Explorers Connect

Powering an Adventure Revolution

Report of the activities carried out by a Geoscientific, mountaineering and photographic expedition to Peru

Trip ReportJames Hipkiss

The expedition aimed to observe and document landscape changes in Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash of Peru, focusing on glacial and vegetation cover as well as human parameters.

The method used was repeat photography, an analytical tool capable of broadly and rapidly providing clarifications regarding landscape and land use changes within a given region (Byers, 2000). This was accompanied by interviews with local people and academic staff from the University of Edinburgh as well as reference to academic literature. The base material used for this research were historic photographs taken by the German and Austrian Alpenverein Expeditions in 1932, 1936 and 1939 as well as by F.D Ayers for the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder Colorado.

Our comparisons show changes in native and non-native forest cover, extensive glacier recession, hydrological changes, urban expansion, increase in mining activity with contaminating effects on the local soil and water resources, and an increase in pollution due to extensive trekking activities. The expedition also aimed to climb in pure alpine style: Alpamayo 5947m, Huascaran 6768m and Yerupaja 6617m or Jirishanca 6126m peaks, depending on conditions. Due to logistic challenges as well as high objective hazards, the expedition members Aurel Salasan and Sergiu Jiduc managed to climb Alpamayo via the French Direct Route, Yerupaja via the West Face up to 6250m and Artesonraju 6026m via the South East Face instead of Huascaran. Besides the historic photographic reproduction, the expedition has managed to produce a large number of photographs showing geologic, geographic and geomorphic features such as: glaciers, flooding, mountain building, metamorphism and erosion, anthropic development and exploitation of the environment as well as photographs showing cultural and sporting aspects.

All expedition activities and areas visited have been video recorded. Introduction The destination area of our expedition, Cordillera Blanca (CB) and Cordillera Huayhuash (CH), are the most prominent mountains ranges in all of Peru. CB is a straight mountain chain, 180km long, with NNW to SSE direction, running parallel to the coast from 85 S to 10 S latitude. It also forms the main watershed. From a geologic perspective, CB is made of plutonic rocks that have penetrated into the layers of the Earths crust. These rocks consist mainly of light color granodiorite (intrusive igneous rock containing more plagioclase than orthoclase type feldspar), which can be found in the glaciated areas, forming the base of the peaks. Stratified rocks such as black slate (foliated, homogenous, metamorphic rock) surround the granodiorite. These seem folded and strongly compressed towards the crests (Kinzl and Schneider, 1950). Cordillera Blanca offers some of the best mountaineering in South America. Its advantageous position in relation to traffic routes and exceptional bold, high summits make CB an accessible high altitude climb.

From a climate perspective, CB has a tropical climate with two main seasons (dry and wet) alternating according to the distribution of rainfall. The rainy season begins in November and ends in April reaching its greatest intensity in January to March. The dry season occupies the other months and it is the best season to visit the two cordilleras. Cordillera Huayhuash is a compact sub region of Cordillera Occidental, 30km long with NNW to SSE direction, running fairly parallel to the coast from 108 S to 1024 S latitude. It contains sharp summits, six of which exceed 6000m. The geology of Huayhuash comprises limestone, interbedded with sandstone and shale. Volcanic activity is also present under the forms of cinder cones, hydrothermal alteration (sulphate minerals and iron oxide) and vertical hexagonal columns comprising lithic tuff. In some limestone beds, marine fossils such as ammonites and bivalves can be found. CH is home to some of the most spectacular and difficult alpine climbing in all of the Andes as well as one of the best treks in the word, known as the Great Huayhaush Trek (Frimer, 2003). The Deutscher und Osterreichischer Alpenverein (DuOAV) expeditions, created the world-renowned Alpenverein maps, using terrestrial photogrammetry from mid to high altitude photopoints. Moreover, thousands of glass negative plates and Leica photographs were also produced.

These historic landscape photographs provide a unique opportunity to qualitatively document contemporary landscape changes (Byers, 2000) The maps below show details regarding the photo locations and transportation links for the main research area, Cordillera Blanca as well as the trekking route in Cordillera Huayhuash. Fieldwork and Research Our expedition managed to reproduce 21 pairs of photographs. 11 of which are shown here in greater detail. Please see the following website for a more detailed presentation of our research. peruexpedition2012.tumblr.com/post/40098458420/fieldwork-and-research Adventurous activities Mountaineering was the main adventurous activity carried out during the expedition. The initial expedition climbing objectives included the ascent of Alpamayo 5947m, Huascaran 6768m and Yerupaja 6617m or Jirishanca 6126m, depending on conditions. Acclimatization was the first step we took in order to successfully climb these mountain peaks. For this purpose, the first 10 days of the expedition were spent in Cordillera Negra and Cordillera Blanca accommodating to the effects of high altitude. During this time, we trekked 40km along Cohup valley starting at an altitude of 3850m and ending at 5035m. Before Cohup valley, we made three visits up to 4000m in Cordillera Negra reproducing Alpenverein panoramas of Cordillera Blanca.

After discussing logistics with our contact in Peru and experienced mountain guide, Christian Silva Lindo, we realised that in order to be more efficient from both a mountaineering and field research perspective, it was better to climb Artesonraju instead of Huascaran. The latter was situated at the head of Quebrada Parron, a valley where we had several photographic objectives. Moreover, some sources consider Artensoraju to be the source of inspiration for the Paramount Logo, as the two are strikingly similar. From Laguna Paron 4150m, we crossed the north side of the lake and set the first camp at an area known as Timber Camp situated in a small pampa at the East end of the lake. There was an Italian team with porters already camped there. The following morning, we continued our journey by ascending the moraine crest through some steep grassy lopes, and skirting left of some smooth slabs before going up a couloir and scree terraces to the glacier edge. Moraine camp was set an altitude of 4840m. The next day, we crossed the Paron Glacier and some fairly dangerous crevasses at the East end of the glacier and set a high camp at 5200m under a serac. We left around 05:30 for the final ascent: 825m level difference of 45 -55 packed snow and ice climbing with some sections of mixt terrain, D+.

We approached the bergschrund between the seracs on the right and the mixed ground on the left of the face. Below us, 4 head torches were advancing fast a group of Tyrolese climbers were attempting the same route. Being for the first time at 5500m in this expedition, we were feeling the altitude effects: headaches, suffocation sensations and tiredness. Around noon, the clouds started to cover the surrounding mountain peaks and soon a complete whiteout prevented us seeing more than 30m in front of us. Moreover, the last 100m of the ascent were mainly on hard, sometimes brittle ice, 60-80 inclination. We thought about abandoning the climb but eventually reached the summit at about 15:00. However, we could not admire the summit view due to the whiteout. We abseiled the South East face using snow anchors and Abalakov threads already in place in the snow. There were 15 rappels in total. We reached high camp around 20:00.

The next mountaineering objective was situated in the Huayhuash range. After studying the snow and ice conditions on Jirishanca we realized that our proposed Cassin or Czech - Slovak Routes on the W and SW Face of Jirishanca were impracticable due to the massive bergschrunds, some 40m wide and the lack of good quality ice. We decided to attempt a climb on Yerupaja Grande 6617m via the SE ridge. From Laguna Jahuacocha, 4100m, we skirted the lake until we reached the entrance of the swale between the south lateral moraine of Solteraocha and the southern slope of Jauacocha Valley. A faint climbers trail rises through the swale and becomes narrow as it contours several hundred meters above the lake. There were many dangerous and exposed spots until the path turned steeply uphill and gained a plateau at 4500m. Our heavy packs made this ascent quite difficult. From here, we crossed a few boulders and climbed the crest of another lateral moraine towards the SE. We set camp at around 4840m, 200 meters north of a banded rock formation. From this spot we admired the fragmented Tam and Yerupaja West Glaciers as well as the surrounding peaks: Rondoy 5870m, Jirishanca 6162m, Mituraju 5750m, El Toro 5830m, Yerupaja Chico 6089m and Yerupaja Grande 6617m. Early next morning, we continued up the moraine, hitting the snowline at around 5000m.

After crossing a few crevasses, we entered the open Yerupaja West Glacier. The west face of Yerupaja was full of seracs and bergscrunds including a massive one that was crossing the entire face. We climbed up the saddle between Seria Norte and Yerupaja through some dangerous penitentes and crevasses. In the saddle we realized that we were actually standing on a massive cornice. Moreover, the entire SE ridge was full of terrifying cornices on both sides. These seemed very unstable and made us turn back to the col and set camp at around 5600m. The idea of a SE ridge ascent was abandoned We left camp around 04:30, on the August 27, carrying climbing, bivouac equipment and food and started to zig zag between the seracs. We chose a fairly direct line on the west face situated between the SE ridge and 1950 American (Maxwell and Harrah) route. There were sections of overhanging ice, massive crevasses and even a small incident where I was almost killed due to a TV size block of ice that dislocated along with my left hand ice axe. Fortunately, my partner was aware and secured me tightly, eventually managing to reach the edge of the serac. At noon, we reached a point at 6250m marked by a massive bergschrund. We looked for a safe ice bridge to cross for more than 2 hours, but soon realized how much the mountain conditions have changed since the last party had been here in 1998.

Moreover, due to the extreme afternoon heat, snow and ice was melting fast and avalanches were roaring down the face every 10 minutes. We realized the dangerous situation we were in and decided to abseil into the bergschrund and wait until the evening when temperatures drop and the snow freezes again. We stayed 7 hours in an ice cave, bivouacking on a platform deep into the ice. Sometimes, small avalanches were coming through the small hole above us. Around 20:00, we got out of the crevasse and scanned the bergschrund again for a safe spot to cross. Unstable ice bridges, brittle and overhanging ice and icicles, fatigue and bad weather forced us to abandon our ascent. We rappelled down the face using the snow anchors that we brought as well as Abalakov threads. After 18 hours we were back in our tent, extremely tired. We estimate the difficulty of our route to be: TD+/ED1 with AI5+ sections, 60-100 inclination, 950m level difference in total, of which we managed to climb around 600m. Alpamayo 5947m was the last mountain we climbed.

Without porters and with two heavy packs, Aurel and myself trekked the Santa Cruz Valley from Cashapampa to Llamarocal (800m level difference) - where we stayed for the night, and eventually reached Alpamayo Base Camp situated near Laguna Arhueicocha at 4300m the next day. On September 5, we climbed the Alpamayo moraine and glacier, (1200m level difference) and reached the col between Quitaraju and Alpamayo. We set camp below Alpamayo, at around 5350m. On the September 6, we left the high camp around 06:00 and climbed the French Direct Route, D+/TD, 50-90 inclination, starting at the very bottom of the bergschrund. 7 hours later we reached the summit of Alpamayo 5947m. Fortunately, this time the clouds allowed us to enjoy the surrounding view and take pictures. We abseiled the route, using threads already in place in the ice. Shortly after reaching the camp, a massive serac fell and avalanched our tracks. In one day we descended all the way to Llamarocal from the high camp, and on September 8, we were in Huaraz.

During this last section we trekked and climbed around 6000m level difference. A rough estimation of the total level difference climbed and trekked by foot during this expedition is around 30,000m. No porters or donkeys were used for these ascents. All climbs were done in pure alpine style. Due to time constraints and sensitivity to the effects of altitude, Sorin Rechitan was unable to accompany us in these ascents. Administration and Logistics A typical day in CB starts with a clear sky, the snowy peaks shine brightly under the first rays of sun. By 10:00 it is quite hot in the lower valleys and even suffocating heat around noon if the up current has not set in earlier, first in single gusts, then with increasing strength. Wind starts to increase in strength, lowering the noon temperatures but at the same time raising dust and sand grains. The summits and crests become shrouded with clouds. In the evening, the clouds start to dissipate, glaciers are colored a flaming red and eventually dusk sets in quickly. The up current from the valleys decreases in intensity and eventually settles down. A clear sky showing the stars and the Southern Cross spans the landscape. It seems that the further a peak stands out to the west, the better the snow and weather is. Our research material (maps and photographs) was obtained from the Alpenverein Library of the Austrian Alpine Cub in Innsbruck and German Alpine Club in Munich.

A few photographs have also been obtained from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado. The full material included 30 photographs, three Alpenverein maps, Deutcher Alpenverein (DAV) and academic journals and the comprehensive expedition report written by the Alpenverein Expedition leaders, Hans Kinzl and Erwin Scheinder, called Cordillera Blanca. Of particular significance was a monitoring and evaluation study carried out by the Mountain Institute in Cordillera Blanca in 1997 and 1998, - expeditions, which reproduced some of the 1936 and 1939, Alpenverein photographs. The paper, entitled Contemporary Landscape Change in the Huascaran National Park and Buffer Zone, CB, Peru, written by Dr Alton C. Byers produced several insights related to landscape and land use change within the area of interest. Yurak Janka, written by John F. Ricker provided us with more information regarding the geology, structure, flora, and fauna of CB, Peru. Before heading to Peru, we identified the GPS coordinates of some photo locations by using Google Earth and cross-referencing these coordinates with the Alpenverein maps.

For the mountaineering section of the expedition, the Huayhuash guide written by Jeremy Frimer, Mr Simon's Yates advice (Touching the Void) as well as the Summit Post website helped us to organise our ascents. It is important here to specify some of the problems that have arisen during our fieldwork. Ideally, the historic photographs should be replicated using the precise equipment used by the original photographer. Season, time/date and weather conditions should also be replicated as closely as possible. This was quite challenging due to practical and budgetary reasons and the remoteness and high altitude of the photo locations. The lack of time and the late departure date of our expedition, forced us to reduce the number of photo locations. We also tried to identify areas which provided both scientific and mountaineering interest, in order to double our efficiency. Nevertheless, the overall objective of high quality reproduction of the historic photographs to address landscape changes in the two cordilleras has been reached.

Moreover, insights regarding other problems that the local communities are facing have made us reconsider our objectives. Training for the expedition started seven months prior to our departure. This consisted of regular weekly gym sessions, swimming, running, indoor and outdoor climbing as well as taking supplements to strengthen the body such as minerals, vitamins, proteins. The climbing, technical and fieldwork equipment such as GPS, video camera, tent, half ropes etc. was partly provided by the University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences, National Geographic Society, Explorer Club and Alpin Expe Mountain Shop Romania. Research and climbing permits were obtained on our arrival in Peru from the Huascaran National Park authorities situated at the entrance of a few valleys such as Llanganuco and Santa Cruz. Letters from the Expedition Council of the University of Edinburgh and Explorer Club Romania helped us to obtain these permits without the instructions of a mountain guide.

Fundraising was the most difficult aspect of our expedition. It started in January 2012 and included applying for grants to different worldwide mountaineering and scientific organizations such as the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and Berghaus Equipment Company. In July, National Geographic Society offered a Young Explorer grant, and along with the rest of the sponsorships from Romania and our personal contribution, the budget of $15,000 was reached. Financially, the proposed budget was relatively appropriate, however the parity between the Peruvian currency (soles) and the ones used by us (euro and dollars) was fluctuating. Therefore, we were forced to use more money from the emergency budget. Grants were sent electronically via bank transfer and we used cash as well as credit cards for payments in the field. However, the charges of Peruvian Banks for processing international cards are large so I would recommend bringing as much cash as possible. Travel Insurance was obtained from the Generali Insurance Group for the entire length of the expedition and also included cover for extreme activities such as climbing. Fortunately, we did not have to use it, as there were no injuries involved.

The Royal Dutch Airlines provided air transportation to Peru. For travel within the country we used buses for large distances such as: Lima Huaraz and Huaraz Cusco; minibuses, known as collectivos for distances up to 150km between research localities such as: Carhuas, Yungay, Caraz; taxis for some photopoint locations where roads have been built (Yanganuco valley and Cordillera Negra); as well as donkeys and horses for inaccessible places such as the Huayhaush chain. Recommended bus companies are: Movil Tours, Crus del Sur and basically all collectivos that you can find in Huaraz Collectivo Terminal. Donkey drivers are easily found in Llamac, a small village in the Huayhuash range and I recommend firm price negotiation and the signing of a contract to enforce the agreement between parties. Donkey drivers tend to change the agreement during the trek. Unfortunately, our expedition has cost the planet quite a bit as our calculated carbon footprint for the 7 weeks is around 7t/CO2. Regarding food, Mountain House Freeze Dried Food Company, UK, provided high altitude meals for the mountain ascents whereas Peruvian markets, restaurants and hostels provided the rest. Quite often we came across the impossibility of reading shelf prices in shops and markets, as they simply were not there.

Because it is quite common to charge foreigners a higher price than normal, I recommend that anyone travelling to Peru should get familiar with the prices for basic products and try to negotiate. However, Peruvian food is very tasty and we discovered this as soon as we arrived: our first Peruvian meal included a cooked Guinea pig known as Cuy and Pachamanca (closely related to Pachamama which means mother Earth). Pachamanca included three different types of potatoes, with pork, corn, cicha morada (a beverage derived from maize). Accommodation was mainly provided by our 3person, VE -25 North Face tent. We also used a few hostels such as Caroline Lodging in Huaraz, Backpakers in Lima, Tu Hogar in Cusco and El Inti in Puno. Caroline Lodging offers a warm and friendly atmosphere as well as breakfast, Internet (1 s/hour), free use of kitchen facilities, the possibility to rent climbing equipment and movies, support for, and organized trekking tours to places such as: Laguna 69, Churup Lake, coca oil massage, and even horse riding.

Communication with our families and friends was provided by an Iridium Satellite phone, for places with no GSM reception such as high altitudes. We used normal phones with roaming coverage in cities where reception was possible and Internet through the aid of a Blog, E-mail, and social networks) to communicate with the interested public. Weekly posts shared our evolution in the field with the world. Risks and hazards were assessed using the UoE Expeditions Council guidelines. The supporting body approved the risk assessment, which included an evaluation of the physical, biological, chemical and man-made hazards, personal safety, environmental impact and decision-making. High altitude and low oxygen concentration, extreme weather, rock/ice/snow falls and avalanches, microorganism poisoning, road accidents, pollution of the environment, and improper decision-making were taken into consideration. A complete first aid kit accompanied us in all treks and climbs. Specialist equipment included: a Canon EOS Mk III DSLR camera with three different lens systems: EFS18-55mm f/2.8, Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS and Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS; a Canon EOS 550D DSLR camera with two lens systems: Canon EFS 18-55mm, f/3.5-5.6 IS, Tamron AF 28-300mm f/1:3.5-6.3 IF and a Panasonic DMC LX2 28mm digital compact camera. For the video documentation of our expedition we have used a HD Sony Handycam and a Go Pro Hero 2 video camera.

Unfortunately due to the poor quality of the batteries, we used the GoPro little. Personal, photography and location release forms provided by the National Geographic Society were filled in by every person and landlord interviewed or photographed. For individuals lacking literacy skills a simple video acknowledgement was used. Diary Log I have kept a daily travel diary for the full length of the expedition. Due to space constraints this report will only contain a brief summary of this diary. After leaving Arad City, Romania in a minibus for Budapest International Airport, the expedition had officially started. From Budapest Ferihegy airport, we took a plane to Amsterdam were we stayed for a night at a hostel. I also travelled briefly to Ijmuiden to buy a SIM card and calling credit for the Iridium Satellite phone. The next day we flew 10,500 km to Lima, the capital of Peru a 12-hour long flight. On August 4, 18:15 UTC/GMT -5 hours we arrived in Lima Jorge Chavez International airport and experienced the first vibes of the Peruvian urban landscape: foggy atmospheric conditions, unfinished buildings, lots of cars and noise.

We only saw Lima from the taxi on our way to the Movil Tours Bus station. There, we booked tickets to Huaraz, and 2 hours later we were travelling to the capital of the Peruvian Andes. The journey was long, (8 hours) and cold as the bus lacked heating while it was climbing passes at 4500m during the night. We had a short glimpse of the Andean landscape thanks to the full moon that was lighting the Earth: an arid environment, lacking vegetation with the exception of a few cacti species. At 07:00 we checked in at the Caroline Lodging Hostel in Huaraz and also had the pleasure tasting some Peruvian breakfast: avocado, gem, margarine, coca tea and bread. Later, we met with our contact in Peru, Christian Silva Lindo - a very experienced mountain guide and Jose Luis Flores owner of a mountain shop, and sorted out the plan and logistics for the next few weeks as well as buying supplies and missing equipment for our ascents (stove gas, snow anchors, pitons etc.). Huaraz, was the main supply place for our research.

On August 5 and 6, we climbed to a few photo locations in Cordillera Negra to reproduce panoramas of Cordillera Blanca and Rio Santa Valley. The maximum altitude reached in this section was 4000m, and two taxis provided transportation. On August 7 and 8 we explored Quebrada Cojup, reproducing some of Ayerss photographs; acclimatising and reaching for the first time the altitude of 5035m. Unfortunately, Sorin Rechitan experienced altitude sickness symptoms and could not accompany Aurel and myself to this high pass. During this trek we also had the chance to navigate on Palcacocha Glacial Lake 4566m via a boat, thanks to the kind invitation of two young Peruvian workers. The first avalanche, caused by a serac fall was seen during this journey roaring down the NW face of Pucaranra 6156m. From the August 11 until August 15, we explored Laguna Parron and climbed Artesonraju 6025m. At 05:00, on August 17 we left for Cordillera Huayhuash.

The itinerary was: bus drive from Huaraz to Chiquian and eventually Llamac. Here, we hired Camilo Basilio and 4 of his donkeys to help us carry our equipment while trekking around the main peaks of the Huahuash. The next day, we signed the contract agreement and around 10:00 we were on our way to Quartelhuian. We reached the camp around 16:00 and to our surprise, the tents had already been pitched, thanks to Camilo. On August 19, we reached Cacanapunta pass, 4690m and continued our trek towards Laguna Mitucocha, 4270m where we set camp. Interesting folding and dipping strata near the lake made me go off track to document these features as much as possible. On August 20, after passing through Yanapunta, we reached Laguna Carhuacocha 4138m where one of the best views of Jirishanca, Yerupaja and Siula Grande can be admired. Here we found a piece of the airplane that crashed in Jirishanca in 1950, being owned by Mr Hermes, a shepherd that was living next to the lake. Photography was the main activity of the afternoon and evening. On August 21, we reached Rondoy camp, after crossing Garagocha Punta 5000m and almost getting lost and injured by a rock avalanche. It seemed that the shortcut proposed by Camilo was slightly dangerous and misleading.

On the August 22, we were heading towards Laguna Jahuacocha 4050m. From Sambuya Punta 4740m, we admired the heavily glaciated west side of Rondoy, Mituraju, Jirishanca, Yerupaja and Rassac. The view was breathtaking: massive fragmented glaciers, heavily eroded metamorphic and volcanic summits, and turquoise color lakes such as Solteracocha. On August 22, 23 and 24, we recharged our batteries at Laguna Jahuacocha, eating fresh truchas, potatoes, onions and maize thanks to the hospitality of a Quechua family. The wonderful view of Rondoy, Mituraju and Jirishanca we found truly inspiring. From August 25 until August 28, we were attempting to climb Yerupaja and on August 29 we descended to Llamac through Macrash Punta 4272m. On August 30 we were in Huaraz. The next three days were spent relaxing, eating, socializing and also suffering from food poising in Huaraz. From the August 31 until September 8 we were climbing Alpamayo. The next two days were spent working with Changes for New Hope, filming and photographing the organizations actions. We also had the pleasure to interview Mr Jim Killon, the founder and president of the association. On the September 11, we arrived in Lima and 22 hours later we arrived in Cusco. September 13 and 14 were spent in Agua Calientes and visiting Machu Picchu, the sacred place of the great Inca empire.

On September 16 we travelled to Puno and the next day we sailed on Lake Titicaca and visited the Los Uros floating islands. It was truly astonishing to find out that 3500 people live on floating islands made of bundles of dried totora reeds. We returned to Lima, on September 18, after travelling 23 hours by bus from Puno. Due to time constraints, we only stayed a couple of hours in the capital of Peru, at our friend Pablo. In the evening of September 19 we left Peru, to stop shortly in Amsterdam before reaching Budapest on September 20. The next morning we arrived home, in Arad. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to tell the story to everyone, as two days later I had to fly to Edinburgh and catch up with university. Conclusion Our research has qualitatively produced some preliminary insights regarding landscape changes in Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhaush of Peru.

These include: extensive glacier recession and hydrological changes such as the formation of new glacier lakes, changes in the flow characteristics of glacier fed rivers, glacier lake outburst floods and changing flood severity and frequency, and an apparent increase in runoff; urban expansion, population growth and increased human influence on water-glacier systems through the construction of dams and drainage systems; an apparent stability in native polylepsis species accompanied by an increase in non-native eucalyptus and pinus species; an increase in cultivated lands; a possible contamination of the soil and water due to mining activities and pollution due to widespread tourism. The impacts of the shrinkage and disappearance of mountain glaciers in response to ongoing climate change will have many detrimental, social, ecological and economic impacts due to retreat-related hydrological changes. Unless the international climbing and trekking community solves the garbage issue in Huayhuash internally by creating incentives for good behavior, the beauty and ecosystem equilibrium of this mountain chain will be under threat.

Education and information must play a key role in the evolution of Andean communities in order better to understand the changes occurring around them, mitigate any negative effects and become self sufficient. Acknowledgements I should especially like to thank my university staff, Mrs Kate Heal, Mr Wyn Williams and Mr Anthony Newton who, from the beginning supported the project, and myself too, providing recommendations and constructive feedback as well as insightful advice. I also thank Christian Silva Lindo, whose knowledge, expertise, patience, and hospitality made our expedition, logistically possible. I thank too the Alpenverein librarians in Innsbruck and Munich who provided the historic photographs and the National Geographic Society for supporting the project and providing with us the opportunity to stretch our limits and seek further into the field of research and exploration. Special thanks go to Mr Horia Pasculescu, Mr Razvan Muntianu, Mr Vlad Lacu, Mr Glad Varga, Mr Alin Buda and the rest of my sponsors in Romania, as without their support, the project would have been delayed considerably.

Last and not least, I should thank Sorin Rechitan who provided photographic equipment and knowledge, therefore substantially increasing the quality of our material; and my climbing partner, Aurel Salasan, whose patience, dedication and climbing experience have made possible the ascents.


Frimer, J. 2005. Climbs and Treks in the Cordillera Huayhuash, of Peru. Elaho Publishing Corporation, Squamish, British Columbia, Canada. Kinzl, H. and Schneider. 1950. E. Cordillera Blanca, Peru. Universitats Verlag Wagner, Inssbruck. Ricker, J. F.1981. Yurak Janka. Cordilleras Blanca and Rosko. Alpine Club of Canada. Banff. Canada Academic Journals Baraer, M., Mark, G.B., McKenzie, M.J., Condom, T., Bury, J., Huh.K, Portocarrero, C., Gomez, J. and Rathay, S. 2012. Glacier Recession