Climb Pisco and Chopicalqui

18 Days in Peru / (Skill level: Intermediate)

Price per person

  • Next Available: Jun 12, 2019 - Jun 29, 2019
    Optional Extension Through
  • Upcoming: Jun 18, 2020 - Jul 05, 2020
    Optional Extension Through

About this trip

Build basic high altitude mountaineering skills. Become familiar with expedition living, carrying a pack on crevassed terrain, and camping at two camps above Base Camp. Pisco and Chopicalqui are a great step toward bigger Himalayan peaks or the Seven Summits. Small team size and low ratio of climbers to guides (3:1).


  • skill level


  • Duration

    18 Days

The Cordillera Blanca (translated as The White Mountain Chain) mountains of Peru have been a focus of alpinists from around the world since the 1960’s. This tightly packed chain offers a huge variety of terrain, including 22,000 foot (6,700 meter) 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 that are ideal for building on basic high altitude mountaineering skills, all sitting above lush grassy valleys fed by clear alpine lakes.

On this expedition we will climb two of those intermediate peaks. Pisco (18,972 feet/5,783 meters) and Chopicalqui (20,848 feet/6,354 meters) are perfect next steps for climbers who have climbed glaciated peaks such as those in the USA, Mexico, Ecuador, or the Alps and want to continue building their skills and attempt a bigger peak. Our itinerary allows for plenty of time for acclimatization. This time is also ideal for skills seminars. Chopicalqui requires that each team-member feels comfortable camping in a harsh environment on an active glacier, carrying a large pack on crevassed terrain, and climbing fifty degree plus ice slopes on summit day. Our goal on Pisco is to ensure each climber has the time to build these skills, to acclimatize, and to summit one of the most beautiful peaks in Peru.

Both of these peaks require at least two camps above Base Camp before our attempt on the summit. This is very different from the day trips we often do in the USA or the huts we use in the Alps or Ecuador making Peru an ideal step toward bigger Himalayan peaks or the Seven Summits. You will become very familiar with expedition living by the end of this 19 day expedition. You will also have experienced the best of the Andes. The people of Peru are incredibly open and friendly, and we will spend time traveling through their farming communities on the way to the mountains. We will work with a local staff of friends who will be our cooks, camp guardians, and occasional porters, and will provide insight into the culture of the local Quechua people.

Our Pisco and Chopicalqui 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 and expert Peruvian logistics operator, Alfredo Ibarra. An incredible cook, waking up each morning to Alfredo’s smile, hot coffee, and incredible pancakes will be a highlight of your trip. And our small team size and low ratio of climbers to guides (3:1) ensures that you stay healthy and strong, and are able to enjoy each component of your experience.


  • Fitness

    Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. 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.

  • Altitude Experience

    It is required that climbers have prior experience at altitudes up to 14,000' and it is strongly recommended that climbers have prior experience at altitudes over 15,000'.

  • Technical Experience

    Prior roped climbing, cramponing, and ice axe skills are required.

    • Day 1 — Arrival

      Arrive in Lima in the evening/night.

    • Day 2 — Drive to Huaraz

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

    • 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 feet/3,810 meters). 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 feet/4,267 meters) 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 our famed Peruvian chef Alfredo brings up a hot lunch from base camp.

    • Day 8 — Climb to Moraine Camp

      Climb from Cave Camp to Moraine Camp (16,000 feet/4,877 meters). This climb crosses a challenging rock glacier before climbing steeply into camp in a small sandy basin just below the toe of the glacier.

    • Day 9 — Summit Day

      Summit Day at 18,872 feet (5,752 meters)! The climb to the summit of Pisco 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 crossing frequent crevasses to the final summit bulge. This final slope is often very steep, necessitating excellent crampon and vertical axe technique and a tight belay! After our climb, we pack up high camp and return to base camp.

    • Day 10 — Rest Day

      Rest in base camp, where we enjoy the best food the backcountry has to offer from our Peruvian cook and good friend Alfredo Ibarra.

    • Day 11 — Rest Day with Active Option

      Another rest day, with an optional excursion to Laguna 69 (15,500 feet/4,724 meters), 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 feet/4,877 meters) on Chopicalqui, with the help of one or two high altitude porters.

    • Day 13 — Rest Day

      Rest in Moraine Camp, possibly doing a load carry 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 — Summit Day

      Attempt Chopicalqui’s 20,846' (6,354m) summit. The route ascends a knife-edge ridge for over 2,000 vertical feet (610 meters), with long traverses regularly interrupted by short but steep headwalls. This is a summit to be incredibly proud of. In most years only a few strong teams from around the globe are successful. After the summit we descend to Moraine Camp.

    • Day 16 — Descend

      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 — Departure

      Catch flights home from Lima.

    • Would you consider organizing a custom expedition to Pisco and Chopicalqui?

      Yes, custom expedition requests are always welcome. Give us a call or send an email!

    • What level of fitness is required?

      Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. 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.

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

      We strongly recommend purchasing trip insurance, and we require rescue insurance on all expeditions. 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 Global Rescue for both types of insurance .

Chad Peele

Chad Peele has been guiding for over 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 multiple summits of both 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 an AMGA Rock & Alpine guide.

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

Zeb Blais

From bushwhacking miles of Manzanita in ski boots to traversing huge glaciers in exotic ranges, adventure draws Zeb in. Originally from Vermont, Zeb has been hooked on big mountains since his first ski tour in Jackson Hole and has pursued skiing, climbing and exploring ever since. Zeb has climbed and guided in the Himalaya, Alaska, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and Asia among others and he’s working hard to keep that list growing. Working as a mountain guide allows Zeb to share his passion for human powered movement in the mountains and to pass along what he’s learned along the way.

Zeb has successfully guided Mt Everest [29,029′], Mt Cho Oyu [26,906′] including a ski descent from the summit, Lobuche East [20,075′],  and four expeditions on Denali [20,320’], including a ski descent from the summit. He has completed 64 summits of Mount Rainier [14,410’]. Additional credentials include 12 summits of Mount Shasta [14,179’]; 5 summits of Mount Shuksan [9,100’]; 3 summits via Mount Baker [10,678’], including one ski descent from the summit, and two ski descents via the North Ridge; 2 summits of Aconcagua [22,841’]; 1 summit of Cotopaxi and 1 summit of Cayabme; 2 summits of Ixtacihuatl in Mexico; 3 summits of Orizaba in Mexico, including a ski descent from the summit; and numerous rock, alpine and ski summits from the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, Coast ranges and Rockies.

Zeb is an AMGA Ski Guide and Assistant Rock and Alpine guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

Jaime Avila

Jaime is Alpenglow Expeditions’ senior lead guide. A native Ecuadorian, Jaime has been guiding and climbing throughout South America and the world for twenty years. He has successfully led groups on challenging routes like the Southwest Ridge of Ama Dablam (Nepal), the Shield Route of Huascaran (Peru), the Polish Direct on Aconcagua (Argentina), and El Altar (Ecuador). We have been guiding, climbing, and traveling with Jaime since 1998 and the feedback from members is always the same: there is no better teammate. Whether climbing a tough ice route, humping a huge pack, or stuck in a storm, Jaime will keep you laughing, learning, and glad to be in the mountains. He is an ASEGUIM / IFMGA certified mountain guide.


Guide Certifications
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Esteban “Topo” Mena

Topo’s formal name is Esteban Mena, but he goes by his nickname. Esteban Topo Mena 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. In 2018 Topo summited both Cho Oyu and Everest with clients in under 30 days. An incredible achievement that only the best guides in the word could attempt. 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
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Logan Talbott

director of operations / chief guide

Logan has been guiding professionally for over a decade in the disciplines of Rock, Alpine and Ski Mountaineering. When not out guiding, Logan keeps things running smoothly as the director of operations at Alpenglow Expeditions. From one day ascents of El Capitan to big Alpine climbs in the Himalaya, from ski descents on Denali to backyard ski tours in Lake Tahoe, he can’t help but smile when out running around the hills. Logan is an AMGA/IFMGA mountain guide, an Avalanche course leader with AIARE, as well as a wilderness EMT. In addition to guiding, Logan has extensive experience in mountain rescue, having worked for rescue teams in both Yosemite and Denali National Parks, and volunteering locally for Tahoe Nordic SAR. When not out in the hills, he lives in Truckee, CA with his lovely wife Lynette and daughter Maggie.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Ben Mitchell

Ben has been in love with the mountains from a young age. He began hiking and skiing with his family and quickly decided he never wanted to stop. After finishing university in Portland, OR Ben moved back to Washington State and began guiding on Mt. Rainier and around the Cascades. For the next many years he followed the seasons, skiing, climbing and pursuing the art of human flight through out the world. He has made expeditions into both polar circles, skied first descents in Afghanistan and climbed throughout the Americas and Europe. When not looking forward to the next adventure he thoroughly enjoys roasting coffee, reading and taking his dog out for walks.

Ben is an IFMGA/AMGA mountain guide, Certified Level III Avalanche Professional, and Wilderness First Responder.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

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    Climb Pisco and Chopicalqui