American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentina, Ojos del Salado

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1956

Ojos del Salado. We were startled to read in the press that on January 22, 1955, a group of the Argentinian Associatión Tucumana de Andismo had made an ascent of a peak higher than Aconcagua. They claimed that the Ojos del Salado was the highest point in the Americas and some 300 feet higher than Aconcagua. Since the altitude of this peak, which lies on the Chilean-Argentinian frontier above the Laguna Verde at about 27 degrees south latitude, is given in the National Geographic Society’s map of South America as 22,539 feet, and in the Encyclopedia Britannica (1944) as 22,402 feet, we were interested in receiving further information on how the climbers, Señores Jaime Femenías, Manuel Luis Cordomi, Gerardo Türpe, Wilfred Köppens, Orlando Bravo, and Rodolfo Benvenutti, had determined the altitude. In their association’s "Boletín Informativo No. 16” of June 1955 they quote an official altitude of 6,690 meters (21,949 feet), but feel that the peak for which this altitude is given is not the true peak which they climbed. They state "with respect to the altitude of the mountain nothing definite can be said because the deficiencies in the instruments used do not reflect an objective measurement. The divulged altitude of 7,100 meters (23,295 feet) is simply an estimate based on the altitude of the final camp, and the hours of ascent to the summit.” Although we congratulate the climbers on the ascent of a very high mountain, it seems hard yet to accept their estimate of altitude arrived at in this inexact manner. Two other later ascents have been recently reported.

[Still further confusion concerning the altitude and even the location of the peak has recently been added by an Argentine newspaper account (La Razon, Feb. 7, 1956, Buenos Aires) that not only places the altitude at 7,260 meters, but once again moves the location of the peak. This article states that the first ascent of the mountain was actually completed in November of 1951 by two men from the Club Andino de Jujuy (Guillermo Pomo and Francisco Solana Quintana). This group estimated the height as 6,870 meters. The ascent by Prof. Bravo mentioned above, moved the altitude to over 7,100 meters and the peak into Argentina (27° 10' S, 68° 35' W). The latest expedition in February of 1956 was composed of 25 people from Chile led by Captain René Gajardo. This group moves the peak back into Chile (20 kilometers from Copiapó) and places the altitude at 7,260 meters, 130 meters higher than Aconcagua. Both of the latter expeditions agree that Ojos del Salado is the highest volcano in the world as indicated by lava and steam vents near the summit Needless to say much more accurate information must be received before the final location and altitude of this high peak can be settled.—R. C. H.]

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