Santa Cruz Ulta Trek & Pisco
Timing: 10 days Trek & Climb, add an optional rest day in Huaraz extra
Pisco Climb: 5753m (18875 ft)
Grades: Trek / moderate to hard
Pisco Climb / PD / Moderate snow climbs – Beginner suitable – physically hard
Combine a 6 day trek of the spectacular Santa Cruz Ulta trail with a 4 day climb of Pisco mountain. The trek follows the well known Santa Cruz Trail for 3 days, but on the fourth day moves into another valley that is less frequented and feels more remote. Pisco is an achievable climb for anyone who is well acclimatised and fit. It is a suitable climb for beginner climbers and is also a rewarding climb for experienced climbers. Although Pisco is a beginner suitable peak, the climb is physically demanding and you do need to have good fitness and be strong. The 6 day trek with crossing two high passes and a final night sleeping at a high campsite provide good acclimatisation for the climbing days.
Nelly (USA) Santa Cruz trek & Pisco climb said: The santa cruz trek was a fantastic and beautiful way to acclimatize for our pisco climb. I loved every moment of the trek, from the great food to the quality tents and equipment, and of course the expertise our guide Rodolfo gave along the way, from describing the surrounding mountains,to the history behind the small villages we visited. The pisco climb: Again was filled with much challenge, but tempered with relaxation at camp, and good meals to fuel our summit attempt. I could not be happier with the service provided by both our guide Rodolfo and our cook estevan.
Day 1: Drive from Huaraz to Cashapampa 2800m 3 hours. We meet our donkey drivers, load all equipment onto donkeys and start trekking. We hike continuously upwards following the Santa Cruz river, first we are in a narrow canyon and then after lunch the country opens up into a wider valley and we start to see the snow covered peaks. We camp in an open field near the river at Llamacorral 3750m 5 hours.
Day 2: An easier day hiking in a wide open valley. We pass by two small lakes and then we have our first glimpse of the famous Alpamayo peak. We camp at Taullipampa 4250m, a beautiful campsite surrounded by towering peaks and nestled near the bottom of Punta Union Pass. 4 hours.
Optional extra day: Stay another night at beautiful Taullipampa campsite. Options to visit Alpamayo Base Camp, Lake Arhuaycocha, climb Centillo Peak 5000m or have a rest day.
Day 3: Climb steadily up for 2 to 3 hours to the pass Punta Union 4750m then descend past a small alpine lake where we often stop for picnic lunch. Continue the descent towards the Huaripampa Valley before leaving the main trail and traversing through low bush to our camp in a secluded valley away from the main trail at Paria 3850m. 7 hours
Day 4: At first we walk easily down the Huaripampa Valley passing through farming settlements and villages to Colcabamba where we meet a lot of local people and especially children who come running to greet us. . We then climb gently to camp by a stream at Molino Pampa in the Quebrada Keshu 3600m. 6 to 7 hours.
Day 5: A short day where we climb steadily upwards to a high campsite on a plateau perched on the mountainside called Avalanche Campsite at 4650m. 4 hours. Spend the afternoon watching avalanches crash down from the glacier on the opposite side of the valley
Day 6: A climb of around 2 hours to the high and narrow pass of Punta Yanayacu (4850m) where we have close views of the glaciers on Nevado Contrahierbas and the massive peaks of Chopicalqui and Huascarán. Then descend to Quebrada Ulta where our private van will be waiting to return us to Huaraz.
Day 7: REST DAY in Huaraz and prepare for climbing, recommended but can be omitted
Day 8: Drive from Huaraz to Cebollapampa in Llanganuco Valley 3850m. Gear is loaded onto donkeys and we climb on a good path to Pisco Base Camp. 4650m 2½ hours.
Day 9: Climb over moraine rocks to Morena Camp. The route is over large moraine rock and is steep in places. Donkeys cannot come this way. Porters carry the tents, climbing rope, food and cooking equipment, but you need to carry your own personal gear. 4900m 3 hours.
Day 10: 40 minutes climb on moraine to the glacier, then on the snow for about 4 to 5 hours to the summit. For most of the route, it is not overly steep or technically difficult, although the altitude does make it a challenge. There are occasional short steep sections and hard ice, or possibly a crevasse which the guides will help you to negotiate around. Return to Base Camp mid afternoon. About 10 to 12 hours total for the day.
Day 11: An easy descent down to the road at Cebollapampa 1½ hours and return to Huaraz in our private van.
Add a day: If you spend the extra day at Taullipampa camp
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