Last updated
Huascarán as viewed from Callejón de Huaylas
Highest point
Elevation 6,768 m (22,205 ft) [1]
Prominence 2,776 m (9,108 ft) [2]
Isolation 2,196 km (1,365 mi)  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Listing Country high point
Coordinates 09°07′18″S77°36′15″W / 9.12167°S 77.60417°W / -9.12167; -77.60417 Coordinates: 09°07′18″S77°36′15″W / 9.12167°S 77.60417°W / -9.12167; -77.60417 [2]
Peru physical map.svg
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Location Yungay, Peru
Parent range Cordillera Blanca
Age of rock Cenozoic
Mountain type Granite
First ascent Huascarán Sur: 20 July 1932 - Huascarán Norte: 2 September 1908
Easiest route glacier/snow/ice climb

Huascarán (Spanish pronunciation:  [waskaˈɾan] ) (Quechua: Waskaran) or Mataraju is a mountain in the Peruvian province of Yungay (Ancash Department), situated in the Cordillera Blanca range of the western Andes. The highest southern summit of Huascarán (Huascarán Sur) is the highest point in Peru, the northern Andes (north of Lake Titicaca), and in all of the earth's Tropics. Huascarán is the fourth highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere and South America after Aconcagua, Ojos del Salado, and Monte Pissis, respectively.



Until the 20th century, the mountain lacked a single commonly accepted name but it was rather known by different names within the surrounding towns and villages, the first recorded mention of the name Huascaran appeared in 1850 as Huascan, [3] name given by the local people likely because the mountain rises above the village of Huashco, Huashco getting its name from the Quechua word for rope (waska), name popularized by Antonio Raimondi, [4] a famous historical figure in Peru. At the beginning of the 20th century, the name appeared as Huascarán, a form which has not since changed. [5] It seems that the name Huascarán is merely a contraction of Huashco-Urán. When the mountain was mentioned, it was thought of in connection with the village and was called Huashco-Urán or “Beyond and down from the village of Huashco.” [6]

Other names given to the mountain were Matarao and Mataraju, Mataraju being the name by which the local indigenous inhabitants prefer to call the mountain, [7] from Ancash Quechua mata (twin) and rahu (snow peak), meaning 'twin snow peaks'.


The mountain has two distinct summits, the higher being the south one (Huascarán Sur) with an elevation of 6,768 metres (22,205 ft). [1] The north summit (Huascarán Norte) has an elevation of 6,654 meters (21,831 ft). [1] The two summits are separated by a saddle (called 'Garganta'). The core of Huascarán, like much of the Cordillera Blanca, consists of Cenozoic era granite. [8]

Huascarán gives its name to Huascarán National Park which surrounds it, and is a popular location for trekking and mountaineering. The Huascarán summit is one of the points on the Earth's surface farthest from the Earth's center, [9] closely behind the farthest point, Chimborazo in Ecuador. [1]

The summit of Huascarán is the place on Earth with the smallest gravitational force. [10]


Huascarán is normally climbed from the village of Musho to the west via a high camp in the col that separates the two summits, known as La Garganta. The ascent normally takes five to seven days, the main difficulties being the large crevasses that often block the route. [11] The normal route is of moderate difficulty and rated between PD and AD (depending on the conditions of the mountain) according to the International French Adjectival System.

On July 20, 2016, nine climbers were caught in an avalanche on Huascarán's normal route at approximately 5,800 m (19,000 ft), four of whom died. [12]


The summit of Huascarán Sur was first reached on 20 July 1932 by a joint German Austrian expedition. [13] The team followed what would become later the normal route (named today Garganta route). The north peak (Huascarán Norte) had previously been climbed on 2 September 1908 by a U.S. expedition that included Annie Smith Peck, [14] albeit this first ascent is somewhat disputed.

In 1989, a group of eight amateur mountaineers, the "Social Climbers", held what was recognised by the Guinness Book of Records (1990 edition) to be "the world's highest dinner party" on top of the mountain, as documented by Chris Darwin and John Amy in their book The Social Climbers, and raised £10,000 for charity. [15] [16]

Huascarán Norte

Apart from the normal route, climbed in 1908 and rated PD+/AD-, all the other routes are committing and serious.

  1. Northwest ridge ('Italian' route), rated ED1/ED2 climbed on 25 July 1974 by E. Detomasi, C. Piazzo, D. Saettone and T. Vidone.
  2. Northwest face ('Polish-Czech' variant), rated ED1/ED2, climbed on 14 July 1985 by B. Danihelkova, Z. Hoffmanova, A. Kaploniak, E. Parnejko and E. Szczesniak.
  3. North face ('Paragot' route), rated ED1, climbed on 10 July 1966 by R. Paragot, R. Jacob, C. Jacoux and D. Leprince-Ringuet.
  4. North face ('Swiss' route), rated ED2+, climbed on 23 May 1986 by D. Anker and K. Saurer. This route requires at least four days on the face.
  5. North face ('Spanish' route), rated ED2+, climbed on 20 July 1983 by J. Moreno, C. Valles and J. Tomas.

Huascarán Sur

As for the South summit, apart from the normal route all the others are difficult.

  1. West ridge ('Shield' route), rated D+, climbed on 15 June 1969 by W. Broda, S. Merler and B. Segger. Approach as for the Garganta route but after the route develops over the knife-edge West ridge before getting to the summit icefield.
  2. West ridge direct ('Lomo fino' route), rated TD-, was climbed on 7 July 2007 by M. Ybarra and S. Sparano. Approach as for the Garganta route but after the route develops straight over the West face.
  3. Northeast ridge ('Spanish' route), rated TD+, was climbed on 18 July 1961 by F. Mautino, P. Acuna, A. Perez and S. Rivas. The route starts from Chopicalqui col, takes across the upper part of the Matara glacier and reaches the northeast ridge developing across cornices and snow mushrooms.

1970 earthquake

Photograph taken after the 1970 avalanche showing the buried towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca Yungay avalanche labels.jpg
Photograph taken after the 1970 avalanche showing the buried towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca

On 31 May 1970, the Ancash earthquake caused a substantial part of the north side of the mountain to collapse in an avalanche with an estimated 80 million cubic metres (2.8 billion cubic feet) of ice, mud and rock, measured about 0.8 by 1.6 kilometres (0.5 mi × 1 mi). It advanced about 18 km (11 mi) at an average speed of 280 to 335 km/h (175 to 210 mph), [17] burying the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca under ice and rock, killing more than 20,000 people. [18] [19] At least 20,000 people were also killed in Huaraz, site of a 1941 avalanche (see Palcacocha Lake). [20] Estimates suggest that the earthquake killed over 66,000 people. [21] [22] The final toll was 67,000 dead and 800,000 homeless, making this the worst earthquake-induced disaster in the Western Hemisphere.

Also buried by an avalanche was a Czechoslovak mountaineering team, none of whose 15 members were ever seen again. [23] This and other earthquake-induced avalanche events are often described[ by whom? ] evocatively as "eruptions" of Huascarán, despite not being of volcanic origin.

An earlier avalanche on January 10, 1962, caused by a rapid rise in temperature, [20] killed an estimated 4,000 people. [24]

See also


Related Research Articles

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Huandoy or Tullparaju is a mountain located inside Huascarán National Park in Ancash, Peru. It is the second-tallest peak of the Cordillera Blanca section of the Andes, after Huascarán. These two peaks are rather nearby, separated only by the Llanganuco glacial valley at 3,846 m asl.

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Huantsán,Huantsan or Tunsho is a mountain in the Andes of Peru. It is located in Ancash Region and is part of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, a sub-range of the Andes. It has four peaks, with a maximum elevation of 6,369 metres (20,896 ft) above sea level.

Tuco (mountain)

Tuco,Tuku,Tucu or Huanaco Punta is a mountain in the Andes in South America. Its summit is 5,479 m (17,976 ft)) high and it is one of the southernmost peaks in the snow-capped Cordillera Blanca in northwestern central Peru. Tuco is located in the Ancash Region, Bolognesi Province, Aquia District and in the Recuay Province, Catac District. It is situated northeast of Caullaraju, between Challhua in the west and Pastoruri in the east.


Chacraraju or Chakraraju is a mountain in the Cordillera Blanca in the Andes range of Peru. The mountain has two distinctive peaks Chacraraju Oeste and Chacraraju Este. Chacraraju is located in the Ancash Region, Huaylas Province, Caraz District, and in the Yungay Province, Yungay District. It lies south and southeast of Pirámide. Lake Parón and the little Lake Chacra lie northwest of the mountain. The peak is accessible from the Pisco base camp at Cebollapampa.


Ranrapalca is a mountain in the Cordillera Blanca range in the Andes of Peru. It has an elevation of 6,162 m (20,217 ft). It is located in the region of Ancash, east of Ocshapalca.


Tocllaraju is a mountain in the Cordillera Blanca in the Andes of Peru, about 6,034 m (19,797 ft) high. It is situated in the Ancash Region, Carhuaz Province, Aco District, and in the Huaraz Province, Tarica District. Tocllaraju lies north-west of the mountains Pukaranra and Palcaraju.


Yanapaccha is a mountain in the Cordillera Blanca in the Andes of Peru, about 5,460 metres (17,913 ft) high. It is situated in the Ancash Region, Yungay Province, in the districts Yanama and Yungay. Yanapaccha lies in the Huascarán National Park, southeast of Chacraraju.

Pirámide (mountain)

Pirámide, also called Pirámide de Garcilaso or Pirámide de Garcilazo, is a mountain in the Cordillera Blanca in the Andes of Peru, about 5,885 metres (19,308 ft) high. It is located in the Ancash Region, Huaylas Province, Caraz District as well as in the Yungay Province, Yanama District. Pirámide lies inside Huascarán National Park, southeast of Caraz and Artesonraju and north of Chacraraju, at the very end of the Lake Parón valley.


Contrahierbas, also called Yanarraju or Ruricocha, is a mountain in the Cordillera Blanca in the Andes of Peru, about 5,954 metres (19,534 ft) high. It is situated in the Ancash Region in the provinces Asunción, Carhuaz and Yungay. Contrahierbas is located inside Huascarán National Park, northeast of Hualcán.

Urus (mountain)

Urus, also known as Yanaraju, is a 5,423-metre-high (17,792 ft) mountain in the Cordillera Blanca in the Andes of Peru. It located between Carhuaz and Huaraz provinces, in Ancash. Urus lies in Huascarán National Park, west of Tocllaraju.


Vicos or Paccharuri is a 5,315 m (17,438 ft) high mountain in the Cordillera Blanca in the Andes of Peru. It is situated in the Ancash Region, Carhuaz Province, Marcara District. Paccharuri lies in the Huascarán National Park, southwest of Copa and southeast of Lake Lejiacocha.

Puchkayuq Punta

Puchkayuq Punta is a mountain in the Cordillera Blanca in the Andes of Peru which reaches a height of approximately 4,800 m (15,748 ft). It is located in the Ancash Region, Yungay Province, Yungay District, northwest of Huascarán.


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