Conococha Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

18.2
FIETS
44.2 mi
DISTANCE
11,013 ft
GAINED
4.6 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

Page Contributor(s): Ties Arts, Bussum, Netherlands; Jelmer Brinkman, Lent, Netherlands; Bryan Kevan, Berkeley, CA, USA

INTRO

An extremely long climb in rural Peru that never seems to let up. 

This climb will give you an experience like no other, giving an intimate experience of rural Peru that the normal tourist would never see. 

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via our interactive Profile Tool.
Roadway & Traffic:
Most of the climb is good pavement, but there is a 20km section in the middle which is being repaved (Dec 2021), which unfortunately means that as of 2021, the steepest 5mi/10km section of the climb is on dirt. We still rode it on 25mm tires, but weren't thrilled about it. We have no idea when the re-paving will be completed.

This is the most popular truck route from Lima to Huaraz, two of the biggest cities in the region. Traffic can be heavy on this road with big trucks and buses driving recklessly on the winding mountain roads (as is customary in much of South America). 

Parking:
The best place to park, stage, and start your ride is in the town of Chasquitambo. There are hotels, stores, restaurants, and other accommodations here. The town of Conococha at the summit is the next best place to park.
When you're in an area like rural Peru you never know exactly what you're going to get till you're there. Fortunately if you're cycling in Peru, you're definitely the adventurous type. We recommend smooth tires above 30mm for all of these rides, but 25s will work. We also highly recommend bringing a spare tire with you on your trip. 

One of the things that makes this climb so tough is the drastic altitude change. Bring gear for all sorts of weather conditions like fog, rain, and snow can appear in an instant in the Andes. 

We recommend carrying a stick; while most of the dogs in the region are friendly, there a few dogs that will chase you and could bite if you don't have something to fend them off with.
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
The best place to park, stage, and start your ride is in the town of Chasquitambo. There are hotels, stores, and restaurants here. However, you may have better luck and more options staying in Lima, 2 hours south of the climb.

When we climbed here in 12/2021, we stayed the night at Hospedaje fe y Alegría, and ate some excellent authentic Peruvian food at a restaurant here (too new to be on google maps).

We really recommend traveling to Peru with a guide - it made our trip far easier and way more enjoyable. contact us to be put in contact with some trusted guides. 

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CLIMB SUMMARY

Cycling Conococha, Peru - bike parked on mountain roadside next to road sign for Zona de Neblina

Cycling Conococha, Peru

Ride 71 kilometers gaining 3,357 meters to 4,045 (13,270’) at 4.6% average grade.

Climb summary by PJAMM founder John Johnson.

This was our first climb on our trip to the Ancash Region of Peru.  The Ancash Region is located in west-central Peru and is home to some of the best and highest bike climbs in the country.  

Cycling Conococha, Peru - photo collage shows the lodging in the Ancash Region of Peru, where PJAMM Cyclists stayed on their trip

We stayed in and began our climb in Chasquitambo which has a population of around 1,700 and is the seat of the Colquioc District in the Ancash Region.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - PJAMM Cyclists stop for a photo at climb's start

Cycling Conococha, Peru - aerial view shows mountains and valley, pink tinted

The climb is along a fertile valley with steep sides for the first 10 kilometers then through a steep canyon the remainder of the way.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - photo collage shows views along the climb, sharp mountains and a lot of greenery

This is a good climb to begin a cycling trip such as ours because, while the climb is to high altitude by USA standards (it would rank #4 in the US behind Mt. Evans, Pikes Peak, and Mauna Kea) it has moderate altitude by Peruvian Andes standards (we topped out at 15,500’’ on Punta Olimpica).

Cycling Conococha, Peru - PJAMM Cyclists ride on foggy mountain roadway

The scenery varies from lush near the bottom to tundra at the top.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - aerial views show roadway through deep canyon; photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner

The climb is through a deep canyon much of the way.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - photo collage shows road signs for several small towns the climb passes through

We pass through several small towns on our climb.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - bright green fruit stand at km 31

There are many fruit stands and little restaurants on the route -

This was a nice one at kilometer 31.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - bike parked next to an exaggerated road sign warning of extremely steep grades

That sign is crazy - the steepest segment is only 11% for 1 km.

But most of the climb is in the 4-6% range.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - road side stalls and pedestrians along the climb

Cycling Conococha, Peru - old brick buildings on the roadside painted with brightly colored advertisements

There were many colorful buildings and political advertisements along our route.

This one at km 38.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - bike parked next to bright blue snack bar at a soccer field

Soccer field in Cajacay (pop. ~1,700) at kilometer 41.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - a woman stands next to the counter of her roadside shop, wearing bright green dress and a green Peruvian wool sweater 

Our second stop for provisions was at kilometer 52.6.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - aerial views show hairpin turns along second part of climb

There are several sets of hairpins along the second part of the climb.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - photo collage shows gravel portion of the roadway

We were surprised to encounter gravel around kilometer 47.  Since there is no history or write ups for many of the climbs in Peru, we were forced to rely on our own research.  In this case, we relied on Google Maps which showed a fully paved road for our entire route.  However, upon closer inspection after the fact, I noted that the Google Streetview for the highway was from 2013.  As of December 2021, there are approximately 20 kilometers of dirt/gravel beginning at about kilometer 47.  The road had some washboard conture to it in spots, but I managed it without much difficulty on 28mm road tires.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - photo collage shows a blue restaurant with sign reading "Restaurant Santa Rosa"; woman wearing traditional Andean wear walks along roadway

Cycling Conococha, Peru - PJAMM Cyclists stand with bikes at climb finish

We finish the climb at the high point which is just shy of Laguna Conococha.  There is the small town of Conococha with a few open-air grills at the Laguna, which is also the junction of Highways 16 and 3N where the roads from Lima and Huaraz meet.  The temperature at the top of the climb will be much colder than at the start, so plan accordingly.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - photo collage shows dogs along the climb; some friendly, others not

Beware of dogs on all bike rides into the mountains of Peru.  We did not have any terribly close encounters on Conococha, but there are many unleashed dogs along paved roads in Peru and they can be vicious - we recommend bringing a stick or club to hold above your head to deter dog attacks.  This worked for us except on one occasion on Punta Callan.

Cycling Conococha, Peru - images of traffic along Highway 16

This route is entirely on Highway 16, a major corridor for traffic to the Ancash region of Peru and Huaraz (a destination town for tourists). There was moderate traffic on the road for much of our trip, but we never felt in danger or that traffic was a hazard.

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