The snow capped mountain of Ishinca is located in the Cordillera Blanca within the Huascaran National Park in the Peruvian Andes. At the bottom of the mountain, the beautiful Ishinca valley hosts stunning several types of flora and fauna (notably The Andean Condor).
The Ishinca summit has an elevation of 5,530 meters. It is an accessible mountain which does not require much experience, great for those beginner mountaineers who would like to experience a glacier for the first time and also perfect for experienced climbers who want to acclimatise before doing more difficult ascents. Although, the difficulty level of this mountains is considered low, the altitude and ascent should not be underestimated. It is best to attempt this at a moderately slow pace.
On this post, I would like to share my experience of completing this 3 day trip, an extraordinary experience to witness the stunning peak of Ishinca mountain and also the surrounding scenery.
Day 1: Huaraz – Collon – Ishinca Base Camp (4350m) – El vivaque Giordano Longoni
We departed from Huaraz to Collon village (3,350m). From there we began our trek into the valley of Ishinca and then arrived at Ishinca base camp (4,350m) after around 4 hours approximately. Many people camp or stay in this first refuge (it has a restaurant, beds, electricity and hot water!).
However, the guys at Akilpo (the travel agency who I did this trek with) suggested to stay at the higher refuge (vivaque Giordano Longoni) at 4,950 metres to make the climb the next day shorter. So we continued on there but not before a nice latte and a snack at the base camp restaurant.
Day 2: Base Camp – Ishinca Summit (5530m)- Back to Base Camp
We got up at around 3am and had a quick breakfast before starting the climb at around 4am. We went up on North west slope (left side as you look at the peak from the refuge). We walked for around an hour before putting on our climbing gear, crampons and roping up. I found the going a bit tough from here and it took another 3 or 4 hours from here to reach the summit.
There was a few steeper sections but there was no need for any technical climbing. There is a final steep section of about 60 metres before the summit (5,530 metres) which is tough.
We spent about half an hour on the summit taking pictures and having some snacks and hot coca tea that my guide had brought! My guide also made some offerings to the mountain and prayed to the mountain gods.
We then started down the south west ridge which I think in the main is less steep but longer. We had amazing views in all directions and I marvelled at the amazing scenery.
Another maybe 2 hours we reached the end of the glacier and then we had another 40 minutes to the refuge for lunch. After this we packed up and returned to the base camp for a nice warm shower, a bottle of wine or two and a big pasta dinner! I went to bed early and I think I fell asleep in about 2 minutes.
Day 3: Ishinca Base Camp – Collon – Huaraz
We got up at about 7am, had a hearty breakfast and began the decent down the Ishinca valley to the town of Collon. Our private taxi was waiting for us and brought us back to Huaraz in the early afternoon.
Information about this trek
How much does it cost? And when is the best time to do it?
It cost $550 American dollars as I completed it on my own. If there are 1 or 2 more people the cost will be less. If you are climbing in the Cordillera Blanca you are required to have a guide or have a Alpine club membership. The best time to do this trek is from May to September in the dry season.
What does it include?
- 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, snacks and 2 dinners.
- Accommodation in both refuges or base camp.
- Mountain guide.
- Climbing gear (Crampons, Harness, ice axe, rope, Helmet etc).
- Cook(my guide cooked)
- Donkeys to carry sleeping bags, cooking equipment, food etc.
- Private transport to and from Huaraz.
- Boiled water to fill your bottle every day.
What is NOT included?
- Entrance fee to the Huascaran national park: 65 soles per person(good for 21 days).
- Alcohol and personal expenses.
What to bring?
- Hiking boots (waterproof ideal) .
- Climbing boots for the summit day as well as ice axe, crampons, harness, warm gloves, gaitors etc which the agency can supply.
- Warm sleeping bag
- Trekking socks (merino wool or bamboo socks)
- Sunglasses, hat and sun lotion
- Waterproof jacket and pants (ideal Gore-Tex or similar)
- Day backpack
- Hiking poles (if needed)
- Bottle of water
- Hat for cold weather
- Basic thermal top and pants as first layer
- Fleece jacket or similar that keeps you warm.
- Trekking pants