Ojos del Saldo (6896m) Act I

To be continued…

“What! You wanna leave tomorrow?! And you are alone? People organize this kind of expedition at least 6 months in advance!!!’

Ojos del Salado is not only Chile’s highest peak, the highest volcano in the world, the second highest mountain in all the Americas and a serious 8-12 day climb to almost 7000 Meters, it is, apparently, also bureaucratic madness to get the permit for the Chilean side!

For the last three days I have been missioning around Copiapó (which is starting point for most expeditions from the Chilean side), trying to find information regarding access, the climb & permit and maybe/hopefully to be able to buddy up to climb with other climbers in order to share expenses and effort. 

Right on Plaza Real in Copiapó is the SERNATUR (Servicio Nacional de Turismo) office. Opening hours: Mo-Fr 8:30 am – 7:30 pm.
There one can find all information and “Lelia” (lmanterola@sernatur.cl). What a wonderful woman – The most knowledgeable and helpful person you will find in whole South America!
SERNATUR has lists of accommodation and the tour operators/agencies in town, maps, phone numbers, pictures, drawings and a lot of connections. “Lelia” made a good 15 phone calls for me in full motivation of getting me up the mountain:-)

Two different permits are needed:

DIFROL (Dirección Nacional de Fronteras y Límites del Estado):
First of all, its free and can be obtained in only one day.  When I was in the SERNATUR office I only had to fill out this one page (see picture) which took not even 5 minutes. “Lelia” even faxed it for me to the office in Santiago.

The other (climbing) permit:
This permit is issued by a private company called Aventurismo Expediciones (Atacama Nr. 240, Copiapó; Tel.: +52 316395). They own the concession for the park and maintain the area. An amiable, older man patiently answered all my hundred questions.
Drop by the office and you get the permit on the spot. It costs U$ 160 per person (all nationalities and Chileans) and includes transport for the one hour ride from Laguna Verde (4300m) to Refugio Atacama (5200m).

difrol_ojos_del_salado_chileDIFROL application sheet
(To enlarge click on picture)

Important: There is not a single outfitter or agency in town which rents out equipment/climbing gear. Nor can you buy tents, crampons, axes or down jackets, etc…!!!
Bring all your gear or shop in Santiago, Mendoza or Córdoba.

In the end not even an appearance/interview with a cry for climbing partners on a local Atacama radio station brought success.
Ojos del Salado sees a lot of traffic, but climbers show up in already established (big style) expeditions without space for gipsys.
Transport only to the 265 km distant Laguna Verde would have cost U$ 300.

I am now on my way to Argentina via Santiago, trying my luck from the other side…

If you interested in joining or have further information please drop an email!! My Chilean mobile number is: +56 (9)82705567.

Click here to read how I missioned Ojos from the Argentinian side!

December 2, 2009  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: Chile Views: 3985

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