Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cazadero / Walter Penck (6,684m) - Provincia de Catamarca, Argentina

This was our favourite mountain on our trip to the Puna. Seldom climbed despite the fact it is the 9th highest in the Andes it has a fascinating summit - a jumble of rocky pinnacles which look like some post-apocalyptic scene.

It was a nice 2 hour stroll from El Arenal to get to our basecamp at 5,700m on the northeast side of the mountain. Most of the climbing was done right at the beginning as we went up a small valley, then there is a 2-3km long plateau to cross to get to the base of a canaleta with a small stream in it next to which we pitched our tent.

In the morning we followed this canaleta up to a penitente field by a red coloured little lake at 5,980m, then headed a bit to the right on easy ground to make it to the large canaleta that comes down from between Cazadero's two highest peaks. We followed this, past a few penitentes fields but walking all on sand/rocks until we were near the shoulder between the main summit and the secondary hump to the SE. Here we turned right/NW up steep boulder slopes towards the summit. Most of the rocks/boulders are firmly in place, but a few are loose so we had to watch where we were treading.

When we made it to the summit area we spent a little while confused as to where the actual top was. Rocky pinnacles everywhere and it seemed like it might take a while to work out which was the highest. Fortunately, from the first one that Neil climbed up it was obvious which the highest was, so we were able to scramble up there and leave an old credit card in the plastic bag of testimonios.

There were views of Nacimiento to the south, Tres Cruces to the west, Ojos to the north and Incahuasi to the northeast, as well as of Pissis to the southwest and all the beautiful couloured lakes near it. We'd felt good on the climb and it took 4 1/2 hours to climb the 1,000 vertical metres from our basecamp to the summit. The descent was also nice and quick and in less than 2 hours we were packing up our tent and returning to the 'lowlands' at El Arenal.

Some GPS points
El Arenal south basecamp27.15916 S68.50412 W 5,496m
Cazadero/Walter Penck high camp27.17818 S68.53392 W 5,693m
Near red lake27.18518 S68.53726 W 5,983m
In canaleta27.18821 S68.54209 W 6,134m
Cazadero/Walter Penck Summit27.19626 S68.56070 W6,684m


  1. It has to be called Cazadero (it's real and original name, a "criollo" name) and not Walter Penck because mountains don't have to be called like persons, it sounds ugly. Regards.

  2. Yeah, maybe, but every single local calls it Walter Penck, and most didn't know which mountain I meant when I said Cazadero, which is why I put both names on this page.

  3. yes, an attractive summit which we climbed on 12.12.11. Thanks for the waypoints which were great! We camped at the Red Lake - thought we had more chance of making the top in a reasonable time - we are both 62!!

  4. Wow - congrats! Was there much snow around?
    Glad the waypoints were useful. What altitude did you get for the summit? I think mine must be a bit high...
    Must've been nice camping by the lake - hope you didn't try drinking it!

  5. Only old snow around. 6684 m on the GPS. We drunk the water and had no ill effects. But the terrain 300m lower did smell decidedly of sulphur......
    The lake was frozen over apart from one end.

  6. Good to know that GPSs are consistent...and glad the red water didn't kill you! I seem to remember seeing some lumps of yellow sulphur lying around near where we camped...