American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentina, Northern Andes, Bonete Group

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1971

Northern Andes, Bonete group. The Argentinian Mountaineering Association, to commemorate its 10th anniversary, organized an expedition to Bonete Chico, located at 27°55' S and 68045' W, in the northern extreme of the province of La Rioja. Besides the sporting interest that this mountain offered, there was also the incentive of gathering useful geographical evidence regarding the height, and even the existence, of this mountain, since in some charts there appears only Cerro Bonete (6872 meters or 22,547 feet), while mountaineers who had climbed this mountain in 1954 had reported another peak as high to the south. The clarification of this problem became our main objective, although we also planned to carry out experiments with high-mountain food and medicine. On January 5 Vicente Cicchitti, his wife Yolanda, nurse, A. Pagniez, M.D., and I left by station wagon for Jagüé. In the region we were aided by two local hillmen, Gramiciano Barrera and Cirilo Urriche, both from Jagüé. We continued to Base Camp on mules, often on 11-hour journeys, in five days. The extremes of temperature, typical of the high deserts, and the wind were great obstacles. On January 14 we all set up a high camp at about 16,500 feet on our peak and an attempt was launched on the 16th. At three P.M. V. Cicchitti and Urriche reached the top after eleven hours of constant climbing, returning to camp with no other inconvenience than great dehydration and exhaustion. The top of the peak, massive and broad has five summits; on the highest, evidence of the ascent was left (a summit register, a pennant of the association and personal records). The expedition conclusively proved that there are two Bonete peaks: Bonete Grande (6872 meters) to the north, climbed by V. Cicchitti in 1954, and Bonete Chico (6850 meters or 22,474 feet), which has to be approached from a different valley. All this information was confirmed by knowledgeable locals, especially our guide Barrera. Although Bonete Chico offers no technical difficulties, it is one of the highest mountains of the continent and has its own character. It is located in the merciless puna (high desert) and has a long and painful approach with no shelter from the wind; water, if any, is salty. On the whole journey from Jagüé to Base Camp there was only one hamlet (at Río del Oro). The whole district around this great mountain resembles the landscape of the moon.

ALFREDO H. BRIGNONE, Federatión Argentina de Montañismo y Afines

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