Ultimate Cordillera Blanca
The Peruvian climbing season kicked off with a great success on the Ultimate Cordillera Blanca trip! Three clients and two guides successfully summitted Maparaju, Huapi, and Ishincha. Congratulations to everyone! Take a look at their story below:
Climbing in the Quilcayhuanca. Sebastian Carrasco photo
This year I had the opportunity to guide three clients: Elaine, Stuart, and Chok with the great help of Octavio, a local mountain guide from Huaraz. I had heard a lot about the Ultimate Cordillera Blanca trip from my colleagues Alejo, Gaspar, and Tyler who developed this adventure with Shayan Rohani some years ago. This itinerary gave us the chance to enjoy this beautiful range from three different valleys and lots of different views of big and “small” mountains.
Great weather and great snow in the Cordillera Blanca. Sebastian Carrasco photo
After a couple of acclimatization hikes around Huaraz, we walked in the Quilcayhuanca valley and set up our first camp at 14,271 feet/4,349 meters. From here we finally had a view of Maparaju (17,473 feet/5325 meters), our first objective. Once at the glacier, the climb started with a short steep rocky section. That put us on the top plateau, where we had a great view of Huantsan, another 20,000 feet peak which doesn’t get very many ascents. After a couple more hours of climbing snow ramps, we summited Maparaju before 11am. The most impressive view of Cayesh is from here; you just wonder how people can climb this needle of rock and ice.
On Maparaju with a view of Huantsan. Sebastian Carrasco photo
After moving camp and having a nice rest day by Lake Cuchillacocha at 15,000 feet/4572 meters, we met our porters who carried our gear north from Quilcayhuanca over to Cojup valley. Meanwhile that day, we climbed Huapi (17,847 feet/5439 meters). For the approach we had negotiated some rocky terrain to get to the glacier, and we were all happy to put on crampons. However, when we realized that the snow was not hard like we expected, we knew that the climb was not going to be “easy,” especially when we had to climb a 40-degree slope with snow up to our chests. Swimming lessons came in very handy in this section — especially if you had some with an Olympic champion! We reached the top at 10:30am, enjoying an impressive view of Pucaranra’s glacier, different colored lakes at the end of the valleys, and more 20,000 feet peaks on the horizon.
To cross over to Cojup Valley meant walking down more rocky terrain, but with patience and care we managed to make it to camp where the porters had the tents set up and ready for us. Unfortunately Elaine’s bag was missing with her gear, and she almost decided that it was a good chance to finish the trip early and go to Huaraz! But, the porters were keen enough to run out the valley to bring her bag, and before dinner time they were back!
The team is overjoyed upon reaching yet another summit. Sebastian Carrasco photo
From this camp at 15,091 feet/4599 meters, we hiked down to the bottom of the Cojup Valley (14,107 feet/4299 meters), to then climb up some steep terrain and camp at Lake Perolcocha (15,750 feet/4800 meters). Our last climb started before 4am, but this time the night was very dark; we could not see any stars, and even had very little snow. In order to join the normal route for Ishincha (18,192 feet/5544 meters), we had to climb up a snow ridge and then traverse east. Once in the track we only had a bit more than an hour to climb a small steep step to reach the summit by 8:30am! Luckily it was not completely overcast and we were able to enjoy the view of Ranrapalca, Tocliaraju and more peaks!
Big ice abounds in the Peruvian Andes. Sebastian Carrasco photo
From Ishinca’s summit it took us around three hours of descent to arrive at camp and meet up with our excellent cook, Juan, who, with the help of the porters, prepared a delicious Pachamanca, a traditional meal from the Peruvian Andes. Coming out of Ishinca’s valley showed us more mountains in this beautiful range, and I am sure that Elaine, Stuart and Chok are already thinking about their next visit to Huaraz.
~MM Guide Sebastian Carrasco