Peru Expedition Itinerary
URUS, ISHINCA AND PISCO OESTE
Day 1: Departure country of origin to Peru. The flights arrive in Lima, the Peruvian capital. Transfer to our hotel located in the San Isidro district.
Day 2: Meeting and introduction to all of the group members. Review of the expedition itinerary. Private transportation to Huaraz, the capital of the Department of Ancash and basecamp for the Cordillera Blanca (White Andean Range), the second highest mountain range in the world outside the Himalaya. Huaraz is situated some 400 kilometers north of Lima at 3,090 meters (10,137 feet) above sea level, with a population of 100,000+. This journey will take approximately 7-8 hours. From Conococha (4,050m/13,287 feet), just a short distance from today's final destination, we enjoy our first view over the impressive Cordillera Blanca and further south on the horizon we also glimpse the Huayhuash Range, famous for its snow-peaked Yerupaja and Siula Grande mountains. Upon our arrival in Huaraz, we stay at the Andino Hotel, widely considered to be the best accommodation in the area. Leave No Trace discussion and equipment check.
Day 3: Acclimatization walk to Churup Lake (4,485m/14,714 feet). This short hike gives our bodies a chance to begin the process of adapting to altitude while relishing the landscape of Churup Gorge, its azure glacial lake at the foot of the snow-capped mountain by the same name. Return to the Andino Hotel for the night.
Day 4: Climbing school at a nearby glacier to review some basic climbing techniques and glacier travel skills. Overnight at the Andino Hotel.
Day 5: Huaraz – Pashpa – Ishinca Hut. After an early breakfast, we drive another 10 miles north to the turning that takes us to the village of Pashpa (3,563m/11.689 feet). Once in the village, our equipment and provisions are loaded onto donkeys and we begin the 8 mile trek towards base camp. This walk lasts about 5 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 half-way point, we can admire the remarkable rock formations known as the Ishinca Towers. The Ishinca Hut is located in the wide upper valley at 4,390meters (14,402 feet). From here, you can take in spectacular views over the snowy Urus, Palcaraju and Tocllaraju peaks, especially at sundown. We check in at the hut and settle down in the dining room to enjoy a meal prepared by the staff. Overnight at the Ishinca Hut.
Day 6: As our priority is to progressively acclimatize to higher and higher elevations, we'll continue with a short walk to the top of the Toclla Lake moraine (4,750m/15,583 feet). In the afternoon we'll prepare our summit packs for our first climb the next day: Urus Este. Overnight at the Ishinca Hut.
Day 7: Today we climb Urus Este (5,420m/17,782ft). 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, leaving the Ishinca hut by 4:00am. We will ascend the steep moraine to the toe of the glacier where we will rope up and then weave our way to the summit. The climb to the top of Urus Este takes about 7 hours. Return down to the Ishinca Hut for a well-deserved dinner and sleep.
Day 8: Rest day and preparation for the Ishinca climb. Overnight at the Ishinca Hut.
Day 9: 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 heading on to the highest mountains on our expedition: Pisco Oeste and Chopicalqui. Another alpine start: after an early breakfast, we begin the ascent at four in the morning. The walk up to where the Ishinca glacier begins takes approximately three hours. The climb from the toe of the glacier to the top takes between three and four more hours, following the north-eastern slopes of the mountain towards the northern arête and the pyramid summit. There are a few crevasses at about 5,200m (17,060 feet) which we negotiate before entering the upper glacier. The pyramidal summit consists of a 330 foott/100m – long, 45º sloped snow field. From the top (5,530m/18,138 feet), the views to the south over the Cojup gorge lakes below and the surrounding mountains are quite exceptional. We return to the Ishinca Hut by the same route.
Day 10: We begin our return trek early in the morning after breakfast, 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, where our private transport awaits to take us back to Huaraz.
Day 11: Rest day in Huaraz.
Day 12: We depart Huaraz early and head north. From the village of Yungay we 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 Llanganuco, Chinancocha and Orconcocha. Our vehicle drops us off at a spot known as Cebollapampa (3,900m/12,795 feet) where we 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 (4,765m/15,633 feet) takes an average of three hours. Once we check in at the hut we take a short hike to the top of the moraine (4,810m/15,780 feet), where we can view the rest of the path leading to high camp and the south-eastern arête of Pisco Oeste, which is the usual ascent route. We return to the Peru-Pisco Hut for supper and a rest.
Day 13: After breakfast, and with help from our porters, we move up to the Pisco Oeste high camp (4,950m/16,239 feet). We climb yesterday's moraine and descend a rocky glacier to reach the moraine situated on the other side. From here, the path climbs steeply up to a small, sandy plain where we make camp. The rest of the day is reserved for rest and preparations for the ascent the next day.
Day 14: We start the ascent of Pisco Oeste at 2 a.m. We cross rock slabs up to the toe of the glacier (5,100m/16,732 feet). From the point where the glacier starts we are climbing moderately sloped snow fields until we reach the saddle separating Huandoy Este from Pisco Oeste (5,320m/17,453 feet). We follow the left-hand side of the south-western ridge until we meet a steep slope (165 feet at 50º). Once past this obstacle, the glacier widens and flattens out. After crossing several crevasses we reach the summit arête, by which we access the domed summit (5,752m/18,872 feet), with an incredible 360º 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 aim of our expedition extension: the arresting, pyramid-shaped bulk of Chopicalqui. This fantastic view is considered by many climbers to be the best in the range. We descend to high camp and, after packing up, we continue to the Peru-Pisco Hut with our porters' assistance for a well-earned dinner and rest.
Day 15: After breakfast, we head down to Cebollapampa (3,900 meters/12,795 feet)
Those with limited time can return home on this day.
Day 16: Today, with help from our porters, we move on to the Chopicalqui moraine camp, nestled on the edge of the glacier at exactly 5,000m (16,404 feet) above sea level.
Day 17: We climb the glacier to high camp (5,500m/18,044 feet) 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 prepare for our summit day.
Day 18:Summit day on Chopicalqui. From high camp, the usual route climbs steeply along the length of crevassed ground up to the elevated tapering south-western arête, which is made up of long traverses and short, steep sections. A little before the summit we meet two steep sections (50-55 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 (6,354m/20,848 feet) with fantastic views. After summiting, we descend to high camp.
Day 19: Descent to base camp from which our vehicle takes us back to Huaraz and the comforts of our hotel, with a celebration meal in the evening.
Day 20: After breakfast, we take a private bus to Lima. Transfer to the airport.
Day 21: Arrival in the country of origin.