The first completion of the Alpine circuit took place in 2004. As of 2012, the Alpine Circuit had probably been completed only a few dozen times. This is a demanding route, with approximately 6000m of vertical gain and the same amount of loss over 80km, all with full mountain backpacks. On the Alpine Circuit, you are on your own. While much of the Alpine Circuit is essentially hiking, many cruxes demand mountaineering skills and experience, with two glacier crossings, steep, exposed terrain, rock and icefall hazard, and short technical rock steps.
Day 1 Huaraz – Jahuacocha
You are picked up from your hotel and we head south of Huaraz to Llamac. During our drive we pass traditional Andean towns with typical Quechua homes and rich farm land. We start hiking up with dramatic views of the peaks: Rondoy, Jirishanca, El Toro, and Yerupaja. Then the trail descends gradually into the Achin River valley to our first campsite at Jahuacocha (4050m).
Hiking time: 5 hs.
Day 2 Jahuacocha – Sambuya Pass – Garacocha Lake
oday we hike on the north side of the valley passing Jauacocha and Solteracocha. Then we go uphill to reach Sambuya Pass (4750m) with excellent views of Jirishanca and Yerupaja behind. After a break we descent all the way down into the Rondoy Valley. We continue until cliffs on the right end and a valley opens up (4220m). Our campsite at Garagocha Lake (4500m) is hidden from view behind an intervening ridge.
Hiking time: 5.5 hs.
Day 3 Garacocha Lake – Chanclan Lake
We start with a diagonal ascent across limestone slabs with good friction to the base of a final 40m rock wall below the col (1h). A broad terrace rises to the left and we follow this until about 150m beyond (north of) the col proper. We climb a steep break to Garacocha Col (4910m) with small horizontal ledges for 25m (5.3) to easier but loose slopes above. The ridge itself is narrow and the aspect impressive. Then we descend to the right following narrow ledges for 20m to find a rappel station. We make one 30m rappel down a gully to a wide ledge. We scramble off the north end of this ledge to the apex of a large talus fan. We boot ski for 250m on scree then walk down grassy slopes. We follow cattle tracks, which all converge to the left at the only break in a yet-unseen cliff below. The cliff runs the full width of the slope. Then we descend to open grassland to the south end of Mitococha Lake (4230m). We continue walking up grass slopes to the east of the lake and turn toward a pass (4740m). We descend to Alcaycocha Lake (4670m) with stunning view of Jirishanca’s southeast face. Finally we descend to our next campsite Chaclan Lake (4487m).
Day 4 Chanclan Lake - Suila Pass – Barrosococha Lake
First we hike down from the camp to the Carhuacocha Valley (4150m). We walk through the mini-valley to the east of the moraine wall that circles Gangrajanca Lake and pass Gangrajanca on its east side, a new lake caused by a rockslide on its west side, and Siula Lake on its east side. We make a rising traverse, following a trail system, up a steep grass slope into a hanging valley. We walk up a switchbacking trail at the end of the valley to reach Siula Pass (4834m). We descend, with one very short scramble, down from the pass, aiming for a second pass on our right. We cross through this second pass (4710m), then descend the long, gradual valley to Carnicero Lake (4441m). Then we join the major trail of the Valley Circuit for about 1km (4400m). We traverse grass slopes and ascend into a hanging valley. We ascend grass slopes to the south to gain a hanging grassy bench. We walk south for 1km, then descend briefly to a larger cow pasture. We walk for 1km more and camp above Barrosocoha Lake below the majestic southeast face of Trapecio (4600m).
Day 5 Barrosococha Lake – Trapecio Pass – Jurau Lake
From camp (4600m) we hike uphill to gain the crest of a grassy moraine. A cliff band looms above. We take a trail system that skirts to the left of the cliff on easy terrain, to reach a beautiful hanging plateau. We pass alpine lakes and follow a trail on scree up to the continental divide at Trapecio Pass (4910m). Then we turn right to south and scramble uphill on redish rock, to a notch (5110m) to incredible views of Carnicero, Sarapo, and Siula Grande. We walk through the notch, then making a scrambling descent to the left to reach the Huayhuashjanca Glacier. The glacier is flat, aerated ice, with no real crevasses. We hike northwest on the glacier and exit it after less than 1km. Then we hike on scree, within 100m of the edge of the glacier and pass over a shoulder notch, then begin a slab descent. We descend to the right (north) down easy friction slabs below a steep, dark wall. Once at the base of the wall, we descend directly down easy friction slabs (many cairns), to a small, bench around 4700m and traverse left (southwest) to exit the slabs into a grassy gully. We descend to cow pastures atop the moraine south of Jurau Lake. Then we walk the moraine until directly above the
Day 6 Jurau Lake – Caramarca Lake
From our camp at Jurau Lake (4343m), we walk down the valley on a trail cut into the side of the north lateral moraine. After 500m, the trail turns abruptly right (north) and contours into the pleasant Sarapococha Valley. Joe Simpson’s base camp of the famous movie “Touching the Void” is about 2km up the valley, on the left side. An angular boulder 10m in height marks the spot. As we approach a terminal moraine, we gain a trail rising on the left valley wall, which eventually climbs onto a shoulder overlooking Sarapococha. Small cliffs loom above. Once beyond the cliffs, we switchback, hiking up steep grass. We slog upwards on grass then scree to Velilina Pass (5060m). Then we hike north along a stunning alpine traverse. The 180-degree views are among the best on the Alpine Circuit, including the famous Simpson crawl route down to the right. We skirt around rocky outcroppings on the right to reach a peak at 5152m (highest point of the entire circuit). Then we walk straight north toward Rasac (“The Toad”) over a 5097m summit and down into Seria Pass. We descend easily to a magnificent camp at the outflow of Caramarca Lake (4575m)
Day 7 Caramarca Lake – Jahuacocha
We start at camp beside Caramarca Lake (4575m) and hike up the crest of a moraine immediately west of the lake to gain a boulder-strewn plateau. We boulder hop to the edge of the Seria Glacier and hike up the glacier, passing just a few crevasses. The glacier culminates in a 35-degree headwall. Above the headwall, we walk up the glacier until about 50m away from Rasac Col (5129m). A visit to Rasac Col is off route but optional for the view. Fifty meters below Rasac Col, we turn west and walk horizontally on scree under a rocky cliff then ascend to the minor West Col 100m west of Rasac Col. The final 20m to the minor col is 40-degree lose ground above an exposed gully. We descend easily for 50m from the West Col then traverse horizontally left (toward the northwest), just below cliffs on Huacrish Norte, for 700m. We scramble down and double back toward the east along a hanging bench. We traverse the bench toward the east then descend via a 20m 4th class downclimb to reach the top of a grassy moraine. The rest is walking. We walk along micro-valleys past Barrosococha and then join the cows near Rasacocha. We pick up a faint trail east of the outlet of Rasacocha, and
Day 8 Jahuacocha lake – Huaraz
On the last day we hike 1 hour up to Pampallamac (4300m) where we can see the whole Huayhuash range in the east and the Cordillera Blanca in the north. We continue around 5 hours until Llamac where the trek ends. Our bus brings us back to Huaraz.
Hiking time: 6 hs.
What is included
- Transport: From Huaraz to the starting point of your activity, and from the finishing point of your activity back to Huaraz. We use prived transport, minivans, and other types of cars, depending on the size of the group.
- Guide: Qualified and experienced mountain guide who speaks Spanish and basic English.
- Cook: A professional cook who is trained to prepare healthy dishes in a hygienic manner.
- Donkey driver: Is in charge of loading the donkeys, looking after them and guiding them.
- Donkeys: The number of donkeys provided depends on the size of the group. You are allowed to bring up to 4 kg of personal belongings that will be loaded on the donkeys. You will only carry your daypack during the day.
- Food: Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner.
- Equipment: Good quality high mountain tent, sleeping mattress, basic sleeping bag -2°, dining tent, table and chairs, toilet tent, first aid kit, cooking stove, dishes and cooking utensils.
- Emergency horse: 1 horse will accompany the group for emergency purposes.
- Food: Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner.
What is not included
Entrance fee of 220 Soles, first breakfast, last dinner, soft drinks or alcoholic beverages, medical treatment, travel insurance, tips, additional expenses as a result of leaving the trek early, additional expenses as a result of an emergency rescue or evacuation, bottled water (you drink water from the river).
- Bag to load on the donkeys with your personal belongings (plastic bag with zipper or garbage bag)
- Small daypack
- Sleeping bag if available
- Walking sticks if you have knee problems
- Head torch (with spare batteries)
- Sun protection: sunscreen (factor 40 minimum), hat, sunglasses
- Well-worn in trekking boots (waterproof / Gore-Tex)
- Comfortable clothes: t-shirts (quick dry or merino wool recommended), trekking trousers or leggings, sweater, woolen trekking socks, underwear, long thermal underwear, fleece, gloves, hat
- Waterproof jacket and trousers (Gore-Tex recommended)
- Water bottle and water purification pills
- Toilet paper, personal toiletries, small towel
- Extra snacks and money
Missing something? We can provide you with everything you need for a great days expeditions, Please check each trip for detailed pricing information or contact us for a customized trip and you can fully enjoy!!