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Cusco – Pacchanta (4,300m/14,104ft)
We leave Cusco at noon in an express van and arrive to Tinqui in the afternoon. From there we take a taxi to the herding community of Pacchanta (4236m) and spend the night in a local house close to geothermal baths.
Pacchanta - Base Camp (4900m/16,072)
At 8am we start our trek to base camp with our arriero carrying the equipment on a horse. The trail (9km) passes through several green-blue lagoons at the foot of Nevado Ausangate and arrives at base camp close to the Jampa Pass (5100m).
Summit (5,500m/18,040ft) – Pacchanta - Cusco
We wake up at 3:30am and leave the tent by 4am. Arriving at the summit by 7am we can enjoy the views for an hour or so before returning to base camp for breakfast. After breakfast we will walk back to Pacchanta and go to the thermal baths for a couple hours. Then we will go by car back to Cusco.
- Transportation (Cusco to Pacchanta, Pacchanta to Cusco)
- All group camping equipment
- Climbing equipment
- 1 High Mountain Guide per 3 clients
- Arriero and horse service (will carry all expedition gear)
- Food from Lunch Day 1 until Lunch Day 3.
- clothing for cold and rain
- hiking boots
- sleeping bag (0F/-18C)
- air mattress
- daypack 20-30 liters
- duffel bag
The best time for mountain climbing in Peru is the South American winter; April to September, with the driest months being June and July. Early in the season there is more accumulated snow left over from the rainy season, by August the glaciers are usually quite dry and more crevasses will have opened up. These conditions can affect route conditions over the season, for example: the normal routes on some mountains like Huascaran or Chopicalqui can be impassable late in the season due to a large crevasse that has opened up. In my experience the best time to climb your project peak is July 15th to August 15th.
It is very important to acclimatize properly. If you are just arriving to Cusco, I recommend at least 3 full nights in Cusco (3,300mts/10,824ft) before sleeping higher than 4,000mts (13,120ft).
It is recommendable to climb a peak of 5,500 meters, before a 6,000 meter peak if you have the time. If you are already well acclimated, it is possible to go directly to climb an easier 6,000mts peak like Ausangate, Chumpe or Yayamari. These guidelines should be regarded as the minimums. Often people have a tight schedule and want to do as much as possible with their time, but acclimatization is important for you to be able to accomplish your goals.
Temperatures in the mountains during the day can vary greatly depending on weather conditions. Above 4,000 meters in altitude, If the sun is out and there is no wind, it can be up to 65F (18C) during the day. At night during clear weather it can get down to 23F (-5C).
Above 5,000 meters in altitude, for example at the moraine camp (5,500m) of Ausangate it can get down to 14F (-10C) during the night. Above 6,000m it can get down to -4F (-20C) and even colder when you factor in the windchill.
There is much more solar radiation at altitude in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia than other places because they are tropical ranges. It is very important to protect your skin and eyes from these conditions so that you don’t go snow blind after climbing. Anyone who climbs in the Andes needs good sunglasses and we suggest to have a brimmed hat and plenty of sunscreen, even for your lips.
It is important to have your layer system dialed in so you can climb fast while not getting overheated. Everyone feels the cold and conditions differently but I will give you the example of my own system.
Lower body - 3 layer system:
- Base layer: Thermal tights
- Mid layer: Alpaca wool pants or down pants
- Outer Shell: Waterproof pants (goretex or similar)
Upper body - 4 layer system:
- Base Layer: Under armour cold gear long sleeve shirt
- Light Mid layer: Synthetic down hoodie
- Heavy Mid Layer: 700+ fill Down jacket
- Outer Shell: Waterproof jacket with hood that can go over
helmet(goretex or similar)
Any waterproof boots, Goretex or similar are fine for hiking in the Andes, just be conscious of weight, as always with altitude every gram will cost you. My favorite brand of trekking boots is Asolo, especially the models with a rand that goes all the way around the sides of the boot. This eliminates the stitching that can pop if you hit the corners of your feet on rocks while hiking.