The Cordillera Blanca of Peru has been a destination for alpinists from around the world since the 1960s.
This tightly packed chain offers a huge variety of terrain, including 22,000’/6,700m massifs like Huascaran, steep fluted ice faces like those of Alpamayo, and technical rock and mixed faces like those of Cayesh. It also offers many peaks like Pisco and Chopicalqui that are ideal for building on basic high altitude mountaineering skills, all sitting above lush grassy valleys fed by clear alpine lakes.
Pisco and Chopicalqui Itinerary
- Day 1
Arrive in Lima in the evening/night.
- Day 2
Drive to Huaraz
Drive to Huaraz (8 hours) where we are based out of Olaza’s Guest House, a small but beautiful hotel (10,000’/3,050m).
- Day 3
Acclimatize and Organize
An acclimatization and organization day in Huaraz.
- Day 4
Drive to Pisco Base Camp
Drive to Pisco base camp in the Llanganuco Valley (12,500’/3,810m). This 3 hour drive takes us through beautiful farming communities and past the famed Llanganuco lakes.
- Day 5
Hike to Cave Camp
Carry a load to Cave Camp on Pisco (14,000’/4,267m) and return to base camp.
- Day 6
Move to Cave Camp
Today we move to Cave Camp on Pisco.
- Day 7
Acclimatize at Cave Camp
Acclimatization day at Cave Camp. Today, we review glacier travel and crevasse rescue skills while we wait for our local staff to bring us a hot lunch from base camp.
- Day 8
Climb to Moraine Camp
Today we climb from Cave Camp to Moraine Camp (16,000/4,877m). This climb crosses a rocky glacier before a steep ascent into camp in a small sandy basin just below the toe of the glacier.
- Day 9
The climb to the summit of Nevado Pisco (18,872’/5,752m) begins on 3rd-class rock slabs before stepping onto the glacier. From the toe of the glacier, we climb moderate slopes to a saddle on the ridge between Pisco and the Huandoys. As the sun rises, we climb steeper exposed slopes and crossing multiple crevasses to the final summit bulge. This final slope is often very steep, necessitating excellent crampon and vertical ax technique and a tight belay! After our climb, we pack up high camp and return to base camp.
- Day 10
Rest in base camp, where we enjoy the best food the backcountry has to offer from our local staff.
- Day 11
Rest Day with Active Option
Another rest day, with an optional excursion to Laguna 69 (15,500’/4,724m), one of the most beautiful high altitude lakes in the world.
- Day 12
Move back to Moraine Camp
Leave base camp, and ascend to Moraine Camp (16,000/4,877m) on Chopicalqui, with the help of one or two high-altitude porters.
- Day 13
Rest in Moraine Camp, and possibly carry a load to high camp.
- Day 14
Climb to High Camp
Move onto the glacier and ascend to high camp, which sits on a flat glacier bench at 18,000 feet (5,486 meters).
- Day 15
Attempt Chopicalqui’s summit at 20,846’/6,354m. The route ascends a knife-edge ridge for over 2,000 vertical feet (610 meters), with long traverses regularly interrupted by short, steep headwalls. This is a summit to be incredibly proud of. In most years, only a few strong teams from around the world are successful. After the summit we descend to Moraine Camp.
- Day 16
Descend to base camp.
- Day 17
Drive to Huaraz
Our van picks us up early in the morning and returns us to Huaraz, where we celebrate with hot showers, a great meal, and salsa dancing at the local discotheque.
- Day 18
We depart from Huaraz back to Lima to catch our flights (after 11pm). Say goodbye to your team and head home!
Bring your favorite baseball hat for shelter from the sun. No white under the brim – the reflection off of it from the sun is blinding.
Recommended: Alpenglow Hat
A comfortable, warm well-fitting hat that covers your ears. Make sure that one of your hats fits under a helmet.
Recommended: Black Diamond Levels Beanie
We recommend a tight-fitting balaclava that is worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible, but is comfortable enough to wear for hours.
Recommended: Black Diamond Coefficient LT Balaclava
Neck Gaiter (Buff)
A multi-purpose neck gator that can also be worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible and yet is still comfy.
Recommended: Alpenglow Buff
Must have dark lenses. Minimal light should come in below, above, or around the sides of the lenses.“Wrap” style is best. Ventilation is important and a retainer strap is very useful (Chums or Croakies).
Recommended: Vaurnet Ice Rounds
These will be worn on stormy or windy days. Make sure you are getting a snug fit with lenses for bright sun. Ventilation and anti-fog features are desired.
Recommended: Vuarnet Everest Goggles
These gloves keep the inside of your mitts or other gloves from accumulating sweat on the inside and turning inside out when you take them off, as well as provide additional insulation.
Recommended: Black Diamond Lightweight Wooltech Gloves
All-around gloves for mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and hiking. These gloves (and similar options) are warm, wind-resistant, durable and have a sure grip. You will rarely take these gloves off. They should be snug-fitting, and have some sort of reinforced palm.
Recommended: Black Diamond Tour Gloves
These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, and insulated. These will be the workhorse glove for any expedition.
Recommend: Black Diamond Mission MX Gloves
These gloves should be full GORE-TEX®, with a removable fleece liner (so you can take the liner out and dry it at night). These gloves are used at higher altitudes and are needed to keep your hands dry, and warm. Over the cuff style is desired.
Recommended: Black Diamond Guide Gloves
A super-thin wicking sock that repels moisture. Liner socks help to reduce the likelihood of blisters. The socks should be thin wool, nylon, or Capilene®. NO COTTON
Recommended: Ice Breaker Merino Liner
Your everyday sock, good for day hikes, trekking, and in-town. It’s good to bring several pairs of these socks. NO COTTON.
Recommended: Darn Tough Hiking Sock
A wool synthetic blend. Pure rag wool socks are not nearly as effective in wicking moisture or retaining their shape and reducing blisters. Bring a few pairs of these socks. NO COTTON.
Recommended: Darn Tough Mountaineering Sock
These light to mid-weight shoes are for everyday use. The ideal shoe is comfortable to wear for multiple days and scrambles decently on rock. A Gore-tex lined shoe stays drier when hiking in rain or snow.
Recommended: La Sportiva TX Guide
Mountaineering Boots (5,000 – 6,000m)
Should be warm single or double boots that have a stiff sole and accept a step-in crampon. The boots should be comfortable, have adequate wiggle room for your toes, and your heel should not lift more than 1/8th of an inch when walking. (If your feet run cold, we would recommend a double boot like the La Sportiva G2 Evo.) For our Introductory Climbing Schools, we have limited availability and sizes for free boot rentals. If you need rentals, please reach out to the office staff asap to ensure we have your size.
Recommended: La Sportiva G5 Evo
GORE-TEX® or Schoeller® calf- high gaiters, insulated supergaiters recommended. *Gaiters are not needed if your pants and/or boots have built-in gaiters.
Recommended: Outdoor Research Expedition Crocodile Gaiters (required if your boots do not have integrated gaiters)
Ultra-light base layer that effectively wicks moisture away from your body and is breathable. Quick-dry is important as well. One light-colored shirt is recommended for extremely sunny days.
Recommended Men’s: Black Diamond Lightwire Short Sleeve
Recommended Women’s: Black Diamond Lightwire Short Sleeve
Mid-Weight Puffy Jacket
Hard Shell Jacket
Expedition-Weight Base Layer
Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. The mid-weight will be a base- layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures. Bring multiple changes of layers.
Recommended Men’s: Black Diamond Mens Solution 150 Merino Bottoms
Recommended Women’s: Black Diamond Women’s Solution 150 Merino Bottoms
Full-length side zippers are recommended, for throwing on top of all of your layers.
Recommended: Black Diamond Stance Belay Pant
2 Duffle Bags – At least one bag should be extremely durable, waterproof, and big – between 90L and 120L. You should feel comfortable leaving it in a puddle for several hours. Remember dry clothes are hot commodities in the mountains! Large enough to fit everything you own, plus what you anticipate buying. Two duffel bags are necessary to fit all your equipment for travel (we don’t recommend checking your backpack, best is to put all gear and backpack into your duffle). Once in country, you can consolidate your gear into one duffel and your backpack. It’s common to leave the second duffel with city clothes and other non-necessary items behind in a locked and secure location that your guide will arrange for you.
Recommended: Black Diamond Stonehauler 90L
Mid-size pack for city days and trekking. Streamlined, neat and lightweight (10-20 liters).
Recommended: Black Diamond Bullet 16 Pack
Climbing Pack: 50-60L
Internal frame pack that is between 50 and 60 liters. Either purchase a matching pack cover, or use garbage bags as liners. Make sure the pack is fitted to YOUR body.
Recommended: Black Diamond Speed 50L Pack
Sleeping Bag (0°F)
Rated to 0º F. Make certain that the sleeping bag is the right length. DON’T FORGET A COMPRESSION SACK FOR THE SLEEPING BAG. Many climbers also like a silk liner. For the Ecuador Climbing School: If you’re on our 9-Day (non-extension) trip, then a 20º F rated bag is ok.
Recommended: Mountain Hardwear Phantom 0°F
Inflatable Sleeping Pad
72-inch long inflatable pad required. Make sure you also purchase and bring a repair kit + bag for the sleeping pad.
Recommended: NeoAir Xtherm
Foam Sleeping Pad
Foldable foam sleeping pad for sleeping and using as a sit-pad.
Recommended: Thermarest Z-Lite Sleeping pad
Make sure that they are durable, lightweight + easily adjustable.
Recommended: Black Diamond Pursuit FLZ Trekking Poles
L.E.D. headlamps are required. Make sure they have 3+ bulbs. Bring extra batteries. We highly recommend a tilting lamp.
Recommended: Black Diamond Storm 450
Two 1L Nalgene Bottles
Two 1 Liter Wide Mouth Nalgene bottles.
Recommended: Nalgene 1 L wide mouth
Compressible 1-1.5L Bottle
Wide mouth compressible 1-1.5 liter bottle
Recommended: Nalgene Flexible Cantene
Should carry 70-100 ounces. Must be durable and have a reliable closure system. Recommended: MSR Dromlite 2L with Hydration Tube
A fully insulated thermos is recommended for warm drinks that help with comfort, hydration, and safety on cold days in the mountains.
Recommended: Thermos STAINLESS KING™ DRINK BOTTLE 24OZ
Plastic Bowl, Mug, and Spoon
A lightweight and compact cookware setup. You’ll want a plastic bowl, mug and spoon.
Recommended Kit: MSR 2-Person Mess Kit
An easily adjustable lightweight helmet that fits with hat and Balaclava. Make sure this is a climbing-specific helmet. *Climbing helmets are also available to rent (for our introductory climbing courses) at no charge from Alpenglow Expeditions on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Recommended: Black Diamond Vision Helmet – MIPS
Must have belay loop, gear loops and adjustable leg loops so that you can layer up underneath it. Easy to pack, lightweight + comfortable. *Harnesses are also available to rent (for our introductory climbing courses) at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Recommended: Black Diamond Couloir
Steel crampons with anti-balling plates are required (so that snow does not build-up in the base of your foot). Make sure that crampons have a heel bail. Crampons are available to rent (for our introductory climbing courses) at no charge from Alpenglow Expeditions on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Recommended: Black Diamond Sabretooth Crampons
General Mountaineering Axe
One non-technical climbing axe. The tool should be approx. 55cm- 65cm long and comfortable to hold. *Ice axes are also available to rent (for our introductory climbing courses) at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Recommended: Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe
Locking Carabiner (2)
Small, lightweight locking carabiners are best.
Recommended: Black Diamond LiteForge Screwgate
Non-locking Carabiner (2)
Small, lightweight small carabiners are best, wire-gates are fine.
Recommended: Black diamond HotForge Carabiner
Light, easy to use + simple. Should have teeth/grooves for skinny ropes.
Recommended: Black Diamond ATC Alpine Belay Device
25’ of 6mm nylon accessory cord. This will be used to make prusiks and cordalettes.
Recommended: Sterling Ropes
- Passport (with visa, if necessary)
- 2 luggage locks (TSA compliant)
- Non-cotton underwear
- Wag bags, 1 per night camping as to leave no trace
- Stuffsacks: assorted sizes, for organizing your clothes and gear
- Sunscreen: SPF 30 (or higher)
- Lip balm with SPF 15 (or higher)
- Personal first-aid kit (Band-aids, Ibuprofen, Cough Drops, Moleskin, Pepto-bismol, Imodium, Personal Medications)
- 3-4lbs of Snack food (a variety of snack food, some whole food, some bars, some gels)
- Hand Warmers
- Face Mask
- Hand Sanitizer
Alpenglow is the best
“I’ve been climbing with Alpenglow for over ten years. After my first expedition, I knew I’d found the best team. I feel like I’m a member of the Alpenglow family, and have come to know and love many of their guides, office staff, and programs. Alpenglow is truly the best!”