OverviewThese 4 gullies are the common mountaineering routes accessible from Salto de Agua camp. They feature a gradient of 45 degrees although one may find spots of higher gradient for few meters (especially on the left 2 gullies). The 2 on the left are the most technical. Depending on the quantity of snow / ice on the mountain but also route options, they may also involve rock climbing up to UIAA V. The 2 on gullies on the right side are less technical and enable reaching the summit through not more than American class 3 terrain.
Getting ThereThe El Salto de Agua camp at 4200m is the usual start point for this route. It's situated 9 km & +1220m West of Vallecitos (7h30), next to a waterfall at the entrance of a "cirque" formed by (clockwise) Cerro Lomas Amarillas, Portezuelo Lomas Amarillas, Portezuelo Vallecitos, Cerro Vallecitos and Cerro Rincon.
From El Salto de Agua camp follow the trail south-west in direction of La Hollada camp. Cerro Lomas Amarillas is at your left. Before arriving at Hollada, at an altitude of about 4300m, you can see 2 gullies on Lomas Amarillas west face. These are the 2 most technical or left side ones. While following the same trail Farther up, at about 4400m, you will find 2 other gullies on the mountain. These are the less technical or right side ones.
Here you can built your own route with different ingredients. The idea is to climb a gully up the west face until reaching the ridge and then following the ridge to the summit. Depending on the moment of year and the snow / ice condition, you will have to combine snow/ice pitches, rock pitches and scree spots.
There is one key consideration when you climb one of these gullies and that is the location of the summit with respect to the direction of your climb. If climbing the right gullies, you are almost inline with the summit. Yet, you would better target the left one of the two gullies as the best exit option. If climbing the 2 gullies of the left side, allow yourself some time (30 min to 1h – depending on conditions) for the ridge traverse to the right up the North Ridge to the summit.
Essential GearThe gear one takes here is function of the climbing season, snow / ice conditions and the choice of route options (see above). However one thing is absolutely a must, especially if you climb with partners: a helmet. Do not underestimate the danger of stones following from the ridge and speeding up in the gullies.
In some cases the gullies could be climbed without crampons and ice-axe but with poles (soft snow in early stage of penitents formation - resulting in "waves" almost like stairs). In other cases you may need not only crampons and ice-axe, but also ice screw, rope, etc. to face the icy gullies...