Monday 11 August 2014

Day 86: Cordillera Huayhuash trek (day 4) - Weeping gullies

We took the Alpine route again on Day 4
(via a sequence of lakes).
This was the last settlement before the pass.
Today was one of the most stunning on the route.  We passed three high altitude lakes under the gaze of the five icy sentinels that had stood guard over our campsite.  One of them was like a leaky tap, dripping avalanches.  Every minute we heard the roar of collapsing ice and watched gullies weeping white torrents.  As Guy focused his camera on the collapsing slope, a cathedral of ice broke away and he managed to take shot after shot of it blasting down the mountain.  A lake and a pile of terminal moraine separated us from this onslaught.  I watched nervously as the pile of falling ice fetched up against the terminal moraine, fearing that it would spill over into the lake, creating a wave that would give us an icy shower.  But the roar of the avalanche finally faded; the terminal moraine stayed intact; the lake waters remained placid; and eventually we tore ourselves away from the special-effects show to plod over the next pass.  By late-morning the sky had clouded over and it began to snow for the second day in a row.  As we donned our waterproofs we reflected that this was the dry season and the weather was breaking its contract.

That night we camped with the three American girls, after walking with them off-and-on for the last couple of days.  The Huayhuash trek is frequented relatively lightly, so they were the only people we had seen so far, apart from the two German mountaineers.  They turned out to be college students in Colorado and had been to the Ouray ice festival, as had Guy last year, so we soon had a date for drinks at a future Ouray Ice Fest.  Enjoying the company, we trekked with them and their guide for the next day and a half until our routes diverged.

The Cordillera on the morning of the 4th day from Laguna Carhuacocha
Those mid-morning clouds again gave an eerie feel to the valley
The lunchtime avalanche rolling down the hill opposite
Mind the gap!
Looking back down the valley. We were sitting on the small peninsular on the far lake having lunch when
the avalanche rolled down the slope on the left. 
View from the top of the pass
Pigs roam around outside our tent in Huayhuash
Reading by head-torch

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