Peruvian Skies

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Originally published:
Austrailia Runner / Kiwi Trail Runner
September / October 2017

A moment On Vallunaraju

I could barely make the shape of the roof of our refuge below us.  We had started our climb during the night and the circle of mountains around us still wore heavily its cloak of darkness; the gracious, silent peaks bearing witness to our labour.  

Each step was a lung-burning triumph as the trail twisted its way up through the morena.  Bubbling gently around me were the voices of my companions on the Andes Challenge, their Spanish words held little meaning to me but the shared passion for the mountains and trail was unmistakable.  Slowly we climbed.

I had been living, walking and running at altitude for three weeks now and this ascent was proving to be as challenging as the first.  The Ancash region had been my home for much of that time and it had managed to quietly steal a piece of my heart.  Today I was going to look across its vast distances from atop the Vallunaraju glacier. 

As we continued our ascent a small wooden sign indicated we would soon be passing through 5000m above sea level.  I looked to the sky for the first hints of dawn and smiled. It was one of those moments every trail runner dreams of: the first light revealing a world of unimaginable beauty and stillness.  A world to which you feel deeply connected because of the strenuous journey endured.  

Our timing to the ridge was perfect.  The sun was reaching across the glacier as I turned to take in the view that had unfolded behind me.  It was then my infatuation with a region became a deep love affair.


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A passionate man

Hernan Henostroza is a rising star on the South American trail running scene, currently representing Team Salomon and Team Petzel in Peru. Achievements in henostroza's trophy cabinet include record holder for the Marcahuasi Ultra Trail (MuT) 60 km, winner of the 2016 Desafío Huarochiri and winner of the 2016 50 km Petzl Trail Plus in Ecuador.

Personally, Henostroza's achievements at an elite level pale into the shadow of his passion for the mountains and the people he connects with through trail running.

The Henostroza family has lived in Huaraz for over a century.  Like many people, Hernan’s ancestors fell in love with the mountains that fringe the horizon of the town on every side and the energy of those mountains is instilled in his blood.  He was first introduced to the trails by his family at around seven years of age and has been connecting with, exploring and experiencing the trails since then.  The beauty of the mountains, the energy they radiate, their peace and loneliness continues to draw Henostroza.  Through his eyes, every trail is special and unique in its beauty.

Some of his favourites within easy reach of Huaraz are: 

  • Laguna Churup

  • Quebrada de Quilcayhuanca

  • Laguna Llanganuco

  • Laguna 69

  • The mountains of Vallunaraju

  • Pisco

Henostroza suggests the best time of year for exploring the mountain regions is between April and November, and November to April for the coastal regions. 

[Connect with Hernan on Facebook: ]


Ultra Trail Cordillera Blanca

As with Australia and New Zealand, the competitive trail-running scene in Peru has exploded in the last five years, and Ancash is the epicentre of that activity.

Ultra Trail Cordillera Blanca (UTCB) races in July each year under the guidance of race director Andres Olivera Scollo.  The UTCB is stunningly beautiful and with a maximum race distance of 50km, it can lull the unsuspecting trail runner into thinking it is a relatively easy option on the Ultra Trail circuit.  Get to know Scollo, however, and you will discover the true challenge that awaits: “As a trail runner I have always liked challenging competitions and hard routes. This is within the essence of the routes I design; I look for my routes to have a meaning and not make it simple for the runner to finish.  Every year in the Ultra Trail Cordillera Blanca we seek new routes. For every route, I analyse the geography to provide an enriching experience to the runner. I like to include several technical sections, elevation and some float trail to change up the rhythm of the race. 

"This year we passed the 50km race through the Laguna Churup, which challenged many runners after ascending to 4550 metres above sea level with an elevation gain of 1350 metres. This included passing through two mountain gaps and using the Via Ferrata ropes to climb to the Laguna. The idea is to always give a different experience to the other races.  In addition to enjoying the scenery, the runners faced a hard and challenging route which I think they will remember forever. Every year we seek to give a new memory to the runner and in 2018 we will be coming with something new.”

If that hasn’t whet your adventure appetite then consider that the race starts at 3200 metres above sea level. That’s an elevation 1000m above the highest mountain in Australia and only 500m below the summit of Mt Cook in New Zealand.

More info:
Email Andres in Spanish or English: