Climbing Diablo Mudo's Northwest Ridge
Diablo Mudo (the “Mute Devil”) is an attractive glaciated peak in the Cordillera Huayhuash of Peru that presents a fine moderate mountaineering challenge in a remote and wild setting. Although it lacks the stature of other high peaks in the range, the views from the summit are breathtaking and the normal route is exposed to far fewer objective dangers than its higher neighbors. Either as part of an extended trek in the Huayhuash or as an independent objective, Diablo Mudo is an enjoyable climb in a breathtaking region of the Andes.
Though significantly lower than the six-thousand meter giants of the Huayhuash (Yerupaja, Sarapo, Siula Grande, Jirishanca, and Rasac), Diablo Mudo is by far the most frequently visited summit in the range. Commonly approached from the west from a basecamp below Punta Tapush, the climb is generally moderate (alpine grade PD), with snow or ice slopes up to 45 degrees and a brief encounter with a mixed downclimb over a rocky gendarme. The peak can also be approached from the East via the Huacrish valley, though the climb from this side is a far less asthetically pleasing slog up loose scree slopes before reaching the edge of the glacier. An ascent from a campsite at Tapush followed by a descent via the Huacrish valley to the idyllic lake of Jauacocha makes for a fantastic (and long) day’s tour.
Although the ascent of Diablo Mudo is tame by Huayhuash standards, it should be noted that this is a serious alpine climb. Significant exposure is encountered during an ascent of the normal route, as well as glacier travel and moderately steep snow and ice slopes. Proper acclimatization is necessary as well – be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness and descend if necessary. Please see the Northwest Ridge route
page for more detailed information on climbing Diablo Mudo. For further information on the Huayhuash visit the Cordillera Huayhuash RANGE
Panoramic view from the summit
Trekking in the Huacrish valley after the climb
Getting to the peaks of the Huayhuash can feel like an expedition in and of itself for travelers arriving in Peru from overseas. From Lima, an eight hour drive (using either privately arranged transport or a public bus) leads to the city of Huaraz at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca. Huaraz is the largest city in the Ancash providence and the center of climbing and trekking activity in the area. Taking a few days to rest and acclimatize to the altitude in Huaraz is a good idea before continuing the journey towards the Huayhuash. Another six to seven hour road trip leads through Chiquian along a newly constructed road to the small town of Llamac, and the start of the trek into the heart of the range. This segment of the trip can be made by bus (cheap and infrequent, and only as far as Chiquian), colelctivo (group taxi, also cheap and crowded), or private transport (more expensive, but perhaps worth the extra cost). Inquire locally in Huaraz about transportation options.
Reaching a basecamp below Diablo Mudo will take at least two days from Llamac. A first day’s trekking leads to the lake and small community at Jauacocha, below the towering faces of Rondoy, Jirishanca, and Yerupaja. From here, a second full day of trekking leads to the Diablo Mudo basecamp after crossing Yaucha pass. However, a more likely (and more rewarding) approach would be to visit Diablo Mudo at the end of an eight to fourteen day trek around the entire Huayhuash range. This allows for ample acclimatization and some of the best trekking on the planet. For details and a trip report, click here. For general information on trekking in the Huayhuash, click here.
When To Climb
Nearing the summit
The Cordillera Huayhuash is best visited in the North American summertime (June through early September), which corresponds to the dry season in Peru. Trekking or climbing outside of the peak months will likely be a very damp experience. As an equatorial country, Peru does not experience large changes in temperature from summer to winter, though temperatures in the dry season are usually several degrees cooler than in the wet season. During the dry season, periodic storms are usually followed by several days to weeks of clam, settled weather. However, even during the dry season one must keep in mind that alpine weather can be unpredictable, and high winds and storms are possible throughout the entire year.
Diablo Mudo from the Southwest
There are no permits or fees specifically required for climbing Diablo Mudo. However, expect to pay a small fee for camping (or even just passing through) any of the numerous small settlements in the Huayhuash. This will most likely be around US$5 per person (and also perhaps an additional fee for livestock), so be sure to bring lots of small denomination bills – both Peruvian and U.S. currency is handy. The tiny community of Huayhuash uses these funds responsibly and provides trekkers with an armed guard overnight and an escort over the Portachuelo de Huayhuash pass (the site of robberies and assaults in past years). Other communities seem content to simply extract the fee and provide no services – you might suggest that in such sites a pit toilet and trash cleanup would be appreciated in exchange for your payment.
Evening light from basecamp
Camping is available at an excellent site 1 hour north of Punta Tapush, near a small stone building and corrall. The residents of the hut charge the typical small fee for staying nearby. Water is available from the streams in the valley below. Be sure to boil or treat all water in the Huayhuash.
External LinksCity of Huaraz
- information on lodging, activities, and restaurants in Huaraz
Peaks and Places
- good place to purchase the Cordillera Huayhuash 1:50,000 map, and also an adventure outfitter specializing in Peru based out of Boulder, CO.
- Photos from the Huayhuash and a Diablo Mudo climb, by Howie Silleck
Huayhuash Photo Tour
featuring photography by Tom Dempsey
- Professional guiding service located in the Hostal Quintana – contact Alfredo Quintana 51 (043) 426060
Casa de Guias
- local guide training center, also leads trips
High on the Northwest Ridge
To many people in the Huayhuash, the trekking and climbing industry is a primary source of income. Environmental issues, ranging from construction of pit toilets to basic trash cleanup, are often secondary concerns to some guiding companies and Huayhuash locals more focused on making a basic living than maintaining the pristine nature of the environment. The ever-increasing number of groups traveling through the Huayhuash continues to have a negative impact on the fragile alpine environment. Please do your part by practicing leave-no-trace camping, and encouraging other members and guiding staff to do so as well. Carry along an extra trash bag or two and help out where you can, and consider providing incentives (“trash-tips”) to arrieros traveling with you.