That volcano is a real deal. Almost no one goes up there to climb this one. First of all because it is forbidden to climb it. Second because it's not a very popular destination among the climbers who chose the andes for some adventure. Relatively close to big cities like Calama or Antofagasta, it dominates the landscape from anywhere you look.
San Pedro has a brother called San Pablo, which you can see at the main photo of this page, on the right side. San Pablo has 6.092 meters high, confirmed by the project 6000 de Chile, financed by the Banco de Chile.
It's not a technical mountain, just walk up. But the altitude itself is the bigger problem you have to overcome, since the summit is at 6.145m. Even so, if you have a good time to acclimatize, i'm sure you won't have any problem.
The volcano has two summits, one non active (highest) and another one, active, which is lower about 200 meters and liberates gases and smoke all day long, non stop, 24/7.
At its summit lies the steal box of Banco de Chile, inside you'll find the book for visitors to sign.
You can get there from a lot of places (but just like Aucanquilcha there's only one choice for vehicule: 4x4), specially San Pedro de Atacama (long 5 hours drive) or Calama, or Chuquicamata (the greatest mine hole at open sky in the planet).
There's also a small village nearby Chuquicamata called Chiu-Chiu, you can get some transport there and a great meal too.
Keep going on the international road which will pass right beside the famous little volcano Puruña (considered the smallest most active volcano at the planet), when you do that, you'll be right next to the old lava flows of San Pedro volcano.
When you reach one sign that says "km 72", go off the road to your right, follow the marks at the ground, you can't miss. Five minutes more you'll be at the Base Camp, with a good place surrounded by huge rocks. It is good for 6 or 7 tents tops, not that big. The altitude is 3.958m at BC.
Camp or bivy, in two days you'll be heading for the summit. No trail, but it is obvious, look up and go! Don't stop too much because at that altitude it is cold even at summer. I did it in the summer (march 2010) and i got -9°C and some winds, really close frostbite at two fingers. At winter it can get to -25°C.
At the summit, sign the visitors book and go back down as fast as you can. That's always the idea! Enjoy the great view and say good by to the volcano. He's active so at active volcanoes you can't just go for a walk, safety is the main issue here.
Me getting on the summit of San Pedro volcano
I was really tired and with my right hand hurting like hell (two fingers at close frostbite) so i was bitching all the time ahahahahahh.
There's a purple lagoon, really fantastic sight!
Blue line: Car
Red line: Car off road
Green line: First walk to the bivy place
Mustard line: Second walk to the high camp, Portuzuelo
Pink line: Summit route
The active summit.
When you reach a sign that says "km 72", go off the road to your right, follow the marks at the ground, you can't miss. Five minutes more you'll be at the Base Camp, with a good place surrounded by huge rocks. It is good for 6 or 7 tents tops, not that big. The altitude is 3.958m at BC.
You might wanna sleep here for one night. Next morning go to the volcanoes, there's no trail, just go straight to them. At some point of the day you'll be tired, chose your place to sleep, but if you don't reach the rocky soil until you decide to camp, you won't be able to set up your tent. Too many rocks. I stoped at 4.480 m and my solution was easy: bivy. But a little farther, at around 4.900, you'll be at the rocky ground. It is good to camp anywhere with on problem, too much wind. Be careful.
If you camp there or just do a bivy at 4480m, next day you have to go all the way up to Portuzuelo, the place between the two volcanoes at 5.300m. To get there, you'll have to face the canaleta, volcanic lose rocks on a well marked way up, just after a huge rock that cracked in some huge peaces, left turn. For that part you can see a trail but it is not man made, Guanacos walk a lot there and they left a good mark at the ground. Later, during the climbing for the summit, i realized that Portuzuelo is the gigantic crater of San Pablo voncano! Amazing!
Here's good to camp, just pic one spot and collect some rocks to protect yourself and your tent, because at that place the winds are unreal, it can get too 100km/h easily! I was lucky and there was not much winds but i limited myself to just a bivy again! he he he
I left a bivy spot there ready next to a huge rock (about 3m wide, 1,5 m high), use it! :P
One member of SP questioned me about the prohibition to climb the volcano: Member: HGRAPID
HIS QUESTION: Forbidden but summit register? You say it is forbidden to climb, but then talk about a summit register? This is very confusing.
MY ANSWER TO HIM: I'm serious. If you ask for permit to climb, they won't let you. But the owner of the Banco de Chile is a famous chilean climber (with some 8000 peaks done btw) and it was his idea the project.
If you go, don't ask for the permit, just climb the volcano.
I know it is confusing but it is true.
I think i have to explain better so, to finish my explanation i have to say one more thing: The register book is not a government resolution, it is a private one. As i said, he own the Banco de Chile and it was kinda private project, with some good chilean climbers (i know three of them). Maybe it's because the volcano is active and may erupt at any time, i don't know that.
The text from the website of the project:
We live in a country of mountains. We have much more mountainous territory than any other type of land. Anywhere we are in Chile, we can orientate ourselves by the mountains. We can view and admire them. However, we know little of them and few of us try to reach them.
Thanks to the desire, enthusiasm, passion for the mountains and appropriate preparation of the skilled teams who accepted our challenge a year ago, Banco de Chile managed to complete a great challenge; bringing a testimony to all the Chilean summits over 6,000 metres, the “Summit Box”, which contain the necessary elements to allow the mountaineers that will come to leave their own testimony.
Today, we feel proud to display the experiences and emotions of each of these expeditions in the following pages. Especially because, in the testimony of each climb, they defined routes and directions that will allow many others, attracted by our majestic mountains, to reach the highest peaks in Chile.
Mountains allow diverse levels of challenge. The skils involved in a climb echo those needed to face the challenges of life and of business. They allow us, in contrast with many other activities, to show our courage and to put our individual capacity and teamwork to the
It allows us to put an enterprising spirit into practice with the greatest possibility of success, through planning, defining goals, an appropriate use of technology and the respect and understanding of nature and the environment.
It also allows the development of the spirit of adventure, of the search for what is beyond what we know; of the unknown routes to the places where no one has set foot before.
And it allows us, above all, to look from above and see much more. View the world from another perspective, see how the rivers form, grow and meet each other. Appreciate the wounds that have been left by the hand of man, admire how human works have improved our quality of life, living magically and healthily alongside nature.
See how we have developed our cities and look at ourselves, appreciating our courage and capacities, accepting our limitations with modesty. All we have to do is climb the summit and take the time to look at ourselves honestly.
With this editorial project, we want to motivate others to experience the mountain and make sure that the experience is safe, precise and respectful.
We want those who can marvel with their mountaineering experience, to leave testimony of what they lived, what they felt and what happened to them. And we want them to feel grateful for what they have learnt. It is because of this that we have left, in the sacred places of our high peaks, the “Summit Box”, as a testimony to that piece of life that they shared with the immensity of that mountain.
We want to leave a message for those who will come, a memory of an objective achieved with effort, with hope and with dedication, telling the history of our mountains, written by whoever had the determination to reach them, and were well-prepared enough to succeed in and enjoy the conquest.
Andrónico Luksic C.
Banco de Chile
To hike/ climb is a dangerous activity and requires proper equipment and clothing, the owner of this page cannot be blamed by injuries caused to anyone who read this page for its info about the mountain, and eventually got hurt by doing so with reckless behaviour or bad weather conditions.