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South America, Argentina–Northern Andes, Cerro de las Cuevas, Ancient and Modern Ascents

Cerro de las Cuevas. Ancient and Modern Ascents. Searching for the legendary Inca “city” of Aconquija, an expedition of the Club Andino Mercedario (San Juan, Argentina) travelled to Concepción in Tucumán Province, reached the junction of the rivers Jaya and Las Pavas and, emerging from the forest, climbed the eastern slopes of the Nevados de Aconquija, a range that contains several peaks between 16,000 and 18,000 feet. The “city” itself was located at a height of 4300 meters (14,108 feet) and it was formed by two sections which are locally called Pueblo Viejo de Abajo and Pueblo Viejo de Arriba. The climbers believe that at its peak this Inca complex may have had 500 to 1000 inhabitants. Cerro de las Cuevas (5000 meters, 16,404 feet), on whose slopes the constructions are nested, was ascended by Antonio Beorchia (leader), C. Delgado, A. Graffigna, J. Garcés, D. Olivares, J. Oro and a woman, María Storico on July 23. The flat summit itself was surrounded by an elliptical wall, which contained several habitations. Traces of at least one modem ascent to the lesser peak, some 40 meters lower, were found. The well known archaeologist Juan Schobinger stayed behind several days at Pueblo Viejo to study its ruins and the ceramic pieces found.

Evelio Echevarria