The Cordillera Blanca (Spanish for "White Range") is a mountain range in the Ancash Region of Peru. It is part of the larger Andes range and includes thirty three major peaks over 5,500 metres (18,040 ft) high in an area 21 kilometres (13 mi) wide and 180 kilometres (112 mi) long.
In 1966, the Alpamayo mountain was declared "World's Most Beautiful Mountain" by an international survey lead by Tonni Hiebler (former climber) on May 1966 in Münich.
Snow melt from the Cordillera Blanca has provided Peru with its year-round water supplies, while 80% of Peru's power comes from hydroelectricity. With global warming, the area of permanent ice pack shrank by about a third between the 1970s and 2006.
If you take a 400m re-ascent criterion for selecting separate peaks then there are sixteen 6000m peaks in the Cordillera Blanca, and a further seventeen peaks over 5500m. Huascaran Sur, the highest peak, has two commonly quoted heights - 6746m from the Peruvian IGM map, and 6768 from the OEAV survey map.
A small selection of the more famous peaks are listed below.
|Huascarán Sur||6,768 m (22,200 ft)|
|Huascarán Norte||6,655 m (21,830 ft)|
|Huandoy Norte||6,395 m (20,980 ft)|
|Nevado Huantsan||6,395 m (20,980 ft)|
|Chopicalqui||6,354 m (20,850 ft)|
|Copa||6,188 m (20,300 ft)|
|Hualcan||6,122 m (20,090 ft)|
|Chacraraju||6,112 m (20,050 ft)|
|Artesonraju||5,999 m (19,680 ft)|
|Alpamayo||5,947 m (19,510 ft)|
|Nevado Pisco||5,752 m (18,870 ft)|
The glaciers of the Cordillera Blanca are very important to life in the valley of the Callejon de Huaylas. They provide water for the irrigation of the puna grasslands and keep the main Santa river free from drought the whole year. They also support the life of the hydroelectric powerstation of Cañón del Pato and form many beautiful lagoons. The estimated number of glaciers is 260. All of them are over 4000m above sea level; 185 are located on the western slopes and 75 on the eastern slopes.
As is the case with all of the Andean glaciers, the Cordillera Blanca has witnessed a major retreat of its glaciers during the 20th century due to global warming. Studies have show a retreat of over 15% since the 1970s. Some glaciers, such as the Broggi Glacier, have disappeared altogether with many experts warning that all of the glaciers may be gone within the coming decades.
The Laguna Parón – the biggest in the Cordillera Blanca – is considered to be the most beautiful of all the lagoons created by the glaciers. It is located just north of Huandoy mountain, in Caraz. Its water coloration is a deep turquoise blue.
Other famous lagoons are the two in the Llanganuco valley: Laguna Chinancocha (female lagoon) and Laguna Orconcocha (male lagoon). These lagoons have green-turquoise water and are frequently visited by tourists. They are surrounded by quenoa forests at the foot of Huascarán. It is possible to drive the 25 km to these lagoons by a gravel road, leaving the Callejon de Huaylas highway near the re-built town of Yungay.
Under the snow peaks of Artesonraju and Alpamayo, there are two more beautiful lagoons: Laguna Santa Cruz Chica and Laguna Santa Cruz Grande. The only way to get to these two lagoons is by trekking or taking a horse from Caraz.
In the Callejon de Huaylas, there are no fewer than 22 hot springs, of which Monterrey, at 2073m above sea level, stands out because of its tourist infrastructure. It has swimming pools and individual and family ponds. Its sodium chloride water gets up to 49 °C. They are prescribed for rheumatic conditions, chronic nervousness, palsy, etc.
The name Cordillera Blanca in and of itself sounds imposing. Known to be one of the biggest mountain ranges in the world, the majority of its peaks measure around 6000 m.a.s.l.
Located 100 km from the Pacific coast and measuring 180 km long, The Cordillera Blanca forms a natural barrier between the coast and the Amazon jungle. Every mountain top is more beautiful than the next, and many hiking trips can be arranged through the Cordillera’s grand mountain passes. The mountain roads were built centuries ago by the native people of the region.
The Cordillera Blanca, and its many beautiful places, is now accessible by various roads using 4x4 vehicles. Huaraz, at 3091 m.a.s.l., used to be a beautiful little town until the terrible earthquake of 1970. Though the village has been reconstructed, it is not quite as beautiful as it used to be. That said, the National Park of Huascaran is close to Huaraz; founded in 1975 the Park is a nature preserve for the amazing flora and fauna of the region. The surrounding landscapes are beyond beautiful, and the area is also well-known for its giant plants called Puyas de Raymondy, some of which measure more than 10 meters. Definitely worth seeing! To organize your tour in the Cordillera Blanca contact the travel agency Terra Andina Peru 
The Cordillera Blanca and its Huascarán National Park offer excellent possibilities for trekking.
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