‘Touching the void’
This is the title of the book in which the mountaineer Joe Simpson tells the tale of the expedition that almost cost him his life: the ascent of the Siula Grande, a mountain in the Cordillera Huayhuash range. A broken shinbone, a painful descent and several days without food were just some of the hurdles that he overcame.
Legend has it that the gods and masters of the mountains protected its charm, and therefore if you really want to get to know la Cordillera Huayhuash, you must take your time to appreciate it. Various routes are available with different durations, tailored to suit both your pocket and your trekking level: ranging from a 30 kilometre route over 4 days to 12-14 days on the classic route, which is considered to be one of the most spectacular routes in the world. The 120 kilometres of the classic route trek are not for the faint-hearted or amateur trekker as the altitude varies considerably over short distances. Part of its difficulty lies in the altitude of the route, an average height of 4,300 metres above sea level (although two of the most stunning stages reach a height of 5,000 metres) which means that you need to plan at least two days for acclimatisation.
The panoramic view from its snow-covered peaks, its crystal-clear lakes in its valleys and the small Andean villages throughout the entire route puts it in the top ten trekking routes worldwide. This extensive route passes through green meadows and narrow hollows surrounded by mountains such as Yerupaja, the highest point of the Huayhuash range and the second highest mountain in Peru at 6,634 metres. These peaks are heaven for the most daring mountaineers. Both Pumarinri and Diablo Mudo are suitable for climbing, provided that you take good equipment and enlist the help of a mountain guide.
You are allowed to walk the route all year round, although the best time to enjoy the Huayhuash range is between April and September. Regardless of when you go, you should bear in mind that temperatures fluctuate greatly between day and night, ranging from an exhausting heat under the strength of the sun to an almost polar cold when night draws in, so it’s advisable to take warm clothes so that you can enjoy the sight of the mountains at night. Camping beneath the stars can be an unforgettable experience…but only if you are well wrapped up.