Huascaran National Park: Protecting Highest Tropical Mountain Range

Huascaran is situated in the Yungay province of Peru. It is one among the Cordillera Blanca ranges in the western Andes. This peak is the highest in Peru after Aconcagua, Ojos del Salado, and Monte Pissis, respectively. Huascaran National Park is located in Peru Ancash, which is very close to Huaraz, Ancash. This mountain comprises of the world’s highest tropical mountain known as Cordillera Blanca. It is in the central part of the Andes in the Ancash region. The national park is within a boundary of 840,000 acres or 340,000 hectares. The Huascaran National Park is under the authority and control of the Peruvian Network of Protected Natural Areas, or SERNANP (Servicio Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas). This national park was also declared one of the World Heritage Sites in the year 1985 by UNESCO. The Huascaran National Park has been known as one of the best mountaineering spots as well as a diverse location that serves as a home to different plant species that are quite rare in the world.

We have summed up everything you need to know about Huascaran and Huascaran National Park in this article. Make sure to stay tuned till the end to know more!

Mount Huascaran

Mount Huascaran

Mount Huascaran is a mountain in Peru that stands at a height of 6,768 m (22,205 ft) with a prominence of 2,776 m (9,108 ft). The mountain is one that did not have a specific name for many years. Different people referred to this mountain differently. Locals in the country would later call the mountain by a name close to the village of Huashco, Huashco. Many people at the time would simply call the mountain Huascan. To a great extent, the village locals would consider the mountain to have had a significant connection with the village. This led them to name the peak yet again Huashco-Urán, meaning “Beyond and down from the village of Huashco.”

The local indigenous inhabitants would even call Mount Huascaran Matarao and Mataraju, which refers to twin snow peaks. Huascaran is responsible for the name of the Huascaran National Park. This mountain is located inside the boundary of this national park. The presence of both the mountain and the national park has made it easier for the location to be popular among tourists as well as local adventurers. The location is especially famous for trekking, mountaineering, and sight, along with an educational purpose for the ecological species found there.

The core of Mount Huascaran contains Cenozoic granite. The mountain is the farthest peak from the earth’s center.

How difficult is it to climb Mount Huascaran?

How difficult is it to climb Mount Huascaran

Mount Huascaran is fairly easy to climb. The mountain can be climbed or summited from Musho village in the west, towards a high camp in the col separating two summits, La Garganta. It takes around 5 to 7 days to climb Huascaran. There is a huge ice block that has been known to act as a blockage for the route. Nine mountaineers were caught in the 2016 avalanche that took place in Mount Huascaran. Unfortunately, four of them perished in the mountain. Though the mountain is not very fatal, many incidents over the years have proven this fact to be a bit faulty.

Is Huascaran located inside Huascaran National Park?

Yes, Huascaran is located inside Huascaran National Park. In fact, this national park gets its name from the mountain that it surrounds. Mount Huascaran is Peru’s highest peak. Hence, the national park and the mountain combinedly serves as great place for trekking and mountaineers for visitors. There are 300 glacial lakes in the Huascaran National Park. Mount Huascaran is responsible, to an extent, for the national park being one of the most glaciated parks with this many glacial lakes. There are around 1,000 mountaineering routes and 24 trekking routes in Huascaran National Park.

History of Huascaran National Park

History of Huascaran National Park

The Peruvian Congress was billed to build the Huascaran National Park in 1960. The Cordillera Blanca National Park has a total area of 321,000 hectares or 790,000 acres. It was first proposed to be established in 1963 by the Forestry and Hunting Service (Servicio Forestal y de Caza). In the Cordillera Blanca, the government issued a resolution prohibiting the harvesting and killing indigenous plants and animals. The Patronage of Huascarán National Park was set up in Yungay later the same year. In that year, the Forest Regional Service of Huaraz also established the vicua and queen-of-the-Andes surveillance zone; Peace Corps volunteers Curry Slaymaker and Joel Albrecht developed a delimitation proposal for an area of 85,000 hectares (210,000 acres). Huascarán National Park officially opened on July 1st, 1975, by order No. 0622-75-AG, which encompasses an area of 340,000 hectares (840,000 acres).

For obvious reasons, the park wanted to prohibit any residence in the area, given the fact that there were still settlements around and even inside the Huascaran National Park after its establishment. While the settlements, to an extent, decreased, the locals could not quite make a living without raising the livestock in the area. Hence, the authorities would only avoid settlements as much as they could and were able to.

What are the geography and ecology of Huascaran National Park?

geography and ecology of Huascaran National Park

The Huasacaran National Park is the guardian of the Cordillera Blanca, which is the world’s highest tropical mountain. With a height of 2,500 meters (8,200 ft), the mountain has become a great source of income for the country, and the national park to go with has boosted tourism in the country. Some of the most outstanding features of the Huascaran National Park are its 300 glacial lakes, 660 tropical glaciers, U-shaped valleys, and high plateaus.

The climate in the national park can be divided into dry and rainy from the months of December to March and November to April. The former months have been considered the best by mountaineers and trekkers to come to this mountain and the national park for both a climb and a trek. The temperature can go from the highest of 20 °C (68 °F) to a lowest of 5 °C (41 °F). In dry or extreme winter times, the temperature can go from 24 °C (75 °F) to 2 °C (36 °F).

Flora and fauna in Huascaran National Park are found in good quantity. One might just find the rarest of plants and animals in the national park. The most common flowers or plants in the Huascaran national park are Queen of the Andes (Puya raimondii), Polylepis racemosa, Escallonia resinosa, Alnus acuminata, Senna birostris, Vallea stipularis, Lupinus spp., Vaccinium floribundum, Calamagrostis vicunarum, Festuca dolichophylla, Jarava ichu, Azorella spp., etc.

Similarly, the birds that you find here include Andean condor, the torrent duck, the puna tinamou, the brown pintail, the Andean crested duck, the giant hummingbird, the yanavico, the white-tufted grebe, the giant coot, the Chicano thrush and the Andean gull. The animals, on the other hand, include the colocolo, the Andean mountain cat, the spectacled bear, the taruca deer, the vicuña, the white-tailed deer, the puma, the northern viscacha, the long-tailed weasel, the hog-nosed skunk, and the Andean fox.

What is the main highlight of Huascaran National Park?

What is the main highlight of Huascaran National Park

Huascaran National Park is famous for not just a single but several aspects. People often visit the national park with the aim of climbing the mountain, trekking, mountain biking, skiing, hiking, and to conduct cultural tourism. Huascaran National Park is possibly one of the best places for scientific research as well. One can research meteorology, geology, glaciology, botany, limnology, zoology, ecology, and wildlife management and get the desired amount of results from here.

For archaeological work, there are sites that include cave paintings, ancient settlements, terraces for agriculture, tombs, fortresses, and irrigation works. The archaeological sites make up around 33 suitable locations to conduct research. The pre-Columbian road in the center of the towns of Olleros and Chavin makes this national park all the more fascinating for people all around the world, irrespective of field of work or motive.

What problems are Mount Huascaran and Huascaran National Park facing?

Is Huascaran located inside Huascaran National Park

As global warming has exceeded over the years, there are just so many problems that have been taking place in the glaciers of Mount Huascaran. The pride of the mountains is their glaciers. Unfortunately, the glaciers in Mount Huascaran have been melting not just because of global warming but also because of the lack of care towards the environmental aspects of the national park and the mountain.

illegal mining operations paired with low environmental standards, hydropower projects, loss of biodiversity because of excessive agriculture and pasture activities, etc., have been affecting the locals negatively. The locals in the areas have been granted access to the ancestral lands inside the Huascaran National Park. Hence, it becomes impossible to take their rights away from them even for the authorities.

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