Cordillera Blanca

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Cordillera Blanca
Alpamayo (5,947 m)
Highest point
Peak Huáscarán
Elevation 6,768 m (22,205 ft)
Coordinates 9°07′17″S 77°36′32″W / 9.12139°S 77.60889°W / -9.12139; -77.60889
Length 180 km (110 mi) N-S
Width 21 km (13 mi)
Country Peru
State/Province Ancash Region
Range coordinates 9°10′S 77°35′W / 9.17°S 77.58°W / -9.17; -77.58Coordinates: 9°10′S 77°35′W / 9.17°S 77.58°W / -9.17; -77.58
Parent range Andes

The Cordillera Blanca (Spanish for "White Range") is a mountain range in the Ancash Region of Peru. Part of the larger Andes range, it includes 33 major peaks over 5,500 metres (18,040 ft) high in an area 21 kilometres (13 mi) wide and 180 kilometres (112 mi) long.


The highest mountain in Peru, Huáscarán (6,768 m), is located here. Huáscarán National Park, established in 1975, encompasses almost the entire range of the Cordillera Blanca.

The 5,947 m (19,511 ft) Alpamayo mountain was declared "World's Most Beautiful Mountain" by an international survey led by former climber Tonni Hiebler in May 1966 in Münich.

Snow melt from the Cordillera Blanca has provided Peru with its year-round water supplies, while 80% of Peru's power comes from hydroelectricity. The area of permanent ice pack shrank by about a third between the 1970s and 2006.[1]


There are sixteen 6,000 m peaks in the Cordillera Blanca with a 400 m topographic prominence, and a further seventeen peaks over 5,500 m.[2] Huascaran Sur, the highest peak, has two commonly quoted heights - 6,746 m from the Peruvian IGM map, and 6,768 m from the OEAV survey map.[3]

A selection of the Cordillera Blanca's more famous peaks are listed below.[4][5][6]

The main groups of peaks from north to south are:[6]

  • Champara
  • Millwaqucha, Pilanku
  • Pukarahu (Huaylas Province), Alpamayo, Kitarahu, Pukahirka, Pukarahu (Lucma District), Rinrihirka, Tayapampa, Tawllirahu
  • Huandoy, Artesonraju, Chakrarahu, Qaras, Pirámide, Pisco, Yanaphaqcha
  • Huascarán, Chopicalqui
  • Yanarahu (Asunción Province)
  • Qupa, Chiqllarahu, Chukllarahu, Paqcharahu, Ulta, Wallqan
  • Perlilla, Qupap
  • Chinchey, Cayesh, Churup, Map'arahu, Pallqarahu, Pukaranra, Ranrapallqa, Rima Rima, Tullparahu, Tuqllarahu, Urus, Uqshapallqa, Wallunarahu, Wamanripa
  • Wantsan, Kashan, Pukamatarahu, Ruriq, Shaqsha, Urwashrahu, Wamashrahu
  • Yanamaray, Pukarahu (Recuay Province)
  • Pongos, Qishqi
  • Raria
  • Qiwllarahu, Challwa, Tuku


The mountains Uqshapallqa (on the left) and Ranrapallqa, the Llaqa glacier and Llaqa Lake
Tawllirahu (5,830 m)

The estimated number of glaciers is 260 glaciers of the Cordillera Blanca are very important to life in the valley of the Callejón de Huaylas. They provide water for the irrigation of the puna grasslands and keep the main Santa river drought free year round. They also support the hydroelectric powerstation of Cañón del Pato and form many attractive lagoons. All are over 4000m above sea level, 185 on the western slopes and 75 on the eastern.

As with all Andean glaciers, the Cordillera Blanca has witnessed a major retreat of its during the 20th century due to global climate change. Studies have shown a retreat of over 15% since the 1970s.[7] Some glaciers, such as the Broggi Glacier, have disappeared altogether, with many experts warning that all of the glaciers may be gone within the coming decades.


Parun Lake, the biggest in the Cordillera Blanca, is considered the most beautiful of all glacial lakes. Located just north of the mountain Tullparahu in Caraz, it has a deep turquoise blue.

Other famous lakes include the two Llankanuku Lakes: the green-turquoise Chinanqucha (Quechua for "female lake") and Urqunqucha ("male lake") in the Llankanuku valley. Located in the quenoa forests at the foot of Huáscarán, they are reachable via a 25 km gravel road off the Callejón de Huaylas highway near the re-built town of Yungay.

The two lakes Ichikqucha and Hatunqucha lie beneath the snow peaks of Artesonraju and Allpamayu. They are accessible only by trekking or on horseback from Caraz.

Other notable lakes are Alliqucha, Awkishqucha, Pallqaqucha, Qiruqucha and Quñuqqucha.

Hot Springs[edit]

There are twenty-two principal hot springs in the Callejón de Huaylas, of which the 2073m above sea level Monterrey stands out for its swimming pools and individual and family ponds. Bathing in its 49 °C sodium chloride laced water is prescribed for such health conditions as rheumatism, anxiety, and palsy.

Hot springs are also found at Chancos (30 km north of Huaraz), Chacas, Chavín, Mancos, Pomabamba, Andamarca, Jocos, Tablachaca, Pato, Olleros and Llaclla.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Painter, James (2007-03-12). "Peru's alarming water truth". BBC News Online: Americas. Archived from the original on 2007-03-14. 
  2. ^ Biggar, John et al. "Andes Peak Lists". Andes. 
  3. ^ Jonathan de Ferranti et al. "South American Prominence Lists". 
  4. ^ - UGEL map of the Ancash Region
  5. ^ Maps of the Cordillera Blanca
  6. ^ a b Taken from Mountaineering in the Andes by Jill Neate, RGS-IBG Expedition Advisory Centre, 2nd edition, May 1994
  7. ^ Lynas, Mark: High tide: the truth about our climate crisis, pg. 230, ISBN 978-0-312-30365-5

External links[edit]