Those with experience and equipment who are interested in independent climbs should look to Coropuna (6,425 m / 20,946 ft) and Ampato (6,280 m / 20,473 ft). Both of these peaks have large glaciers on top (Coropuna has stalagmites, while Ampato has stalactites), though theyâ€™re slowly melting and are gradually losing their height. While there are still no landslides from the melt, itâ€™s best to ask around about the situation (referred to in Spanish as dishielo de glaciar) with locals before setting off.
Coropuna, located midway between Colca and Cotahuasi canyons, is Peruâ€™s highest volcano and third highest peak. In Quechua, its name means â€śshrine on the plateau. It is one of Peruâ€™s most sacred mountains. On the western slope, at Achaymarca (4,030 m / 13,222 ft), are Inca ruins from which a trail ascends to over 5,500 meters (18,044 ft). To get to Coropuna, take a public bus from Terminal Terrestre towards Cotahuasi, but you have to tell the driver that you want to be let out at Coropuna. Sometimes this requires arriving there around 2 a.m., so be prepared to walk some 100 meters (350 FT) from the road, set up camp and wait until sunrise.
Ampato is popular both for its grace and beauty, and its proximity to other accessible mountains nearby. It's also of interest as it is where the ice mummy Juanita was found. There is no access by public bus, so you can either rent a jeep or go with an Arequipa-based agency. You can drive to 4,900 meters (15,974 ft). From there it is a two-hour climb to base camp at 5,200 meters (16,952 ft). The summit is another six-hour climb. Another route starts from Cabanaconde, in the Colca Canyon. This trek begins at an Inca ceremonial center at 5,000 meters (16,300 ft) on the northeast side of the volcano. From there, the summit is about seven hours away.
If youâ€™ve got happy feet and are keen for more climbs, the nearby volcanoes of Sabancaya 5,976 m / 19,482 ft) and Wallqa Wallqa (also spelled Hualca Hualca; 6,095 m / 19,642 ft) can also be climbed from this camp.
Around Arequipa, Arequipa, Peru
Travel Skills: advanced/difficult.