Friday 7th September Pastoruri Glacier Day Trip
Today I had organised to head out on a day trip out to see the Pastoruri Glacier. It was about 3 hours drive from Huaraz, way out up in the mountains at about 5100m altitude. On the way up we made a number of stops in the national park – we saw some lovely lagoons and also some very interesting trees called the Puya Raimondi Tree – these trees are relatives of the Pineapple Tree. They grow very very slowly and only seed once in their lives. The trees we saw had already seeded and self destructed after that. Our guide told us that none of the trees had seeded in the past 3 years which was unusual and may possibly be attributed to climate change but no one is sure. At about 100 years old, the trees can measure up to 15m in height which is super impressive to see.
We continued up to the Pastoruri Glacier – all the way up to 5100m. I started to feel the familiar pounding in my head as we gained more and more height. Finally, we reached the car park for the glacier, from which we could see the glacier glinting off in the distance. There was very little vegetation at this altitude. Just a rocky mars-like terrain. We set off slowly on the 40 minute round trip walk that would take us up to see the Glacier. Along the way, there were informative boards that demonstrated just how quickly the glacier had receded over the past 35 years. It was really sobering to see just how much this area has changed over this relatively short period of time. Scientists predict that what remains of the glacier will be gone within the next 10 years which is really sad to think about. The glacier, when we finally reached it was still really beautiful, but alarmingly small. There was a large section which looked as though it would calve at any second into the glacial lake. After about 1 hour enjoying the glacier and surrounds, it was time to head back down to the bus and back down the mountain to Huaraz. The headache receded the further we went back down the mountain and I had a hearty quinoa soup back in Huaraz before an early night.