Another objective on our list has been the rock called La Esfinge, the Sphinx. It is just a small outcrop at the beginning of the Paron valley, mirroring the Torres de Paron on the other side of the quebrada. Its summit is a mere 5 320 meters high, but to get there you have to climb around 500 meters of vertical terrain.
To get to the Paron valley from Huaraz it takes a little bit longer than to the Llanganuco valley. First, you have to go to the town of Caraz in 2 hours by combi, and than take a taxi for an expensive 60 soles for one-way ride to the Laguna Paron. There are few tourists in this valley and less villages on the way, thus the high transportation cost. It is also wise to pre-arrange for the taxi driver to fetch you back from the lake, if not it is an 18-km walk back down to the nearest village...
The Paron lake is home to a hydro-electric station, that is why there is a manned hut at the base, but not much else. The approach to Esfinge base camp is not bad though, it only goes from 4 200 meters (the lake) to 4 700 meters in around 2-3 hours. The base camp is still around 1 hour away from the sunny east face of the Esfinge (sun from 6 am to around 2 pm). Below is the view upon the Piramide (to the left) and Chacraraju mountains from the base camp:
We planned to climb the Normal Route, 20-pitch ordeal, in two days, given our slow predispositions. The first ascent party apparently spent 9 bivies on the wall, although the first free ascentionists did the route in 2 days, and numerous strong parties do it in one. Howling has been rather painful, as the route is mostly slabby and Renaud was leading on both our 60m ropes, meaning that I had to climb with a backpack and howl the other bag in the same time.
We had good luck with the weather that held fortunately sunny for both days. After Pisco, we were well acclimatized to the altitude and were comfortable bivying at 5 000 meters. Climbing has been hard, long, and gruesome, maybe because we have not touched rock for the last month or so. We did make it to the top on the second day:
As we needed a little bit of adventure, we ignored the guidebook´s recommendation to follow the ridge to its lowest point and make three rappels to the ground. The ridge looked snowy for my sandals, and there were new rap stations just down under the summit. The ground looked close by...After 12 60-m rappels and some ranting we finally reached it by the night fall. View of the Huandoy Norte fading away with the last purple sunshine:
The route those rappels followed through the compact slabby orange granite looked incredible. Not sure which route it is, maybe the ´Welcome to the Slabs of Korikancha´? Anyway, congrats to the FAionists, it looked amazing and hard work.