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View of Nevado Huascarán Sur from Callejón de Huaylas
Elevation 6,768 m (22,205 ft)[1]
Prominence 2,776 m (9,108 ft)[2]
Listing Country high point
Huascarán is located in Peru
Location Yungay, Peru
Range Cordillera Blanca
Coordinates 09°07′18″S 77°36′15″W / 9.12167°S 77.60417°W / -9.12167; -77.60417Coordinates: 09°07′18″S 77°36′15″W / 9.12167°S 77.60417°W / -9.12167; -77.60417[2]
Type Granite
Age of rock Cenozoic
First ascent July 20, 1932
Easiest route glacier/snow/ice climb

Huascarán (Spanish pronunciation: [waskaˈɾan]) or Nevado Huascarán is a mountain in the Peruvian province of Yungay (Ancash Departament), situated in the Cordillera Blanca range of the western Andes. The highest southern summit of Huascarán (Huascarán Sur) is the highest point in Peru, northern part of Andes (north of Lake Titicaca) and in all of the Earth's Tropics. Huascarán is the fourth highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere after Aconcagua, Ojos del Salado, and Monte Pissis. The mountain was named after Huáscar, a 16th-century Inca emperor who was the Sapa Inca of the Inca empire.[3]

The mountain has two distinct summits, the higher with an elevation of 6,768 metres (22,205 ft).[1] The core of Huascarán, like much of the Cordillera Blanca, consists of Cenozoic era granite.[4]

Huascarán gives its name to Huascarán National Park which surrounds it, and is a popular location for trekking and mountaineering. 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 5–7 days, the main difficulties being the large crevasses that often block the route.[5] 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. Other more challenging routes to the summit exist, such as on the west face.

The Huascarán summit is one of the points on the Earth's surface farthest from the Earth's center,[6] closely behind the farthest point, Chimborazo in Ecuador.[1]

The summit of Huascarán is the place on Earth with the smallest gravitational force.[7]

Climbing history[edit]

The summit was first reached in July 1932 by a joint GermanAustrian expedition.[8] The north peak (Huascarán Norte) had previously been climbed in 1908 by a U.S. expedition that included Annie Smith Peck.[9]

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.[10][11]

1970 earthquake[edit]

On 31 May 1970, the Ancash earthquake caused a substantial part of the north side of the mountain to collapse. The avalanche mass, an estimated 80 million cubic feet of ice, mud and rock, was about half a mile wide and a mile long. It advanced about 11 miles (18 km) at an average speed of 280 to 335 km per hour[12] burying the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca under ice and rock, killing more than 20,000 people.[13] At least 20,000 people were also killed in Huaraz, site of a 1941 avalanche which killed over 6000 (see Palcacocha Lake).[14] Estimates suggest that the earthquake killed over 66,000 people.[15][16]

Also buried by an avalanche was a Czechoslovak mountaineering team, none of whose 15 members was ever seen again.[17] This and other earthquake-induced avalanche events are often described incorrectly as "eruptions" of Huascarán, which is not of volcanic origin.

An earlier landslide on January 11, 1962, caused by a rapid rise in temperature,[14] killed an estimated 4,000 people.[18]

See also[edit]


  • Biggar, John (2005). The Andes - A Guide for Climbers (3rd ed.). Castle Douglas. ISBN 0-9536087-2-7. 
  • Gates, Alexander E.; Ritchie, David (2006). Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9780816072705. 
  • Room, Adrian (1997). Placenames of the World. McFarland and Company. ISBN 0-7864-0172-9. 


  1. ^ a b c Helman, Adam (2005). The Finest Peaks: Prominence and Other Mountain Measures. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-4120-5995-4.  On the other hand Biggar gives 6,746 metres.
  2. ^ a b "ultra-prominences". Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  3. ^ Room, Adrian
  4. ^ Ricker, John F., Yuraq Janka: Cordilleras Blanca and Rosko, Alpine Club of Canada, 1977, ISBN 0-920330-04-5, after Wilson, Reyes, and Garayar, 1967.
  5. ^ Biggar, John
  6. ^ "Tall Tales about Highest Peaks". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  7. ^ "Gravity Variations Over Earth Much Bigger Than Previously Thought". Science Daily. September 4, 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  8. ^ "1932 ascent". Retrieved 2014-07-01. 
  9. ^ "Annie Smith Peck". Dr. Russell A. Potter. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  10. ^ Monge-Nájera, Julián (1995). ABC de la evolución. EUNED. p. 58. ISBN 9977-64-822-0. 
  11. ^ "Mouth-watering challenge". Epping Forest Guardian. 21 September 2007. Retrieved 2011-05-31. 
  12. ^ "Geological Aspects of the May 31, 1970 Peru Earthquake". Bulletin of the Seismological Socity of America 61 (2): 543–578. June 1971. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  13. ^ U.S. Dept. of the Interior (October 1970). "The Peru Earthquake: a Special Study". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 26 (8): 17–19. 
  14. ^ a b "Sacred mountains: Myth and Morphology". Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  15. ^ Gates & Ritchie p. 110
  16. ^ Rachowiecki, Rob; Beech, Charlotte (2004). Peru. Lonely Planet. p. 308. 
  17. ^ "The Village of Yungay and the Surrounding Countryside". Jay A. Frogel. Archived from the original on 2012-02-18. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  18. ^ "1962: Thousands killed in Peru landslide". British Broadcasting Corporation. 1962-01-11. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 

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