"Next step" peak - South America

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tremont
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"Next step" peak - South America

Post by tremont » Fri May 14, 2021 2:10 pm

Hey all -

I'm looking for input on some good "next step" peaks for me as I look to build my experience and comfort on bigger mountains. I've spent the last 5 years building basic mountaineering skills on CO/CA 14ers (summers) and NH White Mountains (winters). I'm looking now to take the next step towards bigger mountains - this summer I'll be taking a guided trip to the Cascades to learn glacier travel skills. I don't have any lofty mountaineering goals or desires to set records - just to gain enough experience to tackle some >20k ft peaks within a few years.

Through research on the forums here, I'm thinking that South America (Peru or Ecuador) would be the logical destination for me. Looking for some input on some moderately challenging peaks with basic objective hazards that are best climbed in the July/August window. I don't mind guided options but am open to unguided as well - I have a great climbing partner that has similar goals/abilities to me.

Thanks in advance!
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cottonmountaineering
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Re: "Next step" peak - South America

Post by cottonmountaineering » Fri May 14, 2021 2:28 pm

Winter and spring in CO is a great training ground for snow, ice, mixed climbing and shouldn't be ignored.

That said there are plenty of easy taller peaks in Bolivia, Mexico, Peru etc, a lot of them can be realistically done with little to no experience and a local guide. Peru is less forgiving

A couple cascade volcanoes are worth stepping into for the glacier travel experience, Rainier, hood, Adams, and Baker by their standard routes are slogs. Numerous glacier travel and rescue clinics up that way if you prefer formal instruction
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Re: "Next step" peak - South America

Post by desertdog » Fri May 14, 2021 2:38 pm

Hi

I love South America and have down quite a few times, Unfortunately, not Peru though. I would also add Bolivia to your list. It's such a cool place. As far as specific peaks I'd look at the "three Cs" in Ecuador,,,Cayambe, Cotopaxi, and Chimbo. Note: Over the years the government has required a local guide, but they are not that expensive. Bolivia has many options but I would look at Sajama, Pequeño Alpamayo, Illimani, Condoriri,Chachacomani and Huayna Potosí. Note some of the Boilvia peaks are not "next step" but maybe next next step peaks. Haha. You can do your research and find plenty of info on them. I would say Huayna Potosí would fit the bill as a next step peak. You would want strong Crevasse Rescue Skills for these mountains. You may want to consdier a guide for your first trip down just to get the lay of the land. There are plenty and fairly reasonable.

We were heading back to Bolivia this summer but canceled because of the Vid. While you can get into Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia there are curfews and movement restrictions. My local contacts say now is not the time to go as its so out of control. Hopefully they be able will fire up a vaccine program and things will get back to normal in the fall or next year.

Feel free to reach out to me via PM and I'll be glad to give you more specifics if you need them.

Richard
Last edited by desertdog on Fri May 14, 2021 2:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: "Next step" peak - South America

Post by Scott P » Fri May 14, 2021 2:41 pm

For Peru:

If you want a 20K Peak and don't have much climbing experience and are going unguided, consider Coropuna or Ampato in the Colca region. I really enjoyed Hualca Hualca and would highly recommendthat one as well, though I'd get mules to haul supplies.. It's a beautiful Peak with geysers, waterfalls, etc., but just under 20K. It's a very unique and off the beaten track climb. It's not hard for It's elevation and by Peru standards, but it's surprisingly ignored; it's first modern ascent wasn't until 1990.

Pisco would be a good guided one in the Blanca, but isn't 20K. Yanapaccha might be even better, but also isn't 20K.

I found the Huayhuash to be even more spectacular than the Blanca, but most peaks over 18 or 19K are suicidal. Still, you can do a lot of peaks up to 18K or so that are more reasonable and usually ignored. Supposedly our ascent of Pucaccacca in 2017 was only the second ascent of the mountain.
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Re: "Next step" peak - South America

Post by mtnkub » Fri May 14, 2021 5:02 pm

For this July/August, travel to South America might not be great. For Mexico volcanos, season is November-March; those might 0.5 steps up.
(For breakdown of the multiple seasons for different mountains in Equador, see Scott P's post in the "Peru Partner(s)" thread).
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Re: "Next step" peak - South America

Post by tremont » Sat May 15, 2021 8:21 am

Thanks all for the great input - I'm going to start research on all the options that you put out there. I'm beginning to form plans for July of '22, hopefully far enough away that restrictions and safety are all figured out by then.

If any of you have recommendations for a local guide service that really stood out, I'm all ears. I would almost prefer to plan around a trip with an excellent guide or simple logistics than the peak itself (all things being equal).
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Re: "Next step" peak - South America

Post by Scott P » Sat May 15, 2021 9:08 am

tremont wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 8:21 am
If any of you have recommendations for a local guide service that really stood out, I'm all ears. I would almost prefer to plan around a trip with an excellent guide or simple logistics than the peak itself (all things being equal).
When I took the kids I took guides and here are my two favorite services.

For Huraz/Blanca/Huayhuash I highly recommend Peruvian Mountains:

https://www.peruvianmountains.com/

They quoted us the lowest price for our trip so I was a little worried that the food quality/etc. might be a little more basic, but I was wrong to worry. Everything was high quality. We basically had gormet meals five times a day. The owner and the guide we went with were incredibly knowledgable. The owner was the outfitter the crew that filmed Touching the Void and he has a lot of cool stories to tell.

The best part of the service is that you can ask them to climb anything you want and the itinerary doesn't have to be fixed (unless you want it too). For example, we did the Huayhuash Circuit, but allowed time for "rest" or flex days. My 15 year old son was a bit more abititious than my 13 year old daughter (but only slightly) so this allowed for some flexibility. For example, when we were hiking down to the hot springs we spied a lot of cool mountains. The standard Huayhuash Trek spends a night at the hot springs and continues on. We ask the guide if we could make an attempt of Pucaccacca,a the peak rising above the hot springs. He said yes; let me go check with the people living at the hot springs. After talking to him he said that the residents say that it was climbed once four years previous, but they didn't know how they did so. So while the girls took a rest day at the hot springs, my son, two guides, and I were able to make the second ascent of the mountain. Just as the villagers said, there was "2013" written on the rock from the previous ascent (not that I'd condone that sort of thing). The climb wasn't easy (for me at least), and was a real mountaineering target. It was one of my best climbs.

Such was the trip. We'd come across a mountain that looked cool and decided to climb or attempt it on the spot. We ended up climbing several peaks in this matter. This is my kind of guided trip since we got to make all the decisions of what to climb along the way. Highly recommended.

Trip report:

https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... m=tripmine

Clickable high resolution photos:

https://www.summitpost.org/adventures-i ... uel/894764

For the Arequipa area, I'd recommend Incaventura:

http://www.incaventura.com/index.php

Since my climbing only companions were my 9 year old daughter and 11 year old son, we found it a little challenging to find a service. A few we contacted said (even after my explaining the kid's mountaineering experience) they wouldn't take a nine year old girl up a 6000 meter peak that has only been climbed a few times and which had never been attepted by children. Incaventura said that they would try it, given the kids experience, and provided they did fine on some of the practice climbs up some 16ers to 19ers. Of course the kids did fine.

As far as the guiding service, it was an "OK, you have us for two weeks; what do you want to climb?" kind of trip rather than the paint by numbers fixed itinerary that most guided trips use. This allowed us to get off the beaten track and we even discovered a mummy and other inca artifacts on top of one of the peaks. Of course I didn't mention the mummy on the public trip report:

https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... m=tripmine

Clickable higher resolution photos:

https://www.summitpost.org/adventures-i ... uel/894764

Carlos zarate has a good company too, but I haven't used it in a while:

https://www.zarateadventures.com/

This is the service I used when I took my five year old to climb some peaks down there and to cross the Colca Canyon. He was the first gringo kid ever to visit a lot of those areas. It was a great adventure:

https://www.summitpost.org/father-and-s ... eru/378565
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Re: "Next step" peak - South America

Post by Scott P » Sat May 15, 2021 9:22 am

Of note, I consider Jirishanca to be the most beautiful mountain I have seen outside the Himalayas. All sides of the mountain are beautiful and here are some photos I took of both sides:

Jir2.jpg
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Jir1.jpg
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It's worth seeing on the trek even if you don't climb anything in the area. As mentioned, anything in the Huayuash that is over 18K or so is very difficult. We climbed a lot of peaks below 18K that were more reasonable.

Unfortunately, pictures don't do it justice, but it is certainly a beautiful mountain.
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Re: "Next step" peak - South America

Post by Conor » Sat May 15, 2021 10:15 am

we used Hisao Morales if looking at the blanca or huayhuash. we did a custom trip with cook (who helped us navigate to and from base camp, mules and transportation only. We paid ~ $2k in 2018 for 10 days including staying at their guesthouse and there was 3 of us (2 rooms at the guest house). Of course, it can be done for less if you don't take private transportation, cook your own food or hop on an already planned excursion.
https://www.peruvianandes.com/en/about-us/

Everything was on time and as promised but one little thing. Hisao asked if we wanted a private taxi that he would arrange or he could help us take minibuses for a small day trip we were taking. We opted for the private taxi. Well, our driver wasn't there to pick us up after our little hike. Luckily, another driver saw us on the side of the road and asked who we were waiting for. He told us to jump in after calling our driver and that he would take us down. When we told Hisao you could see the steam coming out of his ears, knocked the price down and muttered something like, "these guys need to learn."

We even had one guide (working for another company) come up to us and ask if we were working with Hisao and told us how much he liked working for Hisao. That told me he is fair to all and seems to have respect from both sides.

Easier blanca peaks would be Copa and chopicalqui. Both are 20K+. Ishinca and Urus, which are small subsummits but good outings are good and easy primer to the area. Elevation isn't everything. But, it does have the sexy allure. I went Peru and then the alps. But, the alps offer a unique experience. Lower elevations, more technical, but the approaches aren't as brutal. The huts make things really lux and you can get in some really stunning terrain really quickly. The downside is the cost, cutting out a guide will really help here. But, if you are looking to push boundaries, you don't feel as isolated - glacier travel, "easy" technical ridges to things that seem impossible to me. Just a suggestion if you're really looking to improve your skill set in some stunning terrain.

My alps trip report - https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... m=tripmine
My peru trip report - https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... m=tripmine

So many south american peaks. I'm heavily weighing retiring now and moving the family down there.
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Re: "Next step" peak - South America

Post by Harmit » Sat May 15, 2021 10:33 am

Jirishanca
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Re: "Next step" peak - South America

Post by Trotter » Sat May 15, 2021 3:40 pm

tremont wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 2:10 pm
Hey all -

I'm looking for input on some good "next step" peaks for me as I look to build my experience and comfort on bigger mountains. I've spent the last 5 years building basic mountaineering skills on CO/CA 14ers (summers) and NH White Mountains (winters). I'm looking now to take the next step towards bigger mountains - this summer I'll be taking a guided trip to the Cascades to learn glacier travel skills. I don't have any lofty mountaineering goals or desires to set records - just to gain enough experience to tackle some >20k ft peaks within a few years.

Through research on the forums here, I'm thinking that South America (Peru or Ecuador) would be the logical destination for me. Looking for some input on some moderately challenging peaks with basic objective hazards that are best climbed in the July/August window. I don't mind guided options but am open to unguided as well - I have a great climbing partner that has similar goals/abilities to me.

Thanks in advance!
in 5 years you did 5 14ers in colorado?

I'd get a few of the tougher ones, overnights, etc in before you go to big tough peaks in foreign countries.

ps Orizaba is a good stepping stone to higher peaks.
After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. -Nelson Mandela
Whenever I climb I am followed by a dog called Ego. -Nietzsche
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Re: "Next step" peak - South America

Post by seano » Sat May 15, 2021 4:33 pm

Scott P wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 9:22 am
Of note, I consider Jirishanca to be the most beautiful mountain I have seen outside the Himalayas.
I second that Jirishanca is amazing. It's worth going to the Huayhuash just to hike some lesser peaks and stare at it and Siula Grande. Do it sooner rather than later, as the equatorial glaciers are receding fast.

As for experience on bigger peaks in July/August, I'd look to Canada rather than South America. The Canadian Rockies only go up to a bit under 13k, but the valleys are low and the glaciers are big. The Rockies 11ers can be every bit as serious as 20k' peaks in South America outside the Peruvian Cordilleras, with much simpler logistics. And once you know how your body responds to altitude, there's not much to be gained from experience with it other than the patience to move very slowly.
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