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Huayhuash Circuit and Diablo Mudo Climb

 

The world's greatest trek...probably.

Mountain aficionados have long known that the world's greatest trek is located in the Cordillera Huayhuash of Peru, a wild and remote mountain range that contains many of South Americas least explored peaks.

Despite its astonishing beauty, the Huayhuash was rarely visited until Joe Simpson published his remarkable tome 'Touching the Void', a ripping account of his near-suicidal expedition to climb Suila Grande. Simpson fans will have a chance to wander up to his hallowed base camp and gaze in slack-jawed wonder at Suila Grand's monstrous west face!
Soul-stirring wilderness, jagged peaks and the somewhat surprising availability of hot springs and cold beer (thanks to the local Quechua villagers) make this trek an absolute classic. Oh, it's pronounced whaywash.
  • An ascent of the 5400m mountain Diablo Mundo (also known as Suerococha) can be included in the programme.
  • This is a lengthy and arduous expedition to the middle of nowhere...with rather a lot of 'up'. Whilst it is suitable for beginners, you'll need to be fit and well motivated.
  • Baggage is carried by mules.
  • Excellent food is rustled-up by the cook and served in a communal mess tent.
  • A qualified trekking guide will lead the way and an assistant is on hand to help out around camp, always useful when you're trying to work out how to put your tent up.
  • Services start at Lima airport.

Huayhaush Map

Day 1.

Arrive in Lima and take a taxi to the Cruz del Sur coach terminal. Catch the night coach to Huaraz (8hrs). Sounds daunting, but there's nothing to fear. The coaches are very comfortable and equipped with wide bed-seats. A meeter-and-greeter will be on hand to make sure you don't end-up on the wrong bus!

Day 2.

Arrive in Huaraz (3100m) at 6am. You'll be met at the bus station and taken to the guest house. Free day.

Day 3.

Free day.

Day 4.

Transport from Huaraz to the trailhead campsite at Quartelhuain (4170m), 5hrs. This is a fantastic journey along precipitous mountain roads. Spend the afternoon relaxing in the mess-tent and getting used to the altitude.

Day 5.

Start the day with a steady 2 hr climb to cross the Cacananpunta pass (4690m). We then descend into the Janca Valley on good paths. Camp at 4200m near to lake Mitococha. Sensational views of Jirishanca mountain. 5hrs walk.

Day 6.

Today we cross an unnamed pass (about 4800m) near to lake Alcaycocha and head down to the campsite next to lake Carhuacocha (4150m) in the shadow of the infamous Suila Grande. The route follows an ancient sea bed which is littered with fossils and, believe it or not, dinosaur bones (seriously, I've found 'em). 5hrs walk.

Day 7.

A fabulous day in the mountains. Skirt the Yerupaja East glacier and slog up to the 4725m Ciula Punta pass. From here, descend to the campsite at the settlement of Huayhuash (4345m). 8hrs walk.

Day 8.

Easy walking gets us to the hot springs at Atuscancha (4365m). After you've scrubbed off the grime from 5 days of hard trekking, why not treat yourself to a bottle of Cervesa and a fresh pair of underpants?! 4hrs walk.

Day 9.

A short day takes us into the Alpine desert and over the 5000m Punta Cuyoc pass and down to the campsite at 4450m. A sort-of rest day. 3hrs walk.

Day 10.

There are numerous different routes into the Calinca Valley, all of which cross a high pass of around 4900m. If you're going well and have scrambling experience, it might be worth climbing the rocky peak of San Antonio (5180m) on your way. This is a stunning day in the mountains with views of Suila Grande, Yerupaja and the surreal, light blue lake Jurau. Camp at Cutatambo (4265m). 3 - 6 hrs walk depending on the route taken.

Day 11.

The highlight of the trek. Head into the glacial wastelands around lake Sarapococha for an up-close view of the highest peaks in the Huayhuash, and visit Joe Simpsons basecamp. It's well worth heading up to the viewpoint at 5150m (this involves an appalling 600m slog up the loose scree slopes opposite Sarapo. Return to the campsite at Cutatambo. A tough 8hr day.

Day 12.

An easy downhill walk gets us to the village of Huayllapa (3500m). We stay in a basic guesthouse with warm-ish showers, real beds and cold beer. An easy day, and a great place to refresh. 3hrs walk.

Day 13.

Head up the Milo valley to the campsite at 4625m in the shadow of our mountain objective, Diablo Mudo (5400m). 6hrs walk.

Day 14.

Set off at 3am for the summit of Diablo Mudo. Descend to the campsite at lake Jahuacocha (4075m). An exhausting 12hr day. OR, just walk to the campsite at Jahuacocha.

Day 15.

A steady downhill walk takes us to the village of Llamac (3300m) where a vehicle will be waiting to transport us back to Huaraz. 4hrs walk. 4hrs drive.

Day 16. Bus to Lima and flight home.

Diablo Mundo (Normal Route)

Picture: Shows Diablo Mudo (also known as Suerococha), a c.5400m peak which can be climbed on Day 14 of this trip. The ascent via the northwest ridge involves strenuous scrambling over moraine and loose rock, snow slopes at about 45 deg in steepness and a short section of down climbing. It's a suitable ascent for advanced beginners with experience of using crampons and ice axes.


Notes:

  • Camping fees are included in the price.
  • The coach fare (Lima to Huaraz, VIP seats) is also included in the price. Seats will be booked on-line a couple of months prior to departure.
  • Don't forget to pack swimming trunks for the hot springs on day 8.
  • Light weight boots or heavy weight approach shoes will suffice for the trek. However, if you're planning an ascent of Diablo Mudo, you'll need high altitude mountaineering boots and crampons.
  • It can be colder than my ex-wifes icy, black heart at night! Take a sleeping bag that'll keep you warm at minus 15 deg C and a down jacket for knocking around camp after sundown.