Ojos del Salado
Photo by Andes Mountain Expediciones
|Best months for climbing:||May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct|
|Year first climbed:||1937|
|First successful climber(s):||J. Wojsznis, J. Szczepanski|
|Nearest major airport:||Antofagasta, Chile|
|Convenient Center:||Copiapo, Chile|
Ojos del Salado is the highest mountain in Chile, and the second highest mountain in South America. It rises on the Chile-Argentina border and dominates a landscape of high volcanoes that tower to the east of the Altacama Desert. Monte Pissis (22,241 ft.), South America's third highest mountain, rises nearby, to the south. Further south (roughly 350 miles), one finds the highest and fourth highest mountains, Aconcagua (22,841 ft.) and Mercedario (22,211 ft.). Because of its proximity to the desert, Ojos del Salado has little snow except in winter. A winter ascent is recommended because conditions are too dry otherwise.
The mountain is extremely remote, and is difficult to access without renting a vehicle. The ascent is largely a walk-up, though there is a decent scramble on the final summit pitch which is best protected by the available fixed ropes or by a belay.
Because it has no history of explosive eruptions, Ojos del Salado is categorized here as an 'extinct' volcano. However, solfataric activity was observed in 1937 and 1956, and more recently on November 14, 1994, when the mountain emitted an intermittent gray column of water vapor and solfataric gases. This gaseous activity may further reduce the amount of oxygen available above 6400 m. (Volcanic activity information courtesy Sandro Meli, Dip. Scienze della Terra, University di Parma)