Peru is a South American country located on the Pacific coast. It has three distinct geographic regions, namely including the desert coast, the mountains, and the rainforests. The Andes mountains separate the desert from the rainforest and run the length of the country. They are home to some of the highest mountain peaks in South America. This article takes a look at some of the tallest mountains found in Peru.
The Tallest Mountains
Both the tallest and second tallest peaks in Peru from part of Huascarán mountain. This particular mountain has 2 major peaks, the southern, Sur, at 22,205 feet in elevation and the northern, Norte, at 21,834 feet in elevation. It is located within the Cordillera Blanca range of the Andes mountains. The Huascaran National Park surrounds this mountain and is a popular tourist destination. Climbers begin the ascent from the town of Musho, reaching the top takes between 5 and 7 days. In 1932, a German-Austrian climbing expedition was the first to make it to the summit of Huascarán Sur. Huascarán Norte, however, was summited by a US expedition in 1902. During the Ancash earthquake of 1970, an avalanche caused part of the north side of the mountain to collapse and the resulting landslide destroyed the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca. The tragedy took over 20,000 lives in these communities. Huascarán mountain is named after the Inca Emperor Huascar.
Yerupajá is the third tallest mountain in Peru, standing at an elevation of 21,709 feet. This mountain is located in the same region as the previously mentioned Huascarán, but is part of the Cordillera Huayhuash range. This peak stands out among the others in the range for its unique appearance. It has a broad face that rises into a sharp, long peak. Few successful climbing expeditions have taken place on this mountain as it is considered the most difficult Andean peak to summit. The summit was first reached in 1950 and has been climbed at least 3 times since then. Yerupajá is a Quechua word, a local indigenous language, that means “white sunrise”.
Reaching an altitude of 21,079 feet above sea level, Coropuna is the fourth tallest mountain in Peru. In contrast to the other mountains mentioned above, this peak is located in the region of Arequipa in southern Peru. It is part of the Cordillera Occidental of the Andes range. Coropuna is a 5-million year old, active volcano that was formed from lava flows. It has been covered by a glacier for the last 2.5 to 5 million years. Researchers believe the ice cap will disappear by 2045, cutting of the water supply for thousands of people. According to Inca legend, Coropuna is a sacred mountain and is the site of the highest water irrigation system in the world.
For a more complete list of the tallest mountains in Peru, take a look at the table below.
Glacial Melting in Peru
The vast majority of the the world’s tropical glaciers are located in South America, and Peru alone has 71% of those on the continent. Glaciers are important because they provide water to nearby rivers which provides water for human consumption, agriculture, and hydroelectricity. Unfortunately, these glaciers are melting at a rapid rate. This loss of ice will first lead to risk of flooding and then, severe water shortages. This is particularly detrimental in Peru where 3.3 million people are already without access to water.