One of the most important aspects of mountaineering is exploration. The drive to go where no one has gone before. To explore the wildest corners of our planet while at the same time exploring the depths of ones soul.
Today many climbers go to popular mountains and join lines of people going to the summit, in order to complete a bucket list of peaks. Many lists of peaks exist, the most obvious one being the highest peaks in world, the 14 Eight thousand meter mountains in the Himalayas. To date 43 people have managed to achieve this, 19 of them without using supplementary Oxygen which of course is where the real challenge lies. Then there’s the 7 summits list, the highest peak on each continent. A worldwide tourism circuit that several hundred people have done, since these peaks are not technical. Then there’s a regional list like the Andes Top 10, which to date 16 climbers have done. All of these peaks like Aconcagua are a walk up and not steep. The most objectively dangerous of them being the highest mountain in Peru: Huascaran, which has a large glacier with crevasses but has only one short steeper section.
Everyone climbs for their own reasons, its a highly personal sport. I like exploratory mountaineering and look to climb peaks where my team have the mountain to ourselves, this is always the case in Peru. I like the camaraderie that an expedition into the unknown creates among friends. My desire was to know the Andes of Peru through the mountains, their regions, history and their people. In Peru there are 38 mountain massifs that are higher than 6,000 meters. With 14 more sub peaks there is a total of 52 peaks over six thousand meters.
As of 2020 I have climbed 19 of the 38 six thousand meter mountains in Peru. In 2016 I finished climbing the seven 6,000 meter peaks of the Cusco Region, as a first project since they are my “backyard” peaks.
In 2015 I climbed Mount Huascaran Sur (6,768m/22,199ft) the highest mountain in Peru. After this climb I realized that I had already climbed 4 of the 10 highest peaks in the country: (1) Huascaran, (2) Yerupaja, (5) Ausangate and (10) Salkantay. So why not go for the others? I did some research to find out exactly what the ten highest massifs are and made this list:
(1) Huascaran [6,768m]
(2) Yerupaja [6,634m]
(3) Coropuna [6,425m]
(4) Huandoy [6,395m]
(5) Ausangate [6,384m]
(6) Huantsan [6,370m]
(7) Siula Grande [6,368m]
(8) Chopicalqui [6,354m]
(9) Ampato [6,288m]
(10) Salkantay [6,279m]
Although the North peak of Huascaran is 6,655m and has the 400 meters of prominence from the col with Huascaran South to consider it a separate peak. I prefer to use only the higher peak of the same name for my list. I would also have to bump the much harder Salkantay off the list to include it.
I realized why no climber had climbed the highest peaks already. Half of them (Yerupaja, Huandoy, Huantsan Siula Grande and Salkantay) are very difficult, involving long steep technical climbing and objective dangers. 3 of them (Huascaran, Ausangate, Chopicalqui) are big glaciers with plenty of crevasses. And only the 2 volcanoes (Coropuna and Ampato) are relatively easy. The top 10 are spread out all over Peru with 4 of them being in the Cordillera Blanca Range, 2 in the Huayhuash, 2 in Cusco’s region and 2 in Arequipa’s region.
Each one of these 10 mountains was an unforgettable experience. The more difficult ones tested my determination, having failed and went back to try again. A couple of them were frightening, and presented a fall or other close call. A couple were the longest days I’ve had in the mountains. Sometimes the pieces would fall into place and I would have the right team of friends; the right weather and preparedness to get to the summit in one attempt. A few times I dared to climb these giants all alone.
I finished my list on the 17th of October, 2019 by climbing the easiest of the 10: Volcano Ampato close to Arequipa, which I had been saving for last. Even then the elements did not want to give it up easy, and half of the climb I breathed in sulfur smelling air as the active Volcano Sabancaya thundered out ash cloud nearby. But the wind turned a different direction and my spinning head stopped so I could front point up a 50 degree slope of frozen ash to the summit.
Being a mountain guide in Cusco, Peru for the last 8 years made me become one with the Andean environment, its a lifestyle. Our Guiding, Trekking, Climbing and Tours at Sky High Andes reflect our passion to explore Peru in an exclusive way that sets us apart, just like becoming the first person to climb the 10 highest mountains in Peru.
The mountains of Peru are a magical place. There is no red tape or high fees to climb, making it very affordable compared to popular places today. Come see our exotic country between the Andes and the Amazon!