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The Cordillera Blanca

Regional discussion and conditions reports for South America. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the South American Climbing Partners section.
 

The Cordillera Blanca

Postby Andinistaloco » Wed Jan 24, 2007 1:14 am

I've climbed in Peru but not in this range. So, those of you who've climbed in the Cordillera Blanca, I'd be interested to hear your opinions on this one:

When have you climbed there?

What were the conditions like?

When d'you think is the best time to go?


Thanks!
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Re: The Cordillera Blanca

Postby ant morgan » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:32 am

When have you climbed there? July and August are the main season

What were the conditions like? The general rule of thumb is do the north facing snow / ice routes early in the season, and then south facing snow / ice routes or rock routes later.
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Postby Buz Groshong » Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:36 pm

June, July, and August are the most reliable part of the dry season. May and September are less dependable; OK for trekking, but not the best for climbing. I've been down there in July and August (two weeks each of past three summers) and the weather has been near perfect (got snowed on a bit last year, but not enough to stop us from climbing). We got a sprinkle in Huaraz one evening last August and I actually saw the sun on the coast (for a few minutes); unusual weather I am told. I heard that they had good weather at the beginning of June last year, but then got a lot of snow later on in June that nixxed some climbs so maybe July and August are the best bet.
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Postby Scott » Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:17 pm

are any of the ranges climbable in december?


From what I hear, no. That is the reason I have visited most countries in Latin America but am still missing Peru and Bolivia (and some others I haven't got to yet but will). I have wanted to go to Peru and Bolivia, but I can only get time off in December through February and climbing conditions are said to be terrible at that time of year.

Apparently the only places in Peru that are reasonable then are the parts around the Atacama such as the Arequipa region.
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Postby Andinistaloco » Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:40 pm

Buz, ant, thanks for the info. Looks like this one might not go - I've got May 12-June 6 off and I figure that'd be pushing it. Climbed in Arequipa at that time before, but for the Cordillera it's probably early.
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South America Weather in Dec/Jan

Postby hashfxn » Wed Jan 24, 2007 9:21 pm

Scott Patterson wrote:
are any of the ranges climbable in december?

Apparently the only places in Peru that are reasonable then are the parts around the Atacama such as the Arequipa region.


I've been to South America (Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile) from between Dec to Jan for the last three years, including those places that you mentioned, and you're right that the weather around Arequipa and the Atacama near Chile is pretty good in December but it also becomes rainy towards the end of the month.

I just returned a few weeks ago from Peru where I was hoping to acclimitize on a climb near Arequipa and then head over to the Cordillera Real in Bolivia to do some more interesting climbing. Unfortunately, I hit the last day of decent weather on my acclimitization climb/hike (snowed heavily while I was on the summit), and my entire time in Bolivia, it rained and/or hailed for a few hours every day, nixing my "real" climbing plans.

If you can head to Arequipa in early December, I think you can get quite a bit of climbing done. Same for the Atacama Desert area bordering Bolivia and Chile (was there last year for a week in mid December). I talked to the locals in La Paz in Bolivia and it apparently starts raining there regularly from November. I haven't been to the Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash area yet but I'm intending to visit this May/June.

In my earlier reply, I forgot to mention Patagonia. The main climbing season is Nov/Dec/Jan so that's certainly a climbable range during that period. When I was there last December, the weather ranged from hailing/raining/snowing/windy to 3 days of perfect blue skies with sweltering heat so I suppose the weather is as much of a crap shoot as the other ranges.
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Postby ant morgan » Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:35 pm

Bolivia may be OK for the times you have available.

We had a great trip to La Paz and the Cordillera Real in April / May 2000. Spent 8 days at Condorirri basecamp, where it snowed or rained every afternoon around 2pm, for about 2 hours. So we climbed early, getting back to the tent before "shower time".

Then we headed up Illimani, and had good weather for all 3 days - just a little cloud cover and spindrift one afternoon.

Snow depth on routes was not too bad - we did get up to mid-shin depth on Illimani, but for most of the climbing at Condorirri it was only ankle deep at worst. Having spent the previous winter post-holing around the Canadian Rockies, we thought the snow conditions in Bolivia were awesome.
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Re: South America Weather in Dec/Jan

Postby Andinistaloco » Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:12 am

hashfxn wrote: I haven't been to the Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash area yet but I'm intending to visit this May/June.


That's the time period I'm looking at as well, if I hear that the weather might be all right. What were you planning on climbing?
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Postby Andinistaloco » Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:13 am

ant morgan wrote:Bolivia may be OK for the times you have available.

We had a great trip to La Paz and the Cordillera Real in April / May 2000. Spent 8 days at Condorirri basecamp, where it snowed or rained every afternoon around 2pm, for about 2 hours. So we climbed early, getting back to the tent before "shower time".

Then we headed up Illimani, and had good weather for all 3 days - just a little cloud cover and spindrift one afternoon.

Snow depth on routes was not too bad - we did get up to mid-shin depth on Illimani, but for most of the climbing at Condorirri it was only ankle deep at worst. Having spent the previous winter post-holing around the Canadian Rockies, we thought the snow conditions in Bolivia were awesome.


Interesting - I did the same in April/May 2001. Piramide Blanca, P. Alpamayo, Austria, Mirador, Cabeza de Condor, Illimani. Yes, I've found that's a good time for Bolivia but I'm not as sure about Peru...
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Re: South America Weather in Dec/Jan

Postby hashfxn » Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:13 pm

juh33 wrote:That's the time period I'm looking at as well, if I hear that the weather might be all right. What were you planning on climbing?


I don't know yet, and I wasn't intending to make any firm plans until I actually got there and see the weather and which mountains are in condition. One thing I'm planning on doing is the 12 day Huayhuash circuit right at the start, which will aid in acclimitization. But I have to first figure out when I can leave and for how long this time.

How about yourself?
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Postby Tom Fralich » Thu Jan 25, 2007 10:58 pm

With the new restrictions imposed as of Fall 2006 (i.e. mandatory guides), the Cordillera Blanca is best avoided all together. The mountaineering association in Peru seems determined to replace the rich mountaineering tradition of the Cordillera Blanca with a money-making tourist industry. As such, I will take my crampons...and my dollar...elsewhere.
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Postby Andinistaloco » Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:00 am

Tom Fralich wrote:With the new restrictions imposed as of Fall 2006 (i.e. mandatory guides), the Cordillera Blanca is best avoided all together. The mountaineering association in Peru seems determined to replace the rich mountaineering tradition of the Cordillera Blanca with a money-making tourist industry. As such, I will take my crampons...and my dollar...elsewhere.


Tom, I didn't know it was this bad. What are the new regulations (or if you're busy, is there a site or something I can check them out on?)?
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Re: South America Weather in Dec/Jan

Postby Andinistaloco » Sun Jan 28, 2007 1:57 am

hashfxn wrote:
juh33 wrote:That's the time period I'm looking at as well, if I hear that the weather might be all right. What were you planning on climbing?


I don't know yet, and I wasn't intending to make any firm plans until I actually got there and see the weather and which mountains are in condition. One thing I'm planning on doing is the 12 day Huayhuash circuit right at the start, which will aid in acclimitization. But I have to first figure out when I can leave and for how long this time.

How about yourself?


Was thinking about Alpamayo, Artesonraju, Huascaran... however like you I'm not sure about the weather, and the more I hear about the regulations in the park, the less I like it.
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Re: South America Weather in Dec/Jan

Postby hashfxn » Sun Jan 28, 2007 6:05 am

juh33 wrote:Was thinking about Alpamayo, Artesonraju, Huascaran... however like you I'm not sure about the weather, and the more I hear about the regulations in the park, the less I like it.


Apart from the regulations, you might want to check out these two pages about Alpamayo and Huascaran from two well known guides.

http://www.cosleyhouston.com/alpamayo.htm

http://www.cosleyhouston.com/huascaran.htm
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