Hatun Machay aka big cave in Quechua is a “mystical stone forest” full of sport climbing routes north of Huaraz. There are thousands of rock towers mostly made of granite that have been eroded by water, wind and glaciers as well as some made of volcanic tuff. Towers of this rock ranging from squat little boulders to multi-pitch sport climbs sit at 14,000ft on 200 hectares. It’s also home to ancient stone carvings and paintings that are thought to date back more than 10,000 years. Currently, there are more than 160 bolted routes of all difficulties and according to the refugio keeper, Stefan, they’re bolting around a hundred more a year.
The rock was tough and the muscles weak but it felt great to be climbing again. We spent 3 fun days at Hatun Machay climbing all sorts of rocks, avoiding herds of wandering cattle, playing scrabble by the fire in the refugio, and fighting for a spot in the busy kitchen to make dinner. The refugio was full of lovely people from all over the world with which we could climb during the day and laze around the cozy refugio with at night. In case you ever find yourself at HM, “welcome to huaraz” and “pincitas” at La Cueva were favorites along with most routes at “los espanoles.”
Annnnnnnd my personal favorite moment of HM was waking up one morning to see the following sequence of photos. Looks like all Jordan had to do to make a new friend was share the heat of his sleeping bag!