Situated in the heart of the Cordillera Blanca of northwestern Peru, Nevado Pisco is one of the country’s many popular mountaineering destinations.
The mountain has two summits, Pisco Oeste (the west summit) and Pisco Este (the east summit). Pisco Oeste is slightly shorter than its eastern brother, but it is far easier and more attractive to climb, making it the main summit. Pisco Este is rarely climbed.
While Nevado Pisco is not technically challenging to climb – it is widely viewed as one of the most accessible mountaineering destinations in the Andes – the mountain’s glacier is receding. This has made the normal route up to the summit gradually more difficult.
Quick Facts about Nevado Pisco
- Most expeditions to Nevado Pisco take three days and involve camping one night at base camp and one night on the mountain. However, trips that depart from Huaraz early enough can get to the second camp on the first day and make the ascent a two-day trip.
- While it is not the tallest mountain in the range, Nevado Pisco is a popular destination due to the views it provides of many of the nearby and iconic mountains, including Huascarán and Alpamayo.
- On July 5, 2018, Liv Jensen became the youngest person on record to climb Nevado Pisco, doing so at just 11 years old.
History of Nevado Pisco
Not much is known about the history of Nevado Pisco. Western explorers named the peak after the typical liqueur drink of the country. The original name of the peak has since been lost.
The first known ascent came on July 12, 1951, when a French mountaineering team climbed Nevado Pisco via what would come to be known as the normal route.
Experience Required for Climbing Nevado Pisco
Nevado Pisco is generally rated as an intermediate-level climb. Before the ascent, climbers should have some essential mountaineering experience and a bit of experience at high altitudes.
However, Nevado Pisco is not very technically challenging. The ascent of the normal route requires the use of crampons and ice axes and some previous experience with both is highly beneficial but not normally required.
More strenuous routes to the summit will involve steep ice climbing and previous experience doing this is required before heading on those routes.
Regardless of the route taken, all climbers should have a high level of physical fitness as sustained glacier travel and ice climbing at high altitudes are very taxing on the body.
Main Routes up Nevado Pisco
While several different routes lead up to the summit of Nevado Pisco, the Southwest Ridge route is the one that is most commonly used by guides and is rated as PD.
The route begins from the base camp, which sits at 4,700 metres (15,400 feet) in elevation and generally takes about a day to get to on foot. From here, climbers will hike up to the glacial moraine crest and drop down onto the glacier’s toe. Climbers then cross the glacier and climb up onto a moraine on the other side before following the southwest ridge up to the summit.
Away from the normal route, four other main routes that lead to the summit: the South Face (D), Southeast Buttress (TD), East Face (ED) and Northeast Ridge (TD). Each of these routes requires some sustained multi-pitch ice climbing, with ascents ranging from 350 metres (1,150 feet) to 500 metres (1,650 feet) in length.
Most guides do not use these routes due to their technical difficulty.