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Sky High Expeditions

Fayetteville...
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Sky High Expeditions

My husband and I recently returned from our adventure vacation in Peru. The highlight of our trip was our six day Salkantay Basecamp trek in the Andes Mountains with Nathan Heald with Sky High Expeditions. The first day of our hike, we crossed a pass that was over 17,000 feet making it higher than any mountain in the US or Europe. This was quite a feat for us and proved to be very challenging however, rewarding. The beautiful lagoon toward the top and the amazing vista from the pass is beyond description. We have traveled quite a bit and been to many beautiful mountainous regions in the states and both agree, we haven't seen anything like the Salkantay trail. The second day was a little less strenuous but again beautiful. We passed through a valley where my husband and Luis, our cook and an arriero, caught trout by hand out of the river! That night we camped near some overgrown ruins that had been untouched for centuries. The next two days were the most challenging and dangerous for us of the whole week. Let me disclose that we are not climbers or mountaineers; we have hiked in the Rockies, Smoky Mountains, Appalachians, and the Ozark Mountains back home. But hiking in the United States does not compare to the danger of hiking in Peru. Having said that, hiking in the United States does not compare to the beauty and adventure of hiking an untouched trail in Peru. The ancient trail was narrow, etched into the side of the mountain, and difficult to navigate in parts. We crossed several landslides, rivers, and a long cable bridge that literally felt like a scene out of Indiana Jones. It was a sheer adrenaline rush and Nathan definitely had more confidence in us then we did in ourselves! The best part was, we got to enjoy this magical place for four days on the trail and we didn't see any other hikers! Unlike the crowded Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trail is only guided by Nathan and his crew.

I would highly recommend Sky High Expeditions, particularly the Salkantay Basecamp Trek, to anyone wanting to take a different route to Machu Picchu. We were very appreciative of the guidance and attention to detail given by Nathan, Luis, Edwin, and Leonardo. The food was amazing and the locations where we camped were beautiful. We could not have asked for a more adventurous route to Machu Picchu. They literally thought of every detail. It is something we will never forget!

18 replies to this topic
Lima, Peru
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for Cusco, Lima, Arequipa, Peru
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1. Re: Sky High Expeditions

Great report, thanks for posting.

Laufen
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2. Re: Sky High Expeditions

We can only confirm the above entry from BellaB507. Thanks to the professional, but also warm hearted support from the Sky High Andes Expeditions team, we spend an unforgettable time. Thanks for everything.

Bozeman, Montana
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3. Re: Sky High Expeditions

I spent a little over two months in Peru, from late April to late June, climbing with Nate Heald, Luis and Edwin of Sky High Expeditions. We climbed Nevado Veronica, Nevado Jampa, Caracol, Cancha de Caracol, Cerro Soray and Nevado Salkantay. It was my first time climbing outside the U.S and on high alpine summits. I would never have accomplished what I did in the Andes without the guidance and strength of Nate Heald and his employees. Nate’s confidence in my abilities far surpassed the confidence I had in myself, and made it possible for me to climb the mountains of my dreams. The Sky High Andes team far surpasses all other guiding companies I have found in South America, and certainly the best agency in the Cusco region for all high mountain adventures. The food was phenomenal and quickly prepared, they had an excellent understanding of the terrain, a well-established connection with local Peruvians and their customs, the equipment (mostly black diamond) was top of the line and well taken care of, and making it down safely was always the first priority. Nate’s love for the mountains and climbing always kept team morale high. After 2 months of climbing with Sky High Expeditions, I not only climbed 6 peaks above 18,000ft but also became good friends with Nate, Luis and Edwin. It was truly an unforgettable experience and I will be returning to Peru in the future to climb again with Sky High Expeditions. If you are an experienced alpinist, a beginner climber looking to bag your first big alpine peak or just an avid outdoor enthusiast, I highly recommend this agency!

Pilar do Sul SP...
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4. Re: Sky High Expeditions

I spent July 2013 holidays in Peru: Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo Cuzco were included, but I had already been there and wanted something different then. As I am from Brazil, there are not many places in the country where we can train or practice mountaineering, our highest mountain being lower than 3,000m. I wrote to SkyHighAndes to arrange a trek with climbing in the Ausangate region and was impressed by their professional and friendly way.

After those obligatory (and beautiful) places I started a ten-day journey with Nathan, Luiz, Olympio and Mack to an incredibly surprising trek, round and up the Ausangate. It is a unique region, with cold lagoons, alpacas and vicuñas, chilly streams and breathtaking (literally) scenery, all at more than 4,000m altitude.

Ausangate is off the beaten track: scattered shepherding families occupying lonely valleys, living almost in a Stone Age way (although of course with mobile phones), very little vegetation, and some tourists.

We tried to climb Ausangate (6370m). We got to 5750m, but it was snowing, there was chest deep snow and my hands got wet and cold and I thought it better calling the ascent off. I am sure that Nathan would have brought me to the summit but the cold hands were a real stopper. As my first go at climbing a real mountain I consider this as a success even though.

After we finished the Ausangate trail Nathan kindly invited me to join James and him on a training ascent to a shorter peak (Cerro Soray, 5300m), which we successfully managed to do. It was my first peak and I am happy that at 57 I undertook it without even chewing coca leaves.. The best moment was before getting to the peak, when I realized that I was going to be able to get there.

We had interesting chats on the most varied topics making the whole experience enjoyable and light. I am certain that Nathan and his team are able to offer an excellent time for anyone who loves nature and adventure. He listens to your needs and plans accordingly. And you feel among friends. Excellent.

Golden, Colorado...
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5. Re: Sky High Expeditions

I spent a month in Peru and within that month I climbed Salkantay and Cerro Soray with Nathan, Edwin and Luis from Sky High Andes. Nathan runs a very nice operation. Safety is his number one concern both going up and down the mountain. If he thinks something isn't safe, you won't be doing it. He keeps his equipment in immaculate condition and it's all top of the line from Black Diamond. This was my first time climbing outside of the U.S. and my first time climbing above 18,000 feet. Without Nathan's knowledge, expertise, and passion for climbing I wouldn't have been able to do it. He supports the local communities as much as he can and he's very knowledgeable about Peruvian customs and culture. If you have any questions about Peru he's a good person to ask. Every night was filled with excellent food (which was prepared quickly) and great conversations. If you are a seasoned alpinist or just looking for an adventurous trek that's off the beaten path go with Sky High Andes and you will not be disappointed as it is an excellent crew running an excellent operation (which is by far the best operation in Cusco).

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6. Re: Sky High Expeditions

My 4 friends and I met Nathan in Cusco while planning to take the regular Salkantay to Machu Picchu route. After talking for a while he suggested that we might like to try something a little different. The route he suggested was his Salkantay Basecamp route and we all agree this was probably the best decision we have made in several months of travelling!

The sights we saw while climbing the two high mountain passes were probably the equal of Machu Picchu itself, and after branching off from the main Salkantay track in the morning of the second day we didn't see a single tourist for 3 days! In fact, the only other person we did see in three days was one farmer that lives with his wife high in the mountains. After doing a lot of very touristy things recently, this was very refreshing.

We camped three nights in the mountains - one in a cabin, one in tents in a mountain valley and one in tents next to overgrown pre-Incan ruins.

After the mountains we 'descended' (there were a lot of ups and downs!) through cloud forest to Santa Teresa for a night in a normal bed and some well-earned time in the massive hotspring pools.

The following day we had an 'easy' walk along train tracks to Aquas Calientes where we stayed the night. This place has all the regular creature comforts and we enjoyed good meals and some beers (the French bakery Nathan took us to is also highly recommended).

On the final day we went to Machu Picchu. We spent a whole day at the ruins and although very beautiful, with so many tourists it was a little hard to surpass the mountain views we had already experienced!

One point to note for prospective trekkers. This trek was hard work, we had three full days of solid trekking (7-8 hours, with lots of ups and downs and two high mountain passes of 5,100 m and 4,600 m). So if you're not up for some hard work and a bit of grubbiness for a few days, then this trek probably isn't for you. But if you're up for it the reward is definitely worth the effort.

Thanks Nathan!

Den Dolder, The...
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7. Re: Sky High Expeditions

Sky High Expeditions

In October 2013 we visited Peru, Cusco. We booked the Salkantay trail with Sky High Expeditions.

It was a once in a lifetime experience for us. Amazing nature, great view, good team, everything was really good organized! We would recommend Sky High Expeditions: what Sky High Expeditions makes unique, are the small groups and the route (we did not see other tourists on this trail, only our group and the beautiful Andes) and the lovely team. Thanks a lot Nate and your team!

We would like to come back to Peru to experience the Ausangate Circuit Trek.

Best regards,

Carin & Chris | The Netherlands

Toronto, Canada
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8. Re: Sky High Expeditions

We just finished a three week trip to Peru. We used Nathan's company to arrange a climb of Jampa with my daughter and myself. I'm experienced but this was her first high summit attempt. Nathan arranged to put us in the very good company of Jeguel and Luis (farmer and lead guide). My wife and other daughter joined us as well but stayed in base camp while we made the summit attempt.

Coordinating with Nathan and his wife Kerly was straight forward enough. It is easier to speak to someone in English who can manage all the local requirements and speaks Spanish. Don't underestimate this value. Nathan also provided an excellent pair of boots for my daughter as well as harness (confirming his reputation of having great equipment).

Nathan is actually opening up this part of Peru to commercial climbing versus the well established Northern part of the country. I'm not sure some of these people have ever seen young, brunette/blond haired girls before. Stares aside these are very shy but very nice, gentle people. We stayed at Luis's farm the first night and the cooking was fantastic. Same at high camp where Luis cooked, organized and guided my daughter and I to the summit along with Jeguel.

The summit day weather was agreeable. We moved slowly and were never pushed to hurry. Both my daughter and I were well attended to as we successful summited and returned to base camp. The area is beautiful to say the least; highly recommend it. My youngest daughter rode a horse on the way in and my oldest on the way out. A big thrill for them. More interesting was the horse being led by a five year old boy. I'd recommend hiring the horses (very cheap) in case you need to relax on the nine kilometre hike.

Jeguel also did an excellent job of fixing our transportation requirements. We were late getting to the last bus but he quickly arranged to taxi's and accompanied us back to Cusco and to our hotel safe and sound. Thank you Jeguel.

I'd recommend Sky High to anyone seeking a great adventure in Peru. A very different experience from my European climbs but completely worthwhile.

Tavazzano...
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9. Re: Sky High Expeditions

tuve la suerte de conocer a nate y luis en el 2012 quando escale' el ausangate y yayamari, el 2014 subi con ellos el Illampu (una dura batalla para mi) e intente' sin exito el colquecruz y el toclaraju.

Puedo decir sin alguna duda que fueron para mi dos guias muy fuertes y valientes, me ayudaron en todas las maneras y por supuesto si habra otra ocasion de escalar en el futuro (pienso el 2016 en la cordillera blanca)lo hare' seguramente solamente con ellos.

Les deseo otros grandes exitos en las cumbres andinas y gracias de todo ciaooo, que dios siempre los acompañe!

Pittsburgh...
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10. Re: Sky High Expeditions

I cannot imagine you will find a more professional, organized, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, or passionate guide anywhere in all of Peru! From my first email inquiry, to our final goodbyes, things could not have been handled more thoroughly or thoughtfully. Nathan is top in his field!

A trip to celebrate my husband's 40th birthday prompted our choice to visit Peru and Machu Picchu this March. Although not the high season for climbing, he wanted to include a healthy dose of adventure and alpine mountaineering training. Nathan came up with the perfect 6-day itinerary around the Ausangate area that included introducing him to some of the most important mountaineering skills and training options, as well as offering a true challenge for myself in reaching Jampa mountain summit at over 18,000 feet (in not the best of weather conditions).

Several years older, and nowhere near my husband's level of athletic fitness, I questioned if I was up to the challenge every day until we left home, as well as every step to the top. I felt truly triumphant as I took the final steps up onto the top and never could have done it without Nathan's never-ending encouragement! The personal insights and life lessons a climb like that instills in you are not reserved for only high altitude mountain summits. I will be forever thankful for his expert guidance and patience that week.

Summit day was further highlighted with a heart-warming homestay, each way enroute, at the home of Luis in Pacchanta. His family was a pleasure to meet and interact with and Luis' fabulous cooking (on and off the mountain) is something we still can't believe, and something we won't ever forget! The celebratory meal prepared for my husband's actual birthday dinner was over the top-- and very much appreciated!

Nathan offered many helpful suggestions in planning from everything as to where to stay/visit during our time in Peru, assistance with Machu Picchu train tickets, as well as what books to read to better heighten our understanding and knowledge of the culture and area. It saved us alot of time and he was spot on with each and every recommendation!

We thought we couldn't top our experience trekking the Everest and Annapurna regions in Nepal but nothing could have prepared us for the sensory overload the Andes has to offer. And Nathan made sure we discovered as much of it as we could! We look forward to returning very soon. First time trekker or experienced alpinist, whatever your needs, don't hesitate to contact Nathan and begin making plans. Your experience, not to mention the views, will be truly amazing and beyond your highest expectations!

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