The Cordillera Blanca - Peru

The Cordillera Blanca (White Range), is part of the larger Andes range, which includes 36 major peaks over 6000 metres, in an area 31km wide and 180km long.

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The Cordillera Blanca is near the equatorial date line and is considered to be the world’s highest and most glaciated tropical mountain range.

Located 100 km from the Pacific Coast and north of Lima, The Cordillera Blanca forms a natural barrier between the coast and the Amazon jungle. Every summit is more beautiful than the next, and many hiking trips are arranged through the Cordillera’s grand mountain passes. The mountain roads were built centuries ago by the native people of the region (pre-Inca).

Huaraz is the capital city and is considered the centre of mountaineering in the Andes. In recent years the Cordillera Blanca has become increasingly popular amongst climbers, mountaineers and hikers due to easy access into the mountains, the diversity of routes (easy hikes in beautiful surroundings to some very technical routes/summits and everything in-between) the natural beauty of the area, a good climate, the ancestral culture and archaeological remains.

The area is also well known for its amazing flora and fauna including, Puya raimondii is the world's largest Bromeliad, with one of the largest flower clusters of any plant on earth!

Peruvian cuisine reflects local practices and ingredients—including influences from the indigenous Inca people. Many traditional foods—such as quinoa, kaniwa, some varieties of chili peppers, and several roots and tubers have increased in popularity in recent decades.

All this creates an amazing climbing adventure and cultural experience never to be forgotten. In 1975 the "Huascaran National Park" was created which that includes entire Cordillera Blanca.

Huascaran at 6768m is the highest mountain in Peru and takes between 5 to 6 days to climb. Other important mountains in the Huascaren National Park are Chopicalqui 6345m, Artesonraju 6025m, Tocllaraju 6040m and Pisco an easy climb and a perfect viewpoint of the entire Cordillera Blanca Range. Alpamayo 5947m was declared the "World's Most Beautiful Mountain" by an international surveyor led by former climber Tonni Hiebler in May 1966.

All these mountains are usually climbed by small teams in alpine style. The expeditions normally use one or two high camps and burros (donkeys) which help carry backpacks, camp and expedition equipment to base camp around 4000m.

The great thing is that here is no need of much expedition infrastructure, porters, multiple camps and fixed ropes.
Apart from an entrance fee to get into the Huascaren National Park there’s no red tape or any other permits needed for climbing one of these beautiful peaks. This makes the Cordillera Blanca probably the best choice worldwide for high altitude mountaineering in the 6-7000m range!

The climbing season runs from May through to September, providing long periods of dry and sunny weather only interrupted by one or two less stable days, which however may force you to wait easily in your tent before your summit bid!

Definitely worth it to enjoy the paradise!

Augusto Ortega
IFGMA Mountain Guide and ISM Guide in the Andes

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