24 May 2008

Winter Projects 2

Cerro La Paloma (4,910m/16,109ft)

(None of the photos are mine. All are taken from two climbing sites: Andes Handbook and Escalando.)

Clearly visible (on those rare pollution-free days) from most points within the city limits, Cerro La Paloma, along with El Plomo, is the other glaciated peak that towers above Santiago's skyline. Though both are contained within the series of peaks known as Grupo Plomo the peaks are otherwise unconnected by a singular ridge system. La Paloma and it's slightly higher neighbor Cerro El Altar (5,180m/16,995ft) stand at the head of the Yerba Loca valley.

Like El Plomo, this would be a multi-day trip. Unlike El Plomo, I think a mid- to late-winter trip seems best. The approach is long and flat--about twelve to fifteen kilometers to the first night's camp--and any amount of snow at the valley bottom would allow for skiing rather than walking. The long, gradual valley eventually bumps it up a notch at a waterfall and a place called Piedra Carvajal. Beyond that the trail separates at the base of Morro Negro, a rocky outcropping that divides La Paloma's glaciers into three: Glaciar del Rincón, Glaciar Central, and Glaciar Sureste. Glaciar del Rincón (pictured above) is the Normal Route and the one that, seemingly, offers the best potential for skiing. I think.

From Morro Negro it's not too far from the glacial moraine itself and then the long, wide snowfields that go nowhere but up.

And if that doesn't pan out there is always this bit of cryptic but intriguing information taken from the hardcopy version of a Turistel guidebook: Backcountry skiers should check out the stunning chutes on the south side of the Cordón de los Españoles, visible to the north of the Yerba Loca valley on the approach to La Paloma.

Here's to daydreaming!

Inca Son: Viaje a la Montana.mp3 from Mi Cambio. Website, Buy
The Album Leaf: Drawing Mountains.mp3 from
The Green Tour EP. Website, Buy
Radar Bros.: Mountains.mp3 from
And the Surrounding Mountains. Website, Buy
The Kingsbury Manx: Ol' Mountainsides.mp3 from
The Fast Rise And Fall of the South. Website, Buy

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