One pass. That is all it takes to transform scenery of big valleys and canyons into a colorful mining country that remind me of Agua Negra pass between Chile and Argentina. But don't be mistaken -- while the climb isn't as long as then, the 1600m climb to Abra Ritipata (4950m) takes a serious effort.
My plan to tackle Abra Ritipata is a two-day stunt -- with 1600m of climbing it isn't exactly doable in one day (and even if I could get to the top, there wouldn't be time for descent). As there is reportedly no water on the climb (apart from a dirty water hole) I load my bike with two days worth of water. All preparations done I finally leave Paras and immediatelly start the climb.
The road from Paras is in quite good condition. In fact, I am meeting a bunch of crews working on it. Apart from people there is a lot of heavy machinery involved -- trucks full of earth/dirt, road roller and a watering cistern. Needless to say I did not like the last one. Apart from a few muddy sections the road surface is quite smooth and rolls very well. It is therefore no surprise that I am making bigger speed than I originally expected.
I take a lunch break at 4100m slightly overviewing the road works. With Sun up and shiking and no wind, this place is quite warm. As I continue further this changes though. I slowly leave the big canyon of the past few days behind. Instead there are more and more views of mountains around. With more open landscape a wind arrives. And with each meter of elevation it is getting stronger and also colder (mainly because the Sun is now covered with high clouds).
As the cold wind is quite annoying I decide to call it a day a bit above 4600m. There is no point in getting further as it would only mean more wind and even more colder night. And tomorrow I should be able to reach Licapa without big problems. Given that as soon as the shadows hit my tent the temperature plummets down this was a good decision.
The night is real cold. In fact, despite my two sleeping bags setup tested in Bolivia I start shivering a bit. It dawns on me before the dawn that this seems to be a bit suspicious, especially that I also have a mild headache and my stomach is complaining as well. Sure enough, quick check with a thermometer reveals whopping 38° which explains a lot about my state. A bit of Paralen and I try to catch up with the sleep.
With the previous night's sleep deficit it takes me ages to start the day. And unsurprisingly I feel feeble and the progress is rather slow. On the other hand, the scenery keeps me busy. I watch a few rabbits and vicuñas. If wildlife isn't you thing the road also overviews a nice lagoon. All of this makes up for the hard effort of last meters to the pass.
When I finally get to Abra Ritipata a surprise awaits me -- this is probably the first Peruvian pass that actually has a sign at the top. Also, apparently the mountains here must be raising at pretty fast speeds -- the sign lists pass about 50 meters lower than it is in the reality :-)
With Abra Ritipata down I can now enjoy 600m of descent. And what a descent it is -- the scenery changes like with a magic wand and where yesterday were canyons today I can see bare mountains playing with probably all the colors from the rainbow.
The dominant orange color is strongly contrasting with lagoons and any grass the descent has. Zooming past some scared vicuña hers there is only one problem with the descent and that is an intense cold. I do frequent photographic stops just to warm up my hands.
When I finally join a paved road it is time for lunch although I have to force it to my stomach. Unfortunately, the pavement doesn't bring a quick ride as there is another pass before me. With about 400m the ascent to Abra Apacheta isn't extremely long. Yet it isn't a piece of cake as I am slowly building a headache and there is the everpresent nasty cold wind against me.
Abra Apacheta is another pass which must be gaining rapidly some elevation as my GPS shows it a few dozens of meters higher. Or maybe Peruvian's just don't know how to measure elevation, who knows? I take a mandatory picture and resume going, this time at way higher speeds. It does take some time but finally I frozen arrive to Licapa, a small village on the highway. It is actually a bit miserable place. I am getting a room in hospedaje municipal, which in reality is this little separated place below a roof of some building. To go to the toilet I have to get out of the building and go to a nearby public bathroom which isn't very clean. And food-wise, this isn't heaven either -- I find a restaurant but the only meal is caldo (broth soup).
Download simplified GPX of a route here
Stats by activity:
| Pedal rotations
|Aug. 17, 2017||26.2||1.29||20.5|
|Aug. 18, 2017||55.0||0.80||13.4|
The next table is only for cycling activity.