PARINACOTA VOLCANO (6,350 M)
Level of difficulty:schwer
Region:Chile / Putre
Starting point:La Chakana
From Putre take the tarmac road up to the ranger station in Lauca National Park at Lake Chungará (69 km). Ask here the park ranger for the hiking path leading to the feet of Parinacota. The first 1.5 km lead you back on the tarmac road up to the pump house at the lake. At the junction turn right. The path leads now for 9 km towards the volcano taking you through many confusing junctions. During high season the easiest way to stay on the right track is to follow the path with the highest number of car tracks. We have easily recognized even the starting point for the ascent by the signs of a beaten trail.
In Putre there are various tour operators which can organize your transport to Caquena and then further up to the base camp of the northern route. The local military forces can also help you reach the base camp (the mountain regiment Huamachuco), however the necessary arrangements must be organized a long time in advance. In order to reach Caquena you take the international pass road starting in Putre and follow it up to Parinacota. From here you drive another hour on a dirt road up to Cauquena, located at 4,401 m altitude. It is advisable to spend here a couple of days in order get used to the high altitude. 500 meters before Cauquena an offroad track splits up and leads towards the volcano drive passing Bofedales (wet grasslands). After having crossed a sandy section of the road you reach an intersection where you turn left. The base camp is located behind the hill ahead at 4,823 m.
From here - at 4,600 m altitude - it is a very long ascent to the summit. It helps to walk another 2-3 hours on the first day already. However, just below the snow line there are very few flat areas suitable for setting up a camp. Depending on the snow situation the entire ration of drinking water might have to be carried along (5 liters per person per day). The road is strongly frequented in the high season and marked by rock cairns. It leads first towards East for a long time up to a drawn-out ridge. At the upper end of the ridge, at 5,100 m, you find the last camping place. The next day you continue the ascent using crampons and ice pick following the route. For the way up to the peak and back to the camp used the day before you need up to 12 hours.
Ascent from the base camp to the camp "Huisquitistay" (591 m, 3-4 hours with heavy equipment). A sandy path leads on the rocky hillside up to a large plateau. From there you see to the left a rubble slope and to the right a small rift. Cross the rift and walk further up to 5,272 m. Once you reach this point continues up to the small plateau "Huisquitistay" at 5,414 m where you set up the camp. It is advisable to spend here one full day in order to get acclimatized to the altitude and to study the ascent in front of you. If the climb takes place at a point in time with no snow around you must bring along all drinking water needed for the entire tour. Should you find melting water collect it from as closed as possible to snow fields. Due to the volcanic origin of the rocks it often creates stomach diseases. Campo Alto Huisquitistay - Cumbre - Campo Alto, (941 m 6-9 hours and 3-4 hrs).
The summit day mainly depends on the snow conditions. Penitent snow can easily be up to one meter deep. Walking through this kind of penitent snow is not only very strenuous, it can also become very time consuming. We recommend to climb the summit early in the morning. Climb first the peak in front of the main peak, from here the final destination can already be seen. During the ascent you should keep to the left since on the right side there are several dangerous crevices. For the climb ice pick and crampons are necessary.