The SW Ridge was first climbed by H. Hoerlin, E. Schneider, P. Borchers and E. Hein on August 3rd, 1932. This is the normal route on the mountain but conditions can change quickly that often shut parties down, and the route is consistently under estimated. Deep snow and open crevasses are the main reasons for a fit party to fail in reaching the summit.
The view of Huascaran on approach to the Moraine camp.
From Yungay, take a colectivo up the Llanganuco road to the furthest SW switchback. Nothing but a small cairn marks the beginning of the trail. Follow the path up the valley floor to Base Camp, about 20-30 minutes. Most parties will continue on to the Moraine camp with out staying at Base camp. From Base Camp ascend the moraine to the West and reach the moraine crest. Follow cairns and the path along multiple crests until the path drops below to the rubble covered glacier. Follow cairns to regain the path on the far side. Ascend the steep moraine crest to the Moraine Camp, about 4-5 hours. Many parties will take a rest day here. Water is very hard to come by and may necessitate a short and dangerous trek to the glacier edge to get melt water.
Enjoying the view on our rest day at the Moraine Camp.
From the Moraine Camp, scramble up and over large boulders to the large gully. Following cairns up the gully will lead you to the glacier edge. Navigate crevasses and seracs to a plateau campsite at 5600m, 3-4 hours.
Looking up to the Summit mushroom. On descent, looking back at the crux at 5950m.
From the high camp site, continue NE to gain the ridge proper. Ascend to a plateau at 5950m before the crux of the route. Find the path of least resistance, usually on the left of the ridge, avoiding crevasse and seracs where possible, to reach the large plateau below the summit. Ascend to the right of the mushroom, turn the corner and ascend the ridgeline to the summit!
Ascending the Summit mushroom.
Descent: Down climb the path you came up, abseiling over the most difficult sections. It is possible to make it back to the road on summit day. This is about a 12 hour day and it may be hard to catch a ride to Yungay, but many parties will spend the night at the high camp or moraine camp.
One 60m Rope, 2-3 snow pickets. 2-3 ice screws. I recommend bringing two ice axes as conditions can require short sectons of vertical to overhanging climbing on snow and ice as seen here:
Climbing over the overhung serac.