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Salkantay Trek, Permits and Usefull Information for Hikers


Also known as Salkantay, snowy peak of Peru located in the department of Cuzco; it is one of the main elevations of the Vilcabamba mountain range, an extension of the Eastern Cordillera, mountainous branch of the Peruvian Andes. It reaches an altitude of 6,271 meters. It has two snow-capped peaks, known as China Salkantay and Salkantay hembra, separated by a pass that opens into the Santa Ana valley in the province of Urubamba. Both the mountain pass and the river that originates there are called Salkantay. This river pours its waters into the Urubamba on its left bank.

Our travel agency offers the Salkantay Trek, a hike that will take you to Machu Picchu.

From where the name of the Salkantay snow-capped mountain comes from:
The name of this mountain is a contraction that comes from Salga = sullen or wild and Antay produce celajes or avalanches. It is usually preceded by the name Apu, which in Quechua language comes to mean lord, thus defining the great mountains that mean something sacred above the valleys. For example Apu Salkantay in the Vilcabamba mountain range.

The great white Apu. A little bit of stories between ropes and crampons:

The Salkantay is one of the highest mountains in the region of Qosco (Cusco) the highest mountain is the Gran Agusánate with 65 meters above in the Vilcanota mountain range located further south. Nevertheless and without doubt, it is the most grandiose in its splendid isolation and the grandeur of its two-headed mass, with the added bonus of being one of the mountains of this magnificent Andean region that present greater technical problems for all its slopes. This is attested to by the six routes opened to date on the different slopes of this white giant.

Its conquest dates back to 1952 by the Swiss team composed of Bronimann and Marx.

This first ascent, like so many others in the history of mountaineering, is involved in several contradictions, since a few days later it was climbed again by a French-American expedition that included the well-known and relevant mountaineer of the time, Claude Kogan.

Modern statistics give the merit of being the first woman on the summit to the Italian Consuelo Bonaldi who on August 4, 1978 climbed Cresta Este accompanied by G. Marconi, A. Mangononi, F. Nodari, S. Castellani, Augusto Zanotti and M. Quatrinni, evidently this is wrong, since Claude Kogan did it 26 years before.

The summit of Salkantay has two summits, the East and the West, formerly the West, more slender and attractive than the East was slightly higher as it was crowned by a serac. After the passage of time and the collapse of this serac, as noted by the prestigious Pyreneanist Louis Audoubert, the height is practically identical in both summits.

What happened on those two consecutive “first ascents” gave rise to the controversy of which was really the authentic first ascent.

The Swiss ascended in foggy conditions to the East summit (the lowest in those days), the Americans, however, climbed to the West, which was somewhat higher, so that statistics, always implacable, want to deny Bronimman and Marx their absolute first ascent.

As a culmination to cement its well-deserved reputation as a difficult summit, in 1953 it was climbed for the third time by the prestigious Alpine guide Lionel Terray, who together with the Dutchman T. de Booy and the Swiss Raymond Jenny conquered the summit following a route along the North spur, known today as the Terray spur.

Years later a German expedition attempted the summit following the dangerous N.E. ridge which with its overhanging cornices does not favor transit… a relevant team composed by Tony Mazenauer and Fritz Kasparrek (the latter conqueror of the North face of the Eiger) disappeared on this ridge and the expedition had to retreat.

Today there is a plaque under the Palcay pass (the usual base camp for the mountain) and on a visible rocky block, a commemorative plaque of that unfortunate event.

On August 23, 1975 it was the turn of an Australian-New Zealand expedition composed of Peter Jennings, Wayne Barton and Michael Andrews to climb the long and rugged S.E. ridge. This was the ninth ascent to the summit.

Note: There is, in my opinion, a controversy about the paternity of the first ascent of this S.E. ridge, since there is evidence of the previous performance of a powerful group of Japanese who achieved the ascent by this route. Unfortunately the only reference found about this Japanese ascent dates from a magazine Iwa to Yuki, written, of course, in Japanese, so without a translation of the text there is no concrete data.

The West ridge of Salkantay is a route that remains virgin over the years due to the complexity of its route and the remoteness of the traditional points of approach, which requires additional portages based on backpacking.

According to the prestigious Pyreneanist Louis Audoubert, who climbed the summit on the North slope in 1977, the West ridge is feasible, but it will certainly be a problem to solve at the Andean level.

This ridge was attempted in 1975 by a group of Catalan climbers from Mataró composed of Manuel Punsola y Mitjans, Miquel Sala y Roy, Xavier Varela y Pinart, Ramón Armengol y Carbó, Antoni Sors y Farre, Antoni Rosa y Olivera and Vicente Aris y Julta.

On August 5, 1975, three members of this expedition approached the ridge by an additional buttress on the North slope that had been previously recognized. They climbed for a good part of the day until they reached a point with two possibilities that seemed unfeasible. The logical one was to approach the ice ridge, which was impossible given the lack of material resources. The other option would be to flank the slopes of the ridge to look for the col between the two summits of Salkantay.

At a certain point of this great flanking, which they calculate will take a whole day, they decide to abandon because of the large number of avalanches that detach from the ridge and that evidently are an objective danger of the first order. The Catalan Andinists consider that the difficulties up to this point have not been important and not dangerous, but departing from the obvious route of the ridge, which would require greater human and material equipment, notoriously increases the risk.

Coming from Mollepata the first vision that we will have of the Salkantay is on its overwhelming south face an enormous wall that closes the bottom of the valley with its vertical seracs hanging on enormous rocky spurs, this wall could not stop attracting the attention of those that try to complicate the life a little bit for pure personal satisfaction, thus in 1970 a powerful group of Germans of the DAV of Munich composed by Walter Welsh, J. Vogt, H.Koebrich, H.Haver and M.Olzowy made a meritorious attempt on the left side of the wall leaving quite high on the ridge that descends the West summit of Salkantay.

In 1986 an English group led by J.Lowe managed a new route on this slope attacking the rocky base to the right of the German attempt in 1970. Once they gained the snow zone they continued on a slight diagonal to the right until they reached the East summit of the mountain.

In spite of being a little frequented mountain in 1978 it received the visit of five expeditions in the short period of two months. On June 15, 1978 a powerful Slovenian expedition of the Planinska Zveza, composed by Libor Anderle, Zoran Breslin, Marjan Brisar, Edi Torkar, Jure Zvan and Jure Ulcar, accompanied by the doctor Borut Pirc and Matjaz Derzaj as coordinator opened in a week of exploration and climbing an intelligent route on the East face of the mountain, the Slovenian route that without detracting in difficulty is the most feasible option to try to reach the summit successfully.

The second ascent of this route was made by the Mexican Roberto Morales Puebla and a companion on June 17, 1978 and the third by the Basques from San Sebastián, Íñígo and Jesús Mª Barandiarán, José Luís Conde and Jesús Mª Rodríguez accompanied by Alberto Cabezón and José Antonio Fernández de Aranguiz on July 3 of the same year, constituting the first ascent by mountaineers from Spain.

The Salkantay has been visited by climbers from all over the world, French, Swiss, North Americans, New Zealanders, Poles, Austrians, Germans, Mexicans, Slovenians, Spaniards (Asturians, Basques, Andalusians, Catalans)… that have crossed its always steep slopes… some lived the light of the reward of the summit… others, a great majority, had to retire when the occasion of triumph escaped between the overhanging cornices.

Location of the Salkantay snow-capped mountain:

The Salkantay Route, also known as the “New Inca Trail”, is located north of the city of Cusco, following the Cusco – Limatambo – Abancay – Lima highway, making a detour past Limatambo until reaching Mollepata.

Climate of Salkantay:

It is very sunny during the day, but bitterly cold at night. The temperature drops below 0°C at night during the months of June to September. In the season from December to March it is very rainy, which is why it is not recommended to go during these dates.

The best time for the weather to do this hike is during the months of March to September.

Altitude of the Salkantay snow-capped mountain hike

This hike reaches an altitude of 4,600 meters above sea level at its highest point on the slopes of the snowy Salkantay. Enter to Ausangate Snowy Trek 5D to do this trekking.

How to get to Salkantay

The buses from Cusco to Mollepata leave very early 4 Am to 5 Am and pass through Limatambo, from Mollepata is where the hike to the snowy Salkantay begins, after going up a high pass it is possible to have an impressive pyramidal view of Salkantay, one of the most beautiful snowy peaks of Cusco.

From Mollepata itself it takes two days to descend to Huayllabamba and join the second day of the Inca Trail.

What you will see on the trail

On the way you will see herds of cattle and sheep, orchids, bears with glasses, medicinal plants of the Inca eponca, small variety of birds, fruit trees such as orange, papaya, bananas, etc..

Note: The spectacled eye to see it you have to have a little luck.


It is very important that the traveler. It is very important that the traveler carries his original passport for the respective controls.


  • March: (some rain)
  • April to October: (optimal travel)
  • October to November: (a little rain)
  • December to February: (a lot of rain)


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