Mirador del Morado is located in the heart of the high Andes of central Chile and Argentina, in the middle of an area with almost unlimited options for rock, ice and alpine climbing, with some nearby mountains that reach over 6000 meters, and many over 5000, all of them heavily glaciated and with abrupt south faces.
From its summit, is possible to have a close look of cerro Morado, with its big glaciers and its amazing 800 meters south face.
Mirador del Morado has two principal routes: the "normal", wich follows the San Francisco glacier, and the "Canaleta del Rincón", a beautifull couloir with inclinations of about 45-50º. Also, there exist some routes directly up the south face of Mirador, wich involves sistems of couloirs with some short steps of easy rock and ice climb.
From the southeastern corner of Santiago, in the area known as las Vizcachas, beggins the road to the Cajón del Maipo, a sistem of valleys that provide acces to the most important mountain areas of central Chile. The road is paved until the town of San Gabriel (1254m, at about 43 km from Las Vizcachas). From that point, there are about 20 km of dirt road to the small town of Baños Morales (1848m), following the Volcán river valley. This last part of the road is usually in good condition, but this can change after some strong rain or snowfall in the winter.
From the road just before arriving to Baños Morales (before the bridge over Volcán river), you can have, to the north, a first look of Mirador del Morado, located in front of the bigger summits of San Francisco (4380m), and El Morado south (4480m) and north (4647m) summits (and almost indistinguishable from them).
At the western side of Baños Morales, after crossing the bridge over Morales river, is the Conaf ranger station, wich provides acces to El Morado Natural Monument (inside of wich Mirador del Morado is located), and marks the point were the walking beggins.
There is always public transport on weekends, with buses that departs from metro station Bellavista de la Florida, and mini-buses leaving from Plaza Italia (metro station Baquedano), both at 7:30 am. The most used mini-buses companies are Turismontaña (reservations at 02-8500555 / 02-8518381) and turismo Arrpué (02-6818475).
Mirador del Morado is located inside El Morado Natural Monument, and the entrance cost Ch$1.500 (about US$3).
When To Climb
By far, the best season for climbing Mirador del Morado is austral spring (october-december). San Francisco glacier and the Canaleta del Rincón are in good condition, and the Morales river valley is decorated with alpine flowers that grows where snow has been until just a couple of weeks before.
During mid and late summer, the San Francisco glacier is heavily crevassed, and the Canaleta del Rincón is almost dry; and in the winter, this area is known for its big avalanche danger.
The most used places are:
- Laguna del Morado (2380m), an ideal campsite in a small alpine lake, with great views of the abrupt and glaciated south faces of Mirador del Morado, San Francisco and El Morado;
- At the end of the valley, where the Morales river beggins, at about 2800m.
- At about 3000m, in a small plateau between Mirador and cerro Unión (3658m), in the point where the normal route and the Canaleta del Rincón route separates (that is, where the traverse to the west beggins if you are heading for the normal route, or before the point where the inclination becomes steeper if you are approaching the Canaleta del Rincón).
See http://www.meteochile.cl/Pronos/pron_gral.html and click on Cordillera-zona central for weather conditions on the mountains of Central Chile.
- Normal route, San Francisco glacier (and first ascent of the mountain): 1941, Hermann Sattler, Wolfang Foerster and Ernesto Hein
- Canaleta del Rincón: 1964, Miguel Gómez
- South Face Direct: 1974, M. Parrines, G. Oyarzún and P. Rosende