This is the historic route used for the first recorded ascent of the mountain in 1671... on mule back ! However, the Incas had reached the summit even earlier.
Of the 3 well-known routes on Misti, this is the shortest from Arequipa; the easiest to ascent (The huge cross on the summit was transported on mule back via this route) but not the easiest to descent. This route is also the must dangerous because it's too close to some of the most dangerous neighborhoods of the city.
The start is at the very north of the Independencia neighborhood (Alto Selva Alegre District). Actually Independencia is an "urbanización" a kind of chaos of new settlement in the suburbs of Arequipa. Today it's possible to go as high as 3400m by 4x4 on a rough road, driving north and then east in direction of the volcano until reaching the northern edge of a huge canyon coming down the southeast slopes of Misti (visible from the city). The place is called Los Pastores. Alternatively, Los Pastores could be reached from another "urbanizacion" called San Luis (Alto Apurímac), at the end of the same canyon. In this case go north until joining the rough road coming from Independencia.
From the trailhead, follow the northern edge of the canyon, a rib that heads up north and then east in direction of the crater. This gentle slope leads to a plateau at about 4700 meters, Nido de Aguilas. Here you can pitch a tent and continue the following night to the summit (but review the warning section at the end of this page). The ascent specifically involves walking up steeper ground to the summit. Most of this is on firm terrain. This helps for the ascent but the absence of long scree / ash field make the descent less friendly than on the other popular Misti routes that have a specific fast descent path. Ascending, there is no wrong way as long as you climb in direction of the crater. You may want to scout the best path during the previous after-noon as it's not easy to figure things out during the night.
Generally people under-estimate how cold the weather could get high on Misti as they see no glacier on the mountain. Bring your hard shell (top and bottom), your best gloves, etc. if you’re lucky, during the day you’ll have warm weather. If this is not the case, and the weather gets windy, you’ll have enough cloths to protect you from frostbites and / or hypothermia.
External LinksNir Halman's adventures in South America
Do not climb this route without "local escort". Independencia is a very dangerous place where some gang leaders have even guns... If you pitch a tent at 4700m, know that robberies are commune. Some locals watching you climbing can easily visit your tent when you are higher-up. This route is best suited for those already acclimated and whiling to perform fast climbs.
For these reasons, ascent organizers
no longer use this route and have switched massively to Grau Route
since late 1990.