The fifth film shoot for the upcoming season of Epic Trails took place a couple of weeks ago. The team headed to the Ancash region of Peru, where they explored the region’s fantastic mountains and hiking trails.
Below is an excerpt from Eric’s blog post about his experience:
“There are few places that truly stir my heart with a wild passion. Ancash, Peru is one of them. Ancash is a region north of Lima that is home to, in my mind, the most beautiful mountains in the world.“– Eric Hanson
Huascaran, Peru’s tallest peak at over 22,000 feet is, along with this region’s gorgeous landscapes, why mountaineers and trekkers all around the world flock to this destination. The culture and feel of the town of Huaraz, where our adventure began, is a flock-worthy destination too. I was happy to be back.
Driven by Jose to Huaraz, I was welcomed by Virgilio, the lead guide of our confidence-inspiring team from Explorandes. Explorandes is an award-winning company recognized for its commitment to responsible tourism. Over cerveza with Virgilio, we poured over our backpacking plans at a well-known climbing hangout, The Andino Café. There, we traced our fingers along the map of the Cordillera Huayhuash and the segment of trail we would tackle – a 4-day route (truncated from the classic 12-day version) in a remote pocket of rugged mountains that pierce the sky with the snow-covered needles of Siula Grande, Jirishanka, and Rondoy.
Altitude in the Huayhuash must be taken seriously. To aid in our acclimatization, with only one day before our Huayhuash trek, we visited Huascarán National Park and Llanganuco Valley for a hike among the Cordillera Blanca mountains. Visiting lakes Chinancocha, Orconcocha and the stunning Llanganuco, that I describe as an azure lake that practically glows in a glacier carved valley of granite. Although only a ‘starter’ for the grand adventure ahead, this acclimatization hike was a worthy adventure of its own.
After a breathtaking drive towards the Cordillera Huayhuash trailhead, Virgilio introduced us to two more local characters from our support team, our chef Gregorio (a.k.a. Chileno), and Rosalino, our muleteer. With the team assembled and camp set, it was our first moment to sit back and admire the peaks that make up the core of the Cordillera Hauyhuash.
“These mountains are more impressive and awe-inspiring than any I’ve ever seen. The verticality of them seems impossible.”– Eric Hanson
We embarked on an early morning departure for Sambunya mountain pass. Starting as a flat walk and leading to a steep incline to the pass, our supports, Chilano and Rosolino, both surpassed us. This was something that one might feel slighted at, but in reality, was welcomed as it gave them a head start on preparing an amazing meal for our arrival. Before setting camp, we continued down towards the glacier lake, Solteracocha, hearing and witnessing heart-thumping avalanches nearby.
Waking at camp near Jahuacocha Lake, we learned that Chilano and Rosalino would be making “pachamanca” that day, a meal cooked underground using hot rocks. The pachamanca tradition honors and celebrates our relationship with the earth. Celebrating our relationship as a team too, we enjoyed the pachamanca and honored the trail with a hike up to one of our guides’ favorite outlooks.
The morning’s frost covered tents didn’t freeze out our goal to hike over another mountain pass (Mancanpunta) to a nearby Pocpa village. Almost as a farewell, Rosalino passed us with the donkeys as we took in the views at the final pass of our adventure before leaving the trails for the city of Chiquan.
About Epic Trails: Epic Trails is an exciting and inspiring adventure travel media series that follows host, Eric Hanson, as he explores the people, places, and adventures surrounding the world’s top hiking destinations. Each 30-minute TV episode airs on Outside TV, 27 regional networks, and internationally through National Geographic Channel—Asia and Extreme Sports Channel across Europe. Episodes of Epic Trails aired over 2,200 times in 2020. Learn more about the series at www.heliconia.ca. Networks interested in carrying Epic Trails are encouraged to reach out to Heliconia’s Vice-President, Brendan Mark, at firstname.lastname@example.org.