Today you are going to learn everything you need to know about rock climbing at Hatun Machay, Peru.
In fact, the info found here comes from years of first-hand South American climbing experience.
This is the internet’s ultimate resource for Hatun Machay’s climbing.
In this article you will find updated information on the climbing at Hatun Machay, including how to get there, access issues, bolt conditions and more.
Let’s get started! In this article you will find:
- Why Should You Go Rock Climbing At Hatun Machay?
- When Is The Best Time To Go
- Where is Hatun Machay And How to Get There?
- Suggested Gear List
- Hatun Machay Rock Climbing Overview
- Access Issues and Land Disputes
- Bolting Around Hatun Machay
- Where to Stay At Hatun Machay
- Food, Water and Supplies At Hatun Machay
- Power, Internet, Wifi
Why Should You Go Rock Climbing At Hatun Machay?
With over 300 routes, Hatun Machay (In Quechua meaning ‘Big Cave’) is Peru’s largest sport climbing area.
Aside from the quantity of routes, it also claims some of the highest quality routes in the country.
There are a great mix of climbing grades, ranging from 4a all the way up to 8b with a heavy concentration in the 6a to 6c range.
This makes it a superb location for beginner – intermediate climbers!!
If you’re looking to find climbers, head on over to our BRAND NEW FB GROUP and drop a post with your dates!
Aside from the easy access to hundreds of high quality routes, Hatun Machay is located in one of the most stunningly desolate and beautiful settings I’ve ever seen.
It has an eerie feel to it, dead but alive, calm but invigorating, peaceful but exciting.
The landscape, mixed with incredible sunsets, pre-incan ruins and total isolation from civilization makes it a special place which is worth the journey.
The area has over 200 hectares, and offers many different ruins, caves, carvings and paintings dating back over 10,000 years.
Not to mention, it’s located at 4290m, making it one of the highest crags in the world.
After over two years of climbing through Latin America, for me, Hatun Machay is in the top three for overall “wow factor”.
Not a very scientific gauge, I admit.
All I can say is check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
When Is The Best Time To Go Rock Climbing At Hatun Machay?
Peru’s seasons are generally characterized by “wet” and “dry” as opposed to summer and winter.
In the past, the prime season has always been June to September, where the days are characterized by dry crisp mornings and cooking direct sun.
This time of year, especially June-August are the busiest months in terms of tourists.
November to April are generally the “wet” months and October and May are something in between.
However, with global climate change, the weather has become less predictable. The last three years the winter, or “wet” season, have been very dry to the dismay of the local farmers.
But for rock climbers, this means that Hatun Machay has turned into a year-round climbing destination.
On my first trip to Hatun Mahcay I was there for two weeks in November. Typically you should experience regular rain in November.
During my trip, we didn’t see any.
Even when there is rain, the intense sun dries the rock quickly, so unless there is a big storm you’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to climb every day.
Where is Hatun Machay And How to Get There?
Hatun Machay is located about 1.5 hours south of the region’s main hub and largest town of Huaraz.
To get to Huaraz, you’ll first need to arrive at Lima. Getting to Lima is very easy, as it is a transportation hub of all of south America.
You can search for a cheap flight to Lima’s International Airport here:
Once in Lima, take a regularly scheduled bus to Huaraz. It takes about 8 hours to get to Huaraz from Lima. Buses leave every few hours.
To get to Hatun Machay from Huaraz, first take a regularly scheduled bus to the small town of Catac.
From Catac the best option is to hire one of the numerous Taxis near the center square to take you the rest of the way.
Hatun Machay is a popular enough destination that they’ll know where to take you, just say “Hatun Machay!”
The taxi from Catac to Hatun Machay will cost around $20.
It is also possible to hitchhike or catch another bus to the road leading to Hatun Machay, but keep in mind that if you decide to go that way you’ll have to walk uphill for about 1.5 hours from the main highway.
What Gear Do I Need To Climb Hatun Machay?
Leave your 70m ropes at home as there’s no need!
All the routes at Hatun Machay have been constructed to be climbed with a 60m rope.
Furthermore, Hatun Machay is a relatively “friendly” environment for your ropes. As there’s no harsh salt conditions like what you’ll find in places like Tonsai.
For this reason, you can get away with a non-treated rope at Hatun Machay.
Of course, I always suggest brining a dry rope regardless of whether it is necessary or not. It will more than pay for itself with added life.
If you’re looking for a dry rope, I suggest the Sterling Rope Evolution Velocity. It is a highly durable, versatile, and tested, tried and true climbing rope.
It is one of the most resilient ropes on the market, and will keep you safe fall after fall.
If you’re the budget shopper, the EDELRID Eco Boa 9.8mm should be your go-to as it is a great all-around rope and ultimate value for your money.
Side Note: Here is a full review on the Eco Boa, and a few other good rope options as well.
100% percent of Hatun Machay’s routes are bolted.
They are also bolted very “generously” meaning that you’ll probably need more quickdraws than you expect.
I suggest bringing 15 sport climbing specific quick draws such as the Petzl Spirit Express.
It is without a doubt one of the best all around quickdraws ever made!
There is a lot of loose rock around Hatun Machay.
Even on the “well traveled” routes, it is common to break holds.
Because of this potential for falling rock I highly suggest bringing a helmet like the Black Diamond Half Dome.
The helmet is very comfortable and is adjustable to fit just about any head shape. It is a great all-around helmet that you can expect to use for years to come.
In 2014, a brand new guide book for Huaraz and the surrounding area was released.
It has gotten a little bit more difficult to find, so I would check the Huaraz – The Climbing Guide FB page for updated info on where it can be found.
Be aware that your health insurance will not cover you in Peru.
Couple this with adventurous activities like rock climbing, risk of lost baggage or theft, and the all too common food and waterborne illnesses, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Furthermore, many travel insurances say that they cover “adventure” sports like climbing, only to discover that once you read the fine print they add in special inclusions like requiring you to climb with a certified guide to be covered.
The fastest, easiest and most respected travel insurance in the world which covers rock climbing is World Nomads.
Be sure to select the “Explorer Plan” on the next page so that you’ll be covered for outdoor rock climbing!
Go here to read more about travel insurance and why you can’t travel without it!
Hatun Machay Rock Climbing Overview
The climbing at Hatun Machay is spread across more than 20 sectors.
Only a sliver of the literally endless potential of routes have been developed.
The rock is volcanic, and from millions of years of erosion thousands of stone pillars shoot straight up out of the ground, giving Hatun Machay the term “rock forest”.
The large majority are single-pitch sport climbs, however there is a nice assortment of bouldering and even a zone of multi-pitches.
Here is an overview of a few of the more popular areas to get you started, but I’d suggest purchasing a guide book prior to your trip.
La Placa Verde
Most likely the most popular crag at Hatun Machay.
La Placa Verde has the highest concentration of beginner routes (4-6c on the french scale) of anywhere in Hatun Machay, with a particularly high concentration of routes 6a and lower.
The crag is slabby to nearly vertical, with lots of nice edges and balancy moves to get you warmed up.
If that sounds like you, then this crag is an absolute must visit!
A more advanced crag (grades ranging from 5 – 8a), La Cueva (the cave) had an excellent range of vertical to steep climbs, a rarity at Hatun Machay!
Also due to the overhung routes, the area enjoys lots of shade and protection from the rain. Giving the ability to climb here in just about every condition imaginable.
A small crag with only 10 routes, all of which are very high quality.
With morning shade and afternoon sun, La Tapia has a few super classic hard lines such as Poder Rocoto (7c) which is an absolute must try if you climb the grade.
This is the quintessential Hatun Machay style. Vertical to slightly overhanging, requiring a good mix of technique and a lot of endurance to climb.
One of my favorite crags.
If you’re getting tired of single pitch sport climbs, head on down to the Paredes Grandes (Big Walls) to get a few multi-pitches in.
This is the furthest crag from the Refiguio, and the approach takes about an hour.
It is well worth the walk, as the huge walls and remote location add a nice adventure and “wow” factor which has to be experienced to fully understand.
Access Issues and Land Disputes
Hatun Machay is without a doubt the pinnacle of sport climbing in Peru.
Up until 2016, Hatun Machay was constantly growing and receiving international fame and recognition as a world-class climbing destination.
Sadly, in 2016, a land dispute between the Refugio’s former curator and the local landowners caused the refugio to be all but destroyed, and about 500 bolt hangers were removed.
Luckily, the situation has since been stabilized, and the area is safe and open to climbers.
Bolting Around Hatun Machay
Of the 500 hangers which were intentionally removed, as of writing this article, it is reported that over 80% have been replaced.
The last I heard, the remaining 20% where set to be re-equipped by October 2019, but I haven’t been able to confirm this (drop a comment with any updates!).
The remaining sectors to be re-equipped are the less traveled ones which are further from the refugio.
This means that as of now, the overwhelming majority of the routes are safe to climb.
However, it is best to use caution when climbing here. Make sure to check that the first few bolts have hangers on them prior to climbing.
The quality of the bolts themselves is high and were never tampered with.
Rust and other degradation of the structural integrity of the bolts isn’t an issue here.
For updates on re-bolting and route development see the Huaraz Climbing Guide FB page.
Where to Stay At Hatun Machay
In years past, the refugio at Hatun Machay was a lively place, equipped with hot water, electricity, cozy beds and showers.
Due to the 2016 land disputes, the refugio had been reduced to a burned out shell of its former glory.
There is now no power, electricity or running water.
It is still possible to stay in the refugio, but it is pretty much the same as camping as you’ll need to bring your own supplies to cook and sleep.
Up to day fees at time of writing (Nov 2019) are as follows:
10 soles for adults
5 soles for university students and locals from Recuay province
5 soles for school students
10 soles for camping per person per night
15 soles per person per night for staying in a hut with 3 beds
At an elevation of 4290m, it gets super cold at night so make sure you pack accordingly!
Food, Water and Supplies At Hatun Machay
There is no food or running water at Hatun Machay.
You’re going to have to pack in 100% of your supplies from Catac or, better yet Huaraz, and bring them with you.
There are a few sources of water you can use, however, keep in mind that you will have to purify the shit out of it.
I would highly suggest bringing a mechanical filter, as the water has a lot of dirt in addition to animal waste and minerals which need to be removed.
Also worth mentioning, the refugio has a few tables you can use but zero cooking supplies.
You’re going to have to plan on bringing everything yourself.
Luckily, Huaraz is probably one of the best places in Peru to buy climbing and camping gear.
There are a huge number of stores where you can both buy and rent gear.
Power, Internet, Wifi
There is absolutely no power or internet at Hatun Machay.
Though there is some cell signal to be found, it is very limited and can only be used to make phone calls and send text messages.
If you’re in need of contacting the outside world, you’ll have to venture into town!!
And last but not least, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance for Peru to protect yourself against illness, injury, and theft. This is a super important thing to have on hand. I use and recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance and you can get your custom quote here:
There you have it.
The internet’s ultimate guide to rock climbing Hatun Machay
You now have everything you need to know to go climb today.
So now I have something to ask you.
Is there anything missing from this article?
What would you like to see more of?
Drop a comment below, and I’ll get back to you right away.
And as always, don’t forget to share this with your friends!
For more reading like this see: “The Top 6 Rock Climbing Towns in South America” and “The Absolutely 5 Best Places to Go Rock Climbing in Peru“.