Nevado del Chani

  • Nevado del Chani
  • 5930 m
  • Primary factor 2131 m
  • Location: South 27:01.393, West 068:36.858 (GPS on the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 2.
  • Attempted February 14 2022.

Copyright Petter Bjørstad, 2009-2022.


How to get there:
Salta is a good starting point. Salta has daily flights to Buenos Aires. From Salta, first drive to San Antonio de los Cobres. This town is the second highest in Argentina, elevation about 3750 meter. Continue north to a big salt lake, then turn south to a small village of San Moreno.
Continue south from Moreno. The road may now have more variable quality. In fact, the very first small river/creek requires caution when crossing. Fork left onto an even smaller road at location S23.94147, W65.82191. This road becomes rouger as it starts ascending the valley in order to reach a small mountain hut at location S24.01770, W65.78147, elevation about 4260 meter. This hut is operated by Armando. One may pay and obtain the key from him or from his family in Moreno. The hut, Refugio Cerro ChaƱi, is also known as Flor de Pupysa.
The road ascends quite a bit higher (old mines), however, it splits from the trail and it is not obvious that it is worth the trouble (bad road), to ascend any higher by motor vehicle.
Route description:
From the refugio, a well marked trail continues uphill. It follows the road in the beginning, but stays right when the road crosses the creek. The path is easy to follow and ascends parallel to a small creek, then traverses a bit left before a final hill in order to reach the shelter located at S24.03716, W065.76531, elevation slightly above 4900 meter. This shelter has walls and a roof, you need to sleep on the floor. The shelter is called Jefatura de los Diablos.
The route continues into the big bowl, while ascending. Next, the trail turns more right as it follows the valley, ascending to the main col near 5400 meter of elevation. Thereafter, the route stays on or near the ridge (going right from the col). One will typically stay a bit on the right hand side of the crest in spots where it is less convenient to be directly on the ridge.
There are 3 summits, but fortunately, the first summit is the highest.
Here is a quick overview of the peaks climbed on this trip in Argentina.
Since we were chased away from the National Park where we had planned to climb Malcante, we drove to San Antonio de los Cobres and stayed there over night. This was already a long drive since the mountain pass was closed and Franco had to drive back, essentially via Salta.
The next morning we continued to Moreno, visited the mother of Armando, paid for the refugio and got the keys. Her son, Armando, was currently down at Aconcagua. Moreno hosted a local festival, we took the time to visit, buy some lunch and look at local art. Leaving Moreno to continue south, we almost immediately got stuck when crossing a small creek that was a lot more difficult than it appeared. A truck had to be alarmed in Moreno and come to our assistance.
We found a better crossing and continued across the flat land before forking left and coaching the truck on a pretty bad road in order to reach the refugio,
It was still early afternoon and the weather was nice. Adam and I hiked about 200 vertical meter along the trail. I still had trouble with my stomach, the food was just running through and I worried that unless I quickly got better, this could affect my hiking.
The next day, February 13th., we had an easy morning before leaving Franco and ascending to the shelter at 4900 meter. Not in great shape, but I managed. A short night before starting our summit attempt at 0500. My health situation had gotten worse, but it was worth a try. I told Adam that we should aim for about 5 hours up, meaning a bit more than 200 vertical per hour in the beginning. After one hour, I had gained only 120 meter and felt weak. The decision was easy. I encouraged Adam to try solo, I gave him my ice axe. He told me about antibiotics back down in the car. Wishing him good luck, we split. I descended down back to the shelter and slept until daylight.
Packing up, I next descended back down to the refugio, telling Franco that Adam was trying for the peak solo. I quickly located the anitbiotics and took the prescribed initial double dose. It was another nice day and as we waited for Adam, I quickly started to feel better.
Our next goal was a 3 day trip to the 6000 meter Querna. It seemed like a bad idea to start on such a committing trip before knowing for certain that the medicine worked and that I would regain strength. Thus, I came up with the idea of trading Querna for Pereyra and Malcante. We would have needed to drive to Tafi del Valle directly after Querna, but perhaps we could manage 2 day trips as an alternative?
Adam showed up already around 1500, before expected time. He had succeeded! I was very happy for this outcome, at least the team had one man one the summit. Adam immediately agreed to my proposal and we all decided that we could make it back to San Antonio de los Cobres today, then onwards to Pereyra the next day.