Friday, 17 June 2016

Huascaran



    

Huascarán is the highest mountain in Peru, and the fifth highest in South America. The continent's four higher mountains are all located further south along the Chile-Argentina crest, so Huascarán towers dominantly among its peers. Its two extinct volcanic summits (the lower north peak is 21,830 ft.) are separated by a huge deep saddle, upon which a hut now sits. The mountain is both high and massive, its huge flanks covered in steep, broken glaciers. In 1962 a hanging glacier broke from the mountain's northern flank, killing 6,000 people in the village of Ranrahirca. In 1970, a similar fate fell upon the villages of Yungay, Huaraz, and Aija, which were wiped out by earthquake-triggered avalanches from the mountain. Fifteen members of a Czech expedition were climbing Huascarán at the time, and were among the thousands dead. Many climbers have also been killed by icefall in the area between the two peaks. Technically, Huascarán is actually one of the easiest climbs in the Cordillera Blanca, though its ever-present hazards -- icefall, avalanche, and crevasse -- must not be overlooked. Huascarán's lower north summit was first climbed in 1908 by Annie Peck, making it one of the few major peaks in the world to be first ascended by a woman. The higher south peak remained unclimbed for 24 years after Peck's south peak ascent. Both peaks are climbed via the saddle that separates them, and the panorama from the top is unequaled. The lower north peak is less crowded, and is a slightly more difficult climb.