My girlfriend and I were very happy with our guide experience with Eco Ice tours. We included a quick summary of our trip to help anyone who is interested in a mountaineering trip in general or who is considering climbing Vallunaraju. Hopefully it helps someone! Bottom-line is that we had a great experience with Orlando and Eco Ice and we cannot recommend them enough.
Upon arriving to Huaraz, the owner, Orlando, met with us to ensure that his guide service was tailored to our needs. He informed us that we would be the only people in the group doing the climb and we were excited to have a personalized tour. We had originally planned on spending two nights at Moraine camp before climbing Vallunaraju (5686 m), but he recommended that we do a day trip to climb Nevado Mateo (5150 m) as a warmup/acclimization climb in lieu of the extra day at base camp. Nevado Mateo was a fairly easy and very short climb, but the views were incredible. It ended up being the perfect refresher for snow climbing with the use of ropes, crampons and ice axes.
The next day, we left our hotel and climbed to moraine camp at Vallunaraju. The hike to base camp was steep and slow going with our gear. Luckily, our amazing porter, Miguel carried a majority of the load including tents and food. The view from base camp was almost as breathtaking as sleeping at nearly 5000 m. Miguel prepared a delicious dinner and we bundled up for the cold, short night in the tent. We should mention that Orlando and our guides went out of their way to make sure that we were comfortable and warm at camp, which we definitely appreciated . We woke up at 1 am to push for the summit and found that it was foggy and snowy. The fog and snow actually seemed to make for a warmer morning than if skies were clear, and the snow was very tolerable. After a quick 3rd class scramble, we reached the glacier and geared up. We reached the summit right at first light, which was a very cool experience. Apart from a steep section near the summit, the climb was non-technical, but still very tiring. The effort was well worth it as the morning light revealed the spectacular views of the Cordillera Blanca and the mass of the mountain that we had just ascended in darkness. It was a truly amazing experience that we cannot recommend enough!
Our guide, Freddie, and porter, Miguel were excellent and we felt very safe the entire time. We loved hearing of all of the mountaineering experiences that Freddie had, and his general enthusiasm for all climbing activities.
After we returned to town and rested for a few hours, Orlando invited us to dinner where we ate a delicious plate of local chicken, vegetables and of course, pisco sours!
We would recommend Eco Ice to anyone headed to Huaraz for an adventure and we would recommend the Valuunaraju climb to anyone that is in reasonably good shape and ready to push on towards a higher, non-technical summit. Thank you Orlando, Freddie, and Miguel!
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