Parón Valley, After Dark

My mood was a little dark on this last foray into the mountains above Laguna Parón. Conditions in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca this year are much worse than when I visited three years ago. In the past week a Canadian and an American, in two separate events, were struck by avalanches and died on Piramide de Garcilaso, crown of the Parón Valley. We arrived at the trailhead as the rescue team concluded the body recovery. Needless to say, my tolerance for climbs with any sort of overhead hazard is approaching nil. Perhaps my climbs this season will amount to little more than staring up from the valley bottoms at moonlit summits.

This week also marks the anniversary of the loss of two friends in these mountains. Two years ago, the indomitable Gil Weiss died while descending Palcaraju after climbing a new line on that peak. One year ago, Miguel Gamarra was struck by an avalanche while attempting a new route on Huanstan and fell to his death. His nephew, Henry, standing  a meter away from him, survived and has not returned to the mountains since. I climbed my first ever technical high altitude climb with this pair.

Here’s to them, and their world – the Cordillera Blanca after dark.


Huandoy in twilight.


Artesonraju steals the last light.


Laguna Paron, Piramide de Garcilaso, and Chacraraju at midnight.


A foreshortened view of Artesonraju in the first glow of dawn.


First light on Piramide de Garcilaso and Chacraraju

If you’re into seeing more of these photos, we post more regularly on the  Off Route Facebook page. You can “like” our page if you’d like to follow the adventure more closely.

5 thoughts on “Parón Valley, After Dark

  1. Beautiful shots Skyler.
    When we were in the Blanca last year we had dreams of climbing a few of the easy peaks. But on our first trek we came across the body of a guide being taken down the trail on horseback – he’d been killed by an avalanche on Alpamayo a few days before. Kind of hits home when you see something like that. I remember reading about Miguel’s death too.
    We had a great time trekking in the area though – the views from the valley floors are still something special!
    take care and enjoy the rest of your trip

    • Thanks Neil. It rained hard in Huaraz today! In this sort of weather, the easy peaks are just as dangerous as the hard ones. What we want is technical climbing without the objective hazard… It’s hard not to enjoy being here though, as the gastronomic adventures one can have in town are worth the trip alone. We discovered the Calle Jose Olaya Sunday food market today. Great traditional food and drink on the only historic street to survive the earthquake of ’71.

  2. Pingback: Nevado Shaqsha and other escapades in the Cordillera Blanca | Off Route

  3. Pingback: Team Bad Idea Climb Shaqsha, Enchain Tamboraju | Team Bad Idea

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