Bikepacking Ausangate (Wowsengate?)

Foul weather was upon us when we departed Tinke. The GPS was taunting us. Ausangate was only a few kilometres away, but the stormy sky prevented even our imagination from forming a view. Slowly we made our way up the foothills passing small communities filled with welcoming smiles. The rain and hail were relentless, and the cold environment summoned up memories of the Ecuadorian paramo. Nevertheless, we pushed forth.

Becoming more popular in recent years, the route promised a true sense of remoteness and adventure. The unfortunate result of the increasing traffic is that there have reportedly been many robberies in the past few months. This is something the locals wanted us to be brutally aware of. If we had taken their advice, we probably would have had to do the whole circuit in one day walking naked with no gear at all.

The gpx file can be obtained here.

Ignoring the advice, we decided to set up camp and hope for better weather in the morning. We were not disappointed.

  Searching for a campsite, we began to see what beauty lay behind the clouds.

  Overnight the clouds dissipated. Prayers we uttered in hopes of keeping the weather at bay.

  Dinosaur skeleton…

  Indeed the weather decided to cooperate. Excitement grew like fire in our bellies.

  Approaching the glacier. This circuit keeps you at an arms reach of the stunning peaks at all times. The sheer proximity at any given moment is something truly special.

 Not particularly steep, but after three idle weeks in cusco the elevation literally took our breath away.

  On top. Abra Arapa ~4800m.

  The downhill was a treat.

  Seemingly endless trail winding its way towards the valley floor.

  An absolute playground for mountain bikers.

  Up we go to Apuchata pass. 4900m.

  On the far side, a nice camping area but fairly windy. Cooking outside of the vestibule would have extinguished the stove in no time.

  Another beautiful but restless night filled with the crackling sounds of avalanches.

  On the way up to the final pass. There was only one section that required a carry. Even this could have been avoided if we picked a more suitable route.

  But nearing the 5,120m pass, a lot of pushing was still in order.

    The downhill was pretty well all rideable, nerves being the deciding factor.

  The ride out to Checacupe was beautiful as well.

 From fat to skinny. A road to be enjoyed by all.

So, there you have it. This is a super cool ride and a definite highlight of Peru. Big thanks to Mike Howarth, Cass Gilbert, and Paul Griffiths who all have great write ups on their respective blogs.

A few notes

We were recommended to take all of our gear into our tent as people have been known to take stuff from vestibules. Probably sound advice, just to be on the safe side.

Entry ticket can be purchased upon exit from Tinke. At the time of publishing it was 10 soles per person. We also got stopped before descending to laguna Ausangate where a man sold us another 10 soles ticket for Pampachiri. It looked legitimate, and for the sake of security we paid it without hesitation.

If you wanted to, you could do the whole route without having to carry the bike. This means anyone with heavier rigs could probably do it. I’m not saying it’d be easy but there were no vertical faces that we sometimes encounter on other hike a bikes.


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