Taapaca

Elevation (feet): 19,226
Elevation (meters): 5,860
Continent: South America
Country: Chile
Range/Region: Bolivian Andes
Latitude: -18.181409
Longitude: -69.589462
Difficulty: Basic Snow/Ice Climb
Volcanic status: Extinct
Nearest major airport: Arica
Convenient Center: Putre is a little town located about one hour away from the starting point of the climb, with nice restaurants, accomodation and grocery stores. I am not sure you can find any climbing equipment in Putre.

Thanks to Edilson V. Benvenutti for adding this peak.

This mountain is a complex volcano also called Nevados de Putre. Very near, at 10 km there is a small city, Putre, located at halfway from Arica (Chile)to Sajama Park (Bolivia).

Taapaca is an excellent mountain for a first time experience at a relatively high altitude, since you get close to 6.000 meters.

Access is very easy, you leave from Putre, drive for about one hour and start climbing at 4.750 meters approximately. Surprisingly, there is a road sign informing you are a 5.250 m but the guide and the GPS confirmed the correct altitude.

The peak can be easily climbed in one day but some people even do it in two days, installing a camp in a small and protected area half way to the summit. This is the perfect option for absolute beginners or not so well prepared climbers !

First part of the ascent is an easy two to three hours walk, which allows you to warm up before turning right and cross a slope with nothing but loose and unpleasant stones.

You then reach what looks like a small crater where you have you first break.

A gentle slope follows and you arrive after at a flat and protected area where you install the camp if you choose to climb Taapaca in two days.

Things then start to get serious when you start climbing the slope that will take you to a "col" at approximately 5.200 meters. Here you decide what Taapace summit you will attempt : "normal" Taapaca or "little" Taapaca.

Little Taapaca can be totally seen from the col and allows you to reach a summit with little efforts.

If you decide to go for "normal" Taapaca, it is time to put your crampons on and attack two snowy slopes which do not represent any technical difficulty at all.

A 100 meters long ridge is the final stage before reaching the summit, highest point of the "Nevados de Putre" range, which offers very nice views of green and sandy valleys, and also of Parinacota, Pomerape and Sajama mountains, all above 6.000 meters.

Going down is a lot of fun, you can go real fast on the snowy slopes and when you get back to the col you will follow a different route, totally sandy, that will leave only one hour walk from starting point.

Thanks to Edilson V. Benvenutti for this description.