beginners. Our guide was extremely patient, which was great because it turned out that my companion did not want to climb this mountain once we reached the glacier, so he took her back down to base camp and then came back for me and we continued on to nearly the summit. Mountain climbing here is usually done in the very early morning, still dark hours, but we were delayed, and so I learned why it's so important to go while it's still dark, because the snow is hard-packed and hasn't had a chance to melt. At altitudes of more than 5,000 meters (more than 17,000 feet) getting sunk into the snow to more than your knees makes the trek much more difficult, as does having to stop every 2-3 steps to rid your cramp-ons of melted snow build-up. This 2-day event, despite its challenges, was the most rewarding of my life. I did not think I was capable of such a feat, but with the right guide, their provided equipment and sheer determination to continue, it turns out that I could!