American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Chile, Huallatire and Acotango, Northern Chile

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1966

Huallatire and Acotango, Northern Chile. Our expedition — Sergio Kunstmann, Pedro Rosende, Claudio Maier, my wife Raquel and I — visited the north in October this time the region of Lake Chungará on the Bolivian frontier. Our objective was the volcano Huallatire (19,882 feet), which lies in Chile close to the frontier peaks, the Quimsallatas (Aymara for "three mountains”: Umarata, Acotango and Capurata). The birds make this an ornithologist’s paradise. (The author mentions many species, not listed here for reasons of space, such as American ostriches and white flamingos with orange and black patches. —Editor.) We drove to the southern end of the lake where we took mules as far as Base Camp at an ancient town at 14,900 feet. We covered the long distance to the base of the volcano on mules and camped that night on the volcano itself, with our tents marvelously protected from the wind by large rocks. Huallatire has a great fumarole whose smoke can be seen for more than 125 miles, and we feared getting into the fumes when we approached the summit. We decided to try our luck on October 12 and left our tents early to climb the northern slope by a rocky ridge leading to an ice dome from which we reached a snow ridge that took us to the summit. (First ascent by Ahlfeld in 1926.) The condition of the snow and some small crevasses somewhat slowed our progress. We were fascinated by the fumarole, especially since an impressive jet of fire shot from the hole from which the smoke poured, The weather was not favorable and it began to snow, but we kept on to the summit crown of rocks. To the east, close at hand we looked down on the Quimsallatas; Acotango is 19,849 feet. The wind began to shift and the gases were strong. The real fury was just beginning; the storm turned electrical and we got numerous minor shocks and heard a buzzing like a million bees. When we got to the tents, the sun was out, but above, the party continued. The next day our companions crossed on mules in the direction of Acotango, also a volcano, but extinct, which they climbed without difficulties. Raquel and I ,packed up camp; collected arrow heads and took pictures. We all descended together to Arica.

Bión González L., Federación de Andinismo de Chile

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