Valle de la Engorda

The first view of the volcano San Jose opens up in Valle de la Engorda. Some meters of a juicy green meadow give the valley its name (engordar = fatten). At the beginning of the valley, there is a bridge over the creek Engorda. By looking ahead, aiming at the target, many climbers tend to cross the creek far earlier. Perhaps you will have to take off the shoes, especially from November to January. After a day’s hike, you will reach the shelter Plantat, where the first camp for the ascent to the volcano San Jose can be set up.

Volcán San José


San José is the most active volcano near Santiago. Its discovery is dated before 1897. The first ascent, of which there is no official data, must have been 1831. The German naturalist Mayen, climbed to about 500 feet below the summit, according to his own information. Mayen traveled around the world on a German merchant ship and published his travel experiences in the two-volume work “Trip around the World”. In the first volume, there is a drawing of the volcano San José made by the author, which he calls Feuerberg (fire mountain) of the Maipo. Later, this led to confusion, based on the assumption that he had climbed the volcano Maipo and observed an eruption there. However, according to the description of the ascent on that drawing, it became clear that Mayen had climbed the volcano San José.

  • Height: 5,866m
  • First ascent: Otto Pfenninger and Sebastián Krückel, 1931
  • Physical difficulty: 5
  • Technical difficulty: 2
  • Exposure: 2
  • Time required: 5 to 8 days
  • Suitable season: October to March (December and January are the best months)
  • Ski mountaineering: possible
  • Summer temperatures: Feels like -25 ° C to 15 ° C
  • Winter temperatures: Feels like -35 ° C to 10 ° C

The approach is from Cabrerio, where a family of shepherds who produce goat cheese lives. From here, walk along the black hill on the left and cross the valley Valle de la Engorda. You will arrive at a slope which forms a canyon on the left side of some small rock cliffs. This canyon leads to a higher plateau, where a well-marked trail can be seen. At the end of the trail, there is an old stone shelter with accommodation for eight people in bunk beds.
The next day, proceed on a highly visible trail northwards, up to a few stone slabs, on which the trail follows along. From the stone slabs, it takes an hour up to a small waterfall, which must be passed above. A short ridge trail leads to a sector where the tents can be set up. The next day, continue to follow the ridge path, which ends with a short traverse right and passes a field of penitents. Then continue on a small valley that leads to camp 2. The camp is directly on the ridge and quite wind-exposed. From here, go up for about 100 m and walk another traverse of about 700m until reaching a mountain ridge, which you pass on the right in order to get to a relatively large, open space. This can easily be confused with a crater. Continue east, along the crater, which is now located right of the mountain ridge. After approximately one hour walk from the open space, you will reach the international peak, the highest on the borderline. The descent is along the same path.


  • camping gear
  • crampons
  • ice axe


Water is available up to camp 1. It is not recommended to leave part of the equipment at Refugio Plantat, as lots of people pass by.
Prior to the ascent, a permit from the national border authority DIFROL must be obtained, the police station in San Gabriel must also be informed about the planned tour.