Constant Awe (Huaraz to Oyon)

With my continuous sick lingering on, I was beginning to feel like a permanent resident at Joe’s place. Thankfully, I was in good company for my final days in Huaraz, as Paul was still kicking around working on his bikepacking project. I’d given up on finding a riding partner for Huayuash, but Lukas rocked into town at the knick of time. It’s rare to see cyclists travelling light, so when you do it’s pretty indicative that they’re looking to ride similar routes. The plan was made to ride south (obviously) and head east through Pastoruri Glacier, following up with a tidy little bikepack through the legendary Cordillera Huayhuash.

The gpx file for Huayuash can be obtained here.

The day we left started with a mind numbing highway ride. To be fair the tail-end of my cold wasn’t making matters any better. Lukas and I cruised through a few small towns and stopped in one to buy the traditional stale baked goods common in all small town tiendas.

Enjoying some local wall decay before heading off down the dirt road.

 The flora began to get very strange.   

 And really quite big!

 The lonely road up to the 4877m pass.

Finding a nice spot to set up camp, we indulged in some photography with dramatic light.

  Our lovely camp just below Pastoruri.

  The other direction didn’t look too bad either.

  Alpine shrub

 The other side of the pass brought on some spectacular riding

 And views.

 And lakes!

  Lunch was served on a small ridge off the main road. Photography followed.

 As we dropped down further, strange shapes and colours emerged.

Red and Grey  

 I said “oh my god” and in return I swear I heard “yes?”

 Even when the dirt road turned to pavement, my fat tires weren’t complaining. The ride down to Huallanca was beautiful and graded to perfection.

 Back on the road after a good Huallancan Chifa, excited to get to Huayuash.

 And then… the road sort of disappeared. Unfortunately, it also started hailing. We carried on over the pass and found a dirt road to carry us down to a camp near Laguna Mitacocha. (Photo courtesy of Lukas)

 The pass from Mitacocha to Carhuacocha was literally a blast to ride down.

 Speaks for itself really.

  Lucas suffers from what I like to call “skinny tire syndrome”.

 A final carry over the pass. Almost there.

  Fuelled by excitement of hot springs we destroy our last Huayuash pass.

 Naturally, arrival requires a bit of horseplay before getting serious and setting up camp.

 The following day, we rode over Portuchuelo pass on our way to Oyon. A path less travelled but certainly no less beautiful.

 The terrain ranged from soft moss to large rocks.

 Followed up by a beautiful and quiet ride along Laguna Sura Saca

This has been one of the nicest weeks of riding to date. A whole lot of pushing added to the experience, but when things went downwards, they did so with style.

8 thoughts on “Constant Awe (Huaraz to Oyon)

  1. Hey guys! As other cycle tourists (and bikepackers… sometimes), we love your website and enjoy following your routes. Do you have any more specifics on this one, about going through the Huayhuash before linking up with the Great Divide in Oyon?
    Many thanks,
    Danny and Tamara

    • Thanks Danny, just had a look at your blog and we took a similar route to yours up in Northern Peru. That Shitabamba photo got Gina and I smiling as we have the same one!

      So for the route through Huayuash there are a few different options. Either way I highly recommend riding up the road to Pastoruri. It’s incredible and not too tough. Further along there is a junction. You can either go South to Chiquian or carry on East to Huallanca. The normal start of Huayuash is via the Chiquian route where you carry on to Llamac and everything should be fairly straight forward from there.

      What we did is go to Huallanca and then head south (just ask for the direction to Huayuash). This is where it gets a bit vague. You carry along the road for around 25 kilometres (elevation roughly 4250) and basically it’s right near a river. The road continues to the right and you take a small fenced rocky path on the left. It’ll take you around into the next valley and you then have to bushwack up to the top of the pass and pick up the road which brings you down into the valley where the first pass of the official Huayuash circuit comes to. From there follow the donkey trail as marked on the Huayuash map until you get Huayuash (it’s actually the name of one of the campsites) with the aguas thermales. Take note when going past the dam (on the way down to Huayuash campsite) as you’ll see a bridge and a trail leading up the far mountain. If you want just ask any local for the trail to Abra Portuchuelo and they will direct you. From top the ride down to Oyon is straightforward.

      Sorry this is probably the most confusing description ever but I hope you do it as it’s beautiful! Let us know if we can be of any more help. I can send the GPX files if you’d like!

  2. Pingback: Bikepacking Peru – Yungay to Oyon via Cordillera Huayhuash – Brian's Routes

  3. Hey! I’m considering following your route through the Huayhuash in the next few days. How much hike-a-bike would you say there is? My load isn’t too bad, but I’ve done a few hike-a-bikes and they haven’t been much fun (though I’m willing to suffer if the route is this good). I’m riding a Salsa Fargo with 29×2.5″ tires and have panniers on the back and dry bags on the front.

    I ask for two reasons – one is to know what I’m getting into, and the other is so I know how much food to pack (I was down to my last pack of cookies after my first hike-a-bike took me a day longer than expected).

    Thanks! – Alex

    • Hey Alex, this one is definitely not one to miss in my opinion. Your bike should be fine, as long as the panniers are a good durable pair and bring some zip ties just in case you need to do a field repair. My friend rode with 2.5’s no problem and we both carried a fair bit of food. There will probably be a fair amount of food traffic from hikers if you were in an emergency, but I can’t remember how long it took us. Something tells me we packed about 6 or 7 days of food but unless I pull up the GPX I can’t really remember, and unfortunately I’m driving across Canada the next few days without my computer handy. Lemme know and I could try and have a better look in a week if you still need it.

      As any hikeabike, keep it light and there will definitely be some pushing although I don’t remember needing to carry much. A couple of the descents are breathtaking and will absolutely be a highlight of your trip. Also highly recommended is ausengate, it was super rideable if I remember correctly!

      Best wishes

  4. Hey! I forgot to say thanks for your replies before heading off. I made it through the Huayhuash, but due to a cracked rear rim and two broken spokes (both drive train side with no cassette removal tool), I exited via an old road from the hot springs to Cajatambo*, instead of climbing over the last pass and going to Oyon. I got lucky with incredible weather every morning and had enough food that I could take an extra day and had a great afternoon and morning at the hot springs before returning to civilization.

    I would love to do the route with an ultra-light set-up and on a proper mountain bike with suspension. Other than a few climbs and one or two really techy descents, it all seemed very rideable. As it was, I found my load a bit much and had to do lots more pushing both up and down than planned. I hired a local caballero to get my gear up one really steep stretch and after I cracked my rim I ran into a guided trekking group with a donkey escort who brought my gear from the Huayhuash campsite to the hot springs while I gently pushed and rode my bike.

    * To find this road, just head down the valley that stretches southwest from the hot springs. After about a kilometre or so of trail, a rough road starts. Follow it mostly downhill for about 20 kilometres until you see some switchbacks heading to the top of the ridge on your left. Climb the switchbacks, then enjoy the fast descent to Cajatambo.

  5. Pingback: Into the land of glaciers: Huaraz to Cajatambo – Alex Cooper Explores

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s