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South America, Argentina, Cordillera de la Totora, Ascents in the Cordillera de la Totora

Ascents in the Cordillera de la Totora. This big but little-known range in San Juan has many unclimbed peaks. There were some ascents in the late 1970s, including the highest peak, Cerro de la Totora (5770m). Some years ago, a Spanish team climbed some minor summits.

In October, Nèstor Pèrez, Mauricio Bianchi, Bernardo Heredia and I were joined by veteran Josè Luis Fonrouge. We reached the abandoned mine of La Alumbrera and continued with our vehicle along a precarious track. Next day we continued walking the Rio de la Alumbrera and the Arroyo (Creek) Pedrazal. The rocky creek was the natural access to the heart of the range. We camped at 3000 meters. The next camp (3800m) was erected by a huge erratic block near the glacier of Las Totoras. Finally we continued via a moraine to a camp (4100m) in a cirque at the range’s border. We left early on October 15. Pèrez, Heredia and I went to a 5180-meter unclimbed pyramidal peak. We climbed a snow line on the north face, then followed an unstable ridge. Pèrez gave up only 80 meters short of the top. Heredia and I stood on the previously unclimbed summit at 5 p.m. with an excellent view toward Mercedario, Aconcagua and other mountains. The other group ascended the long northeast ridge of Cerro Piramide (5593m), reaching its untrodden summit at 4:30 p.m. This was perhaps the highest unclimbed peak of the region. They descended directly via snow gullies. On October 16, we descended to our vehicle.

Marcelo Scanu, Buenos Aires, Argentina