endless choices for mountaineering in south america

Mountaineering in South America – Top Destinations for Climbers

South America, a continent defined by its vast landscapes and dramatic peaks, is a paradise for mountaineers. With its diverse terrains and majestic mountains, it offers some of the most exhilarating climbing experiences in the world. Aventuras Patagonicas provides guided climbs to some of the most iconic peaks in this region. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or someone looking to elevate their climbing experience, mountaineering in South America offers both challenge and unparalleled beauty. Here’s a detailed look at the top destinations for mountaineering in South America that you can explore with us.



Aconcagua, standing as a colossal peak at 6,961 meters (22,837 feet), is not only the highest mountain in South America but also the highest peak outside of Asia. Located in the Argentine Andes, Aconcagua is one of the Seven Summits and serves as a major goal for mountaineers from around the globe due to its formidable elevation and the challenges it presents.

Climbing Aconcagua does not require technical mountaineering skills on its most popular routes, making it accessible to climbers with a strong physical condition and proper acclimatization. The Normal Route and the Polish Glacier Traverse Route are the most frequently climbed. The Normal Route offers a non-technical path that still demands a significant endurance challenge, involving long trekking days and battling the harsh high-altitude weather. In contrast, the Polish Glacier Route provides a more technical climbing experience, requiring proficiency in ice climbing and navigating crevassed glaciers.

The environment around Aconcagua is stark and dramatic, featuring rugged landscapes and vast horizons that stretch across the Andes. Climbers on Aconcagua face not only physical challenges but also the mental demands of coping with extreme altitudes and the potential for rapid weather changes. The summit offers awe-inspiring views across Argentina and into Chile, making reaching the top a truly rewarding experience. For many, climbing Aconcagua is a life-changing adventure, pushing climbers to their limits while immersing them in the natural beauty and sheer scale of the Andes. Aventuras Patagonicas offers clients the opportunity to climb Aconcagua via multiple routes including the Ameghino Valley Route, the Normal Route, the Normal Route in 12 Days, the Normal Route in 12 Days with Oxygen, and the Polish Glacier Direct Route with Traverse


Ojos del Salado

Ojos del Salado, towering at 6,893 meters (22,615 feet), holds the title as the highest active volcano in the world and the second highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, situated on the Chile-Argentina border. This colossal volcano is a magnet for climbers who are drawn not only to its extreme altitude but also to its unique volcanic characteristics.

The climb to Ojos del Salado is as intriguing as it is challenging, combining vast, arid landscapes with the complexities of high-altitude mountaineering. The ascent typically involves a combination of rough, rocky terrain and extensive snow and ice near the summit. Climbers are often required to navigate volcanic ash slopes, loose scree, and frozen penitentes, which are sharp ice formations that add an additional layer of difficulty as one approaches the summit.

Adding to the allure of Ojos del Salado is the presence of the world’s highest permanent body of water, a crater lake near the summit at approximately 6,390 meters (20,965 feet). The final push to the summit involves a mix of trekking and technical climbing, often requiring the use of fixed ropes and ice axes. The summit offers extraordinary views of the surrounding desert plateau and a myriad of other volcanic peaks. For those looking to test their limits in a truly unique and remote high-altitude environment, Ojos del Salado is an unmatched destination in the realm of mountaineering in South America. Aventuras Patagonicas offers clients the opportunity to climb Ojos Del Salado as a standalone expedition.

Tupungato Volcano

Tupungato Volcano, standing majestically at about 6,570 meters (21,555 feet), is one of the highest peaks in the Southern Andes, straddling the border between Chile and Argentina. This colossal stratovolcano offers a remote and exhilarating mountaineering experience, attracting those who seek solitude and a substantial challenge away from more crowded peaks.

The ascent of Tupungato is a demanding endeavor, often requiring a long approach through varied terrain that includes vast moraines and expansive glaciers. The climb typically involves several days of trekking to reach base camp, followed by technical climbing that demands proficiency in glacier travel and high-altitude acclimatization. The summit rewards climbers with breathtaking views of the surrounding Andean ranges and a profound sense of accomplishment. Due to its height and isolated location, Tupungato is recommended for experienced mountaineers looking for a less traveled yet challenging mountain in South America. Aventuras Patagonicas offers clients the opportunity to climb Tupungato Volcano as a standalone expedition.


Nevado Juncal

Nevado Juncal, standing at 6,110 meters (20,046 feet), is a lesser-known but equally captivating peak located in the Andes of central Chile. This mountain is a part of the Juncal Massif and offers climbers a true adventure due to its remote location and challenging climbs. It attracts those who seek quieter, more solitary mountaineering in South America, away from the more frequented paths.

The climb to Nevado Juncal involves a combination of technical ice and snow routes, requiring climbers to be well-versed in advanced alpine climbing techniques. The approach through the Juncal Valley is both stunning and demanding, featuring rugged terrain that includes vast glaciers and sharp, icy ridges. Climbers must navigate through complex crevasse fields, making route finding and glacier travel skills essential for a successful ascent.

The summit of Nevado Juncal provides breathtaking panoramic views of the Central Andes, including nearby peaks and expansive glaciers. The isolation of the area ensures that climbers experience a profound connection with the natural environment, making each summit attempt a rewarding and memorable adventure. For mountaineers looking for a challenging and less trodden peak in Chile, Nevado Juncal offers an exceptional high-altitude experience, combining technical difficulty with the serene beauty of untouched landscapes. Aventuras Patagonicas offers clients the opportunity to climb Nevado Juncal as a standalone expedition.

La Paloma

La Paloma, standing at 4,860 meters (15,945 feet), is a notable peak in the Central Andes near Santiago, Chile. It is an ideal destination for climbers looking to experience the beauty and challenges of the mountaineering in South America without venturing into extreme altitudes. La Paloma offers a variety of routes that cater to both novice and experienced climbers, providing a versatile climbing experience.

The ascent typically involves moderate snow and glacier travel, which requires basic knowledge of alpine climbing techniques. The approach to La Paloma includes a scenic trek through diverse landscapes, featuring lush forests and pristine lakes, which gradually give way to more rugged terrain as altitude increases. This climb is particularly popular among those based in or near Santiago, offering an accessible yet rewarding adventure over a weekend or a short holiday.

Summiting La Paloma provides climbers with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Andean peaks and valleys. Its proximity to Santiago also allows for quick acclimatization escapes and serves as an excellent preparation climb for higher, more demanding peaks. La Paloma strikes a balance between accessibility and challenge, making it a beloved choice for many climbers in Chile. Aventuras Patagonicas offers clients the opportunity to climb La Paloma as part of our Central Andes Climb expedition.

El Plomo

El Plomo, rising to 5,424 meters (17,795 feet), is a prominent peak in the Central Andes near Santiago, Chile. Its significance stems from its historical role as an Incan sacred site, where remains of a child mummy were discovered, signifying its importance as an “apu” or mountain spirit. Today, El Plomo is a popular destination for climbers, especially those preparing for higher peaks in the Andes due to its accessibility and the challenges it presents.

The ascent of El Plomo is a comprehensive mountaineering experience that involves diverse terrains including rocky moraines, extensive snowfields, and glacier traverses. The standard route, known as the “Normal Route,” takes climbers through the picturesque Valle de la Engorda and up to the Refugio Federación, offering stunning views of the surrounding Andean landscapes. From there, climbers face a more demanding journey across glaciers and steep snow slopes that lead to the summit.

Reaching the summit of El Plomo offers climbers sweeping views of Santiago and the vast Andean expanse. The climb, while physically demanding, does not require advanced technical skills, making it an excellent option for climbers looking to gain high-altitude experience. El Plomo serves not only as a physical challenge but also as a cultural journey, connecting climbers with the rich indigenous heritage and natural beauty of the Chilean Andes. Aventuras Patagonicas offers clients the opportunity to climb El Plomo as part of our Central Andes Climb expedition.


Pequeño Alpamayo

Pequeño Alpamayo, rising to 5,370 meters (17,618 feet) in Bolivia’s Cordillera Real, is famed for its stunning aesthetics, resembling a smaller version of the more famous Alpamayo in Peru. Its iconic pyramidal shape and sharp ridges make it a visually captivating peak and a favorite among photographers and mountaineers alike. The climb to Pequeño Alpamayo involves a relatively moderate approach through the scenic Condoriri Valley, followed by a more technical ascent that includes steep snow and ice slopes requiring solid skills in alpine climbing. 

Typically, climbers first summit the lower Tarija Peak before making a traverse and facing the final sharp ridge up to Pequeño Alpamayo’s summit. This route not only tests technical climbing ability but also offers climbers the opportunity to engage with breathtaking high-altitude landscapes. Despite its challenges, Pequeño Alpamayo is an excellent option for climbers looking for a classic experience of mountaineering in South America but in a relatively compact timeframe. Aventuras Patagonicas offers clients the opportunity to climb Pequeño Alpamayo as part of our Bolivia Classic Climb expedition.

Huayna Potosi

Huayna Potosi, standing at 6,088 meters (19,974 feet), is one of the most accessible yet exhilarating high-altitude climbs near La Paz, Bolivia. Renowned for its stunning silhouette and the beautiful panoramas it offers from the summit, Huayna Potosi is a popular choice for climbers seeking to break into high-altitude mountaineering. The mountain features a variety of routes, but the most common path involves a moderate technical climb, which includes traversing a glacier and navigating crevasses. The final ascent up the steep ice wall to reach the summit ridge is particularly memorable and requires climbers to have basic ice climbing skills. 

The accessibility of Huayna Potosi allows for a short acclimatization period compared to other high-altitude peaks, with many climbers completing the expedition within just a few days. Despite its relative accessibility, Huayna Potosi challenges climbers with its cold temperatures and thin air, making it an ideal mountain for those looking to test their mettle at higher elevations without committing to the logistical complexities of more remote peaks. Aventuras Patagonicas offers clients the opportunity to climb Huayna Potosi as part of our Bolivia Classic Climb expedition.


Illimani, towering over the skyline at 6,438 meters (21,122 feet), is the highest and most iconic peak in the Cordillera Real of Bolivia. Dominating the landscape south of La Paz, it serves as a majestic backdrop to the city and is often referred to as the “Guardian of La Paz.” Climbing Illimani offers a formidable challenge due to its massive scale and complex glacier routes.

The standard route to the summit, known as the Normal Route, starts from the village of Pinaya and involves a tough trek to the base camp followed by an ascent that navigates through a series of crevasses and steep snow and ice slopes. The final push to the summit requires crossing a narrow and exposed ridge, which demands both technical skill and mental fortitude. The climb is typically spread over several days to adequately acclimatize climbers to the high altitude.

Illimani’s imposing presence and technical demands attract seasoned mountaineers looking to test their skills against one of South America’s most challenging climbs. The peak’s sprawling glaciers and rugged terrain, combined with breathtaking views from the summit, make it a truly rewarding experience for those who undertake its ascent. Aventuras Patagonicas offers clients the opportunity to climb Illimani either as part of our Bolivia Technical Climb expedition, or our Bolivia Classic Climb expedition.


Ancohuma, rising majestically to 6,427 meters (21,086 feet), is one of the tallest peaks in Bolivia’s Cordillera Real and is renowned for its imposing stature and challenging ascents. This peak, less frequented than its famous neighbor, Illimani, offers a more secluded and pristine mountaineering experience, making it a sought-after destination for serious climbers.

The journey to Ancohuma starts with a trek through remote Andean valleys, which provides a fantastic opportunity to acclimate while enjoying stunning natural scenery. The standard route to the summit involves navigating complex glacier terrains, steep snowfields, and occasional ice walls that require solid technical climbing skills. Climbers must be prepared to tackle large crevasses and steep, icy slopes using ropes, crampons, and ice axes.

The ascent of Ancohuma is not only a physical challenge but also a test of high-altitude endurance and mountaineering expertise. The summit offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Andes, including a panoramic vista of Lake Titicaca. Due to its remote location and the technical skills required, Ancohuma remains a revered climb among adventurous mountaineers seeking to experience one of the most challenging and rewarding peaks in South America. Aventuras Patagonicas offers clients the opportunity to climb Ancohuma as part of our Bolivia Technical Climb expedition.


Illampu, reaching an elevation of 6,368 meters (20,892 feet), stands as one of the most formidable peaks in Bolivia’s Cordillera Real. Known for its dramatic and steep faces, summiting Illampu is of the most technical and challenging feats of mountaineering in South America. Its reputation for difficulty and the remote nature of its location make it less traveled, attracting climbers who seek a demanding and less conventional mountaineering experience.

The ascent to Illampu involves a complex mix of rugged, rocky terrain and steep ice and snow slopes that demand advanced technical skills and thorough preparation. Climbers must navigate intricate glacier passages, sharp ridges, and vertical ice walls, requiring proficiency in ice climbing and the use of technical mountaineering gear. The approach to the mountain itself is an adventure, involving a trek through remote Andean landscapes that offer stunning views and cultural encounters with local communities.

Reaching the summit of Illampu is a truly rewarding experience, offering spectacular views across the Cordillera Real and into the depths of the Amazon basin. The climb is exhilarating and intense, suited for experienced mountaineers looking for a challenge that tests their technical skills and physical limits in one of South America’s most awe-inspiring high-altitude environments. Aventuras Patagonicas offers clients the opportunity to climb Illampu as part of our Bolivia Technical Climb expedition.


El Altar

El Altar, an extinct volcano located in Ecuador’s Sangay National Park, reaches an elevation of 5,319 meters (17,451 feet). Sangay National Park is a jewel for those looking to experience the best of mountaineering in South America and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.This stunning peak is renowned for its unique beauty, featuring a collapsed caldera that now houses a colorful crater lake, making it one of the most picturesque mountaineering destinations in South America. The name “El Altar” reflects the peak’s resemblance to a grand altar, an homage to its breathtaking and almost mystical appearance.

Climbing El Altar involves navigating a complex landscape of rocky trails, sharp ridges, and extensive glacier fields. The mountain’s nine summits circle the crater, presenting multiple climbing challenges that range from moderate to highly technical routes. This diversity makes El Altar suitable for climbers with different levels of experience and ambitions.

The ascent offers not just physical challenges but also spectacular scenic vistas, including views of the Andean condors soaring above and the diverse ecological zones ranging from páramo grasslands to snow-capped peaks. Climbers who reach the summit are rewarded with panoramic views of the crater lake below, surrounded by the jagged peaks of the crater’s rim. El Altar’s remote location and demanding terrain make it a prime destination for adventurous climbers seeking solitude and a profound connection with nature. Aventuras Patagonicas offers clients the opportunity to climb El Altar as part of our Central Andes Climb expedition.

If you have any questions about these climbs and more, just contact us!

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