Nathan Heald

Mountain Guide / Official Tourism Guide

Cusco, Peru


Like most people who come to Peru to climb mountains I started in the Cordillera Blanca in 2008. The same year I had trekked below Salkantay on the way to Machu Picchu and was captivated by the great mountain, little did I know that our destinies would be entwined years later. While planning an expedition to Ausangate in 2010, I was surprised to see that in Cusco there was no mountaineering culture like in the Cordillera Blanca where I had climbed for a few seasons. The ranges of Cusco felt different, more adventurous, like they extended into timeless, forgotten places at the ends of the earth and the amazon. Legends of the Apus descended from ancient times giving the people a more mystical view in respect to the mountains. There were ranges of high peaks with nobody climbing them and I heard the calling.

Since 2011 our team has pioneered mountaineering and Mountain Tourism in the Cusco region. While exploring the ranges of Cusco, climbing many new routes and first ascents, I have amassed the most experienced guiding and climbing curriculum in the history of the area (see below). I am well known in Cusco as the only guide to summit Salkantay since 1988. I also guide and climb in the Cordillera Blanca where I have made the summits of some of the most difficult mountains in Peru and the entire Andes: Yerupaja, Huantsán and Huandoy. Our climbs have been featured in news outlets like “Barrabes”, “Desnivel” and the prestigious American Alpine Journal 2014 - 2018. I am currently trying to climb the 10 highest mountains in Peru which no one has done yet.

These great ascents and the excellent service we provide would not be possible without the team of our local friends. One of my most trusted friends, Luis Crispin from the community of Pacchanta at the foot of Ausangate, is my climbing partner with whom I have shared many incredible ascents. He has even made me the Godfather of his youngest daughter. Another great friend Edwin Espinoza, from the town of Mollepata at the foot of Salkantay, has been a major part in all operations of that area from the beginning. With the passage of time I have come to know the “Ladies of the Mountain” Señoras Lucilla and Edith who live in the secluded valley north of Salkantay, where we have a house with them and who have become like family to us. My great friend Marco Jurado (IFMGA/UIAGM Guide) comes to Cusco to work with us during the climbing season as well.

My wife Kerly Salamanca and I, work with Luis, Edwin, Edith and other local families who live in the areas we visit, so we may give our visitors an authentic experience far away from the crowds and popular trails. If you want to get off the tourist tracks and have a real mountain experience in Cusco, let us know well in advance!

- Nathan Heald -

kerly-nate nate-edwin-macario-luis edith-lucilla marco-jurado

Main Climbs

I have climbed many other mountains in Peru and other places, but the list below are the climbs I am most proud of, that have given me extensive guiding and climbing experience in the Andes of Peru.

    Nevado Allincapac (5,837mts), Cordillera Carabaya
  • West Face - “D” - 6th ascent overall
  • October 5-8, 2016
  • Summit: October 8th at 9:30am
  • Publication
  • Video
    Nevado Artesonraju (6,025mts), Cordillera Blanca
  • SW Aréte – “TD”
  • Summit: June 14, 2015 at 2pm
  • With Duncan M, Tom R (USA)
  • Paramount pictures logo peak.
    Nevado Ausangate (6,384mts), Cordillera Vilcanota
  • NW Face – “TD”
  • I have climbed the NW face of Ausangate twice, the first time with Luis Crispin and Edwin Espinoza on July 8th, 2013 to the summit ridge. The second with Roger G (Switzerland) on July 15th, 2015 to the main summit.
  • Publication
  • Video
  • Video
    Nevado Ausangate (6,384mts), Cordillera Vilcanota
  • SE Face - Normal Route – “AD”
  • I have summited Ausangate ten times by the normal route from 2010 until 2017.
  • Video
    Nevado Callangate IV (6,120m), Cordillera Vilcanota
  • New Route, 4th ascent Overall: West Face - 900m - “D” - WI3
  • April 20th, 2015 at 9:50am
  • With Luis Crispin (Peru) and Caleb J (USA)
  • Publication
    Cerro Soray (5,446m), Cordillera Vilcabamba
  • Luis Crispin and I made the first ascent of Cerro Soray by the SE ridge on September 8th, 2012. Edwin Espinoza and I climbed the north face on October 24th, 2012 and we have since ascended many times by this route (PD).
  • Publication
  • Video
  • Video
    Nevado Chichicapac (5,650m) Cordillera Carabaya
  • West face – “D”
  • July 4th, 2016 (This peak has only been climbed a handful of times)
  • With Jeanne Z., Duncan M., Vahitaire B.
  • Publication
Colque Cruz
    Nevado Colque Cruz (Alcamarinayoc) (6,102m), Cordillera Vilcanota
  • New Route – 7th ascent overall – South face – “D+”
  • September 25th, 2014
  • With Edwin Espinoza
  • Publication
    Nevado Huandoy (6,395m), Cordillera Blanca
  • New route variation – NW Face – 1,200m – “TD”
  • October 19th, 2017
  • I soloed Huandoy Norte (6,395m) in 19 hours roundtrip from high camp at 5,200m.
  • Publication
  • Video
    Nevado Huantsán (6,395m), Cordillera Blanca
  • West wall to West summit to Main summit – 1,300m – “TD+” - We were the first to complete this to the summit after several previous attempts by other teams since 1972.
  • July 31st, 2018 (22 hours roundtrip from Camp 1 at 5,750m)
  • With Arttu Pylkkanen, Johanes Suikkanen, Macario Crispin, Devin Corboy, Javier Reyes
    Nevado Huayna Ausangate (5,600m), Cordillera Vilcanota
  • New Route – 4th ascent: North face - west ridge - south face, 600m, “D”, AI3, M4
  • September 29th, 2015
  • With Luis Crispin
  • Publication
    Nevado Humantay North (5,403m), Cordillera Vilcabamba
  • First Ascent: North Face – 500m – “D”
  • July 9th, 2014
  • With Macario Crispin, Michael Hauss and Michael Church (This peak is the northernmost on the chain that extends NW from Nevado Salkantay west ridge. They are labeled “Nevados Humantay” on the Peruvian IGN topo map, none of these had any recorded ascents.)
  • Publication
    Nevado Humantay South (5,455m), Cordillera Vilcabamba
  • First Ascent: SE Face – 500m – “AD”
  • October 28th, 2017
  • With Emil Tjonneland and Jack Barker (This peak is the southernmost on the chain that extends NW from Nevado Salkantay west ridge. They are labeled “Nevados Humantay” on the Peruvian IGN topo map, none of these had any recorded ascents.)
  • Publication 1
  • Publication 2
    Nevado Jatunhuma (Tres Picos) (6,127m), Cordillera Vilcanota
  • New Route: 7th ascent overall - East Face – 700m – “D+”
  • June 1st, 2016
  • With Derek Field
  • Publication
  • Video
    Nevado Mariposa (5,842m), Cordillera Vilcanota
  • North Face – 800m – “D”
  • I have climbed Mariposa twice: on May 9th, 2012 free soloing and filming a Peruvian rope team, and while guiding Jeff and Camille P. from France on September 10th, 2015. We traversed the peak and descended the South face directly to the Ausangate Base Camp.
  • Video
    Nevado Palqay (5,422m), Cordillera Vilcabamba
  • First Ascent: SW Buttress – 600m – “D”
  • May 11th, 2015
  • With Edwin Espinoza and Waldemar Niclevicz
  • Publication
    Nevado Panta (Otaña) (5,680m), Cordillera Vilcabamba
  • 2nd Ascent: New Route – SW Face – 800m – “D”
  • August 16th, 2016
  • With Duncan McDaniel and Waldemar Niclevicz
  • Publication
Puca Punta
    Nevado Puca Punta (5,740m), Cordillera Vilcanota
  • 5th Ascent: New Route – South Face of Caracol Traverse West Ridge – 800m – “TD”
  • June 1st, 2013
  • With Luis Crispin
  • Publication
  • Video
    Nevado Pumasillo (5,991m), Cordillera Vilcabamba
  • West Ridge – 1,000m – “TD” – WI4
  • August 11th, 2016
  • Duncan McDaniel, Waldemar Niclevicz and I climbed this route in 22hours from Moraine Camp (4,900m). We stopped 50m below the summit. This route had been climbed 5 times from 1957 to 1974 but the ridge is now very broken.
  • Publication
    Nevado Sahuasiray (5,818m), Cordillera Urubamba
  • 2nd Ascent: SW Face – 500m – “D”
  • I went to High camp (5,300m) with Eduardo Baca and Erich Nordt. Then soloed the route to the summit in 5 hours on April 9th, 2014.
  • Publication
    Nevado Chainopuerto (5,650m), Cordillera Urubamba
  • 2nd Ascent: East Face to South Face – 600m – “D” – AI3
  • With Coqui Galvez, Yjeguel Camasa, Eduardo Baca
  • Publication
    Nevado Salkantay (6,279m), Cordillera Vilcabamba
  • NE Ridge and North Face – 1,200m – “D+”
  • I have made the East summit 4 different times with different partners: 2013(twice by the NE ridge), then by the north face in 2015 and 2016. Salkantay had not been climbed since 1988 and is one of the harder mountains in Peru. It is my favorite peak for being so unique and close to the jungle, so much so that I own a cabin at the foot of the peak in the remote Ahobamba valley.
  • Publication
  • Video 1
  • Video 2
    Nevado Sirijuani (5,400m), Cordillera Urubamba
  • New Route: 5th ascent - NW Face – 500m – “AD”
  • January 6th, 2015
  • With Coqui Galvez, Yjeguel Camasa and Eduardo Baca
  • Publication
    Nevado Terijuay (5,330m), Cordillera Urubamba
  • 2nd Ascent: South Face – 500m - “AD”
  • August 17th, 2017
  • With Coqui Galvez, Andres Putallaz, Manolo Urquizo
  • Publication
    Nevado Tucarhuay (Humantay) (5,943m), Cordillera Vilcabamba
  • “Nevado Tucarhuay” on the Peruvian IGN Topo map (sheet2344) is called “Humantay” by the locals. At present, hundreds of tourists go to the “Humantay Lagoon” at the base of this mountain every day. The West peak is 5,943m and the East peak is 5,700m.
  • 3rd Ascent: New Route – South Face Direct – 1,000m – “TD+” – AI4
  • With Duncan McDaniel. We spent a night in a bivouac 150m below the summit on an ice ledge.
  • Publication
  • Video
    Nevado Tucarhuay (Humantay) East Peak (5,700m)
  • 2nd Ascent: North Face – 500m – “AD”
  • September 18th, 2013
  • With Edwin Espinoza
  • Publication
    Nevado Veronica (5,911m), Cordillera Urubamba
  • Northeast Face – 1,000m – “D”
  • I have climbed Veronica 5 times: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018.
  • Video
    Nevado Yerupaja (6,634m), Cordillera Huayhuash
  • West Face - 1,200m – “TD”
  • September 12th, 2014
  • With Luis Crispin in 20 hours roundtrip from Camp 1 (5,300m).
  • Publication 1
  • Publication 2

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