Punta Olimpica

Travel Guide to the Punta Olimpica Pass

Punta Olimpica is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 4.732m (15,525ft) above the sea level, located in the Cordillera Blanca in Peru. It's one of the highest mountain passes in Peru drivable by car.

Located within the Peru's Hautecam National Park, the road to the top is asphalted. It's called Ruta departamental AN-107. This road is one of the most spectacular in Peru taking you up to well above the snow border. During the rainy and snowy period the road may be closed. It is advisable to only do this trip once you've gotten used to the altitude or take some medication against altitude sickness.
With such a high summit altitude the road can be closed anytime due to snowfalls. The zone is prone to heavy mist and can be dangerous in low visibility conditions. Starting in Chacas (at 4.067m above sea level) you will pass the south face of Peru's highest mountain, the Huascaran (6,768 meters). The road curves endlessly down into a quiet valley and continues to Carhuaz, close to Huaraz in the Callejon de Huaylas. 
The construction of the Ruta departamental AN-107 started in 1910 and finished in 1984. 27 years later started the asphalt works and the new road was inaugurated in August’2013. Nowadays the whole road is asphalted, but at km. 10, there’s a short section of 2km, at an elevation of 3030m above the sea level, that remains unpaved. The road includes a section called "sector de las mil curvas" (1000 turns section) with a length of 26km and 46 hairpin turns. 
The highest part of the road lies inside a tunnel called Tunel Punta Olimpica. Anyway, the old road  to the pass is still drivable by 4x4. The tunnel is 1,384 meters (0.860 miles). It’s said to be one of the world’s highest tunnels, at an elevation of 4.732 m (15,525 ft) above the sea level. The tunnel opened in August 2013. It is advisable to only do this trip once you've gotten used to the altitude or take some medication against altitude sickness.

Do not take this drive if you have respiratory problems or any type of heart condition. Notorius lack of oxygen that tests the organisms and a high degree of steepness. Most people feel altitude sickness at around 2,500-2,800 meters. Extremely low oxygen for engine combustion. A major hazard of altitude is the sickness that can indiscriminately affect anyone regardless of age or fitness. The summit has about 40% less oxygen than at sea level, thus breathing is more difficult. Your pulse rate will increase and movement will be more laborious at the summit. The high elevation with its risk of altitude sickness, weather concerns, steep road grade, and overall inaccessibility make the pass dangerous and summit trips difficult.
The tunnel was constructed in particularly challenging conditions. The altitude places high stress levels on equipment as the thin air means diesel engines and electric motors are more prone to overheating and cannot be loaded as heavily as at lower altitudes. For internal combustion engines in particular, the altitude also affects combustion and turbocharging and they have to be specially configured for working at height. Similar stresses have been placed on the personnel and winter conditions can be particularly tough at this altitude.
Pic: Robinson vasquez chavez


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