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South America, Chile, Cerro Bonete Chico, New Route, Central Andes

Cerro Bonete Chico, New Route, Central Andes. This mountain, with a revised height of 6759 meters, has been misidentified many times. Only with the new maps of a few years ago has the confusion ended. Bonete Chico (“Little Cone,” this because of the cone summit)—is really much higher than Bonete Grande, a modest summit of 5943 meters ascended some years ago by a party from La Rioja. These summits, as nearly all of the zone, are really volcanoes; Bonete Chico is one of the highest volcanoes on earth. Bonete Chico has been ascended mostly from the east and in later years from the north.

In October, 1993, a large group from La Rioja reached Laguna Brava. From there Horacio Sánchez and Pablo Ticac attempted the south face of the volcano, reaching 6300 meters. In 1986, Mir from Mendoza claimed the first ascent of the face, but the group that made the 1996 ascent found no traces of his ascent. On November 9, 1996, a large group directed by Jaime Suarez (a Spanish resident in Argentina) that consisted of Mexican Himalayist Mari Carmen Pena, Hans Siebenhaar (a German resident in Argentina), and Argentines Juan Herrera, Laura Suárez, Alejandro Giménez, two others and I departed from the village of Vinchina, to Laguna Brava, a huge 14 kilometer lake with salt islands, a large destroyed airplane and pink flamingos—all at 4200 meters. We camped in the refugio Laguna Brava on the northwest part of the lake. On the 10th we went to the nearby Inca ruins and part of the group ascended Cerro Diente de Leche (ca. 4400 m), ascended by Mir in 1986. On the 11th some of us went by car and others walked the 21 kilometers to Base Camp on the southwest flank of Bonete Chico. I had to descend by car because of altitude problems. The next day, I climbed solo a nice shaped hill (4368 m) named “Torte Chica” by Mir who ascended it for first time. I was the second. On the 14th, I ascended solo Cerro Morado o Tambero (5230 m) by its south flank. I departed at 5 a.m., and ascended the lower summit (5158 m, second ascent), where I found traces of Mir and other companions. Before midday I stood on the highest summit, making its second ascent and finding a document of a 1986 party (not Mirs). My GPS reading was 5230 meters.

Meanwhile, the group began to ascend the southwest route. They departed from Base Camp at 4650 meters. The first camp was erected at 5250 meters and the second at 5900 meters. On the 15th they all made the summit, calling the route Ruta Gepese. On the 16th we all met in the hut and descended to Vinchina by the Comecaballos road, the same used in the approach.

Marcelo Scanu, Buenos Aires, Argentina