Driving the hairy Portachuelo Pass of the Andes
Paso Portachuelo Llanganuco is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 4.717m (15,475ft) above the sea level, located in the Yungay province of Peru, within the Huascaran National Park. It’s one of the most hairpinned roads in the world.
Tucked away on the north central part of the country, the road to the summit is totally unpaved and features 50 hairpin turns. It’s called AN-106 (Carretera de Yungay). Since pre Inca times this has been the passageway straddling the continental divide. The pass offers a broad relatively flat corridor, between the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds. The best season in the Andes is from April to October, with rainy season in between. It is usually sunny and warm during this time.
The drive is extremely defiant with sheer drops on one side, and stone cliffs on the other; very sharp hair-pin turns and switchbacks. Besides, the climb is pretty steep, hitting an 11% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps. Arriving to the top of the road it gets a little harder, you have to overcome the stretch of loose, large stones, and mud if it’s been raining. High risk of avalanches.
Set high in the Cordillera Blanca of the Andes, the pass is 70.8 km (44 miles) long, running west-east from Yungay to Yanama. The drive offers stunning views, including mounts Huascaran, Huandoy, Chopicalqui, Pisco, Chacraraju and Yanapaccha. The road is usually open all year round.
Pic: Damon Tighe