Inca Route (Normal)

Page Type
San Juan, Argentina, South America
Route Type:
Scramble with some icefield near summit
Time Required:
Walk-up with altitude considerations

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Inca Route  (Normal)
Created On: Apr 1, 2003
Last Edited On: Feb 24, 2006


The starting point for the walk in to basecamp is an abandoned mining camp at the side of the Rio Blanca.

Day one
From Barreal, hire a local to take you to the mining camp. The driver should have s sturdy truck and should be familiar with the route. The military can be of help here. It can take up to 5 hours along a very rough and exposed road. You will pass many abandoned farms along the way. A sad story as most of the farmers were cleared from the land as they were too close to the border with Chile and were removed for political reasons only.
One you reach the mining camp off load all your gear and make sure you have got it all. You can stay at the camp or follow the old road above the camp across two broken stone bridges (you will be crossing the river three times) Sandles are in order here. After the last crossing yous should be on the left side of the main river with a clear water stream to your left. You can camp here in the grassey area and have excellent water for your needs. 2-3 hours

Route Description

Day two.
Rejoin the road above your camp and follow the gentle switchbacks to the top of the ridge. Follow the left hand side of a small lake called the laguna blanca. There are many dead animal skeltons here so the water is definately suspect. Continue to the end of the valley past an abondoned hut that now serves as a clubhouse for a local climbing club. It is usually empty and is pretty dirty. The rad appears here again so you can follow it but keep to the left as it forks above the hut. It is a gentle walk to a grassy area that will serve as your bascamp. 3-5 hours

Day three
Climb the ridge to the left and follow it along up through two bowls some of which can contain penetientes of snow. You will find a level area at the end of this where you can drop ypur loads and set up your second camp. This would be your first carry day. 3-4 hours

Day four
Rest day if you chose. Take some time an explore the area. Crystals can be found on the ridge to your left.

Day five
Move up to your second camp following the same route as before 3-4 hours

Day six
Follow the valley up from your camp and ascend a gentle rige to the left you will travel over a lot of penitentes and loose rock. You will come to a bowl with several rock wall tent spots. In 1993 we were advised by the military not to camp here. It seems like a good spot as it is protected form the wind and has a large amount of loose rock for rock wall building. We followed their advice and ascended the ridge and followed a trail along a gentle slope of consolidated sand and small stones past a dead mule to a small camp beside a grave. Here we made our high camp. 4-5 hours

This area proved to be very exposed and our tent was blown flat in the night. You really have to dig in to the slope to get some relief from the winds. This is not a great site.

Day seven
Summit day. Head straight up from the camp and follow the line of least resitance across two snow fields. These can be icy so crampons will come in handy at this stage, as you continue up the line will bare left and level out. You will at this point you will see the summit mound on the left. From this point you can either head straight up the loose scree to the summit or work your way to the left and follow the ridge. Both routes have a lot of loose scree. The direct route is shorter by about 20 minutes. There is a small metal Argentine flag on the summit. The total time for summit and return to camp is approx. 8-9 hours

Essential Gear

Equipment list info:
Here is a brief list for you.
  • 6-pairs socks
  • 6-underwear
  • 2-pairs of shorts for the walk in
  • 3-T-shirts for the walk in
  • 2-bandanas or a sun hat to keep off the sun
  • Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen plus zinc
  • Good sturdy hiking shoes
  • 1-sleeping bag (as warm as you can get)
  • 1-sleeping pad (your choice the more comfortable you are the better you sleep the more energy you will have) you can get a Crazy Creek chair that goes with your pad this is a good investment.
  • 2-expedition weight Patagonia long underwear tops (or 1 depends on how dirty you like to be)
  • 1-expedition weight Patagonia long underwear bottom
  • 1 lightweight fleece bottom
  • 1-heavy weight Patagonia or similar fleece jacket
  • 1-Gortex shell jacket
  • 1-Gortex shell pants (full length zippers)
  • 1-Down filled jacket liner from Feathered Friends of Seattle, (optional but I always end up using it)
  • 1-Downfilled Gortex guides Parka 1-Warm hat with ear flaps
  • 2-pairs of heavy duty mittens (in case you lose one pair up high)
  • 1-pair fleece gloves 1-pair ski gloves
  • 1-pair of Koflach double plastic boots, One Sport (warmer)($$$) or Asolo (I prefer Koflach, I find them more comfortable)
  • 1-pair of gaitors
  • 1-pair ski poles
  • 1-ice axe
  • 1-pair of sharp crampons (test them on your boots before you leave and make sure they fit perfectly)
  • 1-headlamp with extra batteries and bulbs
  • 1-cup with spoon attached
  • 1-Swissarmy knife
  • 1- stove of your choice (I use Markhill stormy hanging stone with Blueway cartridges, you can get fuel in Chile or Argentina as it is difficult to fly down) allow 10 canisters per 2-man tent. You can also get white gaz easily.
  • 1-tent (you can bring two if you wish and leave one set up at base camp in case one of you has to stay down for any reason. food for 10-11 days. If in doubt go with less rather than more as your appetite will decrease at the higher camps.
  • 3-1-litre waterbottles each (drink at least 5 litres a day to help acclimitise)

    Miscellaneous Info

    If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

  • Inca Route (Normal)

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