on the left gives a rough outline of the main climbing areas
of the Cordillera Blanca. The base camps I have identified are
by no means all the possible sites. There are a great many
others. These are just the ones we identified as being of
interest for our expedition.
Access to all of these valleys
is generally very easy using either minibuses or taxis
followed by typically just a one day walk. Porters or mules
are generally very easy to hire.
Base Camps 1 & 2
These two massifs offer a number of easy lower objectives around 5500m and
would make a good acclimatisation area. The two base camps could possibly be
combined into a single one close to the road and a light camp taken on route to
the mountains. As they are all reckoned to be easy one day climbs we could
probably go lightweight on the higher camp without the need for mules/camp guard
etc. Apparently it is easily accessible by a tourist bus that takes hordes of
tourists to the glacier at Pastoruri, a peak just East of Tucu. Unfortunately it
does not offer much in the way of higher acclimatisation peaks around the 5800m
height which is probably necessary if planning to go on to anything much above
|This area offers a number of possible climbing areas both
for acclimatisation and for higher, harder climbs. One advantage is that most of
the base camps could provide both a lower acclimatisation climbs and a higher
ones, useful for climbing later to above 6000m. Also an area such a Q.
Quilcayhuanca could actually serve as a single base with a large number of
climbs ranging from 5243m up to Chinchey at 6309m.
Base Camp 3 Q. Rurec
This has three low peaks around 5300m a couple of higher ones around
5700m. Could be used for
acclimatisation starting on the lower 5300 peaks and moving onto
the higher 5700 peaks.
Base Camp 4 Q. Rajucolta
This has a number of easy acclimatisation climbs 5400m to
5700m around F to PD and harder routes on higher peaks up to Huantsan at 6395m.
However the drawback is there is not much technically challenging on the lower
peaks and not much technically easy on the higher ones. So possibly hard to
please all tastes here!
|Base Camp 5 Q Quilcayhuanca
This is a very large valley that splits into two separate
corries in its upper reaches, probably warranting two separate base camps. There
is everything here from pleasant scrambles to desperate TD-ED routes on Cayesh.
Certainly there could be plenty of acclimatisation climbs here to suit all
tastes. Chinchey(6309) and Pucaranra(6147) with moderate graded routes at AD and
AD+ also offer the possibility of higher climbs. This valley could certainly be
used for acclimatisation with a large number of easier routes on peaks up to
5800m but if desired, with its two 6000m peaks, more time could be spent here
rather than moving to a second base camp, maybe just switching between the two
upper corries. This is probably the most heavily developed climbing area in the
C Blanca and so it is also quite likely to be popular and possibly busy.
was our first trip out and we camped at Pitec at the head of
the valley hoping to gain some intermediate acclimatisation.
Unfortunately Pitec turned out to be almost as high as the
base camp a further 10km or so further up the valley - it
really is that flat. There is good camping at Pitec but you
can just as easily drive up (minibus or taxi) early morning
and walk in to base camp on the same day. Note there is a
charge of around $10 per person made by the local villagers to
enter the valley. I don't have a huge problem with this -
their life is hard enough as it is and they don't really pick
up on any other part of the tourist wealth as it all just
Base Camp 6 Q Cojup
This area offers one recommended easy climb on a 5415m peak
and a number of recommended harder routes on to 6000m peaks. Unfortunately
despite the fact that the routes here seem very good there does not appear to be
a very large range to suit all tastes.
Base Camp 7 Q Llaca
This area has a few easy low to medium height routes and
some harder higher ones. It would probably make a reasonable acclimatisation
area and is very close to Huaraz which should make access very quick and easy.
Base Camp 8 Q Ishinca
Urus and Ishinca provide two easy acclimatisation peaks.
Tocllaraju and Ranrapalca offer higher and mostly harder routes. This area
offers good scope for acclimatisation but less scope for higher routes, at least
at the easier grades. There is a hut here now which may either appeal or not
depending on your inclination!
|Huascaran & Huandoy Massifs
Base Camp 9 Musho
This camp is really only for the normal routes on Huascaran
Norte and Sur.
Base Camp 10 Pisco
This area really only offers two peaks Huandoy Norte is the
second highest peak in the C Blanca and Pisco Oeste is probably the most climbed
peak. There are toilets and a private hut at this camp and it is adjacent to a
road giving extremely easy access. “Campsites are invariable littered”.
Base Camp 11 Lago Paron
This area offers a good selection of higher routes both
easy and harder including Huandoy Norte the second highest peak in the C Blanca.
There are a couple of lower routes but this is probably not a good
acclimatisation area. The road ends at the dam and the there is a fair walk
along the lake. At the end of the lake is a very large but
very rocky flat area where many people set up camp. However
another hour up the ridge of the morraine on the left takes
you to a lovely area on the left in amongst trees. This is not
a large area and if you are a large group or there are already
many others there then it will not be suitable.
Base Camp 12 Q Santa Cruz
As this is quite a large valley there would probably have
to be a number of different base camps depending on where we are climbing. One
for the N side, one for the South side and one for lower down the valley. There
is a good range of medium height routes up to a couple above 6000m. This
includes the famous Alpamayo though this particular one has the disadvantage of
being so popular that Alps style route queuing is apparently quite likely,
especially on the popular normal Ferrari route. The valley could possibly be
used for acclimatisation but the lowest actual route is 5510m which is probably
a bit stiff for a first climb.
Base Camp 13 Q de los Cedros
This is a bit of a longer walk in (around 3 days I
believe), but consequently probably a bit quieter and according to one book you
can access the Alpamayo routes from here and in fact – “the final section to
the col from the S side (Q Santa Cruz) has become much harder and steeper in the
last few years…the col can also be reached from the N in Q de los Cedros and
this route may now be easier than the S approach. Other than that there are a
number of medium height routes around 5600m as well as some moderate and harder
6000m routes. Again probably not a good acclimatisation area – the lowest
route is 5480m.