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Routes : South and Central America : Peru : Colca Canyon : La Ventana del Colca

La Ventana del Colca

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About La Ventana del Colca:

There is almost no rock climbing to be done in the better-known central part of the Colca Canyon (from Chivay to Cabanaconde). However, a higher-altitude spot to the south known as La Ventana del Colca hides an astounding canyon with beautiful rock and lots of route potential. There are several drawbacks: it's a long trip to get there, most routes will require bolting, it's at a high altitude, and the weather can be poor (best in spring or fall.) The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times; on day hikes you can check out grottoes where remains can be found (we found bits of woven straw mats, braided hair ropes and a broken speartip.) You may only do a little climbing here, but any visit will be memorable.

The formation known as La Ventana del Colca (the Window of the Colca) is a cliff split by a river. This formation marks the lower end of a several-kilometer canyon that winds down from the puna (high plains) to the west. The canyon is shallow at the start and deepest (200m) at the Ventana. The first few kilometers of the canyon upstream of the Ventana offer the best climbing potential.

Note: climbers in Arequipa may refer to this area as "San Bartolo".

Nearest town or city: Arequipa
Directions: By bus: buses that travel from Arequipa to Chivay (in the main part of the Colca Canyon) will take a shortcut to Chivay that does not pass by La Ventana del Colca. Instead, take a bus with a destination of Cuzco or Puno and make sure the driver understands that you want to get off at La Ventana del Colca (about four hours from Arequipa.) Or, join a group that is hiring a combi for a tour of the Colca that includes a return via La Ventana del Colca. In either case, have the driver notify you when La Ventana is close.

The road passes to the north of the Ventana formation and then goes down several large switchbacks to a valley that leads northeast to the Colca Canyon. You'll want to get off at the high point of the road, above the switchbacks. From here you can walk over to the edge of the canyon and find a good way to hike down (there are several).

One great campsite is right behind a mighty fin of rock (dubbed La Aleta) that rises right out of the canyon floor, next to a stream. The western arete of the fin has been climbed (5.7, a one-bolt lead) and a 50m rappel station was rigged at the top of the fin. Make sure to purify your water, it comes from the high plains to the west where alpacas and llamas are herded. Explore!

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Camping: Free
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