June 8, 2016 Melanie Windridge

Huaraz, Peru

I am in Huaraz, Peru. It is the gateway to the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, and a popular spot for climbers. I was here once before when I was twenty two, when a multi-day political demonstration stopped us from doing very much at all. It is interesting to come back, to occasionally see something familiar, and hopefully this time to get into the mountains.

Huaraz is about an 8-hour drive from Lima, 420km north of the capital.

A misty desert drive.

A misty desert drive.

Once we left the sprawl of Lima, we were out in open, sandy desert and driving through the winter mist. It was a monotonous landscape. We stopped for lunch in seaside town before turning inland to cross the mountains towards Huaraz.

Seaside lunch stop.

Seaside lunch stop.


Cactus on the beach.

Cactus on the beach.


Peruvian street with tuk tuk.

Peruvian street with tuk tuk.


St Francis of Assisi in the mountains on the way to Huaraz.

St Francis of Assisi in the mountains on the way to Huaraz.

We arrived in Huaraz in early evening. What was noticeable coming from an English summer was how early it went dark. Being only about 12 degrees south of the equator (and in winter), sunset here is around 6 or 6:30pm, nothing like the long summer evenings in the north.

Huaraz is at an altitude of just over 3000m, so we have been taking it easy the last couple of days to acclimatise. Yesterday we visited some nearby hot springs and today we hiked up to Lake Shallap, just under a 5-hour round trip. Tomorrow we are heading up to make base camp near Lake Tallpacocha where we will make various climbs in the vicinity.

Huaraz morning.

Huaraz morning.

I am here on an Alpine Club expedition with nine others. I don’t have any particular objectives – I’m not climbing the highest or fastest or seeking any superlatives. I’m just here to enjoy the mountains and to improve my climbing. Rather like a quick trip to the Alps, just a bit higher.

This is not a commercial, guided trip so we each have responsibility for ourselves, which I think is a good thing. But there are people here who are much more experienced than I am, and I hope to learn from them. I simply want to increase my familiarity with the mountains and how to operate in these environments, from moving through varied terrain as safely as possible to camping comfortably.

We hope for a happy, fruitful and safe trip! I’ll post a brief report in a few weeks when I’m back down.

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About the Author

Melanie Windridge Dr Melanie Windridge is a plasma physicist, lecturer, writer… with a taste for adventure. She has a PhD in fusion energy and is Business Development Manager for fusion start-up Tokamak Energy, as well as working in education with the Ogden Trust, Anturus and Your Life. Melanie loves the mountains and believes science and exploration go hand in hand.

Dr Melanie Windridge

info 'at' melaniewindridge.co.uk
 @m_windridge /DrMelanieWindridge m_windridge