Fitz Roy (Cerro Chaltén) from the road to El Chaltén. Credit: Ankara,  Shot on 2009-08-27 Photo taken in El Chalten, Argentina.(c) Ankara, licensed under: CC BY-SA 3.0.
Fitz Roy (Cerro Chaltén) from the road to El Chaltén. Credit: Ankara, Shot on 2009-08-27 Photo taken in El Chalten, Argentina.(c) Ankara, licensed under: CC BY-SA 3.0.

General

Southern America is dominated by the chain of Andes that stretches from the southern tip of Argentina and Chile to the northern part of Columbia. Best known climbing areas are the mountains around Aconcagua, Cordilleras Blanca and Huayhuash in the Peruvian Andes and Patagonia in the southern end of the range. Also Chimborazo and Cotopaxi in Ecuador attracts significant number of climbers.

  • Northern Andes Northern Andes of Venezuela, Columbia and Ecuador are divided into several ranges; Venezuealan Andes are concentrated around Sierra Nevada National Park, Columbian Andes consist of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the extreme north of the country, further south, the Eastern, Central, and Western Cordilleras are parallel north-south ranges. Eastern and Western Cordilleras continue through Ecuador as well. There are also several isolated volcanic peaks. By far the most popular climbing peaks are Chimborazo (6310m) and Cotopaxi (5897m) in Ecuador.
  • Peru Peru has quite of a few mountain ranges, or Cordilleras, covering large part of the country. Most of them are little explored and not much is known about climbing in them. As usual for most everything in Peru, division on mountains into Cordilleras is not very structured is fixed. For the sake of this site, Peruvian Cordilleras have been divided into four main sections, each of them with several cordilleras.
  • Bolivia Bolivia's most distinctive geographical feature is the Altiplano, a high plateau contained between Cordillera Real in the North, Cordillera Occidental in the west and Cordillera Oriental in the east. Most alpine ranges are Cordillera APolobamba, Real and Quimsa Cruz, all located in Cordillera Oriental. Of these, Cordillera Real is the highest and by far the best known and most visited. Mountains in Cordillera Apolobamba and Cordillera Real are mostly heavily glaciated and alpine in nature. Cordillera Occidental has isolated volcanoes that are very high but usually easily climbable. The Capital city La Paz (3510m) lies on the Altiplano, very close to Cordillera Real, thus serving as a good base.
  • High Andes Most of the highest peaks in South America are located in Puna de Atacama and High Andes located in the central part of the chain running more or less along Chile/Argentina border. Puna de Atacama is high plateau in the northern Chile and Argentina. The peaks on these ranges are generally not very alpine in nature and tend to offer relatively non-technical glacier routes to very high peaks. This is where the highest mountain and probably the best-known climbing destination of South America, Aconcagua (or Cerro Aconcagua 6962m), is located. High Andes lie further south on the border between Chile and Argentina. The highest peak of the group, Aconcagua (6960m) is the highest peak of South-America. Normal route is glacier free and non-technical, because of this and the height, it is very popular. Also Polish glacier route is reasonably popular. Other than Aconcagua, High Andes is not particularly popular among the climbers. However, several lower groups (Loma Larga, Vellecites) have alpine peaks with sharp ridges and ice faces.
  • Patagonia The southernmost 1500km of Chile and Argentina are known as Patagonia. It is famous for its wild landscape with snow covered volcanoes, sharp granite spires and vast ice fields. Patagonia is also notorious for its horrible conditions. By far the best known area among the climbers is Los Glacieres national park close to El Chalten with two rugged and legendary mountains in the Patagonia Fitzroy (3440m) and Cerro Torre (3127m). However, Patagonia is a lot larger area with numerous ranges, many of which feature significantly higher peaks.

Climbing in the Andes

Quality climbing can be found on several parts of the extensive Andes chain:

  • Most of the highest peaks in South America are located in Punsa de Atacama and High Andes located in the central part of the chain in Chile/Argentina. These, together with volcanoes on Northern Andes are generally not very alpine in nature and tend to offer relatively non-technical glacier routes to very high peaks.
  • Many Cordilleras of Bolivia and Peru in particular have very alpine peaks with steep faces and razor sharp ridges, often with beautiful but fearsome cornices. These areas are prime candidates for those looking for technically challenging climbs. particularly Cordillera Blance is popular area.
  • Wild peaks of Patagonia are not very high on Andean scale, but offer extremely steep faces. Despite the often miserable weather, Patagonia is one of the most famous climbing destination worldwide known particularly for difficult routes on steep and compact rock.

Most of the climbing in the higher areas is on the snow or ice, on steep faces and sharp ridges that often build extensive cornices. North faces tend to have good snow and ice, at least until noon while south face often have unconsolidated powder. South American snow seem to stick to steeper slopes than in European Alps. Ridges are often beautiful with impressive double cornices. However because of this, they are often very difficult and unjustifiably dangerous. Which is why many routes top out at summit ridge without going to actual summit.

Most commonly used grading system is ifas (IFAS). However, due to popularity of the area among Americans nccs system is also sometimes used. Ice pitches are most commonly graded with steepness, however very steep routes are often graded with WI grade or sometimes Scottish grade. Rock pithes have traditionally been graded with UIAA rock grade. However, depending on which system the first ascent party was most familiar with, yds or french rock grades may be used instead. Rock grade is accompanied with standard aid climbing grade whenever applicable.

Take all gradings with healthy portion of grain of salt, even more so than is usual. There appear to be significant grade variation between different sources (as large as one source saying D, another ED). Many less popular routes have seen only few ascents, often long time ago, during which time conditions may have changed dramatically. Usually making the routes more difficult, but opposite examples may very well exist as well.

References

Cross-referencing the sources can be troublesome as discrepancies between different maps and books both in names and heights can be considerable. This is not helped at all by confusing names. Local names of many peaks, particularly in Peru and Bolivia are either in Quechue or Ayamari with several possible spellings. The same applies to hispanized spellings. First ascent details often make cross-referencing far easier. That being said, there are discrepancies in them as well.

  • Biggar, John: The Andes, 2nd edition. Isbn: 9780953608706. Andes, 1999.
  • Biggar, John: Biggar 2005 - A Guide for Climbers, 3Rev Ed edition. Isbn: 9780953608727. Andes, 2005.
  • Harper, Kate; Pitkethly, Val & Saunders, Victor: Trekking and Climbing in the Andes. Isbn: 9781859743911. New Holland Publishers Ltd, 2002.
  • Radehose, Eckehard: Traumberge Amerikas. Von Alaska bis Feuerland.. Isbn: 9783763330065. Bergverlag Rudolf Rother, 2002.
  • Neate, Jill: Mountaineering in the Andes. Isbn: 9780907649649. Hyperion Books, 1993.
  • Bonington, Chris & Salkeld, Audrey: World Mountaineering - The World's Greatest Mountains by the Worlds Greatest Mountaineers. Isbn: 1845331427. Miller's Publications, 2006.

Northern Andes

Northern Andes of Venezuela, Columbia and Ecuador are divided into several ranges; Venezuealan Andes are concentrated around Sierra Nevada National Park, Columbian Andes consist of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the extreme north of the country, further south, the Eastern, Central, and Western Cordilleras are parallel north-south ranges. Eastern and Western Cordilleras continue through Ecuador as well. There are also several isolated volcanic peaks. By far the most popular climbing peaks are Chimborazo (6310m) and Cotopaxi (5897m) in Ecuador.

Venezuela

  • Perija-Guajira Perija-Guajira group is located along Colombia/Venezuela border, to the west of Lago de Maracaico, bot far east of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta of Colombia. The highest peak of the range is Cerro Pintado (3660m).
  • Coastal range Main peaks of the coastal range are Pico Naiguata (2765m) in the western section and Cerro Tristeza (2596m) in the eastern part.
  • Cordillera de Mérida Northern Continuation of Cordillera Oriental of Colombia. The range is home to the highest peak of the country, Pico Bolívar which misses the 5000m mark by just few meters (4979m).
  • Guiana Highlands Home for Tepui, table top mountains with large flat summits. Walls are often vertical offering plenty of scope for exotic rock climbing.

Columbia

  • Santa Marta Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is strictly speaking not part of the Andes. It lies to the north of Andes, very close to Atlantic Ocean. It is the worlds highest coastal range with the highest summits reaching to 5710m. The range is home to highest peak of the country as both Pico Simón Bolívar and Pico Cristóbal Colón rise to 5710m. It is not clear which one is higher. The range is off limits to climbers as it is a reservate for indegenous people.
  • Cordillera Central The main peaks of Cordillera Central are Nevado de Huila (5365m) further south and Nevado del Tolima (5274m) and Nevado del Ruiz (5311m) in the central. The range would lie close to most of the major cities, but volcanic activity in the case of Tolima and Ruiz and security concerns in case of Huila complicate things significantly.
  • S. N. del Cocuy Cocuy group is located at the northern part of Cordillera Oriental, not far south of Venezuela border. The main peak of the range is Ritacuba Blanco at 5410m. Unlile the Santa Marta group, some of the dangerously active volcanoes (Ruiz) or areas with armed conflicts (Huila) Cocoy is relatively free of access problems. Manu consider the range to be also the most beautiful.

Ecuador

Ecuador is the main climbing attraction for climbers in northern Andes with two highest peaks Chimborazo and Cotopaxi being popular climbs with moderate difficulty and none of the access problems of Colombia. Access is usually easy from Quito (many climbs are possible in a long weekend) and most popular areas have huts.

  • Cordillera Occidental Western Cordillera include Chimborazo, the highest peak in Ecuador (6310m). Besides it, the main attraction for climbers is Illiniza with easy Norte (5116m) and moderately hard Sur (5305m, AD with ice up to 50°).
  • Cordillera Oriental Eastern Cordillera includes classic glaciated volcanoes Cotopaxi (5897m), Tungurahua (F) and slightly more demanding Caymabe (PD (varies between F and AD depending on the conditions of last big crevasse), usually more demanding than Cotopaxi or Chimmborazo) and Antisana (PD). Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Eastern Cordillera is El Altar 5319m, the horse shoe with several volcanic peaks. It is the only high peak in Ecuador that is technically hard to climb (normal route AD/D with IV-V and 60°).
  • Isolated volcanos In addition to Cordilleras, Ecuador has three high isolated volcanoes: Reventador, Sumaco and Sangay. Sangay, located 40km south of El Altar is the most active volcano in Andes. The ascent of Saqngay is technically easy (PD?) but it is very dangerous due to volcanic eruptions.

The mountains of Ecuador have a complicated weather pattern with two dry seasons; from June to July and December to January (neither of which being completely dry). On some areas climbing is reasonable even at other times. March and May are to be avoided at all costs. Ecuador gets a lots of fresh snow. Eastern part of Ecuador is particularly affected by the proximity of Amazon, thus the area suffers a very wet climate.

  • Brain, Yossi: Ecuador - A Climbing Guide. Isbn: 9781871890136. Menasha Ridge Press, 2000.
  • Rachowiecki, Rob & Thurber, Mark: Ecuador, 5th - Climbing & Hiking, 5th edition. Isbn: 9781841620756. Bradt Travel Guides, 2004.

Peru

Nevado Huantsán (6395 m) in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range of the western Andes, Peru. Credit: Bas Wallet,  Shot on 2012-08-09 Photo taken in Huaraz, Ancash, Peru.Licensed under: CC BY 2.0.
Nevado Huantsán (6395 m) in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range of the western Andes, Peru. Credit: Bas Wallet, Shot on 2012-08-09 Photo taken in Huaraz, Ancash, Peru.Licensed under: CC BY 2.0.

Peru has quite of a few mountain ranges, or Cordilleras, covering large part of the country. Most of them are little explored and not much is known about climbing in them. As usual for most everything in Peru, division on mountains into Cordilleras is not very structured is fixed. For the sake of this site, Peruvian Cordilleras have been divided into four main sections, each of them with several cordilleras. <<more>>.

Bolivia

Bolivia's most distinctive geographical feature is the Altiplano, a high plateau contained between Cordillera Real in the North, Cordillera Occidental in the west and Cordillera Oriental in the east. Most alpine ranges are Cordillera APolobamba, Real and Quimsa Cruz, all located in Cordillera Oriental. Of these, Cordillera Real is the highest and by far the best known and most visited. Mountains in Cordillera Apolobamba and Cordillera Real are mostly heavily glaciated and alpine in nature. Cordillera Occidental has isolated volcanoes that are very high but usually easily climbable. The Capital city La Paz (3510m) lies on the Altiplano, very close to Cordillera Real, thus serving as a good base.

  • BoliviaCordillera Occidental Cordillera Occidental runs generally from north to south between Cordillera Volcanica of Peru in the north and Puna de Atacama of Chile/Argentina in the south. On its SE side peaks of Cordillera Lipez are very close by. It is a range of isolated volcanic peaks, that rise from the high plateau (4220-4400m). Almost all of them are easy to climb. Here lies the highest peak of Bolivia, Nevado Sajama (6542m).
  • Cordillera Lipez Lipez range is located at the southern part of the country, on the border with Argentina. The area has several peaks above 5500m and one 6000ers: Uturunco (6008m). The range is is not often visited by climbers.
  • Cordillera Apolobamba On the border between Peru and Bolivia, north of lake Titicaca lies Cordillera Apolobamba. The range is not very popular among climbers, as the range is remote and access difficult. Base is the city of Pelechuco (3600m), located some 250km to the north of La Paz and 300km south of Cuzco (Peru). Access is usually by bus from La Paz (18-24h).
  • Cordillera Real The highest and most extensive of Bolivian ranges is Cordillera Real on the north of Altiplano, just northeast the city of La Paz and southeast of lake Titicaca. The area is mostly easily accessible from Las Paz and is by far the most popular range in Bolivia, especially the southern part. Best known climbing destinations of the range are Illampu (6368m) and Ancohuma (6427m) in the northern part, Condoriri (5650m), Huayna Potosi (6088m) and Illimani (6438m). Northern part has more spectacular and difficult peaks.
  • Cordillera Quimsa Cruz Cordillera Quimsa Cruz, or Kimsa Cruz, is SE extension of Cordillera Real. It extends from Asiento pass in the north (south of Illimani) to Tres Cruces pass in the south, which separates it from Cordillera de Cochabamba in the SE. The range is very compact measuring about 35-40km in length and 12km at its widest point. The highest peak of the range is Jacha Cuno Collo (5800m). Despite the range being located close to La Paz, it is not often visited by climbers, as it is overshadowed by higher Cordillera Real.
  • Cordillera de Cochabamba SE of Cordillera Quimsa Cruz. Significantly lower range with the highest peak being Tunari (5036m).

Most favorable weather can be expected during the winter (April - October), usually best months are May, June and July. Then the weather is dry and most stable in the Andes; usually only 3-4 bad days a month. Nights are bitterly cold. Due to low temperatures, avalanches are very rare during the season. Climbing is reasonable also later in a year (September and October, then much warmer temperatures. Cordillera Apolobabmba has wetter and less stable climate than the other areas.

The IGM (Instituto Geografico Militar) have produced most of the maps of Bolivia. On some areas other maps are available as well.

  • Brain, Yossi & Thurman, Paula: Bolivia - a Climbing Guide. Isbn: 9781871890488. Mountaineers Books, 1999.
  • Mesili, Alain: La Cordillera Real de los Andes-Bolivia (Coleccion Descubra Bolivia). Isbn: 9788483700815. Editorial Los Amigos del Libro, 1984.

Areas

Cordillera Occidental

Cordillera Occidental runs generally from north to south between Cordillera Volcanica of Peru in the north and Puna de Atacama of Chile/Argentina in the south. On its SE side peaks of Cordillera Lipez are very close by. It is a range of isolated volcanic peaks, that rise from the high plateau (4220-4400m). Almost all of them are easy to climb. Here lies the highest peak of Bolivia, Nevado Sajama (6542m).

The range has no well established grouping to smaller areas. However, it has been divided into four groups in SummitPost; the same division is used here:

  • Northern group Group dominated by Nevado Sajama. There are also several other 6000 peaks close by.
  • Tunupa group
  • Ollagüe group
  • Licancabur group Located very close to northern part of Puna de Atacama of Chile/Argentina in the south and Cordillera Lipez in the east.

Access to the range can be problematic and water supplies are scarce as only the highest peaks have permanent snowfields or glaciers. The climate is dry, thus climbing is reasonable year round. Access is from Arequipa (2325m) for the peaks in southern Peru (Coropuna (6425m), Solimana (6093m), Ampato (6288m), Hualca Hualca (6025m), Chachani (6057m), Arica (seal level) or Cabra (2350m) in Chile or from La Paz (3700m) in Bolivia (via villaga Sajama, 5h) (Sajama 6542m, Parinacota 6300m).

Cordillera Lipez

Lipez range is located at the southern part of the country, on the border with Argentina. The area has several peaks above 5500m and one 6000ers: Uturunco (6008m). The range is is not often visited by climbers.

Cordillera Apolobamba

On the border between Peru and Bolivia, north of lake Titicaca lies Cordillera Apolobamba. The range is not very popular among climbers, as the range is remote and access difficult. Base is the city of Pelechuco (3600m), located some 250km to the north of La Paz and 300km south of Cuzco (Peru). Access is usually by bus from La Paz (18-24h).

There are a couple of peaks rising above 6000m, the highest of them being Chaupi Orco (6044m, PD). Other notable mountains include Ascarani (5580m) and Soral (5641m). The area is more glaciated and more prone to bad weather than other ranges in Bolivia.

Cordillera Real

The highest and most extensive of Bolivian ranges is Cordillera Real on the north of Altiplano, just northeast the city of La Paz and southeast of lake Titicaca. The area is mostly easily accessible from Las Paz and is by far the most popular range in Bolivia, especially the southern part. Best known climbing destinations of the range are Illampu (6368m) and Ancohuma (6427m) in the northern part, Condoriri (5650m), Huayna Potosi (6088m) and Illimani (6438m). Northern part has more spectacular and difficult peaks.

  • Cordillera RealNorthern Cordillera Real Northernmost part of Cordillerta Real reminiscent somewhat Peruvian Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash of Peru with steep fluted faces of ice and snow. The area has more than 30 peaks rising above 5000m. Main climbing goals of this area are Ancohuma (6427m) and Illampu (6368m). The latter of which is considered to be the most difficult high peak in Bolivia (AD/D on the normal route along W Ridge; there are many harder routes). Illampu–Ancohuma massif has the greatest number of technical routes in Bolivia. The area is located southeast of the city of Sorata (2700m), that is the base of the climbs is this area. Sorata is accessed from La Paz, 5h.
  • Cordillera RealCondoriri group In the central part of the chain lies Condoriri group with Condoriri (Cabeza del Condor, 5650m) and Pequeno Alpamayo (5400m). Condoriri is considered to be one of the most beautiful peaks in the Andes. Normal route along SW Ridge is very popular (AD). The group is accessed from Estacio Tuni (4400m). From there ist is 2h hike to the base camp by Lago Chiar-cota at 4700m.
  • Cordillera RealSouthern Cordillera Real Southern part of the Cordillera Real is located very close to the city of la Paz. Iilimani (6438m), located at the southern end of the Cordillera Real the highest peak of the range and the second highest peak in Bolivia. Huayna Potosi (6088m) is located at the northern end of the chain, just south of Condoriri group. it is supposedly the easiest 6000m peak in Bolivia. Lower Charquini (5392m) shares the same camp is thus popular as acclimatization climb.

Northern Cordillera Real

Northernmost part of Cordillerta Real reminiscent somewhat Peruvian Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash of Peru with steep fluted faces of ice and snow. The area has more than 30 peaks rising above 5000m. Main climbing goals of this area are Ancohuma (6427m) and Illampu (6368m). The latter of which is considered to be the most difficult high peak in Bolivia (AD/D on the normal route along W Ridge; there are many harder routes). Illampu–Ancohuma massif has the greatest number of technical routes in Bolivia. The area is located southeast of the city of Sorata (2700m), that is the base of the climbs is this area. Sorata is accessed from La Paz, 5h.

Further south of Sorata group lies Nevado Chearoco (6150m) and Nevado Chachacomani (6100m). These can be reached from La Paz via Copacabana and Amahuayna Pass (5120m) to Llocolloni valley. Both peaks can be climbed from a camp at Leche Khota lake (4650m). Still further south, north of Condoriri group, lie Jankho Lay and Nigruni groups

Condoriri group

In the central part of the chain lies Condoriri group with Condoriri (Cabeza del Condor, 5650m) and Pequeno Alpamayo (5400m). Condoriri is considered to be one of the most beautiful peaks in the Andes. Normal route along SW Ridge is very popular (AD). The group is accessed from Estacio Tuni (4400m). From there ist is 2h hike to the base camp by Lago Chiar-cota at 4700m.

Southern Cordillera Real

Southern part of the Cordillera Real is located very close to the city of la Paz. Iilimani (6438m), located at the southern end of the Cordillera Real the highest peak of the range and the second highest peak in Bolivia. Huayna Potosi (6088m) is located at the northern end of the chain, just south of Condoriri group. it is supposedly the easiest 6000m peak in Bolivia. Lower Charquini (5392m) shares the same camp is thus popular as acclimatization climb.

Cordillera Quimsa Cruz

Cordillera Quimsa Cruz, or Kimsa Cruz, is SE extension of Cordillera Real. It extends from Asiento pass in the north (south of Illimani) to Tres Cruces pass in the south, which separates it from Cordillera de Cochabamba in the SE. The range is very compact measuring about 35-40km in length and 12km at its widest point. The highest peak of the range is Jacha Cuno Collo (5800m). Despite the range being located close to La Paz, it is not often visited by climbers, as it is overshadowed by higher Cordillera Real.

  • Quimsa Cruz. Access routes and significant peaks and valleys in the Quimsa Cruz mountains of Bolivia. At Google maps.

High Andes

Most of the highest peaks in South America are located in Puna de Atacama and High Andes located in the central part of the chain running more or less along Chile/Argentina border. Puna de Atacama is high plateau in the northern Chile and Argentina. The peaks on these ranges are generally not very alpine in nature and tend to offer relatively non-technical glacier routes to very high peaks. This is where the highest mountain and probably the best-known climbing destination of South America, Aconcagua (or Cerro Aconcagua 6962m), is located.

  • Cordillera Lipez Lipez range is located at the southern part of the country, on the border with Argentina. The area has several peaks above 5500m and one 6000ers: Uturunco (6008m). The range is is not often visited by climbers.
  • Northern Puna
  • Puna de Atacama Puna de Atacama is high plateau (4000m) in northern Chile reaching from southern Bolivia to NW Argentina. The area has over 30 major peaks rising above 6000m and 6 of 10 highest peaks n the Andes. However, the mountains in Puna de Atacama are not nearly as majestic in shape as lower mountains of Cordillera Blanca or Cordillera Huayhuash or rock towers of Patagonia.Northern part of Puna de Atacama (Cachi and Socomba groups) may also be considered to belong to Cordillera Occidental further north.
  • High Andes Most of the highest peaks in South America are located in Puna de Atacama and High Andes located in the central part of the chain running more or less along Chile/Argentina border. Puna de Atacama is high plateau in the northern Chile and Argentina. The peaks on these ranges are generally not very alpine in nature and tend to offer relatively non-technical glacier routes to very high peaks. This is where the highest mountain and probably the best-known climbing destination of South America, Aconcagua (or Cerro Aconcagua 6962m), is located. High Andes lie further south on the border between Chile and Argentina. The highest peak of the group, Aconcagua (6960m) is the highest peak of South-America. Normal route is glacier free and non-technical, because of this and the height, it is very popular. Also Polish glacier route is reasonably popular. Other than Aconcagua, High Andes is not particularly popular among the climbers. However, several lower groups (Loma Larga, Vellecites) have alpine peaks with sharp ridges and ice faces.

Areas

Puna de Atacama

Puna de Atacama is high plateau (4000m) in northern Chile reaching from southern Bolivia to NW Argentina. The area has over 30 major peaks rising above 6000m and 6 of 10 highest peaks n the Andes. However, the mountains in Puna de Atacama are not nearly as majestic in shape as lower mountains of Cordillera Blanca or Cordillera Huayhuash or rock towers of Patagonia.Northern part of Puna de Atacama (Cachi and Socomba groups) may also be considered to belong to Cordillera Occidental further north.

Normally there's at least one non-technical route (F). Several of the peaks in Puna de Atacama were climbed already by the Incas. Best known peaks include Nevado Pissis (6882m), Ojos del Salado (6864m), Bonete (6748m), Nevado Tres Cruces (6748m) and Cerro Llullaillaco (6739m).

Despite the vast size of Puna de Atracama area, the area has no well established subdivision. here the division to groups outlined on SummitPost is adopted.

  • Cachi group Some also count the area around Cachi to the Puna, but as the area in general is quite different from the other parts of the Puna, I have chosen to exclude it.
  • Socompa group Many regard the area around Socompa to be the northern end of the Puna. There you'll find the massive Llullaillaco, Socompa, Pular, Salin and Aracar, all over 6000m.
  • Antofalla group On the large completely unihabited area further north there are some more peaks over 6000m scattered over a large area. Antofalla, with its many summits and Vallecitos are over 6000m.
  • Paso de San Francisco In the area around Paso de San Francisco there are more high peaks. El Fraile, Incahuasi, San Francisco, El Condor, Ermitaño, Peña Blanca, Barrancas Blancas and Laudo are the highest.
  • Ojos del Salado group North of the Pissis massif some more 6000ers are scattered a bit here and there. Copiapo, Tres Quebradas are two. Further north and north west most of the really high peaks are to be found. The Tres Cruces group, Nacimiento, Cazadero, Solo, Olmedo, Vicunas, del Viento, Ojos del Salado and El Muerto are all quite close to each other and if there's a heart of the Puna, it's here.
  • Pissis group Starting from the south, the first high peaks you are likely to see are those north of Laguna Brava. Bonete Chico, Veladero, Baboso, Reclus and Pissis are the ones over 6000m.
  • La sierra de Toconquis
  • Laguna Blanca group
  • Sierras Pampeanas Sierra de Famatina with Famatina (6097m).
  • Aconquija Range

Several of the mountains can be accessed either from Chile or from Argentina. Main starting points are Calama (Chile) for NW areas, Salta (Argentina) for NE areas, Copiapó (Chile) or Catamarca (Argentina) for SW areas (Ojos del Salado) and La Rioja (Argentina) for SE areas (pissis, Bonete).

Climate is typically cold (down to minus 20 in the high mountains). Puna de Atacama is very dry, there are several 6000m peaks with no permanent snow or glaciers. Climbing is reasonable all year round. However, October and March are probably the best months.

High Andes

High Andes lie further south on the border between Chile and Argentina. The highest peak of the group, Aconcagua (6960m) is the highest peak of South-America. Normal route is glacier free and non-technical, because of this and the height, it is very popular. Also Polish glacier route is reasonably popular. Other than Aconcagua, High Andes is not particularly popular among the climbers. However, several lower groups (Loma Larga, Vellecites) have alpine peaks with sharp ridges and ice faces.

  • Agua Negra Majadita
  • Cordillera de la Ramada Mercedario
  • Cordillera Frontal Aconcagua
  • Tupungato group
  • Marmolejo group

Access is typically either from Buenos Aires in Argentina with flights to Mendoza (Aconcagua) or San Juan (Mercedario) or from Santiago (Chile).

Climate is typically cold (down to minus 20 in the high mountains). In High Andes, season lasts from December to March. During that time the weather is dry and stable. Especially the northern part is very dry. High Andes is windy, specially Aconcagua is notorious for the winds. Snow line lies at 5500m in the northern areas and at 4500m around Santiago.

  • Sanchez, Adrian Jorge & Editores, Cruz Pampa: Andes Argentinos - El Cordon Del Plata, Vallecitos, 1st (Spanish) Edition edition. Isbn: 9789872551209. Zagier & Urruty Pubns, 2013.
  • Sanchez, Adrian Jorge: Las Mas Altas. Isbn: 9789872551216. Cruz Pampa, 2010.

Patagonia

The southernmost 1500km of Chile and Argentina are known as Patagonia. It is famous for its wild landscape with snow covered volcanoes, sharp granite spires and vast ice fields. Patagonia is also notorious for its horrible conditions. By far the best known area among the climbers is Los Glacieres national park close to El Chalten with two rugged and legendary mountains in the Patagonia Fitzroy (3440m) and Cerro Torre (3127m). However, Patagonia is a lot larger area with numerous ranges, many of which feature significantly higher peaks.

  • Paso del Maipo Northernmost part of Patagonia, clos eto city of Santiago de Chile. Paso del Maipo is a pass of 3430m.
  • Paso del Maule Main peak of the area is Domuyo (4709m).
  • Andean lake District The Chilean Lake District is a zone in Southern Chile defined by its many lakes in the Andean foothills. The term is primarily used in tourism literature and advertising, in Chile Zona Sur is preferred as a geographical concept.
  • Chaiten
  • Aysén Aysén region is sourrended by high Patagonian peaks like San Valentin (4058m), San Lorenzo (3706m) and Arenales (3437m) to name a few. This dramatic landscapes is filled with fascinating glaciers, sharp peaks, broad and deep valleys, turquoise lakes, strong rivers and lush heavy forests. One of the better known ranges of the area is Cordillera de Castillo.
  • North Patagonian ice cap Laguna San Rafael National Park. The main peak is Monte San Valentin (4058m).
  • Zeballos/Jeinimeni The main peak of Zeballos/Jeinimeni area, north of Perito Moreno National Park is Cerro San Lorenzo (3706m), often quoted as the second highest peak of Patagonian Andes. That obviously depends on how you choose to define Patagonia as according to some definitions there are several higher peaks further north. In any case, Cerro Lorenzo is highly impressive peak, particularly from NE side. Cerro Hermoso, Cerro Dos Picos and Cerro Penitentes are the other main peaks of the area.
  • South Patagonian Ice cap South Patagonian ice cap is a huge glacier system to the south of Lago San Martin. By far the best known part of South Patagonian ice cap is Los Glaciares National Park. Due to its importance as climbing area, it is covered as separate area. Los Glacieres with Fitroy and Cerro Torre massif aside, Cerro Murallón (2565m) is probably the best known climbing object. However, there are several significantly higher peaks, such as Volcan Lautaro (3580m) and Cordon Mariano Moreno (3490m).
  • Los Glaciares National Park Best known climbing objectives in Patagonia are located in Los Glaciares National Park. Here lie Fitzroy massif and Cerro Torre Massif, both not too far away from village of El Chalten, which is accessible from Rio Gallegos, the main city in southern Argentina. Name sakes of the two massifs, Fitzroy (3440m) and Cerro Torre (3127m) are both legendary mountains offering very difficult climbs on steep rock and ice. Another notable peaks of the area are Mermoz and Poincenot in Fitzroy massif and Cerro Stanhardt and Torre Egger located in Cerro Torre massif.
  • Torres del Paine The other area of Patagonia that see climbing activity are Paine National Park (Parque Nacional Torres del Paine), located about 160 kilometers south of the Fitzroy/Cerro Torre group at the end of South Patagonian Ice cap. The area has several rock towers with impressive vertical walls. Further south, between Torres del Paine national park and Tierre del Fueqo lie several islands and fjords with number of ranges, such as Cordillera de Sarmiento (not to be mixed with Monte Sarnmiento located in Tierra del Fuego). Then peaks are comparatively low, but as they often rise directly from the sea, the local relief can be impressive.
  • Tierra del Fuego Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of the main island, Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and a group of many islands. The highest peak of the area are located in Cordillera Darwin culminating at Monte Darwin (2580m). The most famous peak, however is Monte Sarmiento (2246m). The heights doesn't probably sound like much, bust as the peaks rise, often quite literally, directly from the sea, they appear far mightier than the elevation might suggest.

Best known climbing objectives in Patagonia are located in Los Glaciares National Park. Here lie Fitzroy massif and Cerro Torre Massif, both not too far away from village of El Chalten, which is accessible from Rio Gallegos, the main city in southern Argentina. Name sakes of the two massifs, Fitzroy (3440m) and Cerro Torre (3127m) are both legendary mountains offering very difficult climbs on steep rock and ice. Another notable peaks of the area are Mermoz and Poincenot in Fitzroy massif and Cerro Stanhardt and Torre Egger located in Cerro Torre massif.

Other areas in Patagonia that see climbing activity are Paine National Park (Parque Nacional Torres del Paine), located about 160 kilometers south of the Fitzroy/Cerro Torre group in Chile and to some extent, Terra del Fuego.

  • Kearney, Alan: Mountaineering in Patagonia. Isbn: 9780938567301. Cloudcap, 1998.

Areas

Paso del Maipo

Northernmost part of Patagonia, clos eto city of Santiago de Chile. Paso del Maipo is a pass of 3430m.

Paso del Maule

Main peak of the area is Domuyo (4709m).

Andean lake District

The Chilean Lake District is a zone in Southern Chile defined by its many lakes in the Andean foothills. The term is primarily used in tourism literature and advertising, in Chile Zona Sur is preferred as a geographical concept.

Aysén

Aysén region is sourrended by high Patagonian peaks like San Valentin (4058m), San Lorenzo (3706m) and Arenales (3437m) to name a few. This dramatic landscapes is filled with fascinating glaciers, sharp peaks, broad and deep valleys, turquoise lakes, strong rivers and lush heavy forests. One of the better known ranges of the area is Cordillera de Castillo.

North Patagonian ice cap

Laguna San Rafael National Park. The main peak is Monte San Valentin (4058m).

Zeballos/Jeinimeni

The main peak of Zeballos/Jeinimeni area, north of Perito Moreno National Park is Cerro San Lorenzo (3706m), often quoted as the second highest peak of Patagonian Andes. That obviously depends on how you choose to define Patagonia as according to some definitions there are several higher peaks further north. In any case, Cerro Lorenzo is highly impressive peak, particularly from NE side. Cerro Hermoso, Cerro Dos Picos and Cerro Penitentes are the other main peaks of the area.

South Patagonian Ice cap

South Patagonian ice cap is a huge glacier system to the south of Lago San Martin. By far the best known part of South Patagonian ice cap is Los Glaciares National Park. Due to its importance as climbing area, it is covered as separate area. Los Glacieres with Fitroy and Cerro Torre massif aside, Cerro Murallón (2565m) is probably the best known climbing object. However, there are several significantly higher peaks, such as Volcan Lautaro (3580m) and Cordon Mariano Moreno (3490m).

Los Glaciares National Park

Best known climbing objectives in Patagonia are located in Los Glaciares National Park. Here lie Fitzroy massif and Cerro Torre Massif, both not too far away from village of El Chalten, which is accessible from Rio Gallegos, the main city in southern Argentina. Name sakes of the two massifs, Fitzroy (3440m) and Cerro Torre (3127m) are both legendary mountains offering very difficult climbs on steep rock and ice. Another notable peaks of the area are Mermoz and Poincenot in Fitzroy massif and Cerro Stanhardt and Torre Egger located in Cerro Torre massif.

  • Kearney, Alan: Mountaineering in Patagonia. Isbn: 9780938567301. Cloudcap, 1998.

Torres del Paine

The other area of Patagonia that see climbing activity are Paine National Park (Parque Nacional Torres del Paine), located about 160 kilometers south of the Fitzroy/Cerro Torre group at the end of South Patagonian Ice cap. The area has several rock towers with impressive vertical walls. Further south, between Torres del Paine national park and Tierre del Fueqo lie several islands and fjords with number of ranges, such as Cordillera de Sarmiento (not to be mixed with Monte Sarnmiento located in Tierra del Fuego). Then peaks are comparatively low, but as they often rise directly from the sea, the local relief can be impressive.

  • Kearney, Alan: Mountaineering in Patagonia. Isbn: 9780938567301. Cloudcap, 1998.

Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of the main island, Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and a group of many islands. The highest peak of the area are located in Cordillera Darwin culminating at Monte Darwin (2580m). The most famous peak, however is Monte Sarmiento (2246m). The heights doesn't probably sound like much, bust as the peaks rise, often quite literally, directly from the sea, they appear far mightier than the elevation might suggest.