Alpamayo Expedition

If you are interested in doing one of the harder, less-climbed gullies on the SW Face of Alpamayo, please contact us.

If you are looking for a regular Alpamayo Expedition on the Ferrari (normal) route please read on.

Alpamayo Ferrari Route Hazards - Read This!

We have decided to no longer offer trips to the standard Ferrari route on Alpamayo. In recent years we have grown increasingly uneasy with the objective hazards posed by other climbers on the route and unpredictable icefall. In the last few years there have been a number of fatal accidents, some from natural icefall and others from climber induced icefall (even one from climbers falling on other climbers) that we find worrisome.

Twice, we have been narrowly missed by falling house-sized blocks of ice. Once a giant block swept the entire route only hours after our ascent. And another time a huge ice avalanche wiped out the entire approach glacier while we were up on the summit!

The problem with this otherwise beautiful route is that it is both overcrowded and also climbs a narrow, confined, straight-up gully. Any falling ice comes straight down on your head. There are virtually no places to hide.

If you are planning your own trip to Alpamayo, we offer the following advice.

While all mountaineering includes risk, and is an integral part of the activity, the normal route on the SW face of Alpamayo presents an unusually high level of objective hazard. You may be able to minimize this hazard by climbing on days with fewer climbers.

  • Plan on spending several nights at high camp, so that you may choose the least crowded day for your ascent.
  • Get up ridiculously early. We used to avoid many crowds by timing our climb so that we arrive at the bergschrund at first light. This strategy does not seem to work well any more, as the increasing number of climbers makes everyone have the same idea. But if you climb virtually at night you might be able to avoid at least some of the crowds.
  • Find out when DAV Summit Club, a German outing club, and other large commercial groups have their ascents and avoid those dates.
  • Do one of the other gullies on the SW face. This is harder than it sounds, but if you are prepared to build your own anchors and do some harder climbing you can have an entire climb to yourselves.
  • Climb fast and pass other parties ahead of you. Spending less time on the route is the only way to minimize the risk of natural icefall. And being above other parties the only way to be protected from ice they knock down.
  • Be well acclimated so you can climb fast. Spend at least 2 weeks on other climbs in Peru getting well acclimated BEFORE you even begin your hike into Alpamayo.
  • Time your departure from the summit ridge so that you are less exposed to others while you rappel. This may mean hanging out on the top, or rushing down quickly.
  • Camp away from other parties so that they can't hear you get up and leave camp in the wee hours of the early morning.
  • Do not go with a commercial trip unless that trip is at least 3 weeks long, climbs at least one other peak at least 18000 feet high before Alpamayo (excluding Quitaraju, which is too close, time wise, to your Alpamayo ascent. AND in which you climb at a 1:1 ratio. This last requirement pretty much rules our everything except a private climb. Imagine, however, that you get clobbered because some other guy on your rope was too slow and not as prepared as you. Stack the odds in your favor. It is not worth saving a few bucks if it increases the odds that you will come home in a box.

Be careful and do what you can to make this otherwise great climb as safe as you can. Be prepared to simply say "forget it" if you're not comfortable.

Good luck!

Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
UIAGM Internationally Licensed
Mountain Guides

AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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