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Cordillera Blanca with Mountain Madness

Cordillera Blanca Peru Trek or Climb

MM climber Kevin Huang recent­ly wrote this great blog about his time spent with us in Peru this sum­mer doing our Ulti­mate Cordillera Blan­ca Trek or Climb!

Kevin on the sum­mit of Maparju. Kevin Huang photo

The entire trip took 19 days includ­ing trav­el time. And total of 14 days were spent high up on the moun­tains above 4200m ele­va­tion (it’s about 14,000 ft, almost top of Mt Rainier). I esti­mat­ed total trekking dis­tance cov­ered was about 55 – 60 miles (88−100 kms). The high­est camp was at 4,900m/16,000ft.

Panora­ma of Toclara­ju. Kevin Huang photo

The oxy­gen in the air at the alti­tude is about half of what we have in Seat­tle! I was very lucky that I coped with the alti­tude pret­ty well dur­ing the entire trip. But I saw peo­ple have a very hard time and couldn’t eat, sleep and think straight with con­stant headache. And the only way out was to quick­ly go down to low­er alti­tude. If you want to ask me what I remem­bered the most from the trip, I remembered –

1) The smiles and the eyes of the local peo­ple (porters, cook and don­key dri­vers). They are def­i­nite­ly very poor in our stan­dard. But their smiles were so bright and their eyes were so clear. And they looked so happy!

2) The climbs were much hard­er than Mt Rainier! I climbed Rainier sev­er­al times via dif­fer­ent routes. But I felt any of my four climbs in Peru was harder. 

3) And the food! I love the food there. The alpaca steak tast­ed great! But I didn’t dare to try the local del­i­ca­cy – roast­ed guinea pig!! Maybe next time.

Stun­ning fea­tures of the Peru­vian Cordillera Blan­ca. Kevin Huang photo

Kevin Huang photo

Sum­ma­ry of the trip:

Air: Seat­tle -> San Fran­cis­co -> Lima (about 12 hours flight time)

Bus: Lima -> Huaraz (about 400km north­east of Lima, 8 hours), this must be the most com­fort­able bus ride I ever had. Dou­ble deck air con­di­tion­ing equipped bus serv­ing lunch and movies plus after meal Bin­go game!

The Cordillera Blan­ca (Span­ish for White Range”) is a moun­tain range in the Ancash Region of Peru, about 400 km north­east of Lima (8 hour bus ride). It con­tains 27 peaks over 6,000 meters, and is con­sid­ered as the most beau­ti­ful range in the Andes by many.

Toclara­ju from Ish­in­ca. Kevin Huang photo

Huge black hole in the mid­dle of bro­ken glac­i­er. Kevin Huang photo

This trek/​climb trip includ­ed 14 days/​5 camps above 4200m ele­va­tion tra­vers­ing three great val­leys in Cordillera Blan­ca: Quil­cay­huan­ca, Cojup and Ishinca. 

And I summited/​attempted four peaks:

1) Mapara­ju — 5326m/17,470ft (sum­mit)

2) Huapi — 5415m/17,761ft (stopped at about 30m to the sum­mit due to bro­ken glacier)

3) Ish­in­ca — 5530m/18,138ft (sum­mit)

4) Toclara­ju — 6032m/19,870ft (turned around at 5723m due to white­out condition)

Life is beautiful!”

~ Climber Kevin Huang

Kevin Huang photo

Large pen­i­tentes, very hard to climb, but good thing is that they always catch­es your rope. Kevin Huang