Huantsan, Peru

Altitude Junkies offer one of the most cost-effective full-service expeditions on Huantsan. Our expedition is limited to nine climbers with a 1:3 guide to climber ratio.

As well as being a serious high altitude climb of a very prestigious Cordillera Blanca peak with a summit at nearly 6,400 meters (21,000 feet), we use this expedition as a preparation expedition for those climbers wishing to climb on the 8,000-meter peaks such as Manaslu and Cho Oyu in the future. We will review all the techniques and skills needed to make the transition to the larger ranges of the Himalayas whilst acclimatizing in Huaraz and climbing on Huanstan.



Veteran Himalayan expedition organizer Phil Crampton will lead the Huantsan expedition. The assistant leaders will be Pasang Ongcho Sherpa and Kami Neru Sherpa. Both these Sherpas have many expeditions to 8,000-meter peaks including multiple ascents of Everest and Manaslu. Pasang is one of the few fully certified UIAGM Sherpas and is our Everest and Manaslu climbing sirdar.


High Altitude Porters

The expedition will be supported by several high altitude porters, including Alex and Carlos, our regular porters, who will assist the team with carrying the group gear to the respective camps. Members will only be required to carry their own personal gear and snacks during the expedition.


The Trek

Our expedition will meet in the capital city of Lima, Peru. From Lima we drive by private bus for roughly seven hours to Huaraz where we will stay in our favorite funky hotel, Casa de Zarella, for three nights. After our cautious acclimatization schedule in Huaraz, which includes visiting the fine local restaurants, we make the short one hour drive to the trail head in the village of Jancu. Once we have organized our porter loads we will trek the three hours to base camp that is located at an elevation of 4,300 meters (14,110 feet).


Climb Strategy

This expedition is a shorter version of a full-scale Himalayan expedition and we establish our permanent base camp, which is very luxurious for Peruvian expedition standards. Each member will have their own personal sleeping tent as this will be our home for the next several evenings. Our head cook Juvencio will take care of us with his culinary skills whilst we focus on the climbing and our rest days at base camp will be spent discussing gear and techniques needed for the climbs of the 8,000-meter peaks.

Rather than using a smaller peak nearby to acclimatize on we prefer to use the old adage of climbing high and sleeping low to let our bodies adjust to the higher elevations of each camp. This is the preferred method of most expeditions on the 8,000-meter giants and we use a similar strategy on Huantsan.

After taking a rest day at base camp for acclimatization reasons and to review glacier travel skills we start the climb proper the following day by making a load carry to the moraine camp at 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) which is located at the edge of the glacier. We then return to base camp for another two evenings for cautious acclimatization. The following day we move up to the moraine camp. Our first foray onto the glacier sees us move up to camp one located at an elevation of 5,500 meters (18,045 feet) which we utilize as an advanced base camp. We then return to base camp in anticipation of our Nepal Sherpa fixing the route where necessary. After resting at base camp we plan to climb to camp one directly, then to camp two at 5,900 meters (19,360 feet) where we will launch our summit bid from. We plan to spend the night at camp two or camp one, depending on conditions and team strength after the summit push, before returning to base camp and hopefully the customary celebrations. We have allocated two contingency days in case we encounter bad weather.


The Route

We have elected to climb the only established normal route on Huantsan by the Northwest and North Ridge. There have been very few ascents of this peak in the past due to the logistics involved due to its location.

The climb from base camp sees us head up the valley on the right hand side on the moraine to the moraine camp which is located at 5,000 meters (16,400 feet).

From the moraine camp we climb a steep hillside zigzagging up ramps until reaching the top of the rock slabs, where we can access the glacier. We rope up and will pace aluminum ladders over any large unpassble crevasses reaching camp one which is located at the foot of Northwest Ridge at an elevation of 5,500 meters (18,045 feet).

From camp one we ascend the Northwest Ridge at an angle of 45 degrees, steepening to 50 degrees, then dropping off in steepness until reaching the fore summit of Huantsan Norte at an elevation of 5,950 meters (19,520 feet). We may elect to place camp two just past the fore summit on the broad ridge at 5,900 meters (19,360 feet) or continue to the summit of Huantsan Norte at 6,113 meters (20,055 feet) and then placing a camp two as we descend to the col between Huantsan Norte and Huantsan at an elevation of 6,050 meters (19,850 feet) where the col broadens.

From the col the crux of the climb is encountered. The final 350 meters (1,150 feet) involves 60 degree snow and ice with several snow ribs and rock steps being climbed during the last 150 meters (495 feet) to the summit. We will place fixed ropes on this section as well as any other exposed sections on the climb.

We will most likely spend the night at camp two or camp one on the descent returning to base camp the following day.


Himalayan Expedition Preparation Topics

During the expedition we will discuss and demonstrate the techniques that are used on many 7,000 and 8,000-meter expeditions. We will cover the following topics during rest days at base camp throughout the expedition:

Crevasse Crossing - Similar to the Khumbu Icefall on Everest we will demonstrate at base camp the placement of aluminum ladders spanning large crevasses for safe travel. We will review the techniques for crossing the ladders as well as their placement.
Fixed Rope Travel - As on most 8,000-meter peaks we will place fixed ropes at base camp and practice the techniques for safe ascending and descending.
Avalanche Transceiver Use - On Altitude Junkies expeditions members wear an avalanche beacon, carry a probe and shovel and we will demonstrate the proper use and rescue techniques for avalanche extraction.
Two-way Radios - All members carry a two-way radio and we practice the proper radio protocol whilst climbing these peaks.
High Altitude Gear - We cover all the gear needed such as down suits, insulated mitts and high altitude boots as well as different sleeping systems to reduce weight carried on the high peaks.
High Altitude Medicine - We explore our base camp medical chests as well as the individual micro medical kits that each climber carries above base camp. We discuss high altitude ailments and how to prevent and cure them.
Supplementary Climbing Oxygen - We practice with the Summit Oxygen system and discuss flow rates and times.
Weather Forecasts - We use the professional meteorological services of Michael Fagin from West Coast Weather LLC., and discus weather patterns and forecasts and study charts from previous 8,000-meter expeditions.
Camp Management - How to keep the high camps manageable and comfortable for a good nights rest at altitude.
High Altitude Foods - We discuss and practice with different high altitude foods throughout the expedition to discover what works for your personal appetite at high altitudes.



We provide medical oxygen, a portable altitude chamber and comprehensive medical chests at base camp. The higher camps also have medical kits and we also ask that all climbers carry individual micro high altitude medical kits at all times above base camp as the local guides and leader does. All climbing members and high altitude porters wear a personal avalanche beacon above moraine camp.



Our satellite phones and satellite internet modems are available for our team members to use at base camp and on the trek at actual cost price as we feel charging an outrageous amount to phone or email family is unfair during an expedition. All climbing members, guides and local staff carry a personal two-way radio at all times above base camp.


Weather Forecasts

Our satellite phones and satellite internet modems are available for our team members to use at base camp and on the trek at actual cost price as we feel charging an outrageous amount to phone or email family is unfair during an expedition. All climbing members, guides and local staff carry a personal two-way radio at all times above base camp.

Altitude Junkies does not allow any solo climbing above base camp on any of our expeditions.

Photo credits: Huantsan as seen at sunrise from Ishinca - John Medlow. The route and campsites courtesy of Google Earth, 2014.

The expedition cost includes:
· Single accommodation in Lima and shared in Huaraz as itinerary
· All transportation in Peru as itinerary
· Mules for personal gear to base camp and return
· Breakfast, lunch and dinner at base camp
· Park fees, highway and conservation fees
· Individual base camp tents
· Group climbing equipment, stoves and fuel
· Medical kits, portable altitude chamber and medical oxygen
· High altitude freeze-dried meals
· Satellite phone and satellite internet use at cost price
The expedition cost does not include:
· Airfare to and from Peru
· Meals and drinks in Lima and Huaraz
· Alcoholic beverages
· Peru visa cost if applicable
· Evacuation costs, medical and rescue insurance
· Personal climbing clothing and equipment
· Staff gratuities

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