Trekking Paramount: expectations vs reality

Photos often don’t do justice to reality and this is especially true in many landscape photos - the biggest problem is that a photo cannot always convey the emotions and feelings of the moment. 

This was the case when I went on a trip to the Parón Valley (quebrada) to get some more photos and see what the trek is about. I had seen photos of this area although many had been taken from the classic/normal trail - this day was going to be anything but normal!

Nevados Paria, Garcilaso and Laguna Parón (lake)

Leaving Huaraz around 5am, there was still no sign of the sky but enough moonlight to show there was a reasonable amount of cloud around. Obviously everyone was hoping for at least partially open skies for good views but; we still had a 3 hour drive ahead of us.

First stop was north of Huaraz at the local market in Caraz where we had a decent breakfast at one of the small restaurants. Everyone topped up with drinks, fruit and snacks for the day and we were off - off the tar road into the mountains. 

Almost 2 hours later we were at the trek starting point (4,200m altitude) after ascending through some incredible Queñual (Polylepis) forest with astounding waterfall and an incredible amount of birdlife (this will be my next exploration here). 

The scenery was already spectacular with the massive valley below us and in front of us, Laguna Parón (Lake Parón) and the mountains Garcilaso and Paria. To our right were the peaks of Pisco and the Huandoy North and to the left, Caraz (the mountain), Aguja and the rock-climbing favourite Le Esfinges.

Stopping at one of the viewpoints.
Peaks of Pisco (left) and Huandoy North (right) behind the group.

Eventually heading off through the vegetation, we did a few photo stops as the trail became more rocky and small rocks becoming massive boulders. 

The views were just simply amazing while we headed off from where the trail ended, into the boulder ‘field’ - this was becoming a very interesting scramble with nerves and fears showing on many faces. All stuck to it though and gave it their best - the adrenaline was working well!

A ridge trek to another viewpoint

Our final highpoint rewarded us with views that had everybody taking photos all the time - we were now at about 4,300m altitude. This was also a good time for everyone to get a rest between all the boulders while listening to rocks and glaciers moving, cracking and thundering - a “small” avalanche between the peaks of Pisco and Huandoy North reminded us of the instability of this area and the need to remain alert.

Time to descend! Now we had to negotiate the boulders back to our backpacks and then the steepish (it wasn’t vertical but certainly got the adrenalised attention of everyone!) final slope to the lakeshore. The slope descent was a mixture of small rocks that didn’t like remaining in position, eventually some vegetation and gritty soil. A few backsides met with the slope during the descent.

This has just been an incredible day, much more than just an acclimatisation trek. For me this had been a great welcome back to my favourite office in the Cordillera Blanca and some excellent exercise. (Remember to check out the VIDEO at the end of the post!)

Everyone else agreed that this off-piste day was unforgettable and a few commented how they had never thought they would be able to do something like this and might not have come if they’d known.

New personal limits were discovered way outside of the personal comfort zones.
Final descent through the boulders

This trip was organised through and by Akilpo in Huaraz.


Expedition Logistics, Travel Planning And Tourism Product Development

A diverse portfolio of services with the tourism and hospitality industry as basis, include travel planning, expedition logistics and support, tourism and hospitality product development, and product/destination marketing.