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Exploring in Atacama Desert the highest volcano in the world: Ojos del Salado

October 10 , 2023 | Ojos del Salado

Located in the grand Andes Mountains, Ojos del Salado stands as a geological wonder and an incomparable challenge for mountaineering lovers. With its imposing 6.893 m / 22,615 feet of altitude, this active volcano holds the title of the highest point in Chile, the American continent and the volcanic world.

The sports history of Ojos del Salado begins in 1937, when the first recorded ascent was marked by the expedition led by the Polish explorer Jan Alfred Szczepański. Since then, this great mountain has attracted countless mountaineers from all over the world to face its challenges and conquer its summit. Thousands of mountaineers embark each year on this difficult journey, attesting to the fascination and mysticism that surround the volcano.

Ojos del Salado, of volcano origin, is a stratovolcano made up of layers of lava, ash and pyroclastic rocks piled up over centuries. Its geological features, which include two craters (one of which contains the highest lake in the world), give it an incomparable attribute. The arid landscapes that surround it contrast with the snow that crowns its summit, creating a unique mountain experience of its kind. It is located in the Atacama region in northern Chile between the provinces of Copiapó and Huasco. Its slopes reach the Nevado de Tres Cruces National Park, and its summit stands as a meeting point between the borders of Chile and Argentina.

 

The ascent to Ojos del Salado is a challenging adventure of self-discovery and physical improvement. The normal route includes various camps, each one at a different altitude, allowing gradual acclimatization and minimizing the effects of altitude sickness. The visit to the Laguna Verde, an oasis located at more than 14,100 feet of altitude, is an iconic point of the expedition, a surprising contrast with the arid environment that surrounds it. It also has a thermal area that allows a rest after the days of walking. The day of the ascent to the summit is a long day that begins at dawn. The use of crampons and ice axe is required to pass through the bottom of the glacier. Once you have reached the upper crater, you ascend through a gutter that leads to a rock tower, where you face a grade IV rock climb that finishes in the main summit.

The use of 4×4 overland vehicles adds an exciting nuance to the experience. With them traversing challenging terrain and spectacular scenery, the journey to the camps becomes an exploration in itself. Making it easy to transport gear and add an extra touch of adventure to your trip, these rugged vehicles are essential for traversing highways and accessing remote areas.

The summit of Ojos del Salado not only promises a spectacular view of the Andes Mountains, but also an exceptional panoramic view of the Chilean highlands. Its location in the middle of the Atacama region, the driest desert in the world, gives it a unique appeal to adventurers who want to explore unique desert landscapes.

The region surrounding Ojos del Salado is also rich in culture and history. Due to their deep-rooted connection with the land and the mountains, the local populations bring a special touch to this region. Despite the extreme conditions, the diversity of the Andean fauna and flora shows the persistence of life at these heights.

Ojos del Salado transcends its status as a volcano to become an icon of South American mountaineering. Its history, its geology and its imposing presence resonate in the hearts of visitors. Ojos del Salado is much more than a mountain, either because of its challenging routes, its impressive panoramas or the 4×4 journey to the camps; it is an unforgettable challenge that will leave its mark on those who dare to visit it.

Whether due to its rich history, its geological characteristics, its unique geography, its height challenges or the spectacular landscape that surrounds the mountain, Ojos del Salado is definitely an incomparable destination that invites intrepid explorers to immerse themselves in an unparalleled experience that promises emotions and achievements in each step towards its summit.

*We fully recommend travel with a mountain travel agency formally established with the SERNATUR register according the chilean laws. Clic here for more info about Ojos del Salado Expedition

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