Mountaineering and Trekking in the Andes, Huaraz, Peru

This course takes place in the High Sierra region of Peru within the Cordillera Blanca in Huascaran National Park. In addition to mountaineering skills, participants will be immersed in the local culture and learn about flora, fauna, and ecotourism challenges of the area.


Students are eligible to earn two credits by taking PTRM 291: Peru Mountaineering and Leadership. The area of study provides bountiful educational opportunities in both the environmental and cultural arenas, pertaining to topics like water quantity and quality from both climate change and a prominent mining economy, eco-tourism as a means of generating income and protecting natural resources, cultural history and pride in a time of modernization.

The trip has changed people's lives! Ask anyone who has attended. The trip starts out with some acclimatization hikes in the areas around Huaraz, then continues as a four-day trek (one of the most popular) in the Cordillera Blanca, the Santa Cruz Trek. It is approximately 30 miles of trail, and the trek includes views of spectacular glaciated peaks, alpine valleys, scattered quenual forests and crosses a pass of 14,700 feet. With donkeys helping carry the load, the trek is made even more enjoyable and allows you to focus your attention on acclimatization instead of how heavy your pack feels at altitude.  Navigationally speaking, the route is easy to follow and if there are questions the donkey driver knows the way. In regards to the mountaineering course, this course will prepare participants with little to no mountaineering experience to be contributing members of a climbing team by first taking a careful look at the many hazards that snow covered mountains offer, then systematically learning the skills and techniques to combat these dangers. A peak climb objective is included to provide participants with a supervised climbing experience in which they can take the lead (as appropriate) of the climb with an instructor supporting and advising as necessary. 

More details about the course

Students will fly into Lima, Peru. They'll take a bus to Huaraz, Peru the next day (an eight-hour bus ride) and spend a day in orientation and then start hiking with an acclimatization hike to Lake Churup at 4,500 meters. 

The Santa Cruz trek is one of the most popular in the Cordillera Blanca. Covering approximately 30 miles in four days, students will be in glaciated peaks, alpine valleys, quenal forests and cross a pass at 14,700 feet. Donkeys will help carry gear. The mountaineering skills course will teach skills like hazard evaluation, climbing knots, crevasse rescue and much more. 

  • A few acclimatization hikes in the Huaraz area before the Santa Cruz trek.
  • A food buy outing to the local market.
  • A four-day hiking component in the Santa Cruz valley, taking the students to altitudes between 3,000-4,750 meters, winding between 6,000+ meter glaciated peaks. 
  • A six-day mountaineering skills course on a glaciated mountain called Yanapaqcha, 5,460 meters above sea level.
  • Become a contributing member of a roped climbing team and culminate your experience on the mountain with a participant-led summit attempt on Yanapaqcha (as skill and comfort level allow). 
  • Celebratory banquet in Huaraz

About the instructor

Elizabeth Fricke is Senior Assistant Director of the Outdoor Program at the University of Montana. Elizabeth coordinates all outdoor classes and trips, and the climbing wall. She collaborates with academic departments on campus to offer outdoor education classes for credit (including beginning and intermediate rock climbing, trekking and mountaineering in Peru, whitewater kayaking, backcountry ski camping). Elizabeth partners with the U.S. Forest Service and Fish Wildlife and Parks on permits and utilizing the land and rivers around Montana. She also partners with the Missoula Avalanche Foundation to provide avalanche education classes and permits for those classes. She received a B.S. in Recreation Management from Appalachian State University and M.S. in Educational Leadership from the University of Montana. 

The guides for this program are from Skyline Adventure School, a Peru-based adventure travel company.

Course name:
PTRM 291 Peru Mountaineering and Leadership

Dates: 08/01/20 - 08/16/20

Free promotional slideshow Q&A session at 5 p.m. on Feb. 21 at the ODP 

$2,500 (potential to be lowered depending on enrollment)

$200 deposit due May 6, 2019 and total payment due May 17, 2019. 

Includes food, gear, park fees (does not include plane ticket) 

Application Deadline:
Register by May 1, 2019

Read the course syllabus. For more information and to apply, contact course instructor Elizabeth Fricke