American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

South America, Argentina, Northern Andes, Volcán Llullaillaco, New Route

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1998

Volcán Llullaillaco, New Route. Llullaillaco, a volcano on the Argentine-Chilean border, was a sacred peak for the Incas who built on its summit the world’s highest buildings. In March, a caving expedition went to Volcán Llullaillaco; Gustavo Lisi and Rafael Monti, both from Salta, were part of the expedition. They were transported by the expedition’s vehicles from base camp on the southeast face to the south face. They were left at 5000 meters in the moraine, and continued on terrain formed by basalt rock up to 5200 meters. From there they climbed a gradual couloir then put up camp at 5600 meters behind a knoll that protected them from avalanches. It snowed heavily but the next day, March 29, they left at 9 a.m. toward the summit. It was very cold. They attempted the central couloir and then took another route (60°) to the left. From the couloir, it was another 300 meters to the top over steep, mixed terrain. The last 50 meters were rock. At 4:15 p.m. they reached the summit. They descended to the camp and the next day reached base camp, where the rest of the expedition waited.

It should be noted that on the Chilean side of Llullaillaco, as well as on other parts of the border, there are land mines placed by the Chilean Army in the pre-war events of 1977 and 1978. An American climber disappeared there some years ago under mysterious conditions; some say that he was a victim of the mines. Fortunately, due to improved relations with Argentina, the Republic of Chile has said it intends to abide by the Ottawa agreement and will clear the zone of mines.

Marcelo Scanu, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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