Nacimiento (6,478m) – Provincia de Catamarca, Argentina

We’d seen this large volcano often on our walk in to El Arenal, and then again from the summits of Viento, Ojos, Medusa and Walter Penck, and as it was the last high mountain in the vicinity we had our hearts set on climbing it before walking back out to the road. From the other summits the mountain had always stood out, as it is a far darker colour than all its surroundings.

Our Andes guide, and all maps we’d seen had the northeast summit of the crater marked as the highest point, however we’d seen on Google Earth that the northwest summit, 1.2kms away was probably a few metres higher, so we decided that we should probably climb both just to be sure.

We found an excellent campsite near a penitentes field at 5,400m and set off at 09:30 the next morning after waiting for the wind to die down. The climb up a wide, shallow gulley which had the odd penitente field in it was pleasant, and as the gradient wasn’t steep we found it easy enough despite this being the fifth 6,000er we were climbing in nine days.

At about 6,300m we came to the base of the northeast summit mound, where the going got steeper, and it took about half an hour to make our way up this (4 hours in total from camp) to the northeast summit. This measured 6,469m on my GPS (which was about 30m more than we were expecting, so not sure if my GPS was having an off day) and here we found a cairn and some testimonios. We didn’t stay long though as it was windy.

We descended the ridge to a low point at 6,350m, then climbed up to the northwest summit, taking about 45 mins from summit to summit. This was steeper than getting to the northeast summit, but was still simple enough with trekking poles. This summit measured 6,478m on my GPS, so was the true summit, as Google Earth had said. I think it is far less often climbed than the northeast summit though as there was only a small cairn with two testimonios, from 1999 and 2003, under it. We left our own scribblings in the vitamin tube there, before descending in 2 hours to camp.

Some GPS points

Description Lat Long Alt
Basecamp 27.25459 S 68.49768 W 5,408m
Nacimiento NE Summit 27.28055 S 68.51316 W 6,469m
Nacimiento NW Summit 27.28098 S 68.52445 W 6,478m

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