Cordillera Blanca Mountaineering
Sept. 17 – Oct. 5 , 2010

click on photos to enlarge

We enjoyed a multi-week mountaineering trip to the Cordillera Blanca , the ‘White Range’ of Peru in September and October of 2010 in what is a growing area for mountain tourism. Most climbers and trekkers visit here from June through August although May and September are consistently becoming the best climbing months of the year in terms of weather and snow conditions.

A big advantage in addition to the weather and conditions in September, are the lack of climbers and trekkers in the range which made for a great trip with almost no other climbers in the peaks, and a peaceful experience in South America’s greatest climbing range.

Our climbing team of Eli Helmuth, Steve Klein, David Harold, and Ted Alexander enjoyed overall great conditions and weather in what had been an unusually dry 12 month span. With a very dry ‘wet season’ the previous Nov. – April, the glaciers were more icy than usual with more difficult crevasse crossings. Luckily, we received enough new snow during our time in the area (6″) to significantly improve conditions for easier cramponing and we found solid enough crevasse bridges at all of the cruxes of the route.

Eli will be offering trips to the Cordillera Blanca again in September of 2011 with 12 and 17 day itineraries available for climbers interested in exploring these icy, high altitude peaks with full logistical support. By working with burros and porters to carry the extra weight of camping gear, we climb with maximum energy from our highest camps.
Nevado Pisco’s spectacular south summit (18,871′) was the highest point reached on this trip.


Basecamp for Nevado Pisco (18,871′) is among these large boulders in a meadow below the north summit of Huandoy (20,981′) .


An acclimatization hike to 14k in the Llaca Valley, directly above Huaraz.
Small succulents are snuggled up into the talus fields and along the moraines above 14k in the Andean alpine zone.

Close-up of an adobe house in the small villages above Huaraz where we dayhike to boost the acclimatization process.


Dave checking out the view from another classic boulder problem above Huaraz, with the icy summits of Villunaraju and Ranrapalca peaking above the nearby (burning) hills.


The bouldering above Huaraz is world-class and there are opportunities to stretch out on the rocks for climbers of all abilities.
The pre-Incan ruins of Ichiwillkawain , remnants of the Huari Empire that was dominant in this area from AD500-1000.


(L-R) Nevado’s Villunaraju (5686m), Ocshapalca (5886m), and Ranrapalca (6162m) shining in the morning sun as viewed from the rooftop terrace at Olaza’s, where we enjoyed morning coffee and breakfast while in Hurarz.
Steve Klein on the approach to high camp (16k) for our summit of Nevado Pisco with the glacial tarn a light tourquise due to the glacial silt common below larger glaciers.

Looking through a stone arch at our high camp on Pisco.


A close-up of the quickly melting east face of the west summit of Huandoy.

The Peruvian versions of colorful club moss (lycopodium crassum) dot the landscape nearby high camp on Pisco.

Travelling through crevassed terrain above the toe of the Pisco Glacier with the multiple moraines of Huandoy below.

Steve and Ted nearing mid-point on our ascent of Pisco.
The north glacial ridge of Pisco after a dry year has become a honeycombed ice structure.

A large crevasse along the disintegrating north ridge of Pisco.

Steve enjoying the comforts of a large cook tent and the resulting tasty meals our team of cooks provided at high camp.
Steve leaving the trailhead for Pisco with the imposing north summit of Huascaran behind.

A close-up of the north ridge of the West Huandoy from our highcamp on Pisco.

An alpine cactus in the Pisco moraine.

From nearby the summit of Pisco, this encompassing view of three of the four principal summits of Huandoy is very impressive.
The west face of Churup from our acclimatization dayhike to 15k above our basecamp in Huaraz.
An afternoon view of the west face of Chopicalqui, flanking the south side of the Llanganuco Valley.

The twin summited peaks of navados de Caras (6250m) above Lake Paron.

Ted and Steve taking in the view of some of South America’s most impressive peaks (L-R): Chopicalqui (20,846′) ,the northeast face of South Huascaran (22,205′), and the northeast face of North Huascaran (21,830′) as seen from high on Pisco.

Following the north ridge of Pisco with 6″ of fresh snow making for a somewhat easier path to the summit.
A large ice cave along the route on Pisco.

Just meters below the steep sided summit of Pisco on Sept. 30th, 2010.

The twin summitted Chakraraju (6112m) and its steep west face (L) hanging over the Paron Valley as seen from the summit of Pisco. images-stories-aOCT10-img_1255

(L) Steve and Ted celebrating on the summit of Pisco. (R) The nearby south face of Artesonraju.

Eli Helmuth of ClimbingLife Guides is returning to the Cordillera Blanca of Peru in September of 2011 for twelve and seventeen day climbing trips with climbers looking to expand their abilities in high altitude climbing.
Applications are currently being accepted for the 2011 trip as well as expeditions to Alaska and Ecuador.
Peru requires that all guides are IFMGA licensed and Eli is one of the few spanish speaking and Peru experienced U.S. based IFMGA guides specializing in climbing trips in the Andes of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina (including Patagonia).

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