COVID-19: Current situation

Pisco on the Rocks!

Published by nprace , 28 December 2014, 19h31.

Region: World » Peru
Date of the hike:22 August 2014
Hiking grading: T2 - Mountain hike
Mountaineering grading: PD+
Geo-Tags: PE 
Time: 2 days
Height gain: 1800 m 5904 ft.
Height loss: 1800 m 5904 ft.
Access to start point:Huaraz-Yunguay-Laguna 69 Trailhead - Refugio Peru
Accommodation:Refugio Peru

The Nevado Pisco is a popular entry level tour for climbers in the Cordillera Blanca. It is easily accessible, not all too high and quite easy and affords one of the best viewpoints in the heart of range all while giving an undeniable feeling of a big high altitude mountain. After our 2 weeks Huayhuash Trek we were perfectly acclimatized and very fit and could tackle this beautiful peak in comfort with ideal conditions.

Due to the large amount of information about the Pisco and our experience in the alps we decided to go without a guide. The difficulty of the route is about a WS+...or something like a Weissmiess or Allalinhorn. Route finding is also quite easy due to the large amount of stone cairns leading to the glacier and the clear terrain forms - large saddles, clear obvious ridge. Several large crevasses have to be judiciously crossed however we deemed this is nothing different than in the alps on any normal tour and decided against a guide.
We rented equipment - a snow stake, a couple of ice screws, a 50m rope, ropemen, some slings etc for 30 soles per day from the same operator with which we had organized our Huayhuash Trek.
We also decided, based on the recommendation of a friend to stay at the hut rather than in the morraine camp. This adds some costs - Hut 100 Soles per day per person for full board (Vollpension), but saves the food, tent, fuel and so on that need to be hauled up and you're more flexible if the weather turns bad or your feel less than was our case... For the hut your need only a light sleeping bag because it is heated...more on that later...

Accessing the Pisco is best done by booking a spot on one of the many tourist busses which travel to Laguna 69 from Huaraz. Per person a one way trip costs 25 Soles and takes about 1.5 hours. Buses can be booked at any tour operator as they all work together anyway. Have the bus pick you up at your hotel/hostal otherwise you spend 30 minutes in the bus driving around Huaraz picking up other parties. Upon entering the National Park you will need to pay the 10 Soles entry fee. DO NOT mention that you are going to the Pisco. Just act like you're part of the day group. More on this later.
The trailhead towards the Pisco starts at the 3900m at the same spot as the trailhead towards Laguna 69 and the campsite. The tour buses all stop here beyond the marvelous turquoise Llaganuco Lagunas which sit in the valley under spectacular walls of the Huascaran and Huandoys. The valley resembles to some extent Yosemite...except that the North Wall of Huascaran Norte is nearly 3000m high and surrounded by paper trees.
Locals at the trailhead offer to take your stuff up towards the Pisco for 70 Soles. The climb up is easy and not very steep and with 700m not particularly long so it's up to you. The trail is generally loose and dusty but the views towards Chacraraju, the Chopicalqui and the Huascarans more than make up for the dirt. The landscape as a whole I found was more impressive than the Huayhuash because you're surrounded by the massive peaks rather than only seeing them from one side. Gradually the Pisco appeared above us and the STOKE started to rise. It was beautiful and impressive and very very white and we were both super motivated to tackle this peak.
At 4680 we reached the peruvia run and italian built Refugio Peru which is quite similar to an SAC hut. We talked with a party that had just descended from the Pisco who had excellent conditions and recommended that we traverse the moraines to orient ourselves for the night. We had lunch at the hut and headed up towards the morraines to have a look. So...the morraines and accessing the Pisco glacier is the most dangerous and difficult part of this tour. We first climbed cir. 125m from the hut up the morrraine of the massive glacier descending towards the east off the Huandoy. We then needed to downclimb cir 40 m over very steep and very loose and very crumbly terrain to reach the glacier edge. Here one is very exposed to rock fall. Thereafter one follows a light path and cairns across the boulders covering the glacier and back up the crumbling moraine to the other side. As mentioned, this is the most difficult and dangerous part of the entire climb and it takes about 2.5 hours to reach the Pisco glacier.
The first night we slept poorly and had stomach troubles. Further I kept having dreams of a massive boulder breaking out of the morraine during the downclimb and we were both very nervous for some reason. We decided that we would spend the day at the hut and head up the next day.
After a day of reading we slept well and woke up at 1am and were out of the hut at 2. The night was cool and calm and we got up the morraine fast and this time rappelled down the steepest portion. We were at the base of the glacier in 2.5h from the Hut along with other teams which had started from the morraine camp. It was still dark, but the sky was full of stars and we were feeling strong despite the cold. The first 50m on the glacier are quite steep and we went with on a short rope. Thereafter the glacier flattens out and we could follow an excellent track to the saddle. Just beyond the saddle, the sun started to rise and one of the most impressive mountain spectacles I've seen started as the Huandoy and Artesonraju lit up. We were very fit and quite fast and above 5500m tackled the last 250m of the climb in 40min arriving at 8am on the summit...alone with no wind and could finally warm up our chilled feet. The surrounding peaks are extraordinary. 1000m high spine walls sink into the depths the extent of the glaciers is marvelous to see. All around us was a panorama unlike any I have seen before. We were both massively STOKED!
After nearly 1h on the summit we began the descent and 4 hours later finally arrived at the hut after crossing the boulder glacier and climbing up the crumbling morraine again. We were tired and very happy. We spent one more night in the hut and headed down the next day with a basque couple and their guide and arrived in Huaraz the same evening. 4 weeks of Peru had come to a close and we had done everything we wanted to. 

Conditions and Annoyances
The Pisco is an easy mountain which can be done by anyone having done a 4000er in the alps on the his or her own. It is however cold and high. The temperatures were about -10°C at the saddle and colder still on the summit...thankfully there was no wind. Our alpine boots with double socks and long thermal underwear, down jackets, double gloves and thick hats and hoods and walking fast were just enough to stay comfortable during the ascent. When we stopped to eat or drink we were shivering in a few minutes. Higher CB mountains should be attacked only with good high altitude thermal gear.
Access: In the hut there was a french couple who had wanted to head up the Pisco. They had unfortunately found out at the park entrance that their 'guide' was not really a guide but rather a 'guide accompagnateur'...something of a guide assistant. The consequence was that suddenly they were refused access to the national park and had to leave all the mountaineering equipment - crampons, ice axe, harness etc. at the gate in order to enter. Subsequently, they got another 'guide' who also turned out not to be a real mountain guide. Apparently, a rule was introduced that no one is allowed to enter the national park without a guiding agency being responsible for them...which means that you must have a real guide. We heard this from the french couple and from the guide of the basque couple. We did NOT hear anything from our agency or at the hut...meaning that this "rule" is bullshit and should not be taken seriously. There are thousands of privately organized climbers in the CB and none of them have anything to do with guiding agencies. However, if you plan on climbing in the Cordillera Blanca and feel you don't need a guide just don't say anything at the entrance gate as to your intentions and travel into the park when possible with a larger pre-organized group. DO NOT leave anything at the gate despite what they may say because you may never see it again.
Hut: The hut is comfortable and warm. The noon meal and dinner are good, but the breakfast is a horrible. It apparently is a non profit organization which donates all revenues to the local mountain villages.  I have to some extent doubt the charitable intentions of the hut because there were two families with about 8 people living in the hut and they had 3 massive loaves of bread on the breakfast table while the guests get 1 tiny bun. The breakfast is completely unsuitable for a mountaineering hut: 1 piece of break with jam and a tea. If you stay at the hut, bring up a bunch of cereal bars, nuts, chocolate and so on from Huaraz, because 15 minutes after breakfast I was hungry again. Further the hut is extremely smoky and the peruvians apparently don't know how to properly operate or don't care to change the oven. The water in our camel backs tasted of smoke the entire day. Further the peruvian crew at the hut had no clue as to the surrounding terrain. We had originally wanted to descend via the Laguna 69 back to the road. The girl at the hut had told us its a easy 2 hours descending walk to the lake. The guide of the basque climbers told us that it is 4-5 hours with at least 400m elevation gain and redescent and that he would not recommend it with the heavy bags. DON'T LISTEN TO THE INFORMATION OF THE PERUVIANS AT THE HUT. TALK TO A GUIDE.

Despite the annoyances, the Pisco as a fantastic climb and a beautiful culmination of our Peru trip and highly recommended to the all climbers in the Cordillera Blanca.

Hut to glacier: 2.5h
Glacier to Summit 3.5 h
Summit to hut: 4 hours.

Hike partners: nprace

Click to draw, click on the last point to end drawing


Open in a new window · Open in this window

T4- PD
26 Jul 18
Nevado Pisco · Becks
T4 PD+
15 Aug 16
Nevado Pisco und Laguna 69 · frmat
T4- AD+

Comments (3)

Post a comment

Clariden says: Weg zur Laguna 69
Sent 2 September 2018, 23h43
Also da lag die Wahrheit auch zwischen den beiden Angaben: Zeitlich hatte der guide sicher recht, dass das so um die 4-5 h dauert. Aber dass der Weg mit schweren Rucksäcken nicht zu empfehlen sei gilt für sehr unerfahrene Bergänger, mit denen er in der Cordillera sicher manchmal konfontriert ist. Für Leute die den Pisco selbstständig besteigen, ist der Weg vom Refugio Peru zur Laguan 69 kein wirkliches Problem, für einen hart gesottenen Steilwandfahrer wie dich schon gar nicht. So T3 oder vielleicht kurz mal T4.

nprace says: RE:Weg zur Laguna 69
Sent 3 September 2018, 12h27
Jup. Habe ich inzwischen ein paar ähnlichen Angaben zu dieser Route gesehen. Wäre sicherlich kein Thema gewesen aber wir haben es nicht zu stark bereut...
Auf jeden Fall danke für die Ergänzung.

Clariden says: Parkzugang
Sent 3 September 2018, 08h47
Hilfreich kann dabei ein Alpenvereinsausweis sein. Trotzdem ist es wahrscheinlich besser, wie du sagst, nicht von Bergsteigen zu sprechen, sondern von Wanderung. 2016 war das jedenfalls unproblematisch, wenn ich mich recht erinnere, habe ich das Ticket gelöst ohne irgendwelche Nachfragen.


Post a comment»