Mountain Spirit Institutes Executive Director met Jorge
Martel, former president of the Peruvian Mountain Guides Association,
when the two were leading an expedition on Perus highest
peak, Mt. Huascaran. Since their meeting, Martel has been instrumental starting
a non-profit project bringing experiential programs to his area
in the form of backcountry climbs and treks. Alternative MSI itineraries
in the Cordillera Blanca to include backcountry circumnavigations,
climbing on Mt. Pisco, Huascaran.
A touchstone of this program
is connection to the mountains, the local people and the incredibly
rich and important archeological history of the area.
One of the routes, starting in Olleros Peru, traverses the Cordillera
Blanca from west to east. While on the program, participants will
interact with villagers, go on a solo, learn local customs and
living techniques, perform some form of service, and visit the
important ruins of the area.
This area is known as the Cordillera Blanca, or White Mountain
Range. It consists of dramatic scenery of captivating beauty,
with more than 35 glaciated mountains that rise on average to
19,685 feet with more than 650 lagoons with turquoise blue waters.
The Huascaran National Park is a place of incomparable scenic
beauty, which contains the highest peak in Peru, Huascarán,
at 22,132 feet. Due to the important fauna and flora characteristic
of the area and the ranges spectacular scenery, this site
has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Climbing in the Cordillera Blanca
Climbing in the Cordillera Blanca ranges from moderate to advanced mountaineering. Prior climbing experience and training are necessary. Small groups, no larger than 6 with two guides provide the low impact to mountain and community.
Peaks on our radar screen are Mt. Pisco, the Ischinka Valley and environs and in some cases, Mt. Huascaran for those with proper experience and training.
A service project designed by the particpants is incorporated to this program. The Huasacaran National Park as well as The Mountain Institute of Huaraz always have need of assistance.
Please contact us if you would like to arrange an expedition.
Below are some excerpts
from a booklet describing creation of the nonprofit "Llama
2000" trekking program:
Perceptive to the foreigner's fascination with these uncommon
and highly photogenic animals, a group of campesinos from the
Valley de Huaylas started discussing the possibility of organizing
a service with llamas and alpacas.
From this idea evolved the project of "Llama 2000",
a community-based tourism initiative designed to reaffirm and
promote the traditions that give significance and continuity
to life in the Andes. Central to this goal is an effort to revive
the tradition of packing with llamas, especially in Huascaran
National Park (H.N.P.), where decreased use of burros and horses
would help relieve some environmental pressure in this highly
Today, Llama 2000 is chiefly managed by its original innovators,
a group of campesinos from the Valley of Huaylas who comprise
The Association of Auxiliary Mountain Services Olleros - Chavin
(ASAM), an non-profit organization officially recognized by the
Department of Industry and Tourism.
The pre-eminent pack animal, llamas were bred for packing in
South America as early as 3,000 - 4,000 B.C., and played an important
role in the transportation systems of ancient Peruvian society.
Past to Future
These communities realize the potential benefits and threats
of tourism, and they are proud and eager to have a stake in deciding
the destiny of their Andean heritage and ancestral land. They
want to ensure that the Andean artistry and craftsmanship of their
grandparents is proudly upheld and admired by their children.
They want to acknowledge that Nature provides organic medicines
and observe the custom of reciprocity: to borrow only what is
necessary and, in due time, repay what is borrowed. They want
the Andean music and dance that tempers their emotions to also
touch ones soul. They want the Peruvian Andes, their mountain
home, to always be synonymous with "pristine landscapes"
and "natural beauty.' This land is their legacy. They want
the travelers who visit their humble villages to remember the
people of the Andes for their sincere hospitality and distinct
Support for Llama 2000 comes from The Mountain Institute in Peru,
PromPeru and the European Union. Kawey Kawey, is a nonprofit that
was established in 1995 with the Institute to create a center
of cultural and economic development.
If you're interested in experiencing this program or want more
details, please contact MSI.
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PHOTO CREDIT: Llama Treking image from