Second highest mountain range in the world!

Trip Start May 11, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The mountains around Huarz Peru are the second biggest in the world.   I found out this information from a French backpacker in an Ecuadorian bar during a rugby game.  I was so excited to learn about the hike that I took notes on a bar napkin.  Since I had been to Peru 5 years before I decided that hiking in these mountains was going to be my sole activity in Peru before I had to fly home.
Catching 5 different buses from Cuence - Ecuador - only took 33 hours.  I thought it was going to be mind-numbingly painful but my stomach behaved; my sleeping pills worked and the scenery was great.  Huarz is one of the main towns that 'gringos' visit to arrange treks into the surrounding mountains.   There are tons of treks going into different mountain ranges and even a bunch of peaks to summit.  It's hiking heaven!  I only had time to do one day hike and one 8 day trek.
The day hike was supposed to acclimatize me and 3 Israeli friends to the 15,000 to 17,300 feet we would be climbing at.   I found out how to catch the public bus to the start of the trail head but after talking to the Israelis, I discovered that they wanted to book a small tour.  This is very un-Israeli because it's more expensive, but in order to have hiking buddies I agreed to come along.   The next day our private van rolled up packed to the gills with other Israeli backpackers.  I was pissed because the van was way overcrowded and I was going to have to sit on the floor crammed between everyone for 3 hours of unpaved mountain roads.   Ten minuets out of the city our driver decided that he wants all of the money instead of half now and half later like the group (I guess) had arranged.   A huge verbal fight ensued with the dishonest driver and aggressive Israelis.   Not really wanting to be part of this gang I decided to try and get my money back so I could do the hike on my own.   It took me 15 minuets of arguing to get my money before the cock suckers finally relented.  At the end it was not even about the money it was about him trying to screw me which makes me furious.   After this, I hopped into a passing bus and made it to the trail head before the van did.  This hike showed me what altitude sickness could be like because I had a screaming headache the whole time.   This lake was worth it.   So many times I was unable to capture the beauty of a certain place because pictures simply do not do the area justice.   Add to the fact that the mountains, glacier and crystal blue lakes don't all fit in the same frame and you can see why pictures don't suffice.
The next day 3 Israeli guys and I went shopping to find an outfitter that would take us on the classic 10 day Cordillera Huayhuash .   We found that if we did it in 8 days we could save a bunch of money.   That night when I met back up with them they told me that had met some Israeli girls that wanted to come - bringing the total number of people to 9.   This somewhat perturbed me because I was keen to hike with a small group of fit people.  Since my time was limited and I wanted to go the next day I begrudgingly agreed.  The next day I showed up to load the bus only to find that there were now 19 Israelis!    I was pissed!  Once again I decided to try and get my money back. Two Israeli guys seeing my plight told me not to worry about it and that we would all have fun.  Not really wanting to wait around another day and argue viscously to get my money back I decided to go.  
The first night for me was absolute hell!  Since everyone spoke Hebrew and very bad English and Spanish I ended up in my own tent.  Only problem was that it leaked, soaking both sleeping bags and freezing me to death.  Later that night it snowed causing my tent to partially collapse.  To top it all off my stomach decided that it was NOT better and that I needed the toilet right then.   Having only seconds before shitting  my tent, I had to unzip, first sleeping bag then the other sleeping bag, find my flash light, find my shoes, unzip the tent, unzip the fly, and finally stagger 50 feet uphill to a make-shift outhouse (which is really a hole dug in the ground with a shack around it) and shit.  I made it but was not pretty.  I was so miserable that night that I thought about canceling the whole thing. I'm super happy I didn't because after that night the scenery made everything worth it.
 For the next 7 days, we were treated to some of the most epic scenery I have ever witnessed.  Our routine was pretty standard: hike all day; speak nonstop Hebrew every second; eat dinner where the others would play Hebrew word games; and hit the sack early.   The first day we hiked through fresh snow under blue skies causing 5 Israelis to sun burn their eyes so badly they had to be put on donkey, blindfolded, and led to small village where we never saw them again!  Some of their faces were almost swollen shut...  Take that!  God's chosen people are dumb!  This makes God dumb!  As you can tell after 7 days listening to nonstop Hebrew and minimal English I was over the Israelis, which was just as well because they all hiked so slow that I never spent time with them besides meals.  
I could go on and on about the scenery and how epic it was, neither words nor pictures capture how unbelievably beautiful this area was.  One thing I forgot to mention was our donkey train.   Our group had about 12 donkeys to carry all our supplies but I wanted to carry my backpack to see if I could actually hike 8 days with 25 pounds at an altitude of 4 to 5 thousand meters.   Well the answer is 'yes'!  Once I got use to the altitude and weight of my backpack it felt like a normal hike.
Our last night we were given the option to buy a live sheep to butcher.   We all agreed - since the trekking outfitter had barely fed us and we all had enormous appetites - to do it.  I was the only one that watched the slaughter from start to finish.  It was so fascinating to see how the entire sheep is used for something.  That night I also had my first beer in 18 days!  This was due to me being sick and to the 8 day hike.... man was it good!.  I told the Israelis that if I drank enough maybe I could understand what they were saying.  I thought this was pretty funny before they told me that they have a saying like this in Hebrew.  
2 sheep filled a laundry basket full of meat.  Seeing this made me even hungrier.  The meat took so long to cook that by the time it was ready most of the group including me was asleep.   The butchers overcooked the meat so bad that it was pretty much impossible to chew.  After paying $5 (which is a fortune in Peru) and waiting 5 hours I only had one bite of meat.   Everyone ended up giving their meat to the dogs that lucked out that night and feasted on the entire lot!
       I know this entry is a little on the negative side but the hike was spectacular and the scenery was unmatched.  I just needed one person that spoke English!  Moral of the story...... don't hike with a huge group of people that you can't understand, they will drive you mad!
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muzz_travelling on

Damn Israelis on teh Huay Huash
Hey mate, just read your entry on Huay Huash. Classic. I was there 2 years ago and had the exact same trek. Me, the guide and 9 god forsaken inconsiderate Israeli scumbags!
amazing hike tho... check out my entry, its almost the same as yours.. beautiful place.

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