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Climbing
Sport climbing, Trad climbing, Top rope, Non-technical rock
Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade I
Elevation Gain
120.00 m (393.70 ft)
Distance
0.80 km (0.50 mi)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Huaraz lies deep in the heart of the cold and cloud-soaked mountains of the Cordillera Blanca at over 10,000 feet (3,333 m) in elevation. It attracts adventure lovers and mountaineers from across the world hoping to get their hands on an incredible first ascent of one of the many untouched peaks in the range. Huaraz itself is not much more than a sea of crumbling red brick buildings, which are, up close, ramshackle. Given its location, nestled into stunning white-capped peaks, it is a beautiful and intriguing dichotomy.

While Huaraz is mostly known for its mountain trekking and mountaineering, it also has some pretty good lesser-known rock climbing. The crag Los Olivos, so named because it lies 3 kilometers west of the city outside a smaller hillside suburb named Los Olivos, is in fact probably the best Peru has to offer.

Be prepared for what it feels like to climb at over 10,000 feet in elevation! Easy routes will get you out of breath, and acute mountain sickness may strike at any time. Stay hydrated and well-rested to full get the most of your time here.

Guidebook

You can purchase the full-color local guidebook at a shop in town called Andean Kingdom. Here you can rent gear (surprisingly cheap for a town pretty solidly on the adventure travel track) and ask questions about the area. The shop is filled with friendly staff who are all too willing to help you out and even meet up and go climbing with you if they can. Not only are they a great resource for the crag Los Olivos, but also for the technical and non-technical mountaineering of the area, of which there is an abundant amount. Highly recommend this shop!

Getting There

There are several different ways to get to the crag from the center of Huaraz, where all hotels and hostels are located.

  • Bus (S/1): Take the Combi bus (line 15) to either Urpay or Cordillera Negra. Stop at either La Palta or Pasaje Las Robles.
  • Taxi (S/5) or motorcycle Tuk Tuk (S/2).
  • Walk (free!): The walk from Huaraz itself is about 3 kilometers. Head west and turn toward the mountains at el estadio, or the stadium. Shortly after you’ll cross a bridge where locals from the poorer outskirts handwash their laundry in public cement sink. Here you enter a pretty slummy area of town, so be on guard and watch your valuables, if you have any. Keep following the road up until you see the crag on your left.

WARNING: If you do walk all the way from Huaraz, watch out for some stray dogs along the way. The guidebook to the area even states, “Beware of the aggressive dogs at the beginning of the path.” In particular, there is group of three extremely mean dogs about halfway up the walk through the Los Olivos district, just before a sharp u-bend in the road. They hang out on the upper porch of a house on the left, but will quickly launch themselves off this porch in pursuit. One of these dogs is muzzled because he will try to bite.

If this happens, wave your arms and yell extremely loud, taking an aggressive and firm step toward the dogs. This will scare off most attacks. If you want to save yourself the fear and hassle of this pack of dogs, you can actually take a shortcut up the U-bend by taking a staircase in front of a bright mint-green building on the left and miss the dogs.

The Approach

Whether you walked or drove, begin the approach to the crag at a cement staircase that will lead down left from the road between a narrow corridor of houses. It will turn into a steep dirt path down into the valley. Cross the stream (which is sadly littered with tons of garbage from locals) and make the short hike back up to the climbing. Turn right at the stream for the boulders and Sector 3, or left for Sectors 1 and 2.

The Climbing

Los Olivos is made up of 5 sectors (left to right in ascending order), with a total of about 50 bolted routes, ranging from 5.7 to 5.13b. On the west side of the mountain, there are also two boulders in a grassy glen with about 22 boulder problems together, ranging from V2 to V7. Additionally, you can climb or hike to an upper ledge above the majority of the routes for a 90 meter traverse.

The rock type is volcanic conglomerate, which leads to lots of sharp-edged pockets that collect rainwater and can lead to wet holds even on dry days. The rock isn’t the only sharp thing, either; be aware of little sneaky cactus plants that grow from the very rock itself. It makes for a pretty rude surprise when you bomb to a hold only to find sharp, blood-letting spikes!

  • Sector 1 (aka Stubai): The best sector of the crag with a high concentration of 27 routes in a wide range of difficulties. This sector also includes a huge cave that provides great shelter in the case of poor weather, which can roll in and out very quickly so high in the mountains. Warm up on the slabby Limpieza Total (5.8) and the stellar arête climb Vampirata (5.10a). Other must-do climbs here include El Lagarto (5.10c) and Sabado de Gloria (5.10d). On the far left side of the sector (left still of the cave), try the classic dihedral La Chimenea (5.9).
  • Sector 2: With only four routes (either 5.10a or 5.10b), this section leaves much to be desired, but the pocketed orange and black volcanic holds are nothing if not intereting. It’ll leave you wanting more! Note that the nameless 5.10a on the far right of this area is difficult to ever climb because the route is also a water drain from the upper foliage, and the rock is thus almost always wet.
  • Sector 3: Located around the west side of the crag, near where the boulders are, this is the second most dense area of the crag, with 14 bolted routes of moderate to advanced difficulty. Most routes here are rated 5.10d with a few exceptions. The best climbs here are Macho Macho (5.10c), just left of the center crack, and Vuela Vuela (5.10d), going up the left rounded arête. Unfortunately the belay spot is on a steep, eroding dirt hill, making it less than stable. First bolts are also high considering the less than stellar fall zone.
  • Sector 4: A smooth gray face with only four climbs, rated 5.11a, 5.11c, 5.10a, and 5.11d in order from left to right.
  • Sector 5: Another sparse wall with only four climbs, and it's rather hard to get to around the west face and up high on the hill. Some good moderate to hard routes here coming from the mouth of another cave. The best are Yuka Summit 1 (5.11d) and Yuka Summit 2 (5.12b), which is just the right variation start to Yuka Summit 1.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Winter

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Bouldering. Roped climbing. Close to town. Easy and fast approach. Unique volcanic rock. Flat belay spots. Beautiful views. Lots of moderate routes.

Cons

Aggressive stray dogs. Hidden cacti among the rocks. Lots of trash. Moderate difficulty only.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

10,203.41 ft (3,110.00 m)

Highest point

3,143.00 ft (957.99 m)

Features

Cave
Wildflowers
Big vistas

Access

Hike-in

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Primary aspect

North facing

Class / Rating

5.10a-5.12b

Drinking water

Unfrozen water

Location

Field Guide

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