The Cordillera Blanca – Endless Oportunities

Chacraraju, a dream climb

Chacraraju, a dream climb

I can’t imagine a better, cheaper, more beautiful place in the world to climb such big mountains.  The Cordillera Blanca has it all, and with such accessibility and current lack or red tape, it should be on everyone mountaineer’s radar.  A flight to Peru isn’t cheap, but once you’re there, you can get by on 12 dollars a day.  Book an overnight bus ride from Lima to Huaraz, the climbing center of the Cordillera Blanca, sitting at 10,000 feet, and for less than $13 you’ll be on the most luxurious 170 degree reclining bus seat, complete with snacks, drinks, and movies.  Arrive in Huaraz, or if you have all you your gear and logistics planned out, arrive in a smaller more intimate pueblo, to acclimatize, enjoy the markets, tour ruins, and do phenomenal day hikes.

If you want to bag some major rock climbing routes, and you don’t mind doing a bit of gardening, the area around Huaraz has several Yosemite-esque valleys, stable granite walls, that extend for kilometers, and reach heights of 2000 feet above the glacier lakes below.  The El Cap-size Spinx Wall has seen some development, but it’s just one of several big walls that could fill a lifetime of climbing.
But the real prize in the Peruvian Andes are the giant 6000 meter peaks, ALL of which are accessible to nothing more than a long day hike.  On top of that, you can make your approach day really easy by hiring a burro and driver for a total of 15 dollars to trek in all of your luxurious base camp amenities.  And with a national park price tag of $22 dollars per month to climb peaks like these, why would anyone spend thousands of dollars to acquire permits in the Himalaya?  Couple the Cordillera Blanca with the nearby Huayhuash range, and you will find a lifetime of alpine first ascents, begging to be plucked.
I guess I am writing this so that I don’t forget to come back in the coming years.  In just one month in the Huaraz area, you could climb several 6000 meter climbs, work some new routes, do a cultural exchange, engage in a service project, and do some of the most spectacular trail running in the world!  I’ve been trying to be less obsessed with climbing in the last few years, but this survey trip rekindled the bug, and I’m already thinking of a return trip to climb, Chacraraju, one of the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen.  Who’s in?
PS- If you are the type who is looking for a guided, full-package trip, my friends Jen and Ted run a top-notch guiding service.  Check out Skyline Adventures at http://www.skyline-adventures.com/
Chacraju...a dreamy climb

Chacraju...a dreamy climb

I can’t imagine a better, cheaper, more beautiful place in the world to climb such big mountains.  The Cordillera Blanca has it all, and with such accessibility and current lack or red tape, it should be on everyone mountaineer’s radar.  A flight to Peru isn’t cheap, but once you’re there, you can get by on 12 dollars a day.  Book an overnight bus ride from Lima to Huaraz, the climbing center of the Cordillera Blanca, sitting at 10,000 feet, and for less than $13 you’ll be on the most luxurious 170 degree reclining bus seat, complete with snacks, drinks, and movies.  Arrive in Huaraz, or if you have all you your gear and logistics planned out, arrive in a smaller more intimate pueblo, to acclimatize, enjoy the markets, tour ruins, and do phenomenal day hikes.

A day excursion to see the rare plant, Puya Raimondi. Standing up to 45 feet high, it flowers just once in its 28-year lifespan, and then promptly dies.

A day excursion to see the rare plant, Puya Raimondi. Standing up to 45 feet high, it flowers just once in its 28-year lifespan, and then promptly dies.

If you want to bag some major rock climbing routes, and you don’t mind doing a bit of gardening, the area around Huaraz has several Yosemite-esque valleys, stable granite walls, that extend for kilometers, and reach heights of 2000 feet above the glacier lakes below.  The El Cap-size Spinx Wall has seen some development, but it’s just one of several big walls that could fill a lifetime of climbing.
An arriero, or burro driver, hauling in gear and food for trekkers

An arriero, or burro driver, hauling in gear and food for trekkers

But the real prize in the Peruvian Andes are the giant 6000 meter peaks, ALL of which are accessible to nothing more than a long day hike.  On top of that, you can make your approach day really easy by hiring a burro and driver for a total of 15 dollars to haul in all of your luxurious base camp amenities.  And with a national park price tag of $22 dollars per month to climb peaks like these, why would anyone spend thousands of dollars to acquire permits in the Himalaya?  Couple the Cordillera Blanca with the nearby Huayhuash range, and you will find a lifetime of alpine first ascents, begging to be plucked.
Just another yosemite-esque valley. Big walls waiting to be climbed!

Just another yosemite-esque valley. Big walls waiting to be climbed!

It’s not like I am revealing some big climbing secret here.  I guess I am writing this so that I don’t forget to come back in the coming years.  In just one month in the Huaraz area, you could climb several 6000 meter climbs, work some new routes, do a cultural exchange, engage in a service project, and do some of the most spectacular trail running in the world!  I’ve been trying to be less obsessed with climbing in the last few years, but this survey trip rekindled the bug, and I’m already thinking of a return trip to climb, Chacraraju, one of the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen.  Who’s in?
PS- If you are the type who is looking for a guided, full-package trip, my friends Jen and Ted run a top-notch guiding service.  Check out Skyline Adventures at http://www.skyline-adventures.com/
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One response to “The Cordillera Blanca – Endless Oportunities

  1. carmen angela vera v

    que bueno,muy interesante sus historias en Peru,

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