Expedition Huayhuash Trek & Ishinca Valley (19 Days)
Cordillera Huayhuash is a mountain range within the Andes in Peru, stretching from north to south. The main part consists of about 20 peaks in only 25 km of length, including the second highest Peruvian peak Yerupaja (6617 m / 21,709 ft; after Huascaran 6768 m / 22,204 ft) and Siula Grande (6344 m / 20,813 ft), which is famous due to Joe Simpson’s book Touching the Void in which he recounts his successful but disastrous and nearly fatal climb to this mountain.
The Huayhuash trekking is known as one of the most beautiful treks in the world. Due to high altitude passes, it is not an easy trek, but the spectacular views over the surrounding mountains, turquoise blue lakes and impressive landscapes totally pay off the effort.
Urus – Ishinca – Tocllaraju Mountain are located in the Cordillera Blanca and belong to the Chinchey Massif. They are located in the Ishinca Valley, chosen by many tourists for an easy acclimatization before climbing any other mountain which is higher than 6000m above sea level.
Day 01: Huaraz 3100 m / 10,170 ft – Matacancha / Cuartelhuain 4180 m / 13,713 ft
Starting from Huaraz, we drive through Huaylas alley to Conococha, which offers impressive panoramic views over Huayhuash mountain range. We observe many snow peaked mountains, such as Yerupaja, Jirishanca, Rondóy and others. We then drive through villages Llamac and Pocpa. Finally, we set up our camp at Matacancha. 5 hours of driving aprox.
Day 02: Matacancha 4180 m / 13,713 ft– Lake Mitucocha 4200 m / 13,779 ft
We start our trek with a zig-zag track that leads up to Cacananpunta pass at 4750 m / 15,583 ft. We descend through a large picturesque valley that opens to a beautiful lake Mitucocha (4200 m), where we set our camp right at the lake banks. We then do a lateral trek on the moraine. 5 hours aprox.
Day 03: Lake Mitucocha 4200 m / 13,779 ft– Lake Carhuacocha 4100 m / 13,451 ft
We start the third day walking through Mitucocha valley, ascending up to Carhuac pass (4650 m / 15,255 ft) which offers an excellent panoramic view of Siula and Yerupaja mountains. We descend down to a beautiful lake Carhuacocha to set up our camp on an idilic spot with a splendorous view over Siula mountain, complemented with Yerupaja and Jirishancas mountains. 5 hours aprox.
Day 04: Lake Carhuacocha 4100 m / 13,451 ft – Huayhuash 4350 m / 14,271 ft
This is a long day of walking, starting at the beginning of Queropalca valley. We ascend up to Siula pass (4800 m / 15,748 ft) with excellent views over the surrounding mountains. Yerupaja (6634 m / 21,765 ft) is the second highest peak in Peru and Siula (6356 m / 20,853 ft) is an impressive mountain that was made famous by Joe Simpson’s book Touching the Void in which he recounts his successful but disastrous and nearly fatal climb to this mountain. We also get excellent views over Carnicero and Trapecio. We descend to Huayhuash to set our camp. 7-8 hours aprox.
Day 05: Huayhuash 4350 m / 14,271 ft – Viconga 4500 m / 14,763 ft
This day we reach the most southern point of Huayhuash mountain range, ascending to Huayhuash pass at 4700 m / 15,419 ft. We get excellent views over Cordillera Raura mountain range at one side and southeastern face of Trapecio at the other. We descend south and walk along lake Viconga until we reach thermal baths. This is a great opportunity to rest and take a relaxing hot bath. 4-5 hours aprox.
Day 06: Viconga 4500 m / 14,763 ft– Huanacpatay 4200 m / 13,779 ft
Our goal for the sixth day is to pass Cuyoc pass at 5000 m / 16,404 ft, which is the highest point of Huayhuash trekking. It is also where we get really impressive panoramic views of Cordillera Huayhuash mountains. Passing Cuyoc, we descend to Huanacpatay valley. Crossing large Andean meadows, we reach our camp. 7 hours aprox.
Day 07: Huanacpatay 4200 m / 13,779 ft – Huatiac 4300 m / 14,107 ft
We continue our trekking descending through Huanacpatay valley until it unites with Cutatambo valley and we reach Huayllapa village at 3500 m / 11,482 ft. After a short rest, we start to ascend through Tapush valley to out camp Huatiac at 4300 m / 14,107 ft. 7 hours aprox.
Day 08: Huatiac 4300 m / 14107 ft – Gashpapampa 4400 m / 14,435 ft
We continue walking up to Tapush pass (4800 m / 15,748 ft) and then descend to lake Susococha. We reach our camp at Gashpapampa (4400 m / 14,435 ft), set in a nice setting with impressive views over Suerococha (Diablo mudo or Mute devil). 5 hours aprox.
Day 09: Gaspapamapa 4400 m / 14,435 ft – Lake Jahuacocha 4050 m / 13,287 ft
We ascend to Gaucha pass at 4800 m / 15,748 ft, where we get to admire magnificent views over Yerupaja, Rasac and other mountains. We then descend to Jahuacocha, a beautiful lake where we set our camp in Andean meadows. We spend 2 nights here, in wonderful nature close to the lake.
Day 10: Rest day
This is a rest day. We take our time in the morning to relax, then we do a short walk to lake Soltercocha. We prepare a delicious lunch called pachamanca, which is a typical Peruvian dish, prepared in a natural way.
Day 11: Lake Jahuacocha 4050 m / 13,287 ft – Hauraz 3100 m / 10,170 ft
The last day we descend through Jahuacocha valley and then walk up to reach Pampa Llamac at 4250 m. Crossing the pass, we descend to Llamac village where we take a bus to Huaraz. 6 hours.
Day 12: Rest day in Huaraz.
Day 13: Huaraz – Pashpa – Base Camp 4350 m
From Huaraz we will drive to Cochapampa where our Donkey Driver will be waiting for us. From there we will start our hike, going through a forest of Quenuales trees until Base Camp. Approx. 4 hours
Day 14: Base Camp – Urus Summit 5450 m / 17,880 ft – Base Camp
We will start our ascent at 3 am by a steep ridge until we reach the glacier, before climbing along a spectacular ridge to the summit, with views of the Tocllaraju and Ranrapalca peaks among others. After the summit, we will go down to base camp. Approx. 5 hours.
Day 15: Base Camp – Ishinca Summit 5550 m / 18,208 ft – Base Camp
We will start our ascent at 3 am, taking a zigzag trail to the glacier, where we will begin our journey to the top. From there, we will have a truly panoramic view. Then, we will go down to base camp.
Day 16: Rest day
Rest day. Optional only. It is also possible to go on a 2 hour walk to Lake Milhuacocha this day.
Day 17: Base Camp – Morraine Camp 5100 m / 16,732 ft
We will hike a zigzag trail for four hours until we reach 5100m, where we set up camp.
Day 18: Morraine Camp – Tocllaraju summit 6034 m / 19,796 ft – Base Camp
We will start the ascent at 1am along a large glacier until we get to the first 50m wall (55-65°). After climbing it, we will reach a ridge with views of the Callejon de Conchucos. We will carry on to the summit where we will be rewarded with a splendid view. In the afternoon, we will descend to base camp. Approx. 6 to 7 hours.
Day 19: Base Camp – Pashpa – Huaraz
On the last day we will go on an easy trail to go back to Cochapampa and return to Huaraz with our private vehicle. Approx. 3 ½ hours.