Weds 15 June: HuarazL. Rajucolta (4280m) (34km, 1280m ascent)
The valley veers north and we stopped to cook lunch by a sidestream, watched by a campesino family. We resumed the climb, following the valley back round to the east.
The road continues through an uncultivated valley with lupins all around: its a joy to ride. Before the lake are some derelict buildings and a camping area. A little further is an occupied house whose resident presumably looks after the dam, and by the side of it a footpath climbing to the lakeside.
Note: the lake is also known as L. Tambillo.
Thurs 16: L. RajucoltaHuaraz (34km, 180m)
Great views at dawn. We began the day by walking back up to the lake to take photos. While we were there we saw two minbuses approaching along the road: they carried a party of Japanese photographic tourists, equipped with tripods and expensive kit. However L. Rajucolta is a difficult photographic target: the sun rises behind it, and by the time its high enough to shine down on Huantsán, the mountain at the head of the valley, clouds may have started to form.
Then we bombed back down the valley. It looked like it might be possible to follow a footpath keeping to the right bank rather than follow the road through Macashca, but we didnt try.
Finally tarmac, Huaraz, and ice creams.
We now set off on the final leg of our journey to N. Pastoruri at the southern end of the Cordillera. It was 44km and 800m climbing along the tarmac to the junction at Pachacoto
Theres a checkpoint at Carpa with a visitor centre. We asked about camping and pitched tent on the other side of the road protected by a raised bank.
Note: our lunch stop was at Catac.
Sat 18: CarpaPasto Ruri (4950m) (21km, 830m)
A hard and hungry day along a middling dirt road through barren scenery. No facilities short of Pasto Ruri visitor centre.
At first the gradient is gentle enough, and what vegetation there is has interest: Puya Raimondi and other bromeliads (presumably) not unlike man-sized shaving brushes.
Then the road starts climbing a rather harsh set of zigzags, with some cave art visible at the top. It continues, still climbing; a footpath leads to Pasto Ruri but you ignore it. A tour minibus passed us along here, and the solitary gringa passenger looked amazed to see us riding.
At 18km is a well signposted junction to Pasto Ruri. You look askance at the stream here, which is rather minerally. After two kilometres along the turnoff we reached the car park surrounded by a number of stalls, only a couple of which were manned. We bought a snack meal of potatoes and cheese from friendly Inca ladies.
A footpath leads to Pasto Ruri glacier, but we wanted to ride and we wanted to camp. A continuation dirt road was pointed out to us: it leaves the car park near the sign to the servicios hygienicos, and is barred to traffic by a log.
We made our way through, still climbing steeply. Hunger attacked us again, and we stopped for a desperate camp lunch in a howling gale. Refreshed we resumed the journey, crossing a brow and pitching tent by the side of a shallow lake.
Sun 19: Pasto RuriYanash Allash camp (4500m) (35km, 480m)
It was of course a cold night, but it dawned clear and we made a sunny touristy trip to the glacier. Then we packed, rode back over the brow, down to the car park where we had another snack, and back to the junction.
We stopped at the bridge where the road crossed a stream, made ourselves lunch, and then beat our way up through poor tufty grass to a spot where we felt we could pitch a tent.
Notes: we had had some apprehensions about the route-finding, but these were unjustified: there was only one road. We had heard that the road was damaged, but although a few small rocks had fallen onto it there was nothing to trouble a cyclist.
It would have been possible to ride on further to Chiquián quite a long way, but all down hill. We think that the roads connecting Chiquián to the ConocochaHuánuco route have recently been tarmacked.
Mon 20: Yanash Allash campHatun Machay (4300m) (72km, 1150m)
We had lunch and moved on. When wed asked in Huaraz, no one had been sure whether wed find anywhere to stay at Conococha (though we were told we could camp by the lake), but wed been given directions to a climbers refuge at Hatun Machay.
The turnoff to the refuge is 7km along the road to Huaraz, at km131. You head west along a dirt track, climbing fairly steeply. After 5 and a half km you bear left on a fork; you cross the Cord. Negra at the Abra Hatun (4350m) soon after and descend to the refuge, which is a few hundred metres from the rock forest which is the attraction for climbers.
We believe that the refuge is run by local people, but one of the tour operators in Huaraz acts as its agent and runs a daily bus connection. Unfortunately the refuges lavatories were out of order (we assume temporarily) during our stay.
It was an easy climb back to the pass (accompanied by the dog from the refuge) followed by a slowish descent to the road, after which we sped along to Huaraz and arrived in time for lunch.
Notes: we had booked a bus from Huaraz to Lima. An alternative means of return would have been to descend the 4000m from Conococha to the coast at Pativilca on a good tarmac road and catch a bus from there. Unfortunately the buses cant be booked from Huaraz.