We first saw Nevado Queva (or Quevar as the locals all seem to pronounce it) when crossing the Paso Sico from San Antonio de los Cobres to San Pedro de Atacama back in June 2010. From Olacapato it had looked like a simple enough climb, and as we’d decided to take the road over the Abra del Gallo from near La Polvorilla viaduct to Salar de Pocitos, which meant we’d be near the mountain again, we thought it’d be a shame to pass up a second opportunity to climb it.
Arriving in Santa Rosa de los Pastos Grandes we were glad to find a couple of (very) basic shops for supplies, and also Dante Vega – a local man who’d climbed the mountain a few times and was able to give us directions. We were even happier to find that there was a small 4×4 track heading off towards the mountain, so we were able to cycle/push up that for 7kms until it ended at 4,180m. There we camped and, leaving our bikes, set off in the morning with backpacks.
It was over 3 months since we last trekked, and we could really feel it. Our legs are nice and strong, but we have no upper body strength at all, so lugging even a relatively light 15kg pack was hard enough. Fortunately the route followed a valley (populated by lots of lovely donkeys), so we were alongside a stream until 4,850m. This meant we only had to carry water for half an hour or so from the source of the stream to our base camp at 5,030m.
The weather was good with little wind, and when we set off at first light in the morning it was only -5C. The climb to the summit was straightforward – directly up the SE ridge, which was rarely steep. This took just under 4 hours, and around 10:00 we were standing on the 6,155m west summit. Views of all the salars in the area (Pocitos, Rincon, Cauchari et al) were excellent, and just below us in the summit crater there were a few Inca ruins. Only walls are left of these, but I’ve been told that mummies and other artefacts were discovered there.
We descended via the lower south summit (6,135m) which is only a few minutes walk from the main top, and there found the summit register. We were only the ninth entry in it since the turn of the century (though I’m sure there have been more ascents than this by people who haven’t bothered climbing the lower summit and those who didn’t bring a pen with them, but nonetheless a nice quiet mountain to climb).
All in all a nice, accessible 6,000er and we really enjoyed our 2 days on the mountain.
Some GPS points
|Junction just E of Sta Rosa – turn N up track
|End of track
|Source of stream
|Nev. Queva summit
Here’s a link to the page we’ve written on SummitPost about Nevado Queva.