Alpamayo and Quitaraju Expedition

15 Days in Peru / (Skill level: Advanced)

Price per person

$6,950.00

About this trip

Alpamayo (19,512 feet/5,947 meters) is the gem of the Cordillera Blanca in Peru. Ever since it was first climbed in 1951, alpinists have been flocking to attempt its fluted Southwest Face. Many fledgling high altitude climbers consider this peak a culmination of their early climbing careers.

Overview

  • skill level

    Advanced

  • Duration

    15 Days

It has often been named by climbers, magazines, and trekkers, “the most beautiful mountain in the world”. Alpamayo deserves these accolades. Summit day consists of 1,500 feet (457 meters) of perfect two-tooled ice and neve (styrofoam-like snow) climbing on a flawless fluted face. You know you are close to reaching the top when you begin to see light through the face from the other side. And on a good year, you can actually top out on the summit ridge, with one foot dangling down each of its almost vertical faces.

Getting to this point requires hard work and solid mountaineering and ice climbing skills. Before reaching the famed summit face we must approach over 15 miles (25 kilometers), place two lower camps, and carry heavy packs filled with climbing equipment and food over 4,000 feet (1,220 meters) of moraine, scree, and steep glaciated terrain. Alpamayo is the perfect place to integrate light alpine climbing techniques into your bag of tricks. It is ideal for combining previous high altitude climbing experience with steep ice climbing skills. When you leave Alpamayo you should feel ready to be a competent team-member on big alpine peaks around the world.

And there is an added bonus to this expedition. Alpamayo’s col camp is also an ideal high camp to attempt Quitaraju (19,820 feet/6,041 meters). Quitaraju’s North Face hosts another long alpine two-tool ice and neve route. While it is not quite as steep as Alpamayo, it is longer, boasting over 12 rope-lengths of ice climbing to its summit. After climbing Alpamayo, we should have the efficiency necessary to complete this long route in a single push.

Our Alpamayo and Quitaraju Expedition will be guided by one or more of Alpenglow’s AMGA certified lead guides. AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) certification is the highest possible training available to guides, and only the most experienced and dedicated attain it. Our lead guides have also traveled and climbed extensively in South America and know the Peruvian Andes intimately. Their knowledge of Andean culture as well as the mountains, combined with their passion for teaching others to become competent mountaineers, guarantees that your experience will be one to remember!

We combine our guides’ experience with the local expertise of our close friend, expert Peruvian logistics operator, and incredible cook, Alfredo Ibarra. A highlight of your trip will be waking up each morning to Alfredo’s smile, hot coffee, and tasty pancakes. Our small team size and low ratio of climbers to guides (2:1) ensures that you stay healthy and strong, and are able to enjoy each component of your experience.

 

Preparation

  • Technical Experience

    Climbers must have experience climbing multi-pitch rock and ice routes.

  • Altitude

    Climbers must have experience climbing above 15,000'.

  • Physical Fitness

    Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

    • Day 1 — Arrival

      Arrive in Lima between 6pm and midnight (Sunday).

    • Day 2 — Drive to Huaraz

      Drive to Huaraz (8 hours) in our private van, where we base out of a small but beautiful hotel (10,000 feet/3,050 meters).

    • Day 3 — Acclimate and Organize

      An acclimatization and organization day in Huaraz.

    • Day 4 — Drive and Hike

      Drive to our trailhead in the village of Cashapampa (9,000 feet/2,743 meters). This 3 hour drive takes us through beautiful farming communities as we head between the spines of the Cordillera Negra and the Cordillera Blanca. After organizing our burros, we hike with daypacks to Llama Corral (11,500 feet/3,505 meters), where we camp for the night.

    • Day 5 — Establish Base Camp

      Continue trekking past the Santa Cruz lakes until we turn up into the hanging valley that sits beneath Alpamayo. We place our base camp at treeline, approximately 13,500 feet (4,115 meters).

    • Day 6 — Loads to Moraine Camp

      Today we make a carry of equipment to moraine camp (16,000 feet/4,877 meters), at the edge of the glacier. After stashing our gear we return to Base Camp for one of Alfredo’s famous feasts.

    • Day 7 — Rest Day

      Rest day in Base Camp. We use the day to review advanced rope skills, organize gear and food for the climb, and eat all of Alfredo’s creations.

    • Day 8 — Move to Moraine Camp

      Today we move up to moraine camp at 16,000'/4,877m and take it all in.

    • Day 9 — Move to Col Camp

      Today we step onto the glacier making our move to Col Camp (18,000 feet/5,486 meters). Often one of the most challenging days of the expedition, we will be climbing on a broken glacier and then up as many as three two-tool ice and neve pitches, all with our full backpacks! Col Camp boasts one of the best views from a high camp in the entire world. The alpenglow that lights up the Southwest face is what inspired our company’s name!

    • Day 10 — Summit Alpamayo

      If we are well acclimatized and strong, we will attempt the summit of Alpamayo (19,512 feet/5,947 meters) today. The route to the summit has a 1-2 hour approach across a steep glacier before crossing the bergshrund onto the South- West Face. 6-9 pitches (depending on whether we climb the Ferrari or Italian Route) of two-tool (55-70 degree) ice and neve take us to just below the summit ridge. Traditionally, a final hard, steep pitch puts us on top, where in a good year we can straddle the ridge (one foot on each side hanging over 2000+’/610+m faces) and work our way to the true summit. We rappel the route, and then return to our high camp.

    • Day 11 — Rest Day

      Get some much needed rest in Col Camp.

    • Day 12 — Summit Quitaraju

      Quitaraju (19, 820 feet/6,041 meters) Summit Day! If we have it in us, we will have the opportunity to attempt this second peak, which shares the same high camp as Alpamayo. A short trek across the glacier and we step onto the North Face. While the face is not quite as steep as Alpamayo, it is significantly longer. The route to the summit is often 12+ pitches of two-tool neve, with the upper pitches frequently consisting of soft sugar snow fins. Since we are in the Southern Hemisphere, this face gets early morning sun, and we will need to be descending before noon, back to our Col Camp.

    • Day 13 — Descend to Base Camp

      Break down col camp and head down to base camp.

    • Day 14 — Return to Huaraz

      Sunrise in the Santa Cruz valley finds us riding horses out the 15 miles (25 kilometers) to Cashapampa. Once there, our van returns us to Huaraz, where we celebrate with hot showers, a great meal, and salsa dancing at the local discotheque.

    • Day 15 — Head back to Lima

      Leave Huaraz by van. Catch an evening (8pm or later) flight from Lima (Sunday).

    • Can I do this climb?

      This is an advanced expedition that requires experience climbing at altitude as well as experience with technical multi pitch routes.

    • Do I really need to purchase trip and rescue insurance?

      We strongly recommend purchasing both types of insurance. Trip insurance covers issues that would cause you to cancel your trip in advance. Rescue insurance can help cover costs in the event that you decide to end your expedition early. We recommend purchasing Travel Guard and Global Rescue. You can find links to both of these insurance companies by heading over to our Partners page.

Chad Peele

Chad Peele has been guiding for 15 years and works full time as a mountain guide. Based out of Ridgway Colorado, Chad spends his winters instructing and guiding on some of the best ice terrain the U.S. has to offer. Outside of Colorado he has traveled and guided extensively throughout North and South America with several trips to the Himalayas including Everest and Ama Dablam. When not in the Mountains Chad does clothing and equipment design for Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent outdoor line.

Chad is a AMGA certified Rock & Alpine guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Alpine Guide
  • AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Esteban “Topo” Mena

Topo’s formal name is Esteban Mena, but he goes by his nickname. Topo is 28 years old and began his guiding career at 19, when he climbed Aconcagua’s South Face and became the youngest person to accomplish this difficult climb. Topo began guiding in Ecuador and Peru. In 2012, Topo summited Manaslu and in 2013, he summited Everest – both without using supplementary oxygen. Topo again summited Everest in 2016 while supporting his wonderful partner Carla as she successfully summited without supplemental oxygen. He also has climbed challenging new routes in Kyrgyzstan and China and one of his climbs (Kyzyl Asker) has been nominated for the Piolet d’Or (as part of an Ecuadorian team).

Guide Certifications
  • ASEGUIM
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

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    Alpamayo and Quitaraju Expedition