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/ DESTINATION GUIDE: High Altitude Climbing in Peru's Cordillera Blanca

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UKC Articles - on 24 Apr 2018
Tim Slater and Tom Skelhon looking at Artesonraju on an ascent of Pisco., 3 kbThe Andes, second only in height to the Himalayas, is a must-go destination for any mountaineer aspiring to a bigger adventure than the Alps can offer. Nestled in Northern Peru, the Cordillera Blanca offers some of the finest and highest mountain routes in the Andes. Despite what many may think, it's not the reserve of guided groups with deep pockets.

Climbing high technical peaks in the Cordillera Blanca is entirely possible on a DIY basis, and Tom Skelhon is here to show us how...



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Doug on 24 Apr 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

"A 600m colour climb starting at 45° and steepening to 80°" - sounds great!

olddirtydoggy - on 24 Apr 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article. More of this kind of material please.

Robert Durran - on 25 Apr 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

Good article, but:

"Without rushing, 3 weeks is a good period of time that should allow 2-3 5000ers and 1-2 6000ers."

"Take your time with acclimatisation"

 

Seriously?!

1
CliffPowys on 25 Apr 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

I have been to Peru five times and IME three weeks is sufficient time to do "2-3 5000ers and 1-2 6000ers." The secret is to choose a valley that has multiple peaks available while spending the minimum time traveling. The weather in July/August is usually excellent.

IMO The best spot for a quick trip is Quebrada (Valley) Ishinca. From the base camp at 4400m you have Urus Este (PD- 5420m) and Ishinca (traverse PD 5530m) as day climbs and Tocllaraju (AD to D on Normal 6032m) and Ranrapalca (NE Face D 6162m) as two day climbs with high camps. There is also the W Face of Tocllaraju at D that is a fine route on ice and snow and is an excellent introduction to harder routes on 6000m peaks.

If you add in a day each way between Lima and Huaraz, two full days acclimatisation in Huaraz, a day each way between the BC and Huaraz, and two days acclimatisation at BC doing walks, you have a total of eight days plus climbing time.

Very doable IMO, assuming that you acclimatise normally.

 

robgixer - on 25 Apr 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

" The adventure ticket is valid for 21 days and you may have to convince the park ranger of your experience as an alpinist. (Waving an alpine club membership card seems to work magic!)"

Anyone have any more information/experience on this? I was there in 2014 and had some trouble getting into the national park. We did finally manage but it was a hassle. Returning this summer and wondering if if its best to join the AC.

CliffPowys on 25 Apr 2018
In reply to robgixer:

I have always shown my Austrian Alpine Club UK card and have never had any problems. A bit of Spanish helps.

The "park ranger" is often some young guy sitting on the side of the track to base camp. Nothing posh!

 

 

Robert Durran - on 25 Apr 2018
In reply to CliffPowys:

> Very doable IMO, assuming that you acclimatise normally.

Maybe replace "normally" with "easily"?

Just to go to a base camp at 4400m after a couple of days in Huaraz is going to be really pushing it/impossible for many.

Heartinthe highlands - on 25 Apr 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

I agree. I have climbed in the Blanca twice. The first time I climbed seven 6000m peaks in 6 weeks with two Kiwi friends who were on a super South American climbing odyssey.  However, I was living in Bogota which is at 2600 metres. I noticed a couple of teams who arrived from Sheffield really struggling to even get up a peak, although they were trying very (too?) hard stuff.

The second time was a 3-4 week trip from the UK. The difference was acute. Big headaches at Ishinca basecamp for example. We still managed to guide a few folk up Huascaran though. 

Great place though. 

CliffPowys on 26 Apr 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

I agree that it is not possible for some people but I have seen many people follow such a schedule without harm. Obviously you have to listen to what your body is telling you and not push it. I suppose that experience also helps.

Of course you could spend four days bridging the gap between Huaraz (3052m) and 4400m, instead of two, have three rest/weather days at BC, and yet still be within the three weeks.

Big Lee - on 26 Apr 2018
In reply to UKC Articles:

> The Andes, second only in height to the Himalayas

The Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindukush, Kun  Lun, Tian Shan and Pamir are all higher than the Andes. Seems pretty old fashioned to try and group these together into one entity.

Big Lee - on 26 Apr 2018
In reply to Big Lee:

And Daxue Shan for that matter. 

Robert Durran - on 26 Apr 2018
In reply to CliffPowys:

> Of course you could spend four days bridging the gap between Huaraz (3052m) and 4400m, instead of two, have three rest/weather days at BC, and yet still be within the three weeks.

Not if you then need to slow down everything thereafter as well. 

 

CliffPowys on 26 Apr 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

I cannot see why, failing injury, you would need to slow everything else down after you have acclimatised.

I think that we need to agree to disagree.

Climb Well!

 

Robert Durran - on 26 Apr 2018
In reply to CliffPowys:

> I cannot see why, failing injury, you would need to slow everything else down after you have acclimatised.

Because you are never "acclimatised"; acclimatisation is progressive over the whole trip, so a slower acclimatiser will need to take more time over each step and people hit "barrier heights" they struggle to get past.

I admit I do have a bit of a thing about this sort of acclimatisation advice (I've seen much dodgier downright dangerous stuff on here!) because I am a very slow acclimatiser myself (When I went to the Blanca, I finally made it to 5600m 5 weeks after arriving in Huaraz).  I just so often see acclimatization schedules given from the point of view of one person's experience which fail to take variability into account.

Post edited at 12:28

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