2nd April 2002 - 22.12
had highflying plans for this trip. It was on our mind to
climb Ojos Salado, with almost 7000 m the highest volcano
in the world. As preparation were some other volcanoes on
our list, all in a convenient distance between the copper
mine Collahuasi - near Iquique and high in the Andes at around
4000 m - and Ollague. This volcanoes were Miño (5600
m) and Aucanquilcha (6200 m). After that, we had to visit
my mother-in-law in Brazil (I considered that the hardest
part of the journey)
Trekking around Aucanquilcha
some initial problems we finally made it to the mine and shortly
after we met our friend Victor, I knew well from last year.
I was a bit concerned about our fast ascent from sea level
to 3700 m in one day. And tomorrow we would already leave
to our base camp, which would be even higher. We noticed the
effect of the altitude while carrying our stuff up the stairs
to our room. Later that day we visited some facilities and
saw the daily detonations in "the pit".
driver took us to a suitable place for our base camp between
Miño e Aucanquilcha. We were pushing our luck a bit
too much, on our third day we were already on 4500 m. We tired
to take it VERY easy, but it didn't helped.
couldn't sleep at night and passed the next morning vomiting
for hours. That afternoon we tried to get a better understanding
of the terrain and tried to discover a route to El Miño.
But I felt too weak to do long walks and what we saw from
the distance it seemed that El Miño was just a pile
of rubble. One step up, slide two steps down. Soon after we
abandoned the idea of climbing El Miño and decided
to focus on a good acclimatization.
following days were more enjoyable. We walked up to the pass
only with a small backpack and discovered the remains of the
sulfur mine Polan and went back again to Base Camp.
same trip, but now carrying a lot of food and liquids and
leaving it at the pass, then returned to Base Camp.
to sort out all food and liquids, we had too much. Then we
disassembled our tent and made the walk up to the pass for
the third time. After a short descent we pitched up our camp
in the ruins of Polan "city". A freaky place. Bones
everywhere, rusty cans, broken mining tools. I found some
snow from last winter and we melted it, hoping to get some
water for washing the dishes, but the brownish water smelt
totally rotten. Sulfur, I suppose. We were quiet tired and
agreed to spent the next day only with some easy exploration
of the area and relaying of some supplies.
followed the track, found a crossing, which may lead down
to the Salar San Martin and had later a full view of Aucanquilcha
and it's old mining road. Then we returned to cozy Polan.
of yesterdays activities, but now with all the rest of our
belongings. Walking was almost on one level, no ups or downs
and we managed to parallel most of Aucan's massive walls.
After finding a hidden place for the tent, we had to return
half way to get the food, we have hidden the day before.
we had consumed so much of food and water, that we could carry
all or stuff in one single haul. We started with the smooth
way down to the plains of Ollague. Remarkable were some areas
with landslides and the giant footprints of some strange bird.
We pitched our camp with view on all the beauties down there
in the plains.
reached a basic mining settlement, probably abandoned, in
the plains. A military truck passed, the first sight of other
human beings in more then a week since leaving Collahuasi.
Soon after we arrived in "Downtown" Ollague. We
reported in at the local police station and were lucky, that
some team of scientist had finished there work on Aucanquilcha
and were heading back to Calama. They offered some coffee
and cazuela in the overheated kitchen of the police station
and we accepted gladly. Then we jumped on the truck for the
long way back to Calama.
aucan volcano.indstate.edu/ cvz/aucaimg.html