It’s hard to imagine a better finale for my final night in the Cordillera Huayhuash than the one that unfolded at Laguna Jahuacocha. All trip my guide had been telling me how beautiful Jahuacocha was, how it was one of his favorite lakes. So I was looking forward to seeing it regardless of the weather conditions. And as it turned out he wasn’t lying: Jahuacocha is a beautiful aquamarine lake that sits just below the glacial-clad western flank of Jirishanca, a 6,100 meter mountain.
My first glimpse of the lake was from a striking overlook some 600 meters above the glacial plain, where the deep blue of sky was reflected in the surface of the laguna. As we descended the thigh-crushing 2,000 feet straight down the side of the hill toward the lake two things happened: clouds began to build and swirl around Jirishanca’s summit, and the sound of rushing water grew louder and louder.
The reason for the latter became clear as we bottomed out on the glacial plain: there was a magnificent hundred-meter waterfall cascading down the rocky hillside to the south. I immediately sensed the potential of this waterfall to add to a great image so as soon as I dropped my pack off in camp I came scrambling back up the hillside (to the grumbling complaints of my legs) to scout out a few compositions. Watching the light play across the landscape as the clouds danced in the sky and the water coursed by at my feet was an experience I’ll treasure.