Friday, November 5, 2010

Cordillera Blanca - 6,000+ metre mountains

Alpamayo from our camp site.
We spent 10 days trekking in the Cordillera Blanca near Huaraz in Peru. The Cordillera runs over 200 km in length and maybe 40 km in depth. We had picked the Los Cedros trek which is a circumnavigation of the most northern part of the Cordillera´s 6,000+ metre peaks. The greatest benefit of this trek is that we were in view of the big mountains every day! Other treks like the popular 4-day Santa Cruz trek goes through very narrow valleys and the 6,000 m mountains aren´t in view much of the time. Plus, the last 2 days of Los Cedros is part of the Santa Cruz trek anyways.

Jan at this huge laguna, used for
hydroelectric generation on Day 2.
Fed by glaciers of the Santa
Cruz mountains.

Alpamayo is probably the central peak on that trek because some German alpinists declared it the "most beautiful mountain in the world" due to its perfect pyramid shape. Peruvians are happy to repeat the claim any chance they get, of course! Also, you can see it on about 4 of the 10 days from various sides.

Floating mountain top (Taulliraju) -
Day 7 as we complete the eastern
circumnavigation and are heading
back toward the beginning.
Lagunas and water falls fed by the glaciers were plentiful. Mountains over 5,500m have glaciers here. But due to climate change glaciers in this region have receded 30% over the last 30 years and there isn´t as much snow either anymore. Some mountains that used to be technical in terms of ascents, have turned into walk-ups as a result.

View from Janca Pampa
camp site (the only one outside
of the national park) of
majestic Taulliraju. Day 6

Inga in front of first views
of glacier feeding a huge
water fall and gorgeous laguna. Day 2

Taulliraju and our camp at 4,500m
on day 8. This is not the main
face. That came the next day
after we crossed the
Punta Union pass.

Day 10. The hike out follows the
Santa Cruz trail in reverse, ie
downhill :) The valley gets very
narrow until the two sides are just
a few metres apart.

The trek we did is almost a complete circuit; we just missed the portion on the front of the Cordillera between Hualcayan and Cashapampa. We were above 4,000m every day, with camps between 3,600m and 4,600m. Passes ranged from a high of 4,850 m to a low of 4,400m. We started the trek in Hualcayan at 3,100m and finished in Cashapampa at 2,900m.

No comments:

Post a Comment