|Beautiful traverse threading these two peaks.|
|Karen on "the snow highway"|
It felt like a great day to go for it so with the suttle hints from the mountains (or more likely a poor girl that lost here balloon) I kept skinning the last 1300 meters to see what 5800 meters felt like. Easier said then done..... I knew with out proper acclimatization it would be hard and it was. As long as I felt good and had no headache or problems I kept going at it. 5000meters came the snow quality was not to be desired but still better then walking. The smell of sulfur clued that the top was close and by this time I was walking the last few meters on wind scoured rock.
We stayed here for weeks exploring valleys, peaks, coulairs, a few nice steep faces and even a couple traverses. In my head was a goal to never ski the same thing twice. It wasn't hard...
|Large Rock covered glaciers would stretch down the valleys sometimes acting like a giant maze to stay on snow.|
Every now and then penitentes would poke up but being early in the season they were small enough to ski over. Smooth corn was very abundant.
One thing that ended up slamming us especially me was the combination of endless sunny days and high elevation. Over reaching was the name of the game but where water seeped out of the rocks would be micro climates to enjoy the spring and try to recoup.
|Sure wouldn't want to be around when these rocks came raining down. (most are much bigger then my fist)|
|We only witnessed eruptions of color.|
Beta: (what I gained anyways)
Flight time to Santiago from Vancouver: 14 hours + layovers (long haul)
Cost of living in Chile: Slightly cheaper then Canada. Buying food at local markets highly recommended for fruit and produce.
Getting into the country: No prep work necessary for trips under 90days you just have to pay $125 at customs to get in. (note different story for Argentina)
Camping: Up in the high valleys you can camp anywhere for free.
Rental Car: We rented a car for 41 days it cost us $1500 Canadian (note we didn't bother with getting excess insurance as it cost about the same as the excess ($1000) when renting for 41 days). I would recommend a 4x4. We really pushed the limits of where a car should go its really more suitable to a 4x4. Forging rivers lots of ditches on long rough gravel roads. However for accessing Volcan San Jose its totally doable with a car but if you want to get to the back of the valleys especially the north branch its rough.
|Camping at the river crossing so we could make a go for it in low water. (some how we made it the whole time with out getting stuck.)|
Cost of hotels,cabanas ext// We found that it was around $30-50 pp to get a good bed for the night. There were some cheaper options but you may as well camp. San Jose De Maipo has a couple places that offer camping spots with showers ext//
Overview of area:
The north is mostly desert and high elevation not really good for skiing with the exception of certain volcaones at certain times of the year.
The South has a lower elevations and is more like the west coast of Canada. It gets lots of snow and I have heard of people skiing late into November but it seems to be more limited and harder access.
Central Chile is where you will find the high elevation and snow mixture that makes for great ski mountaineering esp in oct/november. Cajon del Maipo despite being so close to the epicenter of Chile has amazing access and very low crowds once you get off the beaten path.
So thats my small taste of Chile. We did end up driving south about 800kms to check out an active volcano called Villarrica and get our tourist fix. It was beautiful but was really not much more then allot of people being guided up to see a bunch of hot sulfur gas.