Nathan Heald, Climbs and Expeditions


I am an independent mountaineering guide, native of the United States. I live in Cusco with my joyful wife Kerly Salamanca (Peruvian). In 2011 I moved to Cusco, Peru looking for adventure and intent on climbing the highest, most difficult mountains the area had to offer. I had climbed Ausangate in 2010 and was surprised to see that in Cusco there was no mountaineering culture like in Huaraz and 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. But despite having all these wonderful peaks, most all the tourism in Cusco is dedicated to conventional activities. Some adventure options are available like downhill biking, zip lining or rafting but there was almost no information on mountaineering in Cusco at that time. I saw the potential there was and decided to be the first to pioneer the development of the sport in Cusco.

Over the past four years I have compiled the best mountaineering and guiding curriculum in Cusco in history (see below), climbing most of the principal mountains in Cusco and many of them by new routes. I have climbed Ausangate 10 times by 3 different routes and Salkantay 3 times by 2 routes. Some of our peaks have only been climbed a few times in history and a few never at all until we summited. I have made many true friends in the highlands and have been able to introduce several locals to climbing and crampons for the first time. One of my most trusted friends, Luis Crispin from the community of Pacchanta at the foot of Ausangate, is my best 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. Aside from being the main protagonists of developing mountaineering tourism in the area, we have pioneered many personal climbing projects that have been featured in news outlets like “Barrabes”, “Desnivel” and the prestigious American Alpine Journal 2014, 2015 & 2016. Every year I go to Huaraz also to continue climbing the beautiful peaks there where among others I have climbed Huascaran and Yerupaja 1st and 2nd highest in Peru. This activity and publicity helps to promote Cusco as an international mountaineering destination.

In the past few years, the amount of tourism in Cusco has grown each year; more people have added Machu Picchu to their bucket list worldwide. But as the flow of visitors increases so have the boring, plastic wrapped and copied tours that are available to them. I get frustrated to see that many agencies and guides only see their clients as a dollar sign and will say anything to sell them something. Some of the groups make me laugh how they are herded like sheep and follow their guide holding up a little flag. Even the government agencies designed to develop tourism, threaten to make everything lame and boring in the interest of getting money. Only a few Peruvian mountain guides try their best to get their clients to the summit; many “Base Camp Guides” tell them whatever excuse (wind, avalanche conditions, etc.) to not climb and go back to town getting paid just the same. Most guides here have only ever known the mountains as a means to make money, not as the means to pursue true passions and let the spirit fly.

I strive to offer my clients a fulfilling, unique experience when they explore Cusco with me. I always work with local families of the area we enter (whom I pay better than the standard rates because they are my friends before anything else) and contribute directly to the local economy as much as possible. We practice “leave no trace” and “pack in pack out” principles to conserve the natural areas we visit. To keep good safety standards I only use well-known brands, brought from the USA like Black Diamond, Mammut, Bluewater, North Face, etc.

If you want to truly get off the tourist tracks and have a real mountain experience in Cusco, let me know well in advance!

- Nathan Heald -


Nathan Heald, Climbs and Expeditions

These are climbs and expeditions that I have personally guided over the past four years. Besides these I have operated many groups with other guides.



Salkantay Normal Trek

October 28 – November 1
With a couple from the U.K.

Cerro Soray (5,446mts, PD, N Face), Cordillera Vilcabamba

October 23-25
Summit: October 25th at 7:25am
With Nicole K., Aaron E. (USA), Steffen K. (Germany), Maria C. (Peru)

Nevado Huayna Ausangate (5,600mts, TD, West Ridge to South Face) Colque Cruz Massif, Cordillera Vilcanota New route, 4th ascent overall

September 27- Oct. 1
Summit: September 29th at 10am
With Luis Crispin (Peru), Alexis T (Canada) went to 5,300mts.

Nevado Ausangate (6,384mts, AD, SE Face/Ridge) Cordillera Vilcanota

Summit: September 14th at 7:30am
With Jeff P (France)

Nevado Mariposa (5,842mts, D, N Face) Cordillera Vilcanota ,Descent by the south face directly to Ausangate Base Camp

Summit September 9th at 9am
With Camille B & Jeff P (France)

Cerro Soray (5,446mts, PD, N Face), Cordillera Vilcabamba

August 27-29
Summit: August 29th at 8:10am
With the American Climber Science Program group of 4. To collect snow samples for climate change and glaciology research.

Nevado Ausangate (6,384mts, AD, SE Face/Ridge) Cordillera Vilcanota

August 19-23
Summit: August 22nd at 6:25am
With Macario Crispin (Peru) for the American Climber Science Program to collect snow samples for climate change and glaciology research.

Nevado Chicon (5,532mts, PD, N Face), Cordillera Urubamba

Summit: August 16th at 8am
With the American Climber Science Program group of 2. To collect snow samples for climate change and glaciology research.

Nevado Chumpe, south Summit (6,050mts, PD/AD, S Face) Cordillera Vilcanota

August 5-12
Summit: August 10th at 9:20am
With Irene P (Austria), Tom R (USA), Adan Crispin (Peru)
A group of 7 Austrians led by Ecuadorian Guide Edgar Parra did the Vilcanota circuit trek with us during this time.

Nevado Salkantay (6,279mts, D, N Face) Cordillera Vilcabamba

July 22-29
Summit: July 26th at 10:15am
With Roger G. (Switzerland), Duncan M. (USA), Edwin Espinoza (Peru)
We repeated the 1968 Hawelka, Klausbruckner, Saxinger, Axt “North face direct to East peak” route and found their camp below the glacier.

Nevado Ausangate (6,384mts, TD, NW Face) Cordillera Vilcanota

July 11 – 17
Summit: July 15th at 11am
With Roger G (Switzerland), we ran up Jampa beforehand to acclimatize

Salkantay Extreme Trek to Machu Picchu, Cordillera Vilcabamba

July 3-9
With a family of 3 from the USA

Nevado Huascarán (6,768mts, PD/AD, Normal “Garganta” Route) Cordillera Blanca, Ancash

June 25-28
Summit: June 27th at 7:35am
With Tom R (USA)

Nevado Huantsán (6,369mts, ED, East Ridge/North Face) Cordillera Blanca, Ancash

June 17-22
No Summit: We turned around at 6,000mts. after two camps on the ridge. We did not bring enough provisions to finish the route and were low on energy from constant mountaineering. With Duncan M (USA)

Nevado Artesonraju (6,025mts, TD, SW Arete) Cordillera Blanca, Ancash

June 12-15
Summit: June 14th at 2pm
With Duncan M Tom R (USA)
Paramount pictures logo peak

Nevado Jampa (5,500mts, F)

June 6-7
Summit June 7th at 7am
With Luis Crispin (Peru) and a group of 16 students from Quebec.

Nevado Jampa (5,500mts) and Ausangate Front Range Trek

May 26-31
With a couple from Costa Rica

Nevado Palqay (5,422mts, D, West Ridge) Cordillera Vilcabamba

First Ascent
May 9-12
Summit: May 11th at 7:40am
With Edwin Espinoza (Peru) and Waldemar Niclevicz (Brazil)

Nevado Tucarhuay (Humantay) (5,943mts, ED, South Face Direct) Cordillera Vilcabamba

New Route, 3rd ascent overall
April 29 – May 2
Summit: May 1st at 9:45am
With Duncan M (USA), we endured an open, unplanned bivouac 150mts below the summit on the way up.

Cerro Soray (5,446mts, PD, N Face), Cordillera Vilcabamba

April 26-28
Summit: April 28th at 8:15am
With Duncan M and a group of 4 from the USA

Nevado Pumahuanca (5,350mts, PD/AD, S Face) Cordillera Urubamba, First Ascent

April 23-24
Summit: April 24th at 6:20am
With Coqui Galvez (Peru) and Duncan M, although very close to the Sacred Valley, I could not find any information on this peak

Nevado Callangate IV (6,100mts, TD, West Face Direct) Cordillera Vilcanota New Route, 5th ascent overall

April 18-21
Summit: April 20th at 9:50am
With Luis Crispin (Peru) and Caleb J (USA)

Cerro Soray (5,446mts, PD, N Face), Cordillera Vilcabamba

April 10-12
Summit: April 12th at 9am
With Edwin Espinoza (Peru) and a group of 7 from Holland

Nevado Yayamari (6,050mts, PD, NW Ridge) Cordillera Vilcanota

April 1-6
Summit: April 4th at 8:35am
With Macario Cripsin (Peru) and Rob & Kate (England)

Nevado Jampa (5,500mts) and ice climbing practice.

March 19-25
With Devin and Caito (USA)

Nevado Sirijuani (5,400mts, AD, NW Face) Cordillera Urubamba New Route, 5th ascent

January 4-6
Summit: January 6th at 10:15am
With Coqui Galvez, Yjeguel Camasa, Eduardo Baca (Peru), Dermot O (USA) made it to 5,200mts.

Sky Hight Expeditions