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. It’s one of the most hairpinned roads in the world.

Portachuelo Pass

Can you drive to Portachuelo Pass?

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.

Is Portachuelo Pass defiant?

Located within the Huascaran National Park, the drive is extremely defiant with sheer drops on one side, and stone cliffs on the other; very sharp hairpin 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.

How long is the road to Portachuelo Pass?

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