Code: MEHUAYHUA Duration: 14 days
We can certainly say that Huayhuash Mountain range in Peru could be described as the Himalayas of the Andes and a fare competitor in both splendor and magnificence. We are not afraid to say that there is no comparable beauty anywhere else in the Andes and that these mountains will mark your live forever. This is a remote and rugged range of snowcapped peaks located south of the more frequently traveled Cordillera Blanca in central Peru, northeast from Lima. It is the place where the Amazon River is “born”. It is a very seldom visited range and got some publicity after the book and the film “Touching the Void” got a great acceptance in the public. Yerupaja, Jirishanca, Siula Grande, Sarapo, and Rasac are the big names of the 6000 mt giants.
Few places in the world offer such spectacular views. Trekking there offers such a succession of staggering and startling mountain landscapes that is difficult not to feel elated, day after day. Mountaineering has been restricted for the very best climbers. Most of the peaks show formidable faces mixed between vertical rock walls and huge hanging glaciers and seracs and offer some of the most difficult and treacherous alpine routes on the continent.
But you do not have to be of the stature of Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler or as daring as Joe Simpson and Simon Yates to reach summits in Huayhuash. There are several trekking peaks above 5000 m that take average climbers to the very heart of the range, in front of the giants.
The following itinerary do only content the trekking part, we strongly suggest you to take some more days to get properly acclimatized;
1) One option would be to spend some time sightseeing in Cuzco & machupichu for instance.
2) After Lima you can take the plane or bus directly to Huaraz and then make a couple of short day trips to Cordillera Blanca or – better yet – make a 3-day trek to get some views of the Peruvian “K2” Sacqsha mountain.
For more information about this subject, please refer to the page acclimatization at our website.
Day 1. Transport Huaraz to Cuartelwain. Camp
Day 2. Trek to Mitucocha. Camp
Day 3. Trek to Carhuacocha. Camp
Day 4. Trek to Huayhuash. Camp
Day 5. Trek to Viconga. Camp
Day 6. Climb Pumarini. Trek to Guanacpatay. Camp
Day 7. Trek to Cutatambo. Camp
Day 8. Rest day climb to Seria peak. Camp
Day 9. Trek to Huayllapa. Camp
Day 10. Trek Qashpapampa. Camp
Day 11. Climb Diablo Mudo. Trek to Huacrish. Camp
Day 12. Climb Ankocancha. Trek a Jahuacocha. Camp
Day 13. Rest day or. Camp
Day 14. Trek to Llamac. Transport to Huaraz
- Spectacular trek combined with mountain climbing in Huayhuash mountain range.
- Ascents to three peaks, including: Pumarini 5465mt, Diablo Mudo 5,350m, Jankocancha 5,450m.
- All transfers IN/OUT to airport in Huaraz.
- Meals mentioned in the itinerary.
- Full land transportation during the trip.
- Accommodation as mentioned in the itinerary.
- Common camping equipment: 3 season tents, dinning and kitchen tents & tableware.
- Common climbing equipment: ropes, carabiners, slings, snow stakes, ice screws.
- Professional bilingual UIAGM / IFMGA / IVBV certified mountain guide.
- Luggage transportation with mules during the trek (15 kg/33 lb per person max weight).
- Cook when camping.
- National Park entrance fees.
Services Not Included
- International & local flight tickets & fees.
- Meals and hotels in Huaraz
- Personal camping equipment: sleeping bag, mattress, headlamps, and clothing.
- Personal climbing equipment: plastic boots, crampons, harnesses, ice axe.
- Insurance of any kind.
- Any expense due to a rescue operation (rescuers fee, transportation, or medical cost).
Day to day details
Our vehicle will transport us inside the mountain valleys leaving Cordillera Blanca behind and driving south towards the eastern side of the Huayhuash Mountain range. Back in the early 90s guerrillas from “Sendero luminoso” (Shining Path) used this area for their operations but nowadays it’s a completely safe place. On the way, as we drive on flat Andean valleys, we will spot several mountains of the southern Cordillera Blanca to then descent to the village of Chiquian with its superb views of Huayhuash mountain range. We will set our campsite near the trailhead in one of the authorized campsites for the trekking.
Huaraz: 3,080m (10,102ft)
Cuartelhuain: 4,170m (13,678ft)
Driving: 4-5Hrs (150km)
It will be tough to start the trek hiking steep terrain uphill from our campsite, heading to a narrow gap in the rocky mountain called Cananapunta pass; this ridge divides the waters that flow to the Pacific (Pativilca river) and to the Amazon (Marañon river). After descending about 100m from the pass, and in order to get better views, we will hike to our campsite off the main trail taking a secondary way into the valley towards the mountains of Jirishinca 6,094m, Mituraju 5,750m and Rondoy 5,879m.
Cananapunta: 4,690m (15,383ft)
Mitucocha: 4,230m (13,874ft)
Walking: 5-6 Hrs (10km)
After ascending about 200m following the main trail, we will again start hiking off-trail towards the top of a ridge from where we will enjoy extraordinary views of the northern Huayhuash, then following boggy land called “Bofedales” we will return to the main trail and cross Carhuac pass before descending to our campsite near the shores of Lake Carhuacocha. After a short descent the valley opens showing us new views of Jirishanca, Siula Grande 6,344m y Yerupaja 6,635m (the highest of Huayhuash mountain range).
View point: 4,750m (15,580ft)
Carhuac pass: 4,644m (15,232ft)
Carhuacocha: 4,138m (13,572ft)
Walking: 6-7Hrs (12km)
Today’s hike is very interesting but quite demanding since we will follow an alternatively route through Gangrajanca valley at the foot of the impressive East faces of Siula Grande and Yerupaja. The trail gets very close to the mountains and the shores of several lakes, probably just after wondering what physical law permits those huge hanging glaciers get stick to such vertical walls, we will see an impressive ice avalanches crashing down from the mountain. After hiking near the last lake, when it seems that there is no exit from this dead end valley, we will start the steep ascent overcoming rocky walls that have been polished by ancient glaciers. As we gain altitude the view will get better and better until we get to a point correctly called “mirador” (view point), from this place we get into a side hanging valley that leads to the last steep climb to Siula pass revealing the magnificence of nature: the snow shining, the colored lakes and the menacing dark walls. Today we will spot new mountains like: Carnicero 5,960m and Sarapococha 5,370m. After descending into a beautiful valley of shepherds, we will cross it near Lake Carnicero and continue to the authorized campsite called Huayhuash (weasel).
Siula Punta: 4,834m (15,855ft)
Huayhuash: 4,330m (14,202ft)
Walking: 7-8Hrs (17km)
Back on the bitten path, today we will follow the traditional route towards our next campsite but this doesn’t mean that the landscape will be less interesting or the route less strenuous. From the pass and towards east we will have a splendid view Trapesio 5,644m and other mountains from Raura group (formally considered a completely separated mountain range from Huayhuash) like: Yarupá 5,780m, Santa Rosa 5,650m o el León dormido 5,420m. Descending from the pass we will contour lake Viconga (one of the sources of water for the hydroelectric plants of the electric company) anjoying spectacular views of rocky peaks resembling landscapes of the Alps of Yosemite park in the USA, further ahead we will camp near extraordinary hot springs.
Portachuelo pass: 4,750m (15,580ft)
Viconga: 4,407m (14,455ft)
Walking: 6-7Hrs (16km)
After an early breakfast we will start ascending following the main trail towards Punta Cuyuc pass, in some point we will start traversing off trail up to the glacier of Pumarinri where we will start using our climbing equipment (harnesses, crampons, ice axe and ropes) for the first time during the trip. On a clear day you can see most of the Huayhuash range from this point, one of the most impressive of the whole trip. Later we will get to the pass and descent to a large flat valley called Guanacpatay also known by locals as “Elefante Pampa” (Elephant plain).
Pumarini: 5,465m (17,925ft)
Punta Cuyuc: 4,950m (15,908ft)
Guanacpatay 4,450m (14,.596ft)
Walking: 8-10Hrs (15km)
There are two possible passes to get to the next valley, the most known is San Antonio but we chose Santa Rosa because in average the route – although steep in some sections – is less demanding and the views are more impressive. As we ascend to the pass we will see backwards towards the beautiful Cuyoc peak and the Puscanturpa group, but when we get to the pass the view to the other side is just breathtaking; an extraordinary landscape!”. Impressive mountains like: Trapecio, Carnicero, Sarapo 6,127m, Siula Grande, Yerupaja, Rasac 6,017m, flanking many colorful lakes on the bottom of the valley and a full palette of metallic colors over the rocky ridges. After the pass, the valley is so steep that it would be impossible to descent 800m directly to the campsite, instead we have to make a long loop traversing deep into the valley; ideal opportunity to approach to the mountains that seems so close that you can almost touch them. Once at the bottom of the valley of Cutatambo where we will set our campsite in a beautiful grassy plain.
Santa Rosa pass 5,064m (16,610ft)
Cutatambo 4,250m (13,940ft)
Walking: 5-6Hrs (8km)
Today is meant as a rest day to relax from the previous days, but for those who are still bursting with energy we can climb a rocky peak called Seria, almost 900m higher than the campsite. Although exhausting, the views gained will worth any effort; those who have the chance to see the movie “Touching the void” (about the epic adventure performed by Shimpson and Yates when they climbed the impressive west face of Siula Grande) will feel transported into the most spectacular scenes filmed exactly from this same spot. We will take the same way back to our campsite hoping that our staff got some luck and trapped some fresh trout for dinner.
Cutatambo 4,250m (13,940ft)
Seria peak (optional): 5,120m (16,892ft)
Walking (optional): 6-7Hrs (11km)
Today we will hike mostly downhill along of Cutatambo and Guanacpatay valleys towards the village of Huayllapa where we will stay in a basic lodge. Along of these valleys it worth spending some time to observe the beauty of flora and fauna in detail.
Overnight: Basic accommodation.
Huayllapa: 3,500m (11,480ft)
Walking: 6-7Hrs (15km)
One of the longest days of the trek, after a good rest in town, we will retrace our steps outside of the village to then turn north uphill following a narrow gorge until it opens up in a meadow surrounded by steep mountain sides near an Indian ranch, then we will follow on and off an old mining road towards the daily pass and then descend to the valley of Qashpapampa where we will set our campsite. Along of the day we will have good chances to see Diablo Mudo (Raju Collota) and Jankocancha; the two main climbing goals of the trip.
Tapush pass: 4,800m (15,744ft)
Qashpapampa 4,500m (14,760ft)
Walking: 7-8Hrs (12km)
Although not much distance to cover today, it won’t be easy; first we have to ascent to a rocky ridge following some tracks and then traverse to the pass mostly off trail. Then we will have the chance to ascent another 200m to the summit of Diablo Mudo - the most popular mountain in Huayhuash – or descent straight to our campsite near Huacrish lagoon; one of the most scenic of the whole trip.
Mountain pass: 5,120m (16,794ft)
Diablo Mudo (optional): 5,350m (17,548ft)
Huacrish 4,900m (16,072ft)
Walking: 4-5Hrs (6Km)
Climb (optional): +3-4Hrs (2Km)
Ankocancha is still consider a trekking peak but due to the resection of the glaciers, several crevasses just below the summit are now wide open making the ascent of the last 50m quite difficult, to reach the very top we need to climb a short steep gully. It is hard to believe that the extraordinary view from the top of Ankocancha – the main reason why we chose this mountain - will top all the rest of the precedent views. The view over the Yerupaja and Siula Grande is just beyond description. It is possible to point out the face were Simon Yates lowered Joe Simpson with a broken leg and of course “The crevasse”. It is difficult to call an end of the day and start returning to the campsite since the view is so overwhelming and exhilarating that we want to stay a bit more. An easy but long downhill hike will get us to our next campsite near the shores of Jahuacocha.
Ankocancha: 5,450m (17,876ft)
Huacrish: 4,900m (16,072ft)
Jahuacocha: 4,070m (13,350ft)
Walking: 8-9Hrs (16km)
A well-deserved rest day is planned for today, but if you still have energy left we can make a last effort to climb to a beautiful viewpoint from where you can see the “glacial circus” formed by Yerupaja and Jirishanca (the biggest mountains of Huayhuash) and the Racsacgroup.. Down in the valley we can see the colorful lakes of Jahuacocha y Solterococha. After the hike we can return to campsite in time for lunch; if possible lamb cooked with hot rocks in an underground hole; an ancient technique called “Pachamanca”.
Jahuacocha: 4,070m (13,350ft)
Viewpoint (optional): 4,436m (14,550ft)
Walking (optional): 4-5Hrs (7km)
Following the valley downstream we will find an aqueduct that carries water down to the valleys for the irrigation of the innumerable agricultural fields; after following it for a short distance, we will start climbing to the highest point of the day, once again another beautiful viewpoint. As we ascent we will spot Diablo Mudo and Ankocancha and of course recognize the route we follow some days ago. After the pass, we will start descent to Llamac following a gentle terrain first and later a steep zigzag trail down to the valley; land with lots more oxygen to breath. There our vehicle will be waiting to take us back to the hot shower in Huaraz.
Pampa Llamac pass 4,300m (14,104ft)
Llamac 3,300m (10,824ft)
Huaraz: 3,080m (10,102ft)
Walking: 5-6Hrs (15km)
Driving: 4-5Hrs (150km)