Volcan Tromen is a stratovolcano in northeast Neuquen Province of Argentina, and is the second highest mountain in Argentine Patagonia after Volcan Domuyo which lies 70km to the NNW. The name Tromen means “soft” in Mapuche and it certainly isn’t very hard to climb. Volcan Tromen is set in the Provincial Park of the same name with Laguna Tromen at its foot. The Laguna is the habitat of a large number of bird species including the black necked swan and the Austral Flamingo. The volcano is part of the Cordillera del Viento however it is quite isolated and dominates the landscape around Chos Malal. The climb can be made in a long day from Laguna Tromen.
The road to Volcan Tromen
The nearest town to Volcan Tromen is Chos Malal which is the historical capital of Neuquen Province. Chos Malal is three hours by bus from Zapala and six hours by bus from Neuquen (Capital). Either of these can be reached by bus from the Federal Capital, Buenos Aires. Chos Malal has a number of accommodation options to suit all budgets, a few supermarkets and internet cafes. There is also a tourist information office who can give you information about the Provincial Park and how to get there. You will need to stock up on food in Chos Malal as there are no shops or restaurants in the Provincial Park.
It is easiest to reach the volcano with your own transportation however it is possible to hire a taxi in Chos Malal to take you the 50km to Laguna Tromen. From Chos Malal follow ruta 40 north for 10km north before turning left onto ruta provincial 2. About 15km along this, take the right fork onto ruta provincial 37, which in 25km brings you to Laguna Tromen. While the road is running alongside the Laguna, there is a turnoff to the left which in less than 1km brings you to Refugio Wayle where it may be possible to find a bed if the park ranger is in residence (weekends in summertime, check at the Tourist Office in Chos Malal). The Refugio is at the base of Cerro Wayle (3,185m) which can be climbed in an easy 4-5 hour return walk from the refugio. During the winter the refugio is a small ski centre with a short piste on Cerro Wayle’s slopes. On summer weekends or during the ski season it may be possible to hitch a lift from Chos Malal to the Refugio but traffic is infrequent after you leave ruta 40 and you will probably have a long wait.
It is possible to climb Volcan Tromen in a very long day from the refugio but it is better if you set up a base camp near the lake at the base of the mountain. There is a small puesto there where you can obtain drinking water from a spring. To reach the puesto continue on ruta 37 past the turn off to Refugio Wayle for a couple more kms before heading right on a sandy track, round the laguna to the base of the mountain.
View from the summit towards Laguna Tromen and Cerro Wayle with Volcan Domuyo in the background
The climb can be attempted all year round. In winter there is a lot of snow and it is necessary to bring your ice axe and crampons and possibly your skis if you fancy a nice fast ski descent.
The standard route begins near the puesto on the southeast corner of Laguna Tromen, at 2,150m. Keeping the large dark lava flow always to your right, follow the clear gulley which runs from about 3,800m right down to near the base of the mountain near the lake.
The summit of Volcan Tromen
There is a path up this route, sometimes just to the left of the gulley, at other times to the right and at other times in it. This is often indistinct however, and splits into many different branches, making it difficult to follow. To around 3,000m the climb is easy on grassy and sandy slopes, but from this height to the top of the gulley you will find yourself on steep sand, scree or rocks. Some of these rocks are quite loose, so care must be taken.
We climbed when there was no snow around, and it took 5 hours from base camp to the summit and 3 hours to get back.
In summer and autumn when there is no snow on the route there is no water at all, so ensure you take enough for the climb with you from camp.
None. The guardaparque in Refugio Wayle may ask to take your details, but there is no red tape or permits required.
It is possible to camp at Refugio Wayle and also near the puesto at the southeast corner of Laguna Tromen near which the standard route up Volcan Tromen begins. Camping is not allowed in all parts of Area Natural Protegida Tromen however - there are "no camping" signs along some sections of the shore of Laguna Tromen.
|Refugio Wayle||37.07871 S||70.11876 W||2,243m|
|Cerro Wayle summit||37.05350 S||70.11904 W||3,185m|
|Volcan Tromen base camp||37.10531 S||70.09207 W||2,148m|
|Volcan Tromen summit||37.14059 S||70.04919 W||3,989m*|
* This was the altitude our GPS gave. The official altitude is 3,978m
Google Earth Image of the Route from Base Camp at the Puesto to the Summit