Nevado Pisco Climb: Facts & Information. Routes, Climate, Difficulty, Equipment, Preparation, Cost

Daniel DawsonFebruary 21, 2019

Situated within the Huandoy Massif of northwest Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, Nevado Pisco makes for an excellent Andean mountaineering expedition.

Rising to 5.752 meters above sea level, it is on the smaller side of the peaks within the massif and overall mountain chain, but still offers fantastic views from the top out over some of the region’s most iconic mountains.

These great views combined with a relatively simple ascent make Nevado Pisco one of the top five summits for novice mountaineers in the Andes.

The overall ascent is only rated as moderately difficult, but does require quite a high level of physical fitness. As a result, a combination of first-time climbers and more experienced mountaineers come to Pisco Nevado to put a notch in their belt or prepare for one of the nearby 6.000ers.

Regardless of your goals, the views from the summit are a treat for every one. Enjoy panoramic vistas out over other glaciated peaks. Among the highlights are Alpamayo, Artesonraju and Pirámide de Garcilaso, all of which you will see to the north. Meanwhile, Chacraraju is easily visible to the east and Huascarán can be seen to the south.

Keep some mental notes on how these peaks look as any one of them could be your next mountain conquest!

Until then, we’ve taken the time to compile some useful facts and informations for you to plan your next trip to the summit of Nevado Pisco.

Starting point & how to get there

 

One of the various camps used by climbers heading to the summit of Nevado Pisco. Photo courtesy of Percy Dextre.

The city of Huaraz is the most common starting point for any mountaineering trip to Nevado Pisco.

Located about 400 kilometers north of Lima, just about every trip here begins with a flight into the city’s Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM). LIM can be reached directly from most major North American and some major European airports.

From Lima, it takes about eight hours by bus to get to Huaraz. It is also possible to take a domestic flight from Lima to the airport in Huaraz (ATA). The former is cheaper and the latter is faster.

Once you’ve reached Huaraz, most guides will arrange transport to the start of the mountaineering expedition, which includes a two to three hour shuttle ride to Cebollapampa. It is from here that you will hike up to Base Camp.

Duration of the ascent

 

The classic amount of time for the Nevado Pisco ascent is three days. This includes a single-day approach to Base Camp on the first day, summiting the peak on the second day and returning from Base Camp to Huaraz on the third day.

Getting from Huaraz to the Base Camp and back on the first and third day require about three hours of driving followed by three to four hours of hiking. On summit day, you will spend 10 to 12 hours making the ascent and return back to Base Camp, starting first thing in the morning.

Some guides offer climbing Nevado Pisco as the culmination of the two-week Santa Cruz trek and others offer three-week climbs that includes summiting Alpamayo (5.947 meters) and Huascaran (6.768 meters) as well.

Climbing routes  

 

Most of the way to the summit of Nevado Pisco requires hiking up a steep, snow-covered glacier. Photo courtesy of Magno Camones.

There are several routes to the summit of Nevado Pisco. However, most guides will take you along the Southwest Ridge, which is considered the normal route. This route is rated as PD or easy.

Getting to Base Camp requires hiking up and down several foothill and through several valleys before steadily gaining elevation at the foot of the mountain until you reach the camp.

From Base Camp, which sits at 4.700 meters above sea level, you will hike up toward the steep side of the glacial moraine, before climbing on top of it. Once on the moraine crest, you will drop down to the opposite side and cross the boulder-strewn toe of the glacier, following a line of cairns from one side to the other.

Once on the other side, you will climb up onto the opposite moraine ridge and follow the trail to the col in between Huandoy and Pisco, passing two lakes along the way. From the col, you will begin making a steep climb up the mountain’s southwestern ridge, hiking over the glacier.

The glacier becomes increasingly steep until you reach a three-meter tall ice wall directly beneath the summit. You will climb this and then be able to make the short walk to the top.

You will have gained 1.200 meters of elevation from Base Camp and return back down to the camp from the way you came.

The South Face (rated as a D, or difficult); Southeast Buttress (TD); East Face (ED); and Northeast Ridge (TD) are also all routes that may be taken to the top. However, all of these routes require substantial lengths of vertical ice climbing, ranging from 350 meters to 500 meters in length.

Most guides will not take you up these routes. If you want to try it out, please consult your guide and take his or her recommendations for whether or not you will be able to do it.   

Physical requirements and technical difficulties

 

The views from the top of Nevado Pisco are not too shabby. Photo courtesy of Octavio Salazar Obregon.

Climbing Nevado Pisco is not very technically difficult, but does require a high level of fitness. Knowing some basic crampon and ice ax technique is generally sufficient to reach the top and most guides do not require previous mountaineering experience. All these factors make it a great peak for beginners.

However, it is hard to understate the level of physical difficulty. On summit day, you will spend hours hiking up steep, icy slopes at an elevations of about 4.000 and 5.000 meters. This means you must be well acclimatized prior to the trip as well as have done the proper physical preparations as well.

Most guides recommend spending about six months prior to your trip doing weekly regimens of the following exercises:

Climbing conditioning – this includes carrying 15 kilograms packs on uphill hikes as well as doing stair climbing exercises.  

Strength training – do exercises that strengthen your lower body and core, such as squats and crunches using weights, in the months leading up to your ascent.

Cardiovascular training – do both aerobic and anaerobic exercises with weights in order to improve your lung capacity and strengthen your heart.

Flexibility training – stretch before and after each of these types of exercises in order to keep your muscles limber and prevent injury.

Weather conditions

 

From the middle of May until September is the best time to climb Nevado Pisco. During this time of year it is technically Peru’s winter, but it is also the dry season.

July and August are the peak months for the climb because most the the loose snow powder has blown off the glacier, making climbing with crampons and ice axes a bit easier.

Expect average daily temperatures of about 13 °C to 15 °C at the lower elevations on the mountain. These temperatures will steadily drop as you ascend to the summit, reaching about -3 °C to -5 °C at the top. With windchill, these will likely feel a bit colder.

Equipment

 

Summit of Nevado Pisco as seen from its slightly taller neighbor, AlpamayoPhoto courtesy of Miguel Martinez.

In order to successfully climb Nevado Pisco, you will need to bring along the proper equipment. Most guides will bring all the necessary group equipment, but you may find that some don’t include this. Be sure that you have the following prior to your ascent:

  • Appropriate clothes (ask guide if you are unsure of exactly what clothing to bring)
  • Camera and batteries
  • Climbing boots
  • Crampons
  • Gaiters
  • Harness
  • Ice axe
  • Personal medicines, toiletries, first aid kit
  • Sleeping bag
  • Snow glasses
  • Sun glasses, sunscreen and lip balm

Estimated price

 

The price of a mountaineering expedition to the summit of  Nevado Pisco varies greatly depending on a variety of factors, including how many people are in your group, what is included in the trip and how long the trip is.

For the classic three-day ascent, expect to pay between $300 and $800 per person. This generally includes the guiding fee, accommodation (the tent), all meals during trip, transport during the trip, luggage transfer during the trip and group equipment.

The differentiation in that price is largely defined by how many people are in your group, with smaller groups paying at the higher end of the range and groups of five or more paying the lower end of that range.

Please remember that every guide prices their trips differently and it is always best to confirm with your guide prior to booking both the price and what is included with it.  

Climbing with a certified guide increases the likelihood of your success as well as your enjoyment. Photo courtesy of Juventino Martin Albino Caldua.

 

So what are you waiting for? Book now for your next mountaineering adventure to the summit of Nevado Pisco!

 

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