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South America, Argentina and Chile, Northern Andes, Argentina, Cordon Cachi-Palermo, First Complete Traverse

Cordon Cachi-Palermo, first complete traverse. Cachi-Palermo is an isolated range located in the Argentine province of Salta. Its two main summits, Cachi-Libertador (6,380m) and Palermo (6,184m), are linked by a long and previously unexplored ridge, and surrounded by a number of 6,000m peaks.

In October, we (both Argentine) made the first complete traverse of the entire range in a 10-day, self-sustained effort. After four days of acclimatization, which included the approach to the range from Liquín de las Pailas (3,050m) and the ascent of Pelicelli Peak, we reached the main ridge at La Hoyada Peak (6,012m). Then we traveled north for about 26 km, never dropping under 5,470m, climbing the 6,000ers Hoygaard, Cachi-Libertador, Palermo, Quemado, Guanaco, and Ciénaga Grande peaks (the three last just by Vitry). We descended the beautiful and partially unexplored gorge of the Salado River.

Beyond mountaineering, we had two other two goals. First, as no good local cartography is available (the only map is IGM’s 1:250,000, which shows no details), we did a preliminary geographical exploration, measuring all the passes and summits with GPS and clinometer. We found that Cachi-Libertador and Palermo are the only peaks in the range with more than 400m of prominence, that the highest point of the flat Ciénaga Grande Peak is its western summit, and that Pelicelli Peak, traditionally considered to be higher than 6,000m, measured just 5,831m. The complete set of gathered info is available via email: chvitry@yahoo.com, dariobracali@yahoo.com.ar

Our other purpose was a brief archeological study of these mountains, as Vitry is an archeologist. The Incas climbed La Hoyada, Cachi-Libertador, and three minor summits between 1480 and 1532 AD; on top of the first are little ceremonial centers. At La Hoyada’s feet are two more archeological sites, and clear traces of an Inca trail still can be seen heading up it. We also found two historical mines and a forgotten arriero pass across the ridge.

Dario Bracali, Argentina, AAC, and Christian Vitry, Argentina