Chimbote, First Ascent
South America, Argentina and Chile, Central Andes
Chimbote sits about 100km east of Santiago, near Mt. Polleras and the Tupungato Volcano. Despite many attempts since 1944, it remained unclimbed. It is guarded by a difficult approach, flanked by big mountains and deep valleys. Access is via the Olivares River to Las Pircas Pass and the Las Toscas Valley, then the main ridge to high camp. This approach took Waldo Farias and me four-days, starting at 3,000m, then crossing the 5,000m pass, dropping into the valley at 3,700m, and then hiking back up to 5,000m and high camp—all with 30kg packs.
The mountain has two 1,500m faces with bad rock (one on the El Perdido Valley, and the other in the El Quebrado Valley), and a third that’s less steep, but still with 120m of bad rock. We started to the side of this third wall, from the north, climbing 300m of 50° ice and free rock climbing, then rappelled 200m to the glaciated part of the south face and made a 100m ice traverse to a 200m ice headwall (65°-70°) that reached the summit pyramid. Another 130m of rock climbing (very bad rock with almost no protection, but no harder than 5.8) brought us to the 5,489m summit (my GPS read 5,498m) on April 1, 2011, at 6 p.m. We returned the same way, the adventure taking 11 days.