Atacama 2006

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jan 17, 2006
Activities Activities: Mountaineering

From the High Camp to the Summit

After I had visited the area around the Laguna Verde twice then, I had now realised the dream I had had already since years: to climb the highest mountains around Ojos del Salado: Cerro El Muerto, Cerro de Incahuasi, Cerro Tres Cruces Central and finally Cerro Tres Cruces Sur. It was the seventh 6000m summit I reached within two and half weeks. The highlight followed the next day when I climbed the neighbouring summit, Cerro Tres Cruces Sur.

22. Tag, 17.01.06 Cerro Tres Cruces Central

I had slept outstanding, and that despite the height of nearly 6000 meters. This was a good indication and expression of an optimal acclimatisation. About reports to have spent here the night only in faint-similar conditions I could only smile.

Howsoever the past day went out, with clouds, snowfall or even tempest, the following morning brought usually wonderful sunshine, so also today.

Even if the bell had rung in good time, I couldn’t pull myself together and dozed still awhile. Around 7:50 the sun reached the camp - but now fast! I hurried with the breakfast and left 20 minutes before nine the tent.

I had no information at all about the ascent route. I only knew that one could see the glaciated summit from the high camp. Likewise I had been able to recognize that the rocks on the north and west side were not so suitable for the ascent. Therefore I wanted to approach rather from the north or northeast.
First I kept myself somewhat eastwards, and then northeastern over scree the slope up to a shoulder (S27 04,612 W68 47,401, 6,254 m). Now I continued to the east to the first snowfield (S27 04,576 W68 47,319, 6,282 m). The snow was hard like concrete, here helped only crampons. It wasn’t excessively steep, so that I had achieved fast the upper end of the snowfield (S27 04,509 W68 47,268, 6,340 m). Over rocks and scree up to the next snowfield (S27 04,432 W68 47,197, 6,408 m), I had left the crampons on.

The view to the surrounding mountains wasn’t so far that overwhelming, with exception on the Cerro Tres Cruces Sur. That lay exactly in the north, i.e. I had him always behind me. From my current position I had an outstanding view to the normal way, which I wanted to take tomorrow and tried to commit the way in every detail to memory.
The ascent via the second snowfield was likewise problem-free. Fast I had reached the upper end (11:55, S27 04,355 W68 47,178, 6.465 m). In front of me a small shoulder lay, which blocked the view of the further ascent. Over stones and scree I arrived at a ridge, where one had the enormous summit before oneself. The entire south and east face was covered by an almost crevasse-free glacier. Only few meters separated me from that (S27 04,313 W68 47,159, 6.478). Again I had left the crampons on, so that I lost no time and ascended further. Even if the glacier was somewhat steeper than the snowfields, I ascended in straight line directly to the summit, which I had reached one hour later (13:00, S27 04,128 W68 47,209, 6.643 m).

The entries in the summit book went back to the year 1995. But if one considers that only 5 entries existed, one recognizes fast that Cerro Tres Cruces Central is a matter of a very lonely mountain, which is not climbed each year. I was so much the luckier to have reached one of these extremely seldom-climbed mountains.

The view from here was naturally clearly better than during the ascent. In the north was the more than 100 meters higher neighbour summit. In the east impressively the Nevado Ojos del Salado rose. Further in the south the somewhat lower Cerro Cazadero and Cerro del Nacimiento were clearly to be identified. Northeast of the Ojos the already some days ago from me climbed Cerro El Muerto was.
For the descent I had selected another route, although I was aware of that the ascent route is surely the shortest.
I descended via the glacier along the ridge, till I could leave the glacier at S27 04,271 W68 47,275 (6.513 m). Here the glacier is substantially steeper than it was during the ascent. Over the ridge and through the rocks respectively I would neither ascend nor descend. The rock is too weathered and everywhere are loose stones, so that the risk of falling rocks is not insignificant.

I left the glacier approximately on a height of 6.513 meters and stood on the rocky ridge, that goes up to the summit. Then further over scree and stones to the dark grey rock. These I overcame in more easily clamber and arrived down there at a shoulder (S27 04,505 W68 47,420, 6.297 m).

I followed the ridge in western direction up to a height of 6.085 m (S27 04,557 W68 47,768). Rather steeply it went now through rocks and scree down there up to the position S27 04.607 W68 47.815 (6.015 m). From here I traversed somewhat laboriously the steep face up to the pass (S27 04,841 W68 47,757, 5.968 m) and finally to my tent (15:40).

The Brazilians weren’t here yet; whether they had changed their mind? Nevertheless they came around 17:30. They erected their tent and we conversed still a little bit.

© Uwe Kraus, 2006

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