HIGH SUMMITS OF CHILE

Visualized Landscapes
David Valdés And Dominique Bruneau S. For Lofscapes
10.10.2017
Infographic The Highest Summits of Chile © Dominique Bruneau S. for LOFscapes based on: David Valdés, Lista de cimas por región  (List of summits by region) (2017) • Se7en Summits, Audree Lapierre & FFunction (2010) • Mountains and Routes in  http://andeshandbook.org/montanas_y_rutas?country=Chile&route_type=2 • Photographs: Danilo Layana, Parinacota desde Choquelimpe (Parinacota from Choquelimpe) (2006). Felipe Lobos, Cerro Sillajhuay (2009). Tomás Dinges, Llullaillaco after the storm. David Valdés, Ojos cara Oeste (2015), Picos del Barroso desde el Norte (Picos del Barroso from the North) (2014), San Valentin desde el sur (San Valentin from the South)  (2012). Álvaro Vivanco, El Juncal from the route to Mono Blanco (2007), Volcán Azufre (2008), South Face (Volcán Lanín, 2017). Héctor Millar Cortés, Tupungato (2008). Fernando Saenger, Nevado de Chillán (2004). Cristián Arriagada, Sierra Velluda. Eduardo Garay Flühmann, North Face Volcán Villarica (2013). Christian Franz C.  Seen from the Vn. Calbuco (Monte Tronador, 2007). Route galleries http://andeshandbook.org. Banco de Chile, Nevado de Olivares. Seen in http://wikiexplora.com/index.php/Nevado_de_Olivares . Guillermo Martin, View of the Summit of Volcán Lautaro from the secondary summit (2007). Seen in http://culturademontania.org.ar/Relatos/REL_expedicion-volcan-lautaro-patagoniachilena-032007.htm •  Background image: Dominique Bruneau, Summits (2017)

The Infographic of this week shows the highest summits in each region. These are contextualized among other national summits that have routes of ascent to collect a historical record of naturalists and ascents chronologically visualized.

Since the first written chronicles of national exploration, the Andes mountain range has been not only a geographical landmark but also a major player in the representation of the Chilean landscape. Charles Darwin (1), Claudio Gay (2), and Eduardo Poeppig (3) accompanied their writings with remarkable illustrations of the most important summits they observed in their respective explorations. For the most part, the Andes were disproportionally represented, perhaps to reflect the furious nature of the volcanoes or the evident differences of prominence of some with respect to others.

(1) Notable are, for example, the drawings by E. Berard of Monte Sarmiento or Boilly of Antuco volcano, which appear in Charles Darwin’s book “Journey of a Naturalist around the World.”
(2) A curious illustration of this author depicts the Antuco Volcano as a protagonist, with the Sierra Velluda perceived as a background at http://www.memoriachilena.cl/602/w3-article-98586.html.
(3) An illustrated panorama by Poeppig himself of the Sierra Velluda at http://www.memoriachilena.cl/602/w3-article-77087.html


A unique case is the Aconcagua. The tallest mountain in America looks imposing from the central valley, its shadow projected towards the west reaches with the first light of each dawn up to the coastal regions of Chile. Paradoxically, the mountain, which is the geographic lighthouse of the bay of Valparaíso and which has given its name to a province and the most important river in the region, does not share the humblest stone with Chile. The geopolitical reality says that Mount Aconcagua is Argentinian, but the landscape argues a binational dimension. With this unrestrainable reality of the Andean giant, we can travel through Chilean territory from north to south, looking for other great mountains as models of Andean landscape, but what we can find this time will be within the national territory.

The Infographic of this week shows the highest summits in each region. These are contextualized within the rest of the national summits that have ascent routes (4) grouped by altitude. The first ascents of the highest peaks are displayed chronologically, highlighting the Nevados de Chillan with the first ascent in 1848, the work of the great explorer Ignacio Domeyko (5).

(4) Routes published on the website www.andeshandbook.org
(5) Echevarría, Evelio. Ignacio Domeyko, climber (1842-1873). Anuario de Montaña 1968-1972 (Annals of the Mountain), Federación de Andinismo de Chile (p. 44-51)


In the northern area, Parinacota volcano (place of flamingos) stands out, a mountain that together with Lake Chungará forms the obligatory postcard of the northern part of the country. The Aymara legends suggest this volcano (along with its brother, the Pomerape volcano) is the offering that nature made to the misunderstood love of a young couple who belonged to rival tribes.

The Atacama region requires its own paragraph since in this area is concentrated the largest number of mountains over six thousand meters within Chile. In this land of giants, the Ojos del Salado volcano dominates with its 6,893 m. It stands not only as the second highest mountain in America, but also the highest volcano in the world.

Travelling through the central zone, the Metropolitan area is home to the last six-thousand-meter summits to the south. Among them, the highest is the Tupungato volcano (viewpoint of stars) at 6,570 m, which despite its height is hidden among the buttresses of the Sierra de Ramón that make it impossible to see from Santiago, though it can be viewed when crossing the Maipo River. This great mountain was ascended the first time in 1897 by members of the expedition who also made the first ascent to the Aconcagua.

We move further south through the Biobío region, where the Sierra Velluda at 3,585 shapes the horizon of the Laja Lagoon. Its curious name is derived from the surname of the royal official Fernando Belluga de Moncada, who lived in Angol during the indigenous uprising of 1600 that destroyed the “cities above.” Moving along to the contiguous region of the Araucanía is perhaps one of the most prominent mountains in southern Chile: the Lanín volcano (dead rock), a sacred hill for the Mapuches, where the evil spirits dwelling there are willing to kill any who dare to ascend it. Historically linked to the region of the Araucanía, few notice that the Villarrica volcano is actually located on the boundary line between this and the region of los Rios, being the highest peak of this last region. (6)

(6) These stories, and others, can be read on the website www.andeshandbook.org


The southern region of Chile holds two tremendous mountains, a worthy end to our tour of the Chilean mountain summits. In Aysén, the lord and master is the 3,910 m San Valentín mountain, an obsession of great explorers of the first half of the 20th century such as Reichert, Nordenskjöld, or Heim, probably inspired by the stories of those navigators who saw it from the Pacific Ocean. The list ends with what is probably the most unknown mountain of all: the Lautaro of 3,623m, an active volcano immersed in Campo de Hielo Sur, an extensive 400-kilometer-long continental icecap. After an attempt to ascend it by the distinguished explorer Erick Shipton, its top was first tread upon in 1964 by a group of Argentinian climbers.

2019-10-28T18:00:19-03:00