The normal route up Nevado Ausangate is challenging and technical with good weather, requiring considerable strength, endurance, acclimization, and mental sharpness. Clouds and storms form rapidly and can lead to white-out conditions easily. In addition, loads of powder can accumulate on the high plateau making for some horrible slogs in waist-deep snow. This is by no means, a piece of cake.
The typical duration for an expedition is 8 days, but can also be accomplished in as little as 5 days.
From Pacchanta, the trail meanders south and then southeast over a 5030-meter pass littered with cairns (itos). From the pass the trail turns to the right (southwest) down to Pampa (a small farm). The way to the base camp is up the valley from Pampa towards the massif of Ausangate. There is a refuge that is rarely used at the end of the valley. Base camp for most expeditions are situated on the flats above the refuge.
Above High Camp
Getting to the glacier:
From high camp, the route travels uphill along the slope neighboring the glacier. The first shelf on the glacier is usually taken to enter the icy wonderland.
On the glacier and headwall:
The first feature is a 100-150 meter steep snow/ice climb of roughly 55-60 degrees. Beyond that are some crevasses usually covered by snowbridges that lead to a pair of fairly difficult (and awkward) 7-meter ice walls with 90-100 degree angles. Across a field of penitentes is the base of the smallest wall that gives access to the main ridge. It ranged about 200 m and reached an angle of 70 degrees around 19,000 feet. Unfortunately, the base of the climb requires mixed climbing and can be a little sketchy with the loose rock.
The high plateau:
The terrain mellows out in terms of angles but has a bunch of crevasses that are easily avoided. One last crevasse must be jumped to gain the high summit ridge. After that, it's golden.
Ice tools, ice screws, rope, helmet, snow pickets (or deadmen), crevasse rescue gear, and general mountaineering equipment.
Tinqui: 3800 m
Pacchanta: 4200 m
Ito Pass: 5030 m
Pampa: 4350 m
Base Camp: 4820 m
High Camp: 5450 m