Climb the Incahuasi (6,640m) & Nevado San Francisco (6,040m) volcanoes in northern Argentina, 14 days
Ojos del Salado (6893m) 15-day mountaineering program, Catamarca
This review was for a guide (Gaston Lopez) sent by Hernan. This was the worst guiding I've experienced on any trip taken over the last 8 years on over a dozen trips around the world. Numerous issues that you would not expect from a guide who's been certified for 12+ years. The most significant being: suggested I could wear normal hiking boots on a 6016 meter mountain (Nevado San Francisco) when I've always worn doubles on 6000 and even on cold 5000 meter mountains. An inexperienced person could have had foot issues/frost bite as it was cold the day we summited. Not knowing the route on Ojos - he suggested we try for the summit at 13:30 after moving from Arenal to the higher camp, but couldn't provide an answer when I asked what the average time was for people to summit when leaving from the high camp. We eventually had to turn around from this summit attempt because he seriously misjudged the timing and lost the route during our ascent. After this failed attempt, he said we'd make another attempt the following morning and that it would take maybe 7 hours up and 5 hours down, meaning we'd need to leave by 8:00 at the absolute latest to make it back before dark. The next morning he was still sleeping at 7:00, and hadn't mentioned anything about departure time the night before, so I left before him and led myself up to the plateau before he caught up and we went the rest of the way together. By this point I had lost all confidence in his guiding ability, advice, and planning, so I made the decision to leave on my own for the summit because I knew he wasn't leaving me enough time by sleeping in. Other issues: every time this guide verbalized the itinerary, it was different (he was clearly very disorganized and lacked basic planning skills); this was the worst and cheapest food I've experienced on any trip. Example: after an 11-hour summit day, we had canned lentils, canned vegetables, rice, tuna, and tomatoes mixed together for dinner vs. other teams that ate grilled meat, stir fry, hamburgers, tacos, etc. There was also inadequate/low quality breakfast of cookies and cereal only, as opposed to other teams eating eggs, toast with jam & peanut butter, bread/chapati, etc.; of all the guided teams at Las Grutas, we didn't have paperwork for the car to get past the gendarmie post so we had to get a ride from someone else to Nevado (shows poor planning and logistics); pacing was not great and he was so far ahead of me most of the time that he had no idea what my pace was, not to mention this is a dangerous practice in terms of keeping an eye on your client; guide had no hand sanitizer and didn't wash hands when preparing food; guide incorrectly told me I was developing HAPE because of a cough I tend to get at altitude but my oxsat was 83% and resting heart rate was ~95 bpm at 5500 meters.
Ascent to the 6795-meter Mount Pissis
Personally, was more impressed with the road trip towards the mountain than the mountain itself, but it was definitely worth going. The lunar landscape in this remote area is absolutely awesome. The guide was well prepared, very friendly, and even a surprisingly good cook. The location is as far as you are likely to get from civilisation. The weather was also unusually good. But the mountain is tough and frustrating sliding down every step in the loose gravel and sand. Not everyone's cup of tea
14-Day Ojos del Salado (6898m) ascent with acclimatization
You People there at Explore have really put a great trip together. I don,t know how you could improve on this. Thanks forgiving me the chance to experience Chile!
Ojos del Salado volcano ascent
Many thanks to You again for excellent organization our trip to Ojos with Martin Torres! Martin very good man and I`m very glad to have this new real friend!
From desert that stretches out for miles and mountains that rise high up to the sky, the terrain in Catamarca is breathtakingly beautiful. Explore and admire its aquamarine lakes, rugged mountains and hot springs.
Best time to visit
October through March for mountain climbing
How to get there
Fly to Catamarca from Buenos Aires then transfer by car. Another option is to fly to Calama in Chile from Santiago
The temperatures in this area varies from 6 °C a 33 °C annually. The summers tend to be long and hot and winters mild
There are a number of mountains and volcanoes to climb in Catamarca. From the extremely high Ojos del Salado volcano which sits on the border of Argentina and Chile, to the Cerro Incahuasi which sits at 6640 meters. To climb either of these mountains you’ll need first acclimatize. At 6799 meters, Monte Pissis is another great mountain to climb and it’s actually the third highest peak in South America. To acclimatize before attempting these summits, it’s also a good idea to climb smaller peaks like Siete Hermanos (4780m) and Mulas Muertas (5200m)
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