Ojos del Salado (6898m) is the world’s largest volcano and Andes’ second highest peak. Is at Chile/Argentina border but we normally climb it via Chile, although it can be climbed from Argentina as well. Ojos del salado is only 64 meters shorter than Aconcagua!
This is a fantastic opportunity to test your body at extreme altitudes in a straightforward itinerary. During the expedition, we will approach the mountains using 4WD vehicles up to the 5800 meters! Our Ojos del Salado trip uses a flawless acclimatisation plan designed by Maximo Kausch, our expert leader who has climbed 89 x 6000 metre Andean peaks and knows the region very well. The plan to climb Ojos is to tackle 3 mountains during the same expedition. We’ll work our way up Cerro Siete Hermanos (4780m), Mulas Muertas (5200m), Nevado San Francisco (6023m) and then Ojos del Salado (6898m).
Requirements to join this expedition are:
Day 1 – Arrival to Copiapo – 800m
We’ll pick you up at the airport, 50km away from Copiapo. In the same day, we will check your personal equipment, making all final adjustments and shopping if necessary. Today we’ll have our first dinner together and meet the rest of the team. Included: transport and hotel
Day 2 – Copiapo – Laguna Santa Rosa Hut – 3700m
After a 210km drive, we’ll sleep in a small mountain hut at the edge of a beautiful salty lagoon called Santa Rosa. Included: Breakfast, transport, lunch, and dinner
Day 3 – Acclimatization on Siete Hermanos – 4780m
We’ll climb Siete Hermanos up to its summit or go as high as we can depending on the team’s condition. This is a fairly ‘low’ 4780m peak near Laguna Santa Rosa. Included: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Day 4 – Laguna Santa Rosa Hut – Laguna Verde Hut – 4300m
After a nice and generous breakfast, we’ll drive 120km to Laguna Verde. We’ll cook and gather in a small mountain hut and sleep in tents. The good news is that inside the hut there is a rather large pool of warm water which comes from nearby hot springs. Included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner (and bath!)
Day 5 – Climb to Mulas Muertas – 5200m
Another day of acclimatisation. Today is our turn climb Mulas Muertas located just a few kilometers away from our hut. Again, we’ll take it very easy and go as high as we can without compromising our bodies. Included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner (and bath again!)
Day 6 – Rest day – 4300m
Today we’ll rest on Laguna Verde.
Day 7 – Climbing Nevado San Francisco – 6023m
After a very early breakfast, we’ll put our plastic boots and packs on and then drive to 5000 metres to start the climb to Nevado San Francisco via the north ridge. The drive takes about 30 minutes and the climb might take us 5 to 7 hours. Would be great if you can try you best to get to the top as this will really push your confidence and acclimatisation. After summiting, our 4WD vehicles will be waiting for us at the bottom, then take us back to the hut. Included: Breakfast, packed lunch, transport, and dinner
Day 8 – Rest day – 4400m
Today will rest at Laguna Verde and recover from yesterday’s climb. Included: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Day 9 – Drive to Atacama Hut – 5200m
A 2-hour drive to a higher hut named Atacama. Only this time its a 5200 metre high hut and the roads can be quite bad. Today you get to relax (or try to) and enjoy the lunar landscape to Atacama Hut while our skillful drivers do what they do best. Included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner and offroad insane transport
Day 10 – Atacama Hut – Tejos Hut – 5800m
This is when we finally put large backpacks on and stop driving! After an early lunch, we’ll walk for 3 to 5 hours to a 5800 metre metal hut named Tejos. Included: Breakfast and lunch
Day 11 – First summit attempt – 6898m
After a 3am start, we expect a 7 to 9-hour push to the summit. The climb starts with straightforward switchbacks then changes to a huge traverse at 6500m. We then reach the main crater and work our way to the summit over a final steep gully and a technical 10-metre rock section to the main summit. Included: chance of summiting the largest volcano on Earth!
Day 12 – Second summit attempt
In case weather was bad yesterday
Day 13 – Drive back to Copiapo
Included: transport and hotel
Day 14 – Flight out
** The above itinerary is subject to change due weather conditions, performance of the group, political/administrative problems and any other events not described.
Having good mountaineering equipment is one of the key points to have a successful expedition. Please note all your personal equipment will be checked by one of our guides in the hotel. You can rent equipment in Copiapo, please let us know in advance what do you need so we let you know availability and prices.
Hat or cap
For sun protection
Buff or similarQuantity: 1 or 2
To protect your face on summit pushQuantity: 1
Woollen hat or similar for cold daysQuantity: 1
UV protection goggles to be used during storms or very cold conditionsQuantity: 1 (rental for U$30)
Sunglasses (cat 3 or 4)
With side protection to fit your faceQuantity: 1 (rental for U$30)
Sunscreen and lip balm
30 FPS or moreQuantity: 1
AA or AAA batteries depending on your headtorch. Can be purchased in local store.Quantity: 1 set
Working headtorch and spare batteriesQuantity: 1
Light down jacket
Summit Down Jacket
Heavy hooded down jacket for cold conditionsQuantity: 1 (rental for U$97)
A good snow, rain and windproof jacketQuantity: 1 (rental for U$67)
Synthetic fibre long or short sleeve t-shirtQuantity: 4 or more
Used alone or as part of a layer system for better performanceQuantity: 1 (rental for U$30)
Light trekking pantsQuantity: 2 or 3
For snow, sand or scree terrainQuantity: 1 pair (U$24 for rental)
Base layer pants
For very cold days and summit pushQuantity: 1
Goretex or similar pants will be used for high wind or during snow conditionsQuantity: 1 (rental for U$55)
Fleece, polartec or similar. To be used with other layers for very cold conditionsQuantity: 1 (rental for U$30)
Chemical hand warmers for the summit push.Quantity: 1 or 2
Thick down mittens for summit pushQuantity: 1 pair (rental for U$42)
Fleece or polartec gloves for every day useQuantity: 1 pair (rental for U$15)
Sandals or crocs
Sandals or crocs for river crossing or hanging around campQuantity: OPTIONAL
Waterproof trekking boots, try wearing them before the expeditionQuantity: 1 pair (rental for U$55)
Good thick trekking socksQuantity: 4 or 5 pairs
Thick expedition socks
For summit dayQuantity: 1 pair
A pair of double or double plastic boots such as Koflach Exped, Koflach Vertical, Asolo Ottomilla, Asolo AFS, Trezetta, Scarpa Vega, Scarpa Inferno, La Sportiva Baruntse, Olympus Mons, La Sportiva Spantik, Scarpa Phantom, La Sportiva G2.
Single layer boots such as La Sportiva Nepal XT, EVO, Batura or Boreal Latok, ARE NOT SUITABLE.Quantity: 1 (rental for U$115)
A light helmet with enough room for your clothingQuantity: 1
A good light alpine harnessQuantity: 1
Crampons with antibott systemQuantity: 1 pair (rental for U$49)
These gels help out on recoveryQuantity: 3
Salty snacks, sweets, etc. Any sort of tasty ready food as complement. On high altitude mountains we don’t normally worry about vitamins and proteins as these kinds of food are too hard to digest. You can buy all these in a local market.Quantity: 2kg
Stuff sacks or bin bags
Helps to keep your stuff dry and organisedQuantity: 2 or 3
A good down sleepingQuantity: -10C (Comfort temperature) - rental costs U$79
A decent rucksack with hip belt and rain coverQuantity: 55 litres or more (rental for U$55)
Our guides already have pretty much any drugs you might need during any trip. However, it would be great if you could have a spare tab of the most used drugs:
Ibuprofen (Advil)– This is an anti-inflammatory and works great for high altitude head aches
Loperamide (Imodium) – controls diarrea (not to be used in case of digestive infections. Ask our guides)
Personal Hygiene kit
Soap, tooth brus, come, etcQuantity: 1
We prefer taking 2 foam sleeping mattress because of sharp rocks. If you have an inflatable mattress you should also bring a foam mattress to protect the inflatable one against sharp rocks. Don’t forget bringing a repair kit if you have an inflatable mattress.Quantity: 2 (rental for U$24)
1 litre thermos
Metallic good quality 1 litre thermos for the summit push. You must have one. Please do not bring smaller ones.Quantity: 1
Nalgene 1 litre bottles or similar are great for expeditions! We prefer to not use camelbacks as its hose pipe might freezeQuantity: 2 x 1 litre or 3 x 600ml
Used to transport or store your equipment. In many cases, we transport your personal gear on animals and we don’t want your equipment to get wet or have mule smell…Quantity: 1 - Rental for U$30
To lock your duffel during transportationQuantity: 1
Gives you more stability during walk and summit push.Quantity: 1 or pair (U$ 30 for rental)
Where should I fly to?
The best way to get to Copiapo is to fly to Santiago (usually via LAN Chile) then take a secondary flight (usually via Sky Airlines) to Copiapo. The second flight can be very cheap. Also, search for flights from your home country to Copiapo. LAN does the connection and it might be cheaper sometimes.
What are the huts like?
The huts are abandoned and maintained by commercial expeditions and mountaineers who frequently climb any of the 38 x 6000m peaks in the surrounding area. Laguna Santa Rosa Hut is usually well maintained as more people visit more frequently. Also, there is a CONAF station (park rangers) 100 metres away from it. 9 people can sleep in mattresses comfortably inside.
Laguna Verde Hut is very basic. We normally don’t use its 6 mattresses inside and we only use it for cooking and go to the warm pool inside.
Claudio Lucero is huge! It has 16 mattresses and 2 floors. It doesn’t have any regular maintenance but is usually fairly clean.
Atacama Hut has 4 mattresses and is basically a wooden container size hut with a small kitchen. We usually cook inside and camp outside. There are very good tent platforms there.
Tejos is the more ‘sophisticated’ one. It’s an L-shape conglomerate of 2 standard containers brought in by a mining company in the early 90’s. It has a kitchen, shelves, and beds. Fits 9 people sleeping comfortably on mattresses.
If there are more teams climbing Ojos, we usually use the ‘first to arrive first to use’ but we are generous specially when other teams don’t have tents or someone is sick.
Can I rent equipment in Copiapo?
Yes, you can rent all equipment in Copiapo. You need to let us know earlier though. Let us know and find out the current prices for renting equipment for the whole length of the climb.
Do you think I’m able to climb 4 summits in just 13 days?
Keep in mind that the Siete Hermanos, Mulas Muertas and Vicuñas are just acclimatisation mountains and not our expedition’s goal. In our last expedition to the vast majority of our clients did summit Vicuñas (6067m) but for safety reasons, we didn’t go all the way on Siete Hermanos and Mulas Muertas.
Can I hire a porter at Ojos del Salado?
Unfortunately, it is a very remote mountain and there are no permanently installed services there.
Is there electricity in the huts?
The mountain huts we’ll use are very basic. Most of them were abandoned over 20 years ago and the only maintenance is done by mountaineers. There are no power plugs or any kind of services in these huts. There are however mattresses and some furniture that make our stay easier.
I can exchange money in Copiapo?
Yes. There are exchange offices that buy US dollars, sterling and euro in Copiapo. Best rates are in US dollars.
How much equipment will I have to carry? Can I can make it?
Your backpack will never weigh more than 12-15kg. The only time you will have to carry your personal gear is from the Atacama hut to Tejos, at 5800m.
The entire group of equipment will be purchased, assembled, clean and carried by guides and porters. You will NOT have to carry these (unless you are very nice and want to help). On the way to the last camp, you’ll be carrying your sleeping bag, crampons, clothing and some smaller items.
There is communication on the mountain?
Yes! At any time you can use our satellite phone. The calls cost USD 3/minute. Throughout the expedition, we will post daily updates to our Facebook page via SPOT satellite.
Would you guys call my family and tell them I’m alright?
Of course! Even better! We have a blog that is updated every day! We normally post messages or photos about the expedition progress. Please visit our Facebook page and check the latest posts.
I’ve heard Ojos is just a walk, is it true?
In fact, Ojos is not a technical mountain. Only the last 10-15 meters are technical but we normally have a fixed line to help you out on that last bit. Don’t forget the mountain is almost 7000 meters high. Altitude and bad weather have caused many people to lose their lives because they didn’t respect their own boundaries and underestimated the mountain.
Can I charge my iPhone battery or my camera?
Yes! We have solar panels to charge batteries, iPods, etc. Of course this changes when there’s not enough sunlight. Car 12V DC plugs are also an options while our vehicles are on the move.
What if I abandon or quit the expedition?
If you quit the expedition 1 week before departure, it is possible to recover part of your investment. Contact us and find out more.
If you quit the expedition in Copiapo, you can continue enjoying the services we provide you such as transportation and hotel. However we can not pay back the money you invested because logistics will already be hired.
If you quit the expedition after we left Copiapo, you will have to cover individual transportation and accommodation costs. Everyone who leaves the expedition for personal or health reasons should pay these costs.
If you give up during the summit attempt, you will never have to go down alone. Usually, we coordinate your descent with more expedition members. One of the guides will always be with you.
To leave Ojos del Salado, one of our vehicles will have to travel 600km to make a roundtrip to Copiapo. Fuel, maintenance and guide’s expenditure must be covered in case you wish to return home.
What’s your philosophy?
We accept women and men of any age, experience or ambition. We ask our members to be patient, respect the leader’s decisions and never go up or down alone.
Remember that you don’t pay us to take you to the summit, you pay mountaineering professionals with several years experience to help you up and down a steep mountain in the safest possible way.
Our itinerary may seem slower than other companies, this is due to a longer acclimatisation plan based on safety. More days will actually improve the chance of reaching the summit!
How much money should I take?
You should take enough money in case you decide to abandon the expedition. We recommend you to bring a total of USD 400 in US currency and 40.000 or more in Chilean pesos for the whole trip.
Can pay for rental equipment with a credit card?
No, this must be paid in US dollars to our guides.
How much does the climbing permit costs?
There is a required permission to climb Ojos del Salado called DIFROL. This has no cost and is carried by the expedition leader.
What sort of training do I need for big mountains like this one?
To 6000m mountains, we recommend you start training at least three months before, depending on your physical condition. Aerobic exercises like running and cycling are very useful. Ideally, ask a professional to recommend you a good aerobic training program. A very effective exercise is to go hiking with a rucksack on lower mountains. BEWARE of injuries! We have had some cases of clients who have trained too much and ended up hurting themselves.
What experience do I need for Ojos?
Ideally, anyone attempting Ojos should have climbed a 6000 metre peak before, in order to become familiarized with acclimatisation and snow walking. We, however, understand how hard it can be to have enough holidays in a year to climb these. So alternatively you can get away with just a multi-day altitude trek such as Everest Basecamp, Annapurna Basecamp or machu picchu.
How is the weather at Ojos del Salado?
This is a very windy mountain! It is also a very dry region where the wind from the Pacific starts at around 11am and blows until abut 5pm. It is common to have at least one snow storm during the expedition. Our team receives daily weather forecast updates.
What if I have a special diet?
Please tell us in advance about any food issues you might have and also please remind our guides about it too. Unless you bring your own food, we cannot help you if you are mmacrobiotic vegan or celiac due to extreme logistical difficulties. Contact us and let us know about your food restriction.
Who cooks at altitude camps?
We have very skilful guide/cooks! We guarantee you will e impressed about the meals!
Why do I have to bring freeze dried food?
We recommend our customers to bring 2 or 3 packs of freeze dried meals to camp 3. We have tried to serve a standard menu at camp 3 for several years but it never worked. One of the symptoms high altitude produces on the human body is the lack of appetite. Therefore people become very ‘picky’ on extreme altitudes so we prefer everyone brings their own meal.
Is there water at Ojos del Salado?
There is no liquid water in Ojos del Salado. Eventually some snow might melt and start running a little stream. These are however temporary and we cannot count on it. We take all the water from Copiapo. In our last expedition we took 320 litres of water for each whole expedition.
What if I have a health problem?
Our leader Maximo Kausch has extensive experience in mountain medicine and can solve most of problems you might encounter.
What if I need a rescue?
All our guides are trained rescuers and experienced in rescues on big mountains. Rescues can be made with one of our 4WD vehicles, this way you can get to a hospital in just three hours.
Do you recommend the use of Diamox?
NOT for the Central Andes. In extreme altitudes like the Himalayas or Karakorum we do recommend using Acetilzolamide or Diamox. This drug seems to actually work during the acclimatisation period by increasing the breathing rate at night (reduces CO2 levels), and also is a diuretic which eliminates sodium out of your system. In the Andes mountains however, mountains are too dry and taking diuretics such as Diamox actually decrease your acclimatisation capacity.
I was climbing in Peru before and I had a hard time communicating to my guide. Do your guides speak any english?
Yes, our leader Maximo Kausch has lived in the UK for 10 years and speaks fluent english. Please check our team’s information and find out about our guides’ communication skills.
What percentage of your clients actually make it to the summit?
It depends upon weather, experiences, fitness and their nationality. But usually about 75% of our european and north american clients get to the top.
Where do we go to the toilet on the mountain?
Ojos del Salado is not a controlled mountain. However we take care of it! There are designated toilets near each hut. Anywhere where there aren’t designated toilets, we make our ‘business’ in bin bags and take them back to Copiapo.
What’s the temperature my sleeping bag should stand?
We recommend you to bring good down sleeping bags with comfort temperature of -15 up to -22. Please note there are 2 types of temperatures shown in most of sleeping bags. We’re focusing on the “comfort temperature”.
Maximo is sponsored by the following brands:
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Maximo Kausch is one of the most accomplished climbers in the world. He is the current world record holder on number of 6000 metre peaks having reached the summit of 89 x 6000 metre peaks and climbed over 100 more extreme altitude worldwide. As expedition leader, Maximo has led several expeditions all over the world. He has climbed many 8000 metre peaks, including Mount K2 in Pakistan.
He was born in Argentina, raised in Brazil and lived over 10 years in the UK. Max is a full-time climber and guide. He literally spends most of his time in the mountains, mainly at the Andes and Himalaya. During his expeditions, Maximo has climbed some of the most remote mountains in the planet and visited at least 30 countries.
Max is a very calm person and focuses on safety and good acclimatisation plans during his expeditions. He is a trained rescuer and has extensive knowledge in high altitude medicine and medical emergencies. On his spare time, Maximo likes rock and mixed climbing in remote mountains.
In 2012 he started an unprecedented project alone and climbed 30 mountains over 6000 meters all alone. His project in now recognised as one of the main exploring projects in the Andes. Max wants to climb all 6000 metres peaks in the Andes by 2019, a total of 104. He has been to at least 11 x 8000-metre expedition at the Himalayas and has plenty extreme logistic experience. Over the years he has helped hundreds of clients to reach the summit of various mountains.
World Record: Maximo has recently become the record holder of the most number of 6000 metre peaks. He has been to at least 170 high altitude mountains over his 19 years of climbing experience.
More about Maximo Kausch
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Chilean leader Mario Sepulveda Palma is our Atacama specialist. He is currently the person with the most ascents to Ojos del Salado - world’s largest volcano - with over 60 ascents. Mario is an excellent skier and competed in world championships as ski touring athlete. He also represented Chile in many competitions in other South American countries.
Mario started guiding in 2001. Since then he led expeditions in most of the Andes specially at the dry Atacama Andes. He has some pretty amazing accomplishments including an expedition to Kangchenjunga (8598m in Nepal) with no oxygen and no sherpas. Mario is certainly the guy you want to have around when you climb anything at the Atacama.
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Nearly everyone who went to Aconcagua has heard of Andy Jones. He's one of the most accomplished guides in the region and has summited Aconcagua 44 times! Andy was born in Rosario, Argentina's capital of the pampas (flatlands). During his early career, he worked as a physical educator (a job he's still very proud to keep), but eventually moved to Mendoza and lives there for the last 26 years. Andy Jones has climbed every sort of Andean mountain since he started climbing in the early 90s. He also climbed several high peaks including the highest in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. The well-known Andy Jones is an extremely relaxed and easy going person. All this patience probably led him to conquer the reputation of being one of the most successful guides in Argentina with one of the highest summit ratios in the country. Andy is definitely the guy who you want to have around if just started climbing high mountains.
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Eduardo Tonetti was born in São Paulo - Brazil and was in the advertising business for 15 years. In 2010 he decided to quit his career and guide for living. After 4 years of studies, Edu has graduated at EPGAMT Guiding School in Mendoza. He is now a professional mountain guide and a WFR trained rescuer, licensed to guide in Aconcagua among many other Andean peaks.
Edu has been a rock climber for 13 years and has extensive experience in several rock climbing areas. He specialized in high altitude mountaineering and climbed dozens of mountains in the region. Edu has climbed big mountains like Aconcagua (6962m, 11 times), Ojos del Salado (6898m), Tres Cruces Sur (6738m), Tres Cruces Central (6640m), Mercedario (6770M), Tupungato (6556m), Cerro Plata (5943m), Vicuñas (6087m), among others.
Eduardo has worked with human development and coaching in São Paulo, Brazil and he is now using mountaineering as coaching activities having amazing results!
He has been working in Aconcagua for the last 4 years in a row and started as a porter in 2012. He worked his way up and has now led several expeditions at Central and dry Andes.
Price: USD 3100 per person
What is NOT included: