Huaraz/Peru gear logistics for cook and guide

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pjc30943

 
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Huaraz/Peru gear logistics for cook and guide

by pjc30943 » Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:13 am

In your experience, how long does it take to acquire all the gear for a local cook, and local AGMP guide, for say an 8 day ishinca valley stay?
We're considering the tradeoff between cost and minimal effort of a guided package, and cultural experience and effort spent organizing everything ourselves.
Is organizing an easy 1-day endeavor, or stressful, or ...?
FYI we have 3 days in Hauraz after arriving, before starting our acclimatization and climbing itinerary.

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rgg
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Re: Huaraz/Peru gear logistics for cook and guide

by rgg » Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:59 am

If you walk into one of the many agencies during the day, you can often start sometime next morning. It helps if you know exactly what you want when it comes to the climbs, the gear and the food.

I usually organize my own climbs. When I can't find a partner, I occasionally hire a guide. On my visit to the Cordillera Blanca back in 2011, I did that only once: early evening I walked into the office of one of the agencies and the next morning I was on my way for a 4 day trip, with a guide and a porter. Mind you, to speed things up I had bought almost all the supplies myself the evening before - shops are open in the evening in Huaraz, and I knew my way around. And having my own gear meant I didn't need time to fit boots either.

Now, as it happens, there is a refuge at the normal base camp area in the Ishinca valley, and during the climbing season that's normally staffed. You can sleep and eat there, and I found it fairly cheap (back in 2011). Urus and Ishinca are typically climbed in a day from there. However, assuming you're already somewhat acclimatized, you only need 3 days to climb those two:

  • Walk in to base camp (a leisurely 4 hours)
  • Urus Este (fairly short day; even if you start well after sunrise you can be back in time for dinner)
  • Ishinca and walk out (fairly long day, count on an alpine start)
If you're not in a hurry, you can walk out on day 4 as well. Since you mentioned 8 days, I assume you want to climb something else too. Tocllaraju is climbed regularly, or perhaps you're thinking about Ranrapalca. For both you'll need a tent to set up high camp, and now a cook might make sense. Mind you, I never hired one in the Cordillera Blanca; when I wasn't at a refuge, I cooked myself. There was always plenty of time for that.


You can read more about climbing in the Ishinca valley in these trip reports:

Urus Este and Tocllaraju
Urus Central and Ishinca

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Re: Huaraz/Peru gear logistics for cook and guide

by pjc30943 » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:17 pm

Thanks for the thoughts. When you organized yourself, what was the cost difference between that and a reputable guide company? What time commitment was it for you, to organize the supplies by the evening before?

Yep, correct, we're looking to climb more than one objective in the valley, and will have at least one high camp ~5300-54000m.

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Re: Huaraz/Peru gear logistics for cook and guide

by rgg » Wed Mar 09, 2016 6:11 am

The cost difference was big. It's been a few years, so forgive me if I don't recall the exact numbers, but I'll do my best. Without hired help and buying all the supplies myself, I estimate my daily expenses for my mountain trips less than 20 USD (including everything except transportation to and from the trailheads). Staying in Huaraz was more expensive, among other things because I ate in the better restaurants in town, and often twice a day.

WIth hired help costs rise dramatically. Different agencies will quote slightly different prices, but in 2011 a normal price for fairly standard stuff was close to 100 USD per day, for a private guide for a solo climber. I think that that's what I paid for Chopicalqui, the 4 day trip for which I hired a guide. I hired porters several times, and a porter with glacier skills was 30 USD per day. I don't know the rate for a cook, but it must be less than a porter with glacier skills. So, going without a guide saves the 100 USD plus the cost of his food. If you don't hire a porter either (in the Ishinca valley you don't need one, and certainly not one with glacier skills) that saves another 30 USD plus food. And without them, you don't need to rent a tent for them to sleep in either - another few bucks saved.

Gear rental was cheap, but I rarely rented anything since I had everything myself. Only for Chopicalqui I hired a second tent and stove. However, renting a lot of stuff will probably add up. I'll leave it to others to estimate what you can save by bringing your own gear. Personally, if I could bring just one item, it would be my boots. Never mind the cost, but it saves me the time and trouble of finding a rental that fits properly, and I know that my own boots will keep my feet warm. Then again, when possible I prefer to bring not just one item but all of my gear, if only because I'm familiar with it.

My time commitment to buy all the supplies was just a couple of hours in the evening before, and another hour the next morning. However, as I said, I knew my way around town; otherwise I couldn't have managed that. Probably it would have cost me the better part of a day instead. More importantly, if I wouldn't have had experience in organizing my own climbs, I couldn't have managed that either, or might easily have forgotten something essential. For example, I met a couple of young women planning and organizing their own trek, with an arriero but without guide, and they sure appreciated it when I mentioned that, besides food, items such as matches and toilet paper might be rather handy...

But, as long as you know what you're doing, buying supplies yourself is the best way to ensure that you've got food that you like. And it's a bonus to watch the amazement on the faces of your porter and guide when you they see all the delicacies you've bought. I mean, I just bought food that I liked, even if some things were quite expensive for Peruvian standards. Sure, most things were cheap, but there were exceptions. Some things that are common to us were more expensive in Peru than in the supermarkets in my home town. But hey, if you pay 100 USD per day for a guide, who cares that a small jar of peanut butter costs 4 USD.


As for the Ishinca valley, Ishinca and Urus Este are among the easiest climbs in the Cordillera Blanca, and I reckon Tocllaraju still qualifies as fairly standard. However, since I had a partner, we climbed Tocllaraju unguided. Ranrapalca is a more difficult, more dangerous and longer climb, so I fully expect it to be more expensive. On the other hand, if you have a guide for 8 days or so in the Ishinca area, well, only the day that you climb Ranrapalca will be a very big one so you can try to negotiate to pay the regular daily rate for the whole period, including for that big day.

Now that you've got me thinking about the Ishinca valley, I should mention that Ranrapalca is one of the mountains I'll consider climbing myself if I return to the Cordillera Blanca. I have no concrete plans just yet, so it won't happen in 2016, but who knows what the future brings. I know that Ranrapalca isn't a mountain for which it's easy to find a suitable partner. And it's definitely not a mountain I think I can climb solo; much too dangerous for that. So, if I decide to go for it, I will probably end up hiring a guide myself. But only a guide, no porter or cook. Mules can carry our stuff to the Ishinca refuge, and from there we can carry everything to high camp ourselves. And I'll do the cooking.

Image
Early morning on the Ranrapalca N face, seen from the approach to the SW ridge of Ishinca

By the way, this face wouldn't be the route I would consider climbing, but it sure looks pretty!

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Re: Huaraz/Peru gear logistics for cook and guide

by pjc30943 » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:28 pm

Thank you, this is all very helpful:) Yes, Ranra is one of the possible objectives for this summer.
If we end up doing that peak, we'll hire a guide who will allow us to lead the climbs -- they'd be coming mostly for mountain-specific knowledge/risks/navigation, strength in numbers, etc.

We may attempt to hire a UIAGM cerfified guide directly from AGMP, vs through a guiding agency, since it seems less expensive: 150/day (any number of climbers?) for Ranra via AGMP, vs ~170/day per person via a guide agency. But, we are still looking into what this process might be like.

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Re: Huaraz/Peru gear logistics for cook and guide

by infinityjellyD » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:07 pm

In John Beggar's Andes book he says Huaraz guides are generally 100-200 USD/day. I know this doesn't add anything new to this conversation, but it is another data point that confirms rgg's experience.

When will you be there, pjc30943? I'm arriving late May, so if you are arriving a few weeks later and want some "recon" info about guide prices/availability of supplies/etc ahead of your departure, let me know and I can ask around and let you know the up-to-date situation.

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Re: Huaraz/Peru gear logistics for cook and guide

by Vintter » Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:19 pm

Organizing everything on yourself is "funny" and cheap but I would definitely hire a mountain guide to earn time, security and enjoy a nice human and cultural experience.

Here is a great way to hire directly a guide, with ifmga certification or other local certification, without intermediary: https://www.explore-share.com/countries ... taineering

I've been in contact with the guide Magno on that platform. The contact was great. Surely they are also other guides that can be of great help!

good luck!

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Re: Huaraz/Peru gear logistics for cook and guide

by sharperblue » Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:49 pm

So don't get all offended by what I have to say here - my point is to try to help you have a better, much more fulfilling experience down there, and I'll step right up and say that i have no idea who you are or what your abilities are and so I may be reading this whole thread way off base, and if so, you have my apologies in advance. That having been said..

A big part of why people climb is to challenge themselves and their perceived acceptable amount of risk, and ultimately, to have fun. I don't mean to criticize anyone here, but if you are going to spend eight days in Ishinca valley and think you need a guide for local knowledge and to handle logistics or for wayfinding to the routes in there, it's not a guide you need, but more experience. Current conditions on any of the 'usual' peaks in that valley can be had by walking into Casa de Guias or asking around at Cafe Andino on a day by day basis. Wayfinding to any route in there on any peak is a non-issue: all trails are well marked and well beaten or at least cairned. You cannot get lost in there. Hiring a cook is a nice luxury, but an actual guide for Ishinca or Urus will make you feel ridiculous - "I could have walked up here myself". Navigating the small glacier to Ishinca is trivial, and if you do not have the training or confidence to do that one, you need more training at home or in the Cascades first. The same logic applies in a different way to the two usual routes on Ron the Alpaca or the two most common routes on Tocllaraju: if you need a guide on those, you don't know enough about what you're doing yet. Come back when you can take on the challenge and relish in a victory (or defeat) that is all yours. Guides definitely do have a place in the Blanca and elsewhere, but imho, their greatest value is as teachers: take courses from guides that take you on routes, not just to the crags, and insist on getting what you pay for: teaching, experience. Those kinds of guides you are NOT going to find down there

It's not a long walk in there; if you're young and in shape you won't have any trouble carrying everything yourself, but if you want to treat yourself and hire a donkey to carry gear in and out that's cool: there are many many such services that operate on a walk in basis in Huaraz, the largest and probably most reputable of which is Galaxia. Just walk in, be polite, tell them what you need and when and they'll do it (including very capable full-on guides, btw)

Everyone has their own reasons for climbing what they do and in what style and we're all different. I think you'll have a much much more rewarding time if you do it yourself

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Re: Huaraz/Peru gear logistics for cook and guide

by pjc30943 » Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:37 pm

Thanks for the note, sharperblue. In general I agree with what you said, for most people who aren't experienced. Only replying to this comment for future reference, for anyone else who might be considering a similar path.
Since our team is experienced, and we would be leading, a guide as climbing partner would be for reduction of objective risk where possible. We are contemplating a guide as companion for routes on peaks like ranrapalca. They have more experience understanding objective risks specific to each peak, that may not immediately obvious to the first-timer... Experienced teams have been killed on these peaks; if there is the possibility for additional safety, it can make sense to take that, based on personal preference.
Naturally there are many other straightforward routes (eg toclla ridge) where a guide isn't needed given their simplicity.
The motivation above is written for reference for anyone else considering a similar plan: note that we would be able to do these peaks ourselves as well as we have the technical capability, but a guide could yield further objective risk reduction.


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