After the Chancos day trip, we plan a three day acclimation stay at Llaca at 4470 m. Llaca is 1.5 hours away from Huaraz by car on an adventurous road (in particular for the cars). Andy arranges the transport through a taxi driver friend of his. The taxi driver shows up on time the next morning, but after 100 m and a detour via a garage mechanic friend of his, he admits that his damper is broken. He entrusts us to another taxi driver friend of his and here we are on the road.
Llaca comes down to a hut hosting exclusively Peruan mountain guides in training a few days per month. The rest of the time, it is occupied only by an old hut warden and occasionally by a National Park guard (since the whole Cordillera Blanca is a National Park). Around the hut you encounter granit boulders, the “laguna”, a glacial lake offering a stuning view on some surrounding peaks and curious (to me) vegetation.
We spend two days climbing on single- as well as multi-pitches sport climbing routes bolted by Peruvian mountain guides with Italian bolts (the construction of the hut was supported by some Christian Italian organization). Locally the granit polished by the glaciers is smoother than what I have ever seen in the Alps. The second day we climb the five pitches “Mission Lunatica” route bordering huge half-moon shaped roofs.
In the afternoon of the second day, we pack our gear and walk to the Vallunaraju base camp 2-3 hours away from Llaca. The camp is deserted (the previous day around around 15 people had sleptover). Tent and cooking places are leveled off and protected from wind by stone walls, a stream flows in the middle of the camp and the camp is well delineated by toilet tissues …
The night is cold (but we do not feel it:-) and we have breakfast in the tent. At 4 am we leave the camp and my head lamp runs out of battery… Some plates lead to the glacier. Once on the glacier, there is a good track which we follow, watching out for every minute of the sunrise and passing by impressing ice formations. At 8 am we are on the summit of Vallanaraju (5670 m) cutting a Snickers in two equal pieces with a pocket knife. At 12 am we are above Llaca and we can see three cars parked in front of the hut. It means that we are not going to walk down to Huaraz.