Nevado Halancoma is one of the many 5000-meter peaks constituting the Cordillera Urubamba bordering the Sacred Valley near Cusco, Peru. It sits in the cluster of peaks rising high and out-of-sight above the small city of Ollataytambo. The Rio Urubamba is the valley`s main water source, which runs along this mountain front from Pisac, past Ollataytambo and its ruins, and on through Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. Though, dwarfed by the beautiful Nevado Veronica to the north, Nevado Halancoma serves as a relatively challenging and interesting warm-up for bigger mountains in the area.
Three peaks comprise the main body of what is known as Nevado Halancoma; Norte, Medio, and Sur. They rise higher the further south you go with the culmination at Halancoma Sur, which is printed at 5367 meter. From their summits, peaks from Pumasillo and Salkantay to the north to Ausangate to the south can be seen, providing one of the best viewpoints of mountains in the Cusco areas.
Normally, the north summit is the primary and only objective, which is done in 2 days (Cusco->Summit->Cusco). However, with several extra hours of effort, the middle summit can be tagged as well. The south summit requires techinical rock skills and at least 6 more hours to be reached, making it a rarely visited landmark.
From Cusco, a bus ride with a destination beyond the pass to the northeast of Nevado Veronica can deliver you to the start of the climb within 3.5 hours. After countless switchbacks on a paved road beyond Ollataytambo, the road makes a large U-turn. The bottom of the “U” points to right side of the valley as you go up (away from Nevado Veronica). To the south, two valleys form a “Y” with the point of union at the big turn just above the road where a small home complete with stone fences is nestled. You must be on the lookout for this site bevause there is no proper stop.
From the road, ascend up the valley to the right where you will eventually encounter the “jefe” fo the area and his family. He is a very amiable fellow with a genuine curiosity about the happenings and visitors to the valley (which are few). After a chat and maybe a meal with the “jefe,” continue up the path on the slope on the right side of the valley behind the house and nearby buildings. After about 20 minutes of walking, a sone ruin/building will mark the point where a hard right must be taken. Another 20-30 minutes should drop you into base camp at an alpine lake.
No permits are required, but friendly interactions with the locals is highly recommended. In addition, this area is the home of people who have lived as they do for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years so please be respectful and follow LEAVE NO TRACE principles.
Camping sites at the lake on the side of the mountain are plentiful though the best places are nearest the trail as it first enters the small basin due to the lack of wind in that area.
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