Type: Trad, Ice, Alpine, 1500 ft, Grade II
FA: Derek Field (2016)
Page Views: 97 total · 12/month
Shared By: Derek Field on Jan 19, 2019
Admins: Tony Yeary

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The south face of Parcocaya is a highly accessible glacier climb near the village of Pacchanta. It offers an incredible perspective of the imposing north face of Ausangate. It can be done by competent independent climbers, but if a guide service is desired then you should go with Sky High Expeditions.

Start at Laguna Parcocaya (4,840m), the olive-green tarn at the base of the south face. Don your crampons and kick-step up the slope onto the broad glacier. After weaving through dozens of crevasses, you will arrive to the base of the major headwall with several apparent options. The viability of each option depends on the conditions at the time.

I chose a corrugated rock buttress on the far right side, with a number of partially visible snow gullies. I ventured up the friendliest-looking gully (40­–50° snow in a 3-meter-wide slot) and encountered a short vertical rock step about 25 meters up. Awkward 5.7 chimney moves and a desperate belly flop landed me safely on the snow above. I continued up the gully to its junction with a 20m wall of blue ice (AI3). Nearing the top, I exited diagonally to the right on mixed terrain and steep snow, eventually manteling over a short ice step to gain the summit crest.

Once on the snowy summit ridge, walk clockwise around the base of the summit block, a 30m tower of sheer rock. On the west side of the pinnacle there is a featured dihedral (5.6) on quality stone.

Descent: Sling a block to rappel off the southwest side of the summit. Head down to the ice pitch and rappel from a V-thread or snow picket. Both raps are shorter than 30 meters. Walk down the rest of the glacier back to Laguna Parcocaya.


Parcocaya is the isolated little pyramid rising out of the vast moraine below the north face of Ausangate. The approach to the south face is approximately 2-3 hours from the town of Pacchanta, making this a pretty mellow endeavour and one of the easiest ways to bag a peak in the Cordillera Vilcanota.

Approach via the normal trekking route heading south from Pacchanta. At Laguna Azulcocha there is a spectacular view of the north face of Ausangate. Leave the trail here, skirting the west shore of the lake and proceeding cross-country up the narrow moraine valley between Ausangate and Parcocaya. The route starts at an olive-green tarn called Laguna Parcocaya (4,840m).


Light alpine rack of nuts and cams to 2" + 4-5 ice screws + 2-3 snow pickets + webbing for rap anchor