Huascarán Circuit Day 2: Lights, Camera, Action!
Huascarán Circuit Day 4: On the Road After a Rest

June 9, 2017

Today was a big day to see the Punta Olimpica pass and we were excited!

What happened…

Andrew writes: Another early start, and it was pretty nippy outside. I think it dipped below freezing since the water bottle on my bike was frozen solid when I popped out of the tent. We had stopped yesterday right at the base of the 15km climb to the top, and the tunnel. As a group we set off, but Amanda and I quickly outpaced Nici and Philip. About 2h45min later we were at the top and feeling great. Looking down though, we couldn’t see any sign of our friends. So we setup the shell of the tent as it was threatening to rain, and then I made a nice hot lunch for us while we waited.

Fast-forward 3 hours and there was still no sign of N&P. At one point we had looked down a few switchbacks and seen them, but we were left really puzzled by their disappearance. I had sent two messages downhill with passing drivers, hoping to find out what was happening as cars coming uphill were reporting that they saw them cycling towards us. At one point I had cycled back down the hill about 1.5km and didn’t see them, it was really frustrating. I was getting cold, and cranky. I really didn’t want to camp out at 4800m after a chilly night last night. So Amanda and I decided to just ride through the tunnel and then down to the closest town about 30km away and let our friends catch up in the morning. After a hair-raising ride in the dark, wet tunnel, we began a thrilling descent towards Chacas. Along the way, a car got Amanda’s attention and passed her a note from N&P telling us to just go ahead. They had run out of gas after 13km and weren’t going to get to the top today. I guess Nici is still feeling the affects of her illness from the last week.

We arrived in Chacas just before dark, and found a nice hotel to stay in and wait. Something weird I’ve found in some of these small towns. Our cellular provider, Claro, doesn’t work when we get into the town. It’ll work in the valley 2km away, or less (like in Pallasca) but only Bitel (another provider) works in the town itself. I might end up getting a Bitel SIM card. Oh, and I hope Nici and Philip are OK sleeping up so high tonight. I’ll be snug as a bug in a rug!

Amanda writes: Todays ride up the pass was thrilling. Endless views at every corner and we quickly tackled the 15K to the top and were treated with hours of relaxation. We had the time for a hot lunch, a chance to dry out our tent and pull out the binoculars and watch the glaciers calving. We had really hoped that Nici and Philip would join us. As Andrew mentioned we were so confused by their disappearance and while we were worried we knew deep down inside they would be fine. After waiting over 3 hours for them we decided to head down the other side of the pass and try and make the town of Chacas. At the top there is a newly constructed road tunnel that is the highest road tunnel in the world. You can also take the old gravel road and go higher and give yourself a high five but we frankly weren’t that interested and after waiting so long had run out of time to try this. We learned the next day from Philip and Nici that it takes 1.5 hours just to tackle the extra climb so good thing we didn’t do it because we only started our descent at 4pm.

The descent on the other side of the pass was also amazing and it was pretty quick cycling on the nicely paved road. After arriving in Chacas it really seemed like such a nice town. In Mexico they call towns that are well kept and seem to have a style to them as Pueblo Magicos. I would say this was definitely a magic village and seemed like people here were very proud. We decided to continue with our trend of staying at the nicer hotel rather than the cheapest. I think this part of our trip has changed a bit since visiting Canada. We always used to pick the least expensive hotel but now we seem to think for a few extra dollars we can get something a bit nicer. Today was no different. We chose the most expensive hotel and I’m glad we did.

The aerial view of our ride:

Today’s Photographs

Huascarán Circuit Day 2: Lights, Camera, Action!
Huascarán Circuit Day 4: On the Road After a Rest