Page Type Page Type: Area/Range
Location Lat/Lon: 33.82°S / 69.9°W
Additional Information Elevation: 20045 ft / 6110 m
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Cajon del Maipo is of interest for many climbers, since access from Santiago is very easy, and it has everything from the easiest alpine (that does not include the Atacama peaks) 6000 m peak in the Andes to really hard alpine routes and ice climbs.


Nevado de los Piuquenes (Mesón San Juan), 6027 m (19773 ft):

Nevado de los Piuquenes (it is called Mesón San Juan in Argentina) is at the northern edge of what is generally refered to as "Cajon del Maipo" region.

Piuquenes is a fairly remote peak south of Tupungato. The Chilean IGM map states it as 6019 m high, the Argentine IGM map as 6012. My DGPS (Trimble 5800) survey resulted in 6027 m.

See the Nevado de los Piuquenes Page

Volcan San Jose 5,865 meters (19242 feet)

Link: Volcán San José Info page at

Marmolejo 6,110 m (20,045 ft):
The southernmost 6000 m peak in the world. Easiest route is alpine F, technically easy, with some glacier travel (no large crevasses, no rope necessary). However, it is a very long way - you start at 1800 (6070 ft) or 2200 m (7220 ft) - your starting point is the same as for Volcán San José - depending whether or not you have a ride to Puente Colina, and the summit is at 6,119 m (20,075 ft).

Hardest route is the ice route "The Nook", rated W6+, opened by Ben Firth and Eamonn Walsh. This is among the hardest ice climbs in this altitude - the hardest parts are between 4500 and 5000 m (14760 and 16400 ft).

- Route Desciption Normal Route (F) at

- Ice routes at

Volcan San Jose 5,865 meters (19242 feet)

Link: Volcán San José Info page at

Loma Larga 5400 m (17720 ft):
The highest peak of the northern group of the Cajon del Maipo peaks (Meson Alta, Punta Italia, Loma Larga)
Technically fairly easy peak, with some crevasses. Approach 1-2 days from Baños Morales.
This peak is not marked on the IGM 1:250 000 map (Punta Italia and Meson Alto are marked though).

- Route desription on (English). Also includes a useful map.
- Route desriptions at (Español).

Meson Alto 5200 m (17060 ft):
The second highest peak of the northern group of the Cajon del Maipo peaks (Meson Alta, Punta Italia, Loma Larga).
The two normal routes involve easy rock climbing and glacier crossings (crevasses!). Those routes are approached from the Valle de Yeso - hard to access without vehicle, no public transport.
Most famous is it´s south face - 60°, ice/mixed, 1000 m/3300 ft vertical. The south face is accessed either by 4WD from Baños Morales with another 3 hrs walking to base camp,or a 2-days hike in.

- Some more infos about the south face on (English). Also includes a useful map.
- Route desriptions and photos at (Español).

Cerro Morado 4647 m (15246 ft):
Next to the two large volcanoes Marmolejo and San Jose the best-known peak in the region, maily due to its impressive south face.
The normal route avoids the steep south side and goes up the back side, still involving exposed climbing, 50° snow/ice and crevasses.
The south face route of César Vásquez y Juan Tangol (1961 FA) through the south face demands greater abilites - alpine trad climbing up to 5.10 rock/55° ice.

- Good page with route descriptions, topo of the south face and a little map on (English).
- El Morado page of (English).

Cerro San Fransico 4345 m (15246 ft):

Link: Cerro San Francisco Info Page at

Mirador del Morado 3883 m (12739 ft ):

Link: Mirador del Morado Info Page at

Getting There

Your starting points are:

- for Marmolejo and Volcan San Jose: the village of Lo Valdes

- for the Morado valley (Cerro San Fransisco) the village of Baños Morales on the other side of the river

Both is the end of the valley "Cajon del Maipo", popular recreasional area for people from the Santiago region.

There are buses running from Santiago into the Cajon del Maipo.
In winter it goes only as far San Gabriel, in late spring and summer all the way to the end to Lo Valdes at 1800 m (5900 ft). From here you can walk to Baños Morales
If you only get as far as San Gabriel, hitch-hike further into the valley. Patience is the key, but it works, even in winter.

The departure place of the bus to Cajon del Maipo has changed recently.
Departure used to be every 30 min from Estacion Central, now it leaves from La Florida on the east end of Santiago, every 30 min, first bus at 7:30. You can easily get to La Florida with metro.

I will try to get updated information about that and post it, since that changes occasionally.

The Tourist Information (SERNATUR) has repeadetly passed out WRONG information about the buses. They have good information for the average tourist, but not for climbers. This is by the way the case all over Chile, with the notable exception Copiapo in Northern Chile.

When To Climb

Hiking: October-March

Mountaineering: November/December-March

Ski touring: Basically all winter and spring, but the following periods seem best:

- August: very cold but fairly stable weather
- late September/October: warmer and again fairly stable weather. After a dry winter often little snow left, though.

September usually has unstable weather.
November can sometimes still have quite large amounts of snow on the 5000 m + peaks, depending how much snow fell in the winter. Short-skis are probably the best bet here if terrain permits.

Ice climbing: winter, spring (June - October)

Red Tape

Entrance fee into the Morado Nacional Park. Expect to pay about 2000 Pesos (3.5$ US).

No fees for Marmolejo and Volcan San Jose.

Otherwise no Red Tapes either.


If you intend to do mountaineering or trekking in the area around Cajon del Maipo/Volcan San Jose, I suggest getting the map "Cajon del Maipo" (1:250 000; Nr. 3300-6900) from the Instituto Geográfico Militar in Santiago de Chile or one of their more detailled maps in 1:50 000.

Costs 8100 Pesos.
IGM maps are quite detailled. However, roads are sometimes not correct, important for those who intend to go travel by 4 WD or motor cycle. Get in this case additionally a good road map in Chile


Camping is allowed, also in the National Park. But stick to the usual camping spots.

Mountain Conditions

I suggest contacting the mountain hut in Lo Valdes. It is run by a Dutch couple.
Link: Refugio Lo Valdes

You can also contact me. I usually know how conditions are or can contact friends who live there.

For the ones that speak Spanish/Castellano and can interpret meteorolic data the website of the Dirección Meteorológica de Chile provides information.



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