Mount Alpamayo is the jewel of the Andes: a steep, almost-perfect pyramid of ice. It is the most famous mountain in the Cordillera Blanca, becoming the obsession of many mountaineers after it was named ‘The Most Beautiful Mountain in the World’ at a photography competition in Munich in 1996. Climbers are inspired not so much by the difficulty of the climb, but by the stunning views of Alpamayo’s breath-taking pyramid and the magnificent setting among the many splendid 6000m+ snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca.
The first ascent of Alpamayo was made by a German expedition in 1957 via the north ridge.
Despite Alpamayo’s 5947m peak not giving it a place amongst the highest summits of the Andes, the climb is considered to be one of the most technical, requiring good crampon and ice-climbing technique. There are incomparable views of steep ice faces, gigantic white walls and ridges – such as those of Huandoy North (6395m), Artesonraju (6025m) and Huascaran (6768m) – equal to the finest Himalayan scenery.
It takes two days of hiking to reach Alpamayo Base Camp, located in a remote part of the northern section of the Cordillera Blanca. The most common climbing route is known as the ‘French Route’, up the steep, fluted southwest face of the mountain.