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South America, Argentina, Northern Argentine Andes, Incahuasi Region, Various Ascents

Incahuasi Region, Various Ascents. On the last days of January, a truck left the members of the Argentine-Czech Incahuasi Expedition in base camp (4400m) on the slopes of mighty Volcan Incahuasi (6638m) on the Argentine-Chilean border. Czech members were veterans Vlastimil Šmída (67 years old) and Jan Cervinka (69 years old), two spectacular guys with many Himalayan expeditions under their belts. The Argentine group was comprised of Nestor Perez, Santiago Rocha and me. We had 500 liters of water brought by the truck because in the region there is a lack of this vital element. The zone had very strong winds throughout the expedition. We ascended to 4000 meters for acclimatization but my two Argentine friends gave up some days after because of poor health. We made a first camp at 5150 meters on Incahuasi’s north ridge, but after two ascents there, a new camp at 5450 meters, a torn tent, and other problems, I decided to give up Incahuasi and ascend other virgin peaks in the zone. These problems didn’t disturb my friends, who continued on. On February 2,I headed south from base camp through a lava-and-ash zone toward a subsidiary volcano near the Incahuasi base. I headed to the volcano’s rim and descended a little bit because of fierce winds. Finally I reached, solo, the summit of what I called “Volcan Negro del Incahuasi” (5106m, 27° 00' 31" S, 68° 15' 46.8" W). The wind made me tumble, so I descended to the crater, which was full of giant rocks. On February 7, I headed south once more, chasing vicunas toward another virgin peak. I called it “Volcan Rojo del Incahuasi” (5000m, 27° 00' 44.9" S, 68° 15' 03" W) because of its red color. I descended to its perfectly rounded crater. On February 9,I headed north toward the minor summit of the volcano San Francisco (6016m). I had reached the principal summit in 1997 by a new route (noted in that year’s AAJ). I took a ridge and found a trickle that descended from the top. By late afternoon I reached the summit (5450m). On top, there was a huge cairn made by the Incas or probably by Walter Penck in 1913. The wind once more made me tumble; I descended to the crater, which has a beautiful, perfectly round lake with a huge rock in the middle. I descended to camp at 8 p.m. happy to find the Czechs, who had ascended Incahuasi the day before. I returned to Buenos Aires, but the incredible Czechs ascended Ojos del Salado on February 23.

Marcelo Scanu, Buenos Aires, Argentina