Hello, I am looking at climbing Pisco and Chopicalqui in June and am just trying to budget my trip. I have been looking at a few agencies online, but have been told to hold off until I'm in Huaraz to book anything.
Does anyone have an approximate cost of a 5-day Chopicalqui climb through one of the agencies in Huaraz? The costs online seem a little steep ($2000 USD) for a 5-day climb, just wondering what to expect when I get there.
In 2011, I spent a long time in Peru. Mostly I teamed up with other climbers, which keeps the costs quite low. You'll still have to buy foot, get to the trailhead and back and buy a permit for the Huascarán national park, but all that still amounts to peanuts.
At the time, a porter with glacier skills was 30 USD per day. Prices for guides depended on the intended route, but started at 90 USD per day for easy ones. I don't recall the usual rate for Chopicalqui, but, for reference, the price for a guide for Huascarán started at 130 USD per day. Chopi must have been between those two numbers. Experienced guides sometimes ask more.
First time: guided As it happens, I had two attempts at Chopi. The first time, I had a few days to spare before my next climbing partner would arrive, and so, instead of just waiting, I hired a guide and a porter. I also asked Galaxia, the agency, to provide a tent for them, and a stove, since mine was rather poor, and I got private transport for the three of us from Huaraz to the trailhead and back. Everything else, including all the supplies, I already had, or bought locally myself.
I was well acclimatized, otherwise 4 days would have been crazy. As it happened, one additional day would still have been better, not because of the altitude but because fresh snow thwarted our summit attempt, on the third day. If we would have had a spare day, we would have used that to scout a substantial part of the route above high camp, creating a trail in the process, and then we would have made it the next day. However, because we aborted early enough, we had enough time to climb Pisco instead on the 4th day, which wasn't part of our plan, so it wasn't too bad. Now, I don't recall all the details, but I estimate the total cost of this trip was still under 1000 USD, including food, the Pisco refuge, tips, everything.
You can easily pay more in Huaraz, if you want to. You could hire a cook, or a more experienced guide. You could let the agency take care of all the shopping. You could start with an acclimatization climb to Pisco or Yanapaccha - not a bad idea, actually, and as your original question says, you plan to do that.
Your question is about both Pisco and Chopi, in five days. You should have an idea by now about the costs. However, if you are not already well acclimatized before these five days, chances are that you still manage on Pisco, but then you may find you're too tired for Chopi. So, try to get acclimatized as well as you can to improve your chances. Perhaps your holiday is too short for that - but just think about it, would you rather add a week of unpaid leave and succeed, or spend thousands of dollars anyway only to fail because of lack of acclimatization?
Second time: unguided A few weeks later, I teamed up with another climber. This time we only hired two porters with glacier skills, no guide this time, and went for it again. The porters had their own glacier gear and sleeping bags, but we brought everything else. We started from Yungay, with enough supplies for 6(!) days - I had learned that lesson on my first try. This time, after a late start on the first day, everything came together perfectly. We summited early the third day, and had enough time to descend all the way down to the trailhead, where we hitched a ride back to Yungay. We tipped our porters big time, but even so, I estimate the total cost of that trip to be around 500 USD. That includes two nights at Yungay (Hostal Gledel - say hi from me!), before and after the trip, and public transport from Huaraz to Yungay and back. And that's for two people, so compare that to the 2000 USD!
I plan to write a trip report about this climb as well, but I expect it will be a month or two before I publish that.
The people at the agencies and at the national park office in Huaraz speak English, as do some of the guides. Porters and taxi drivers usually don't, so you'll need your basic Spanish to explain what you want, or make sure that you get a guide that speaks enough English for you to understand him. In my experience, of those in Peru that claim to speak English, most do so rather poorly - and I'm being generous with that. All in all, the better your Spanish skills, the easier it will be.
I came to Peru mainly to climb mountains, but found it quite interesting to be able to talk to the people I met along the way. And no matter how poor your language skills, if you make the effort, it will be appreciated.
When I first traveled to Peru, I would say that my Spanish was basic. I could make myself understood and get by, no more, and had to look up words in my dictionary regularly. But I brought a book to study the language when I was having a rest day, and I learned more simply from traveling and talking to people, so by the time I got to Huaraz, I could have a simple conversation.
I climbed Pisco in 2010 with Peruvian Andes. Back then, it was totally worth it! The cooks are amazing and having your tent ready when you get to camp is priceless! Unfortunately, since then, prices have soared and it is pretty expensive now. On my next trip, I'll probably just hire a guide (not through an agency) and take it from there. I have no real knowledge of Spanish and was able to get around fine; perhaps the most chaotic event was getting on the bus to Huaraz LOL