The Huayhuash mountain range in the Peruvian Andes has long been considered one of the most temperamental and beautiful places on earth. In early 2014, Thomas Woodson, Joey Schusler, and Sam Seward set out to tour the Huayhuash on mountain bikes. Let's just say they got their money's worth.
Schusler: We slept to the sounds of cracking glaciers and seracs falling, completely exhausted after our ride. The clouds parted overnight as the 6,000-meter peaks prepared to reveal themselves.
Video: Huayhuash: Peruvian MTB AdventureWe made our final stop in civilization to get some last minute food and water. Locals watched from every direction as we stopped and filmed with our strange bike-packing setups.After an all-day bus ride, our excitement grew as we entered the mountains. The sight of recently burnt-out buses along the way was only the beginning of the adventureOur first taste of the rainy season came as we pedaled for two days along remote roads to the trailhead. We were anxious to see how things were shaping up above treeline.The Huayhuash welcomed us with switchbacks straight up the second highest pass of our trip. We pushed the fully-loaded bikes up, one breath and step at a time, nervous about what the other passes would look like.Concerning weather filled the valley and chased us up to the ridge. With treeline far below us, this would have been a terrible place for a storm.Every morning we set out in the cold, thin air with wet shoes as we anxiously waited for the weather to clear. Luckily we had views like this to motivate us to keep climbing.Rain and hail came like clockwork every day, forcing us into the tent by 3 p.m. We thawed out over vestibule cooking, card games, and footage reviews. Hot drinks and coca leaves also brought some ease to our pain.It's hard to believe that people live out here. These cowboys were filled with excitement and laughter as they led their donkeys past us.Rain had overtaken the valley ahead of us. This first glimpse of the glaciated Huayhuash mountains revitalized our enthusiasm as we slashed down muddy trails to our next camp.Yerupaja, Jerishance, Siula Grande, and other peaks towered above us as we pushed in parallel, traversing three turquoise lakes.As the clouds swirled over the ridge, we scouted our trail far into the next valley. We were beyond thrilled for this descent down from 15,400 feet.Discovering this grassy and rocky chute reminded us of the ski season we'd left behind in Colorado. Surely no bikes had seen this line before.This man-made lake was the first sign of civilization in a week. We realized the bittersweet end of our ride would soon be upon us.As we reached the road that would lead us out, I revealed three beers I'd hidden since we left Colorado. We gave cheers to survival, friendship, and adventure, then pedaled away in disbelief of everything we had experienced.Huaraz was our base during our time spent in Peru. We gave our best shot at exploring every nook and cranny of this incredibly vibrant and lively city.One of the biggest takeaways from our trip to Peru was the infectious energy and passion for the mountains shared by every local. We are grateful to all that welcomed us to their country.
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