Climbing the Tocllaraju Mountain in Cordillera Blanca

Climbing the Tocllaraju Mountain in Cordillera Blanca

Tocllaraju Mountain (6,034m) is one of many peaks over 6,000m in the Cordillera Blanca. But there is something that separates this summit from others – it is relatively easy to reach. This is being said, this climb is not for everyone, but if you can do 17 hours of hiking over 24 hours, you’ll be okay. It is also worth noting that this hike is mostly in the snow and at a high altitude!

Tocllaraju mountain in cordillera blanca
Tocllaraju Mountain

It is not a difficult mountain to climb but of course it has some technicalities to overcome. The first challenging wall is at a 55-degree angle, while the wall just before the summit has a 60-degree angle.

Access to Tocllaraju mountain is possible through the Ishinca Valley – one of the most famous valleys in the Cordillera Blanca. From this valley, you can climb multiple summits such as Ishinca and Urus.

Climbing Tocllaraju mountain
A stunning sunrise from the summit

It was my second climbing adventure over 6,000m. My first experience was in Bolivia where I climbed the Huayna Potosi peak at 6,088m. In comparison, I believe that the climbingTocllaraju was more challenging than climbing Huayna Potosi. But of course, I had more satisfaction from the second summit, because it was much more technical than my first climb, and I could test myself against challenging conditions.

In general, climbing Tocllaraju takes 4 days. However, due to several circumstances, I did it in 3 days – but it was really hard to do so. And I need to confess that the final day was the most challenging adventure I have had.

How everything started…

Early in the morning, we went by car to Pashpa (3,700m), from where we started our hike.

Tocllaraju mountain in Cordillera Blanca
Starting our hike at 3,700m

It was a very nice and light trek.

Tocllaraju mountain in Cordillera Blanca
Donkey’s carrying our equipment

The route was mostly flat, so it was a pleasure to walk it. It took us around 6 hours to reach our first base camp (4,250m).

The route was mostly flat, so it was a pleasure to walk there. It took us around 6 hours to reach the first base camp (4250 m.a.s.l.)
Me, enjoying the first part of the hike
Tocllaraju mountain in Cordillera Blanca
Enjoying the great weather we had on the hike

At base camp, we had a nice dinner and fell asleep soon after.

Tocllaraju mountain in cordillera blanca
Preparing for bed on day 1

The following day, started trekking at around 9 AM. This stretch was much harder as it had a greater incline.

Tocllaraju mountain in cordillera blanca
Feeling energized at the start of day 2

Fortunately, for the first 3 hours of the hike, a horse carried my equipment. This gave me some extra energy for the “night attack” of the summit, as well as for my final day. This was especially important as I had less time to complete the trek than most of the others, who did the tour in 4 days.

Tocllaraju mountain in cordillera blanca
Hiking bag-free on day 2
Tocllaraju mountain in cordillera blanca
It was very cold!
Tocllaraju mountain
Approaching the second base camp

We arrived at our second base camp (5,320m), at around 3:00 PM.

Climbing Tocllaraju mountain in Cordillera Blanca
A magical sunset on day 2
Climbing Tocllaraju mountain in Cordillera Blanca
It felt like being in a pink cloud!

Here I had quite a strong headache, so right after unfolding the tent, I took pills to decrease this pain, took some pictures and had a rest. After 3 hours, I felt much better.

Climbing Tocllaraju mountain in Cordillera Blanca
Getting much-needed rest in my cozy tent

At around 1:30 AM, we started to attack the summit.

Climbing Tocllaraju mountain
Attacking the summit with a smile 🙂

Because of the attitude we walked slowly.

Tocllaraju mountain in Cordillera Blanca
Slowly climbing to the top

We arrived at the top at around 9.30 AM – so it was quite a long climb.

Tocllaraju2
Resting at the top of the summit

Some minutes after arriving to the top, the weather started to change. So we did not have too much time to enjoy the views.

Tocllaraju1
Posing in front of the grey weather

Unfortunately, on the way back down as well, the weather was bad so we could not see anything further than an arms-length away. The fog made it impossible to walk fast. Sometimes we had to even stop for 15 minutes or more and wait for the weather conditions to improve.

On the way down, we were able to admire the beauty of nature, creating many spectacular shapes. Here, for example, a face of a man.

Tocllaraju in Cordillera Blanca
Do you see the face of a man?

We got back to the second base camp at 3:00 PM, so the total climbing for the day was 14 hours!

Tocllaraju in Cordillera Blanca
Making our way back down to the second base camp

It was already quite late, especially as I had intended to finish the entire trip on this day! From the second base camp to the first base camp, we took another 3 hours. We packed our equipment very quickly, ate some soup and made our way to the first base camp with our rucksacks on our backs (which seemed to be much heavier than the day before). Fortunately, this journey was downhill, making things a little easier. The only problem was the weather, which dramatically changed to snow and rain – being quite dangerous. It was easy to fall on the rocks, which we overcame on the first day.

At 6:30 PM, we arrived at our first base camp. The rest of the group could relax as they had an extra night on the tour. However, my friend and I decided to come back to Huaraz on that day, so there was no time to rest. We had to do ANOTHER 3 hours of trekking to Pashpa. There, a taxi was waiting for us and took us to Huaraz, where we arrived at midnight. You will not guess what I did after leaving the taxi I bought triple French fries and coca cola. It was not the healthiest meal, but I was so hungry and tired that I did not want to suffer any longer. So, I chose fast food, which I love and try to avoid at the same time. Of course, after an adventure as exhausting as mine, I had a great excuse to indulge.

It was a really great adventure. Just one important thing: definitely do the 4-day tour instead of the 3-day tour, if you have time. As I proved, it is possible to do in 3 days, however, it is VERY hard. For experienced climbers, it may not be that big of a deal, however for those who do occasional climbing – then it definitely will be.

In the article On the way to Yanapaccha summit in the Cordillera Blanca, you can read and view some pictures about the possibility of climbing Yanapaccha Mountain in the region Huaraz.

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