Olmedo stands out a bit from the other peaks in the area as it is an almost perfect volcano cone. It's red in color and that also makes a bit of an eye-catcher.
The climb to its summit is taxing because of the high elevation, but has few technical difficulties. The route from the ENE (East-North-East) is quite steep in parts and there are some easier scrambling along the way, in particular just before reaching the crater rim.
The reward of reaching the peaks broad summit is the fantastic views of the central parts of the Puna.
There are lots of high and beautiful volcanoes all around and to just stand there and make new plans for more summits is great.
Getting There & BC
For a detailed explanation to reach the foot of the peak, see the main page.
Argentina - Catamarca Province - La Rioja or Catamarca - Tinogasta - Fiambala.
Fiambala - Cazadero Grande - Aguas Calientes - Olmedo BC.
I used a huge "bowl" some kilometes away from the peak. There's a good change there's water here all year around as there are some small streams fed by melting penitentes fields nearby.
The location is at approximately:
and the altitude is about 5615m.
The distance to the summit is 4km the way the crow flies and it's a quie taxing walk as you first have to reach a pass of 5800m before going down a bit and then up again towards the summit.
This base camp can also be used for very fast and strong climbers which want to attempt Cazadero.
Leave in the direction of Olmedo and get up to a point from where you have an overview of the terrain. Don't climb too high on the foothills of Cazadero. The terrain there is both steep and full of instable rocks. Follow the path of least resistence until you arrive at a downhill leading to the foot of the peak.
Decide if you want to climb directly straight up towards the crater rim, or you want to traverse a bit to the pass which connects the foothills of Cazadero and Olmedo. The pass has the advantage of a shorter route on the actual peak, but it can be hard to reach the pass itself as there are large boulders and penitentes fields blocking the way.
When at the foot of Olmedo, look for a little meltoff "riverbed. It's basically not much more than a line towards the top and it's not deep. Follow it towards increasingly steeper ground. After some time (about 200 vertical meters) you'll arrive at a band full of large rocks. You can either walk around it on the left hand side or find your way through it. I choosed the latter.
When you have passed the rocky area it flattens out a bit and soon you're on the large summit plateau. Take aim om the highest point on the other side. There's a small cairn/pile of rocks that indicates the highest point. There's a driving license left under the rocks, which once belonged to an Argentinian climber from Cordoba. He left it there as proof of having been to the summit.
The blue line - the route I took.
The red arrow - about 4 km to BC.
The Blue arrow - the summit is hidden behind the ridge, but is in this direction.
For an easier ascent - go for the left hand side ridge.
Essential GearWarm and wind proof clothing.
Water (there are none on the peak, but some may trickle out close to the Olmedo/Cazadero pass).
Good sun glasses.
Crampons and ice axes are not necessary under normal conditions, but should be brought along if there's snow on the peak. The sides are steep enough to create dangerous falls if you slip.
Views from the summitFar away in the south - the Pissis Massif, with its many summits.
If you're lucky to be up there on a clear day, you may also see the distant Bonete Chico.
Very close by in the south - the Nacimiento Massif. Usually snowy and with three summits.
To the west - Solo and the Tres Cruces Peaks, South, Central and North.
To the north and north east - Cazadero, Ojos del Salado, El Muerto, Del Viento, Muertito, El Fraile and Incahuasi.
There are many more visible, but these are the highest and easiest to remember. All peaks mentioned above is over 6000 meters and this is the heart of the Puna and it has the highest concentration of 6000m summits outside Asia.