URUS, ISHINCA AND PISCO OESTE
Depart country of origin.
Depart Country of Origin. Your flight arrives in Lima, the Peruvian capital. Private transfer to our hotel which is in the San Isidro district.
We’ll meet our fellow group members. We’ll be taken in a comfortable first class bus ride to Huaraz, the capital of the Department of Ancash, and Base Camp for the Cordillera Blanca (White Andean Range), which is the second-highest mountain range in the world outside the Himalaya. Huaraz is situated some 400 kilometers north of Lima at 10,137 feet (3,090m) above sea level, with a population of 147.000 residents. This journey will take approximately seven to eight hours. From Conococha (13,287 ft./4,050m), just a short distance from today’s final destination, we’ll enjoy our first view over the impressive Cordillera Blanca, and further south on the horizon we’ll also glimpse the Huayhuash Range, famous for its snow-peaked Yerupaja and Siula Grande mountains. Upon our arrival in Huaraz, we’ll stay at the Andino Hotel, widely considered to be the best accommodation in the area.
After waking up to a spectacular panoramic view of the Cordillera Blanca from the balconies of our rooms and enjoying breakfast, we will review the expedition itinerary. We’ll also have a Leave No Trace discussion and an equipment check. In the afternoon, we will tour the city and visit the nearby Wilcahuain ruins. Overnight at the Andino Hotel.
We’ll take an acclimatization walk to Churup Lake (14,714 ft./ 4,485m). This short hike will give our bodies a chance to begin the process of adapting to altitude while relishing the landscape of Churup Gorge, and its azure glacial lake at the foot of the snow-capped mountain of the same name. We’ll return to the Andino Hotel for the night.
Our priority will be to progressively acclimatize to the altitude, so we’ll continue with another hike to Auquiscocha Lake (14,169 ft / 4,319m) with beautiful views of mountains like Huascaran Sur and Hualcan. Return to Huaraz to prepare our bags for the move up to the Ishinca hut the next day.
Huaraz – Pashpa – Ishinca Hut. After an early breakfast, we’ll drive abut 10 miles north to the turning that takes us to the village of Pashpa (11,689 ft./3,563m). Once in the village, our equipment and provisions will be loaded onto donkeys. We’ll begin the eight-mile trek toward Base Camp. This walk lasts about five hours and takes us through dense forests of native trees (polilepis), keeping the beautiful Ishinca River on our right. From the control station at the halfway point, we can admire the remarkable rock formations known as the Ishinca Towers. The Ishinca Hut is located in the wide upper valley at 14,455 feet (4,406m). From here, you can take in spectacular views over the snowy Urus, Palcaraju and Tocllaraju peaks, especially at sundown.
We’ll have a climbing school session at the foot of the Ishinca glacier (16,535 ft / 5,040m) to review some basic climbing techniques and glacier travel skills. In the afternoon, we’ll prepare our summit packs for our first climb the next day: Urus Este. We’ll overnight at the Ishinca Hut.
Today we’ll climb Urus Este (17,782 ft./5,420m). This peak is great for acclimatization as well as for refreshing and/or learning the skills you need for glacier travel. The route follows the east ridge of the mountain and is relatively short and straightforward. An alpine start will be needed, and we’ll leave the Ishinca hut by 4 a.m. We will ascend the steep moraine to the toe of the glacier (17,185 ft / 5,238m), where we will rope up and weave our way to the summit. The climb to the top of Urus Este takes about seven hours. We’ll then return to the Ishinca Hut.
Rest day, and preparation for the Ishinca climb.
Ishinca summit day. This mountain is an excellent climb for polishing up on glacier travel skills as well as achieving a better acclimatization level before we’ll continue to the highest mountains on our expedition: Pisco Oeste and Chopicalqui. After another 4 a.m. alpine start. Our walk up to where the Ishinca glacier begins will take approximately three hours. The climb from the toe of the glacier to the top takes between three and four more hours, following the northeastern slopes of the mountain towards the northern arête and the pyramid summit. There are a few crevasses at about 17,060 feet (5,200m), which we’ll negotiate before entering the upper glacier. The pyramidal summit consists of a 250-foot (76m), 45° sloped snow field. From the top (18,138 ft./ 5,530m), the views to the south over the Cojup gorge lakes below and the surrounding mountains are exceptional. We return to the Ishinca Hut by the same route.
We’ll begin our return trek early, making the most of this day by carrying only day packs as the rest of our equipment is transported on donkeys to the village of Pashpa. There, we’ll be driven back to Huaraz. Overnight at the Andino Hotel.
We’ll depart Huaraz and head north. From the village of Yungay, we’ll turn off towards the Llanganuco gulley. Driving through this narrow canyon, we can see the striking north face of Huascaran Norte and the south face of Huandoy Sur, as well as the pretty turquoise lakes of Chinancocha and Orconcocha. Our vehicle will drop us off at a spot known as Cebollapampa (12,900 ft./3,931m), where we’ll set out on foot towards the Pisco Oeste Base Camp, again with the assistance of donkeys and pack animals to carry our heavy equipment and provisions. The walk to the Peru-Pisco Hut (15,407 ft./4,696m) takes an average of three hours. Supper and a rest.
After breakfast, and with help from our porters, we’ll move up to the Pisco Oeste High Camp (16,260 ft./4,956m). We’ll first climb a moraine and then descend a rocky glacier to reach the moraine situated on the other side. From here, the path climbs steeply to a small, sandy plain where we’ll make camp.
We’ll start the ascent of Pisco Oeste at 2 a.m. We’ll cross rock slabs up to the toe of the glacier (16,811 ft./ 5,124m). From the point where the glacier starts, we’ll be climbing moderately sloped snow fields until we reach the saddle separating Huandoy Este from Pisco Oeste (17,500 ft./ 5,334m). We’ll follow the left side of the southwestern ridge until we meet a steep slope (165 feet at 50°). Once past this obstacle, the glacier widens and flattens out. After crossing several crevasses, we’ll reach the summit arête, by which we’ll access the domed summit (18,872 ft./ 5,752m), with an incredible 360° view over such famous mountains as the Huandoys, Alpamayo (often dubbed the most beautiful mountain in the world), Artesonraju, the Garcilazo Pyramid, the mythical Chacraraju, the Huascarans, as well as the arresting, pyramid-shaped bulk of Chopicalqui. This fantastic view is considered by many climbers to be the best in the range. We’ll descend to High Camp and, after packing up, we’ll continue to the Peru-Pisco Hut with our porters’ assistance for a well-earned dinner and rest.
After breakfast, we’ll head down to Cebollapampa (12,900 ft./3,931m). Those with limited time or climbing experience can return home on this day.
Today, with help from our porters, we’ll move on to the Chopicalqui moraine camp, nestled on the edge of the glacier at 16,476 feet (5,021m) above sea level.
We’ll climb the glacier to High Camp (17,904 ft./5,457m), located on a flat part of the glacier on the southwestern ridge. We can also count on our mountain porters’ help today. We will dedicate the afternoon to rest and summit-day preparation.
Summit day on Chopicalqui. From High Camp, the usual route climbs steeply along the length of crevassed ground up to the elevated tapering southwestern arête, which is made up of long traverses and short, steep sections. A little before the summit, we’ll meet two steep sections (50 to 55 degrees) linked by a traverse, although the actual difficulty varies season to season. A final aesthetic traverse following the crest of the ridge will take us to the incredibly beautiful summit (20,848 ft./6,354m) with fantastic views. After summiting, we’ll descend to High Camp.
We’ll descend to Base Camp, from which our vehicle will take us back to Huaraz and the comforts of our hotel. We will enjoy a celebration meal in the evening.
After breakfast, we’ll take a bus to Lima expecting to arrive to the Peruvian capital at about 7:00pm.
Return to home country.
Excellent trip along with very flexible itinerary. Jose Luis was outstanding, His foremost concern was the safety and well-being of the group. One of the safest and most skilled individuals I have ever met in the mountains!