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South America, Argentina, Central Andes, San Juan Province, Agua Negra and Valle del Cura Regions

San Juan Province, Agua Negra and Valle del Cura regions. The Valle del Cura is an interesting glacial valley, with many summits along the Chile border. I went there in February with Argentine Santiago Rocha and Pole Parys Liesicki, a resident of Spain. Liesicki acclimatized in the Agua Negra Region, where he reached many summits, including Cerro de la Fortuna (4,376m) by new route from the south. From a base camp by an ancient mine at Rincón del Río (S 30° 02´49.9" W 69° 47´45.6") Parys made the first ascent to the fine mountain west of camp. He named it Cerro Rincón del Río (4,822m, roughly S 30° 04´ W 69° 50´45"). On the 14th we all climbed Cerro Cabeceras del Carmen (4,821m, S 30° 04´12.5" W 69° 51´02.4") by its east ridge. On the summit we found a prospector’s wooden pole. On the 15th Parys and I went north and ascended a mountain from its west col. We christened it Cerro Promontorio (ca. 4,200m, 4,235m by GPS, S 30° 00´36.5" W 69° 47´22"). The next day I found an Inca hut next to a well, and nearby an exquisite Inca stone figurine representing a pregnant llama, surely a sacred offering to their gods. On the 17th Parys trekked south toward the Arroyo de la Lagunita and climbed the virgin summit of the Nevado de Mondaca (ca 5,200m, S 30° 07´08.7" W 69° 48´42"). The Gendarmeria Nacional (Border Police) came the next day and took Parys and me to the Arroyo de las Máquinas, and Santiago descended. On the 24th we attempted the international summit of Volcán Vacas Heladas (ca. 5300m), but a big camp of penitentes aborted the ascent just above 5,000m, so we changed our objective to a minor summit on the international border. We ascended it by its northwest ridge, making its first ascent and calling it Cerro del Paso de las Tórtolas (ca. 5,100m, 5,145m by GPS, S 29°53´35.7" W 69°53´32.5").

Marcelo Scanu, Argentina