Climate: In the Cordillera Blanca you may expect heavy rains from December to March and a markedly dry season from May to October, where sunny days post temperatures of 25°C and freezing nights.
Access: From the city Huaraz, one can drive to the towns of Carhuaz (32 km / 30 minutes), Yungay (39 km / 40 minutes) and Caraz (67 km / 50 minutes), towns which lie at the foot of the massif.
Services: Nearby towns provide a full range of services, including guides, porters, rescue services and climbing equipment. Huaraz features several hotels, restaurants and travel agencies that organize climbing expeditions. Climbers heading to the Cordillera Blanca can get information in Huaraz on recent climbs and learn about snow conditions on the mountain. Climbers are advised to pack plenty of winter clothing, as the cold and winds are intense in the evening.
Peru's mountain climbing mecca, the Cordillera Blanca runs along the eastern flank of the Santa river, in the Callejón de Huaylas. It embraces both the largest and most beautiful snow-capped peaks in the country.
Among the best known peaks in the Cordillera Blanca are Mount Huascarán (6 768 masl); the Huandoy massif's three summits, all over 6 000 meters high; Chopicalqui (6 354 meters), Chacraraju (6 112 meters), Alpamayo (5 947 meters) and Copa (6 118 meters).
The range's advantages include its ideal climate for climbing between May and October, and its easy access that allows climbers to finish the ascent in a short time. Additionally, the cities and towns located at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca provide travelers with a full variety of services including porters, guides, rescue teams and climbing gear. Huaraz, the capital of the Ancash Department, features several hotels and restaurants, while a dozen reliable travel agencies organize climbing expeditions.
Chartered flights arrive at the small local airport. However, Huaraz can be easily reached in five to six hours by taking the road from Lima to Pativilca (210 km to the north along the North Pan-American Highway) and then climbing another 200 km towards the Sierra.
Other towns at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca mountains like Carhuaz, a hook-up point with the towns in the Callejón de Conchucos; Yungay, the starting point for expeditions to the scenic Llanganuco lagoon in the Huascarán National Park, and Caraz, a flower-growing community known for its pleasant climate, also offer travelers a full range of services including guides, porters, rescue teams and climbing gear rental.
If willing to practice mountaineering in Peru you should follow these recommendations:
- Climbers should get information on the state of trails and the degree of difficulty of the climbing route. It is best to check with the local inhabitants.
- Bear in mind that local inhabitants have different notions of time and distance. The classic response "aquicito nomás" (just around the corner) can mean long hours of trekking up steep slopes.
- Do not pull up or cut live plants or light fires within highland forests.
- Do not move trail signposts.
- Do not hunt or fish during the dry season (trout fishing ban).
- Always inform local authorities or mountain climbing associations in the area of your entry into mountainous areas.
- Never go on climbs or treks unaccompanied.
- Always bring back litter. Leaving it on the mountainside can harm the fragile environment.
- Should bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
- High altitude sickness known locally as soroche can set in at over 2,500 masl. Take precautions by resting the first day, drink plenty of liquids and avoid heavy food and alcohol.
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