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Mountaineering in the Andes



The Andes of South America make up the longest mountain system in the world, a distance of approximately 9,000 kilometres. Almost every year climbers from all over the world, as well as South Americans, are active in most parts of the Cordillera de los Andes, making new ascents and routes. This activity has been going on now for over one hundred years, and the purpose of this book is to provide a means of finding one’s way through the labyrinth of Andean ranges and peaks, and all that has been written about them. It does not purport to be either a definitive history or a climbers’ guidebook in the accepted sense, but it can claim to be the most comprehensive reference source so far available, including a fair amount of information not previously available in English.

Apart from updating the information and correcting as many mistakes as possible, the thinking behind this new edition has been to make more information available to the reader at first hand. A selection of sketch- maps has also been included.

The layout has been revised so that, as far as possible, all the information pertaining to any range will be found all together in one place. Bibliographical references have been slimmed down to the most readily available material. For each country/region/range there is a general topographical description, summary of climbing history, list of peaks and selected references. At the end of each country section (except for Chile and Argentina) will be found details of maps, mountaineering and other organizations, and local mountaineering journals.

In the first edition all entries in the Peak List were given bibliographical references. However, quite a lot of these references contained very little hard information about approaches and routes, and/or were not easy to obtain. As many as possible of these brief references have now been checked and any useful information transferred to the new lists. In the case of difficult new climbs on major peaks, there was insufficient space to do more than indicate the general line of the route. For fuller details, reference should be made to the Climbs and Expeditions section of the American Alpine Journal for the following year, e.g. for a climb done in 1981, see the 1982 volume. Occasionally climbs are reported later, in which case it will be necessary to look one or two years further on.

The Andean countries have now created national parks in many of the popular mountain areas, with new roads, trails and hut accommodation. On the other hand, South America is a rather volatile part of the world, so that one must be prepared for military/police check points in places. For up-to-date details of such things as park registrations, climbing permits, huts etc., consult the latest editions of travel guides, among which the South American Handbook is generally recognized as the best, and enquire locally on arrival.

In most of the Andean countries the official mapping agencies are run by the military and maps are often only obtainable by personal attendance at the headquarters building. Some remote areas are not yet mapped to a large scale, some sheets may be restricted, some may be based on satellite surveys, and so on. Selected sheets covering the most popular areas, and some commercially produced maps, are available in limited supply from time to time ouside South America from specialist map and booksellers. The largest reference collection readily available to the public in the United Kingdom is housed in the Map Room of the Royal Geographical Society. Quoted heights of peaks should be regarded with caution in many cases. On some maps, e.g. the Peruvian 1:100,000 series, mountain names do not always correspond with historical or local usage.

To save space, the following abbreviations have been used for names of climbing journals. Journal references are given in the following form: volume or issue ‘n’. number (year): pages.


Alpine Journal, Alpine Club American Alpine Journal, American Alpine Club


Anuario, Revista del Club Andino Bariloche (early issues of the Anuario are entitled Memoria)


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