Valle del Marmolejo

Valle Marmolejo

Information

  • Height: 6108m
  • First ascent: Albrecht Maas, Hermann Sattler and Sebastián Kruckel, 1928
  • Physical difficulty: 5
  • Technical difficulty: 3
  • Exposure: 3
  • Time required: 5 to 8 days
  • Suitable season: October to March (December and January are the best months)
  • Ski mountaineering: only up to the base possible. Caution, this is an extremely closed valley
  • Summer temperatures: Feels like -25 ° to 15 ° C
  • Winter temperatures: Feels like -35 ° to 10 ° C

The hike to base camp begins in Cabrerio, where a shepherd family lives. Walk up to the end of the valley “Valle de la Engorda”. Here, you will have to cross a river, which is best done in the morning, as the amount of water increases considerably in the afternoon. This is a long walk on a very bad trail at first, up to a place with fresh water – “Aguas Claras”. This place is easy to identify because it is an open space about one meter away from the river. The name “Aguas Claras” derives from the river, which originates under a stone covered glacier. Only at this point you should get drinking water. After a few meters further south, it merges with another stream that is highly enriched with minerals, thus contaminating the clean water. Passing “Aguas Claras”, climb a rocky road up to a large sand plateau that extends as far as the end of the valley. The shepherds usually get to the farthest bright sand area with their pack animals (left side of the river). There, you can set up the base camp. To get to camp 1, the route continues north, where you can see a path/ridge, falling from east to west and which rises almost 1,000 m. Follow the ridge up to camp 1. The trail to camp 2 leads in northeast direction across stony paths, which often disappear. Initially a reddish hill serves as orientation, which you have to pass above in order to get to a place with snow penitents. From there, follow the path through the rocks. Now, a trail of approximately 100 m of sandy ground has to be mastered; however, it easily leads to camp 2. The next day you can either set up a high camp on the island of volcanic rock that is located in the center of the glacier, or ascend to the summit directly from camp 2. To get to the top, first an area with multiple crevasses must be mastered. This takes about 3 to 4 hours. It is advisable to stay on the left side of the glacier, trying to go around the crevasses as much as possible. You will reach the summit crossing an immense slope of volcanic sand. For the descent take the same route.

Equipment

  • rope, camping gear
  • harness, carabiners, ice screws, snow pickets, glacier gear

Notes

The most appropriate months for this route are December and January, then the ice bridges are more stable.
Take enough fuel to melt snow.
Water is available in “Aguas Claras” or from some watercourses near the cliffs of Marmolejo. Until January it may be possible to find water at camp 1, possibly also at camp 2, but better not rely on it. Depending on the temperature, everything can have already dried up.
Report the ascent to the police and get a mountaineering-permit from the border authority DIFROL (Dirección Nacional de Fronteras y Límites del Estado) since the peak lies on the border line.
Plan a few days for acclimatization to high altitude, because the peak is over 6,000 meters high.
Caution, risk of pulmonary and cerebral edema.
A few minutes away from base camp, there is a hot water spring. Orange stones and watercourses indicate that the water is rich in minerals from the subsoil.