For those attempting to climb a 6000m peak near the city of Arequipa, this mountain provides a good dayhike and acclimatization. It is located about 1.5 to 2 hrs from Arequipa, "behind" el Misti and Chachani. The altitude was arrived at by GPS. We think it's real close. Most of the mountains in this region are unnamed and probably few except for the locals have ever been up them. There are many well-worn paths that seem to cross these mountains. Most of this land forms a national reserve, Parque Nacional Aguada Blanca and Parque Nacional Salinas.
This is the high desert. To the West lie Picchu Picchu, Misti and Chachani. To the North, the Colca Canyon and Ampato, to the South is Ubinas and the great Salt Lake. To the East, lie roads that will take you to Puno.
Many people spend time acclimatizing in Arequipa at around 8500 ft. But there are few options of walking or trekking in the area to an intermediate altitude. A trip to this vast area "behind" Misti leads to many possible options for just getting around, hiking, trekking, or even just driving at a higher altitude. The high point of the road we got to was around 13000 feet. Although there are no known designated "trails", it would seem that you could walk anywhere.
A word of caution. The limiting step is safety. There are many farmers who live in the area and keep llama and other animals on "their" land. (Keep in mind this is supposed to be a National Park). There are few roads that see occasional cars and there are many trucks. There are no police, except at the toll booth. There is nothing else and you are on your own. The locals may see you as intruding on "their" land although the roads and land generally are not owned by them. One scary story...when we went to hike here for a few hours one afternoon, we came upon a truck that had stopped close to our SUV. There were about 15 locals, including women and children that congregated around our SUV. It was a scary situation where we could have been robbed, had our car taken, or even been kidnapped. A small "donation" of money and food got them off our back. They are not used to seeing people back here and any foreign cars may be a threat to them. Years ago when terrorism was active in this area, you would never venture here at night because of the fear of kidnapping and robbery. It is supposedly safer now. My recommendation is to stay within site of your car, try to stay away from the locals, and stay away from the trafficked roads. If you can't do that, find a way to "hide" your car behind a hill or something to stay out of sight.
If you are looking for a good way to get up to 15000, there are many options in this area as there are many hills. Finding roads that take you there is the hard part. There are no signs and you can't really ask anyone. The main reason I put this page up is for caution and information regarding the area "behind" Misti and Chachani. Drive back to Arequipa and sleep at a lower elevation. You should be good to start any of the 6000 m peaks in the area, where base camp is generally between 14 and 16000 feet.
Take the road out of Arequipa past the airport. You will then get out of town and start climbing towards a cement factory in Yura. Keep going along this road and it will swing you around the North end of Chachani and eventually come around behind it. Eventually you will get to a toll booth and some large signs. To the left you go to Colca Canyon. To the right the road takes you toward Puno. Go to the right. You will see plenty of llama and vicuna. The road is good. At some point before the road starts climbing again to some small hills, there will be a green sign at a gentle left bend that says "Huaynacucho". There will also be a large gravel area and possibly a small hut. There are a couple dirt roads. Take the middle one and it will take you down and cross two dry river beds. Look to your right and you will see a rounded knob with a small tower at its base. There will be a pull off to the right where you can park your car.
Head toward the col between the tower and the mountain on easy sand and scree. Up there you will run into a trail which you can follow for part of the way. A side trip would be to go up the tower, which will get you above 14000 feet. Then follow pack animal tracks up the hill traversing to the highest point you can see. The general direction is always West. Once you reach the top, there are great views of Misti, Chachani and other peaks in the area.
No red tape or permits. Just beware of the safety concerns with the locals as mentioned above. I would strongly urge you to go with someone that speaks Spanish, or better a local who can talk slang with anyone you run across.
When To Climb
Any time of year. The rainy season is Dec to March/April. This is high desert and can get cold at night, even in the summer.
I would not camp here.
This is an easy walk up on an easy trail, albeit at altitude. Take water with you.
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