Peru travel - mountain climbing adventures in the Andes of Peru, mountaneering in Cordillera Blanca, around Arequipa and Cuzco

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Mountain Climbing

Peru Mountain Climbing in the Andes

The silhouettes of a chain of mountain appear in the horizon. Majestic and gigantic, the mountains glow when receiving the caresses of the Sun; then, they project a magic, perhaps protective halo, on the rural towns seated in their skirts. 

Climbing a mountain of La Cordillera de los Andes awake fascination since immemorial times. At the present time, the heirs of the cosmological vision of the old cultures of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia give cult to them, their "apus" or protector hills; while, hundreds of men and women coming from all over the world, make an effort when climbing a mountain trying to reach their summits that seem to be unconquerable.

To ascend the snow peaks of the Andes -many of which surpass 6,000 meters high- is an irresistible challenge for mountain climbing lovers (mountain climbing in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia is known as Andinismo) who will have the chance of demonstrating their dexterity, when crowning the summits of the Cotopaxi or theChimborazo in Ecuador, the Illimani, the Sajamaor the Condoriri in Bolivia or the Huascaran or the Alpamayo in Peru, just to name a few of the many mountains ideal for climbing.

From May to September, the absence of rains motivates the arrival of hundreds of foreign climbers, willing to challenge the snow peaks of the Andes... and as cold gets worse, it soaks the bones, but the ascent doesn't stop, because the summits - mythical and sacred protectors - are an obsession for sportsmen that love mountain climbing.

If you are planning an expedition to climb a mountain in Peru, becoming a member of the South America Explorers is an excellent idea. You can use the services of their club houses in Lima and Cusco which include an extensive library of books, maps and trip reports. (www.samexplo.org)

Cordillera Blanca

The Cordillera Blanca is truly a climbers paradise. Many people come to Peru just to visit this region and can sometimes reach several summits over 6,000m in a two week stay. Climbing is best done during the dry season (June to September) with optimum conditions usually in July. Acclimatization is essential so allow between 4 days and 1 week before starting the ascent depending on the height and difficultly of the mountain.

The peaks of Ishinca (5,534m) and Pisco (5,752m) are suitable for inexperienced climbers. Alpamayo (5,957m), generally regarded as Peru's most beautiful mountain, is suitable for intermediate climbers, while Huascaran (6,768m) can prove quite a challenge.

Huaraz is the largest town in the area and the most popular place to use as a base for exploring the surrounding mountains. There are many trekking and climbing companies in Huaraz that can help you plan your trip, provide suitably experienced guides and rent out equipment. However more serious expeditions should bring their own equipment. A great source of information can be found in the Casa de Guias (House of Guides) which is located in the Plaza Ginebra in Huaraz Tel (51 44) 72-1811. They keep a list of registered guides.

Cordillera Blanca: Peaks which can easily be climbed by trekking Peaks:

Hatun Montepuncu 5,415 mts. all year 

Huarapasca 5,530 mts. all year 

Ishinka 5,534 mts. all year 

Maparaju 5,326 mts. all year 

Pastoruri 5,220 mts. all year 

Pisco 5,752 mts. all year

Rima Rima 2 5,203 mts. all year

Tuco 2 5,454 mts. all year 

Urus 3 5,420 mts. all year 

Vallunaraju 3 5,686 mts. all year 

Wamashraju 3 5,434 mts. all year 

Cordillera Blanca: Peaks which can be climbed with moderate difficulty:

Aquilpo 5,050 mts. May to Sept 

Caullaraju 5,597 mts. May to Sept 

Copa 6,137 mts. May to Sept 

Champara 5,878 mts. May to Sept 

Chequiaraju 5,512 mts. May to Sept 

Hualcan 6,122 mts. May to Sept 

Paria 5,500 mts. May to Sept 

Raria 5,576 mts. May to Sept 

San Juan 5,884 mts. May to Sept 

Tocllraju 6,052 mts. May to Sept 

Urhuashraju 5,544 mts. May to Sept 

Yanapaccha 5,393 mts. May to Sept

Cordillera Blanca: Peaks which can be climbed with a degree of difficulty:

Alpamayo 5,957 mts. June to Sept 

Artesonraju 6,025 mts. May to Sept 

Caraz 6,020 mts. May to Sept 

Cayesh 5,424 mts. June to Sept 

Contrahierbas 6,050 mts. June to Sept 

Chacraraju 6,108 mts. June to Sept 

Chinchey 6,309 mts. June to Sept 

Chopicalqui 6,354 mts. May to Sept 

Huandoy Norte 6,393 mts. June to Sept 

Huascaran 6,768 mts. May to Sept 

Huastsan 6,395 mts. June to Sept 

Oxshapalca 5,881 mts. June to Sept 

Palcaraju 6,272 mts. June to Sept 

Piramide Garcilazo 5,865 mts. May to Sept 

Pucaranra 6,156 mts. June to Sept 

Pacahirca 6,088 mts. June to Sept 

Quitaraju 6,036 mts. June to Sept 

Ranrapalca 6,162 mts. June to Sept 

Rataquenua 5,338 mts. June to Sept 

Santa Cruz 6,241 mts. June to Sept 

Taulliraju 5,830 mts. June to Sept 

Ulta 5,782 mts. May to Sept

Arequipa

When arriving in Arequipa you cannot help but be impressed by the beautiful conical snow-capped volcano which dominates the skyline. This volcano, known as El Misti, is 5,825m high and is suitable even for inexperienced climbers provided you are accompanied by a professional, experienced guide. The best months to make an assent are July to September, although it can be climbed year round. Provided that you are suitably acclimatized you can make the ascent and return to Arequipa in 2 days.

Another fairly easy mountain to climb which is close to Arequipa is Chachani (6,075m). If you are a fairly inexperienced climber but want to be able to say that you've reached a summit in excess of 6,000m then this is probably the best place in the world to start.

There are many other spectacular peaks to climb particularly in the direction of the Colca Canyon. These include Hualca Hualca (6,025m) and Ampato (6,380m).

When it comes to recommending a tour agency in Arequipa, Zarate Expediciones comes up top of the list. This company was founded in 1954 so they've had plenty of experience. Zarate Expediciones can arrange a variety of climbs of all the local peaks, equipment rental and has a 24 hour mountain rescue service.

Arequipa: Principal Mountains

Coropuna 6,425 all year 

Solimana 6,320 all year 

Ampato 6,318 all year 

Chachani or 2 6,075 all year 

Hualca-Hualca 6,025 all year 

Misti (Volcano) 5,825 all year 

Sabancaya (Volcano) 5,976 all year 

Ubinas (Volcano) 5,672 all year 

Pichu-Pichu 5,664 all year 

Misti 5,597 all year

Cusco

The Cordilleras Vilcabamba and Vilcanota provide some exciting climbing in the province of Cusco. However, most of the climbs are technically difficult and there are very few opportunities for inexperienced climbers.

All serious expeditions should be planned well in advance with June to September being the best months to make an attempt on a summit.

There are very few tour agencies in Cusco with suitable experience of mountaineering. Of those that come recommended Peruvian Andean Treks is perhaps the best, and a useful source of information. They also hire out equipment for climbing.

Cusco: Principal Snowcapped Peaks

Salkantay 6,271 June-Sept 

Ausangate 6,385 June-Sept