This trip began as a two mountain 4 person trip. my wife Nadja, Claudia a friend of ours and her supposed "guide" friend who lived in Bariloche and I. Upon arrival in San Martin de Los Andes, we discovered that her friend would not be coming along so we would be just three. We had not made prior arrangements for transportation so we paid a Remis driver (cheaper than a taxi) to take us to Junin (20 minutes) $20 US There we stopped at the bus station asking about the busses that we were told ran to Tromen twice a day. They did not and the next one wouldn't come by until the following day at noon. We located a second remis driver who took us out to the guardeparque station at the base of Lanin. $50 US one way, a bit steep, but he got us there...the road is a dirt road for 2 hours. We had to register with the gardeparque station $10 US and were required to show our ice axes, crampons, and basic mountaineering gear....but most importantly...we had to have two way radios...one which we left with them and the other we took with us for a scheduled contact time. (we had these and would not have been given permission to climb with out them)
There is a source of clean water there and we used it to fill up before heading out the next day at day break. We carried all of our gear alpine style to the refugio at 2315 m. This took approximately 6 hours. If we had taken the direct route it would have taken more like 4 hours and saved us the miserable scree on the mule route. We cooked supper in the refugio and made plans to depart the following morning at 3:00 am. However, the RIM 16 military unit was going to climb the same day at 2 am so we left at the same time. The going was typical snow field climbing, post holing now and then...but the snow was fairly firm and crampons are recommended. At about 9:00 am we reached the summit...don't be discouraged by the false summit, you are almost there. We circled around to the south face as we neared the summit to find better snow and it really made the climb interesting. Route finding was relatively easy...if you take an ice screw you can be assured you won't get too exposed on the south face portion. A fall from there will send you 3000 ft to your death. We had a successful summit and clear weather. The descent was smooth and mushy via the North Face. (we passed a group giving up at 3600 m because the snow had become like oatmeal) I really recommend the circle to the south face at around 3550...This mountain offers exceptional views being the single mountain peak of its height in the area. Don't pass it up if you get the chance. Happy Trails.
Glenn and Nadja Gardner
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