Stayed at the refuge, and left at around 1AM. Crossing the moraine to reach the glacier is a pain, it took us about 3h (I was with a local guide). The conditions of the steep scree section that you need to descend to gain access to the moraine are deteriorating. You can descend now with the help of a fixed chain, but we saw some groups rappelling down, probably not a bad idea.
Once you reach the glacier, it's about 3-4 hours ice and snow climb until you get to the top. A few crevasses to cross on solid snow bridges, a few steeper sections (50-60 degrees?). Incredible views of the Huandoys, Arteson, Alpamayo, and Huascaran at dawn. We were alone on the summit for a while - I felt very privileged to be able to enjoy the experience.
Great Weather, clear summit, super fun. https://vimeo.com/224797018
Amazing climb. We were on the summit before sunrise and got to enjoy about 2 hours alone up there. Summited with my brother and sister in law
Stayed at the refugio for a night, then up to moraine camp for a night before summiting. Glacier was in great shape, we made it in 4hrs from moraine camp to summit, probably could have done it a little quicker too.
The moraine camp was a terrific place to stay, and not having to find your way through the boulderfield at 12am makes staying there 100% worth it in my opinion.
Climbed the standard route from base camp between snow squalls. A light snow was falling all the way to the glacier in the morning, then luckily the sky cleared for the incredibly beautiful snow slog to the summit. Only one other party of guide + client on the route. It began snowing again lightly as we regained the moraine on the descent. Hiked down to Cebollapampa after a nice lunch and beers at the refuge.
Climbed one of the corridors on the central part of the SW wall. About 50-70 degree snow and 80 degree ice, but not very good conditions. Topped out to join the normal route about 2/3 to the summit.
My friend realized he had forgotten his sunglasses when we were roping up to get onto the glacier, and couldn't believe our luck when we found a nice pair right there in the rocks. When we caught up to the only other team on the mountain near the summit, they asked if we found their glasses. Gave them their glasses back and my friend wore a light buff over his eyes on the way down...
A beautiful route weaving through some pretty scenic crevasses. Climbing back out of the moraine behind the refugio was the most challenging part of the climb. Celebrated my birthday with cake and a few shots at the refugio the day before.
Climbed the normal route in perfect conditions. Stood on the summit as the sun rose over South America. Highly recommend this climb, not technical by any means, but worth it for the view from the top.
December isn't the right season to climb in Cordillera Blanca....
I've tried twice two climb pisco on short vacations from the US. The first time we had bad weather and poor acclimitization (4 days at higher altitudes). The second I had good acclimitization (summitted Vallunaraju two days prior, 8 total days of acclimitization) and again really bad weather.
The flights to Lima in December are dirt cheap ($350 rt from Minneapolis), so it's a great time to go to Huaraz, but the weather is unpredictable.
On my first summit attempt, we tried to depart around midnight from the refugio, but it was snowing significantly. This made the crossing of the moraine difficult. That on top of the poor acclimitization we had made us turn around.
On my 2nd attempt, I had a few extra days to acclimitize and summitted vallunaraju two days prior. I hired a mountain guide and we had mules take our stuff to the refugio, we then continued on with light packs to camp at the moraine. It's easy crossing the moraine in daylight, so I'm not sure why this strategy isn't more popular... free climbing the wall with a 20kg pack to enter the moraine isn't the safest, so wearing a helmet is essential. I got some good rest and we headed out at 2am. It was extremely warm and it was snowing. The snow on the glacier was very soft. We breached a couple snow bridges and had to crawl across others. Given the poor visibility (25 meters) we turned around at the col. When we were going to rapel off the glacier to the moraine, the snow broke away beneath my guides foot while he was setting an ice screw and down he went without his ice axe. Thank goodness he was able to self arrest with his crampons as my axe was planted in the same loose ice that broke free.
When climbing in December in the cordierra blanca, some 5k meter mountains are safely climbable (pisco, vallunaraju, yannapacha). It is the rainy season, so understand that some days are crystal clear and other days will have warm nights making for terrible climbing conditions. On the plus side, you always have the mountain all to yourself. A strategy that would guarantee good weather in December would be to just hang out at the refugio for an extra day or two until you get a cold/clear night.
The moraine is almost more difficult and dangerous than the actual climb. First hiking up behind the refuge, and then hiking way back down on the other side... awful approach to the glacier. The route was in good condition for us, with no surprises or particular difficulties. It was a very hot night, and we climbed in base layers for the first hour. The summit views at dawn were spectacular, surrounded by peaks and clouds which glowed from the sunrise behind.
After almost a week with clear skies we managed to pick a bad weather day for our Pisco summit!
Due to warnings from Eduardo (at Edward's Inn in Huaraz) regarding an upcoming transportation strike in the Ancash region we were stronlgy adviced to leave for Yungay and Pisco one day earlier. Thus we camped at the lovley Llanganuco camping site. The next day we spent at the super friendly Refugio Peru. On the third day we climbed up Moraine camp.
The crux on Pisco I would definately claim is the route finding and crossing over the old dried out moraine. The descent into the moraine is steep and contains lots of loose rock and dirt. If you carry a 25+ kg backpack you need to focus on balance.
To exit the moraine it is important to aim at the lowest part in the saddle on the opposite side. It is easy to miss the "exit" even during daytime.
The campsite at the moraine up at 5.000m was great with water and no wind.
We left at 4:30 with clear skies but half way up unfortunately the weather deteriorated and when we summited at 08:30 it was a complete whiteout.
The climb itself from the glacier was very easy and only a few large but clearly visible crevasses. The steep ice section I'd read about close to the summit was nowhere to find. But then again there was bad a whiteout :-)
Joined a guided team from base camp, but once I entered the ice kingdom,
i just went by myself.
Nice climb, especially when you have the mountain for yourself and perfect weather.
You get up a valley facing the Chopicalqui. unfortunately, it was cloudy that day, so we couldn't see that much. The refuge is very Alpine looking (Italians built it i believe). We had to abandon halfway up the Pisco due to very bad weather.
July 2013 was very stable weatherwise in the Cordillera Blanca. Our team managed to climb Urus, Ichinca, Toclaraju (through the Bergshrund route), Huascaran Sul and Chopicalqui.
What did you end up doing? I am in the same position myself.
Long snow plod, would be a piece of cake except for the altitude. No ice wall this year, just a small crevasse to hop over just below the summit. Beautiful weather and a great view of many of the 6000ers in the Blanca. Like others said, the boulder field below moraine camp was relentless.
First climb in Perú pretty much straight after arriving in Huaraz. The morraine is a real pain. We took a wrong turn at one point and ended up almost getting our heads bashed in from a huge rock dislodged by a careless climber above. Great weather-clear skies, no wind, great snow conditions- and an absolutely spectacular view frkm the summit. Round trip from base camp and then descending to cebollapamba (and back to Huaraz) in the same day made for a very very long haul.
Pristine day in the Cordillera Blanca
Hot, windless. Hard after only 2 prev days in Huaraz. Spectacular summit.