(Tentative Date: June 6th – 19th, 2023)
Huayhuash comes from the Quechua word waywash, meaning “weasel”. It offers the best alpine trekking in the world. This is a mountain range in the Peruvian Andes, within the boundaries of the regions of Ancash, Lima and Huanuco provinces. The remote, forbidding Huayhuash range was made famous in 1985 when two climbers climbed Siula Grande, making their climb one of the most epic climbs in history. You will likely know who I am talking about? If not, here is a bit of trivia to add to your growing knowledge of alpine history. It was Joe Simpson & Simon Yates who successfully completed this climb and went on to write a book about their experience as well as have an award-winning film made, titled Touching the Void, to document their experience.
The trek stretches for approximately 130 km within its terrain, including numerous passes over 4600 meters (15,092ft) with one pass that gets over 5000 meters (16,404 ft). The circuit follows an undulating terrain owing to its rugged landscape covered by alpine plants and Andean grass that grows up to the nearest part of the glaciated entrance to the mountain. The dominant mountain is Yerupaja (6634 meters), which is the world’s second highest tropical mountain and Siula Grande (6356 meters), which is affectionately considered Joe Simpson’s mountain. This is a glaciated mountain range area with huge, steep and technical slopes rising into the sky, therefore making climbing attempts to most of the peaks around the location arduous and challenging, which require solid climbing skills and knowledge. The surrounding area offers majestic views of the stunning turquoise glacial-fed lakes which can be found at the toe of mountains. This unique landscape is home to an important ecosystem that contains diverse flora and fauna and where you will encounter the famous Andean condor soaring in the air along with many other different wild birds. Other wildlife that can be found in the region include fox, deer, Andean cat (rarely seen), South American cougar (Puma-rarely seen), viscachas (family of chinchillidae), llamas, vicunas, and trout. Domestic animals are also raised in the area, including donkeys, horses, cows, mules, and hens. The combination of the natural landscape, stunning lakes, majestic mountain backdrops and diverse flora and fauna make for an unforgettably beautiful trek that is sure to be an experience of a lifetime that you won’t soon forget!
What makes this circuit challenging is the consistently high altitude. It can be dangerous and life-threatening for those whom embark on this trek without the proper acclimatization. On the trail each day, we will go over a pass and establish a camp site near the valley bottom at approximately 4150 meter, which means there will be a lot of elevation gain and loss elevation each day. We will gain and lose roughly 800 to 1000 meters each day of the trek, and you can expect anywhere between 9 to 14 km distance of trekking daily.
We are offering the Huayhuash 2023 Program with your safety in mind; hence, we have carefully designed a program that includes measures for proper acclimatization to the altitude. For the 2023 season, the program includes acclimatization days in Huaraz and most services included for the trek, such as transportation and portering services, equipment, and food. Our program will run with an organized itinerary from Lima (the capital city of Peru) to Huaraz (the capital city of mountaineers), including private transportation from Lima to Huaraz. The total trip will take 15 days (roundtrip from your home country if you are travelling from North America), and possibly longer if you are traveling from elsewhere. Please build in contingency days in the itinerary because we might need an extra day or time depending on the logistics of the group’s arrival and starting date.
Day 1 – Your home country – Lima, Peru arrival day (most flights arrive around/after midnight)
Day 2 – Traveling from Lima to Huaraz (approximately 8 hours)
Day 3 – Acclimatization day hike around Huaraz
Day 4 – Acclimatization day hike around Huaraz
Day 5 – (Huaraz 3,100m – Llamac – Cuartelwain 4,170m) - Mitucocha 4,150m. Make our way to the villages of Chiquian, Llamac, and Pocpa, finally reaching Cuartelwain. We move towards Mitucocha Lake, near Cuartelwain to find ourselves at Qaqananpunta pass where we can take in the beautiful views of the surroundings. Duration approximately 5-6 hours.
Day 6 – (Mitucocha – Carhuac pass 4,600m- Carhuacocha 4,200m). From Mitucocha Lake, we move to the next closest area at Caruacocha Lake. The trail ascends by moderate slopes to reach the day pass, which overlooks a beautiful lagoon. We will sleep at the toe of Yerupaja mountain, which is the second highest in Peru and a technical peak to climb. Duration 5-6 hours.
Day 7 – (Carhuacocha – Carnicero pass 4,600m – Huayhuash 4,330m). From Caruacocha Lake, we head up the path to discover the beauty hidden in the Huayhuash Mountains on our way to camp. Typically, at this point, most people take the alternative path which provides a better view of the landscape and has three lakes of different colors that are at the foot of the snowy Yerupajá and Siula peaks. Duration 5-8 hours.
Day 8 – (Huayhuash – Tapecio pass 5100m – Helefante Pampa 4,400m). We will be passing Huayhuash's highest pass on the circuit, traveling through Trapecio pass, a place that is incredibly astonishing as you will have in front of you an awe-inspiring view of the Huayhuash giants. Duration 5 to 6 hours.
Day 9 – (Helefante pampa – 4,400m – San Antonio Pass 5000m - Cutatambo 4350m). We will make our way up to San Antonio Pass, another side where the scenery is equally jaw-dropping and where we will be traversing to the snow-covered slopes of Siula Grande (Joe Simpson’s & Simon Yates’ peak). Duration 5 to 7 hours.
Day 10 – (Cutatambo – Huatiac 4300m). We will pass by the unique mountain village of Huayllapa and at this point our elevation will be the lowest of the entire circuit (3,500m). After our visit, we will head up again to reach the camp. Duration 6 to 7 hours.
Day 11 – (Huatiac – Diablo Mudo 5,350m – Jahuacocha 4,070m). There is an optional climb to Diablo Mudo peak. We will leave camp around 3am (if we climb) to travel through moderate terrain on the moraine and take ourselves up to the top of this beautiful peak. Another route involves following the normal trekking trail. Duration 6 to 12 hours.
Day 12 – Jahuacocha – Pampa Llamac pass 4,300m Llamac – Huaraz). Starting the day with views of Jahuacocha lake, we will transition from Pampa Llamac down to the village of Llamac, where our vehicle will be waiting to take us back to Huaraz.
Day 13 – Rest Day in Huaraz and celebration with a pachamanca, a delicious traditional Peruvian dish prepared by our chef and staff.
Day 14 – Travel back to Lima and be transferred to the airport. We recommend taking the late night flight back to your home country.
What you need to keep in mind for this trek:
Physical ability: It is important to be physically active to have the endurance to complete this trek. Regular activities such hiking, biking, and/or running can help.
Distance covered: The Huayhuash trek covers a long distance (130km). You can prepare for this by walking/trekking at home for 5 to 7km every day. If this is not possible, try to at least cover 30km per week by hiking or biking, and increase that amount where possible. This will help you to attain the endurance that is needed for the trek.
Altitude gain: Include at least one day per week that involves an activity where there is some elevation gain. For starters, aim for 300 meters gain or loss in altitude in your workout or conditioning exercises. If you are not used to it on your day hike, progressively add each week 100 meters to the previous one for a gradual increase in elevation gain. Once you are accustomed to doing between 700 to 900 meters of elevation gain, try to maintain that rhythm. This will help your body to become adaptable to changing motion when you are moving to higher elevation areas such as the Huayhuash trek circuit.