Yerba Loca - Nature Reserve
Contact: Franz Schubert
Duration: 2 Days
Recomended website http://www.trekker.com
How to get there:
At he end of Av. Las Condes (busses to Lo Barnechea) a narrow blacktop takes off towards the ski region of Farellones. The road switchbacks precipitously. After 25 km (about 40 min. by car), at Curve No. 15, take the turn-off to Yerba Loca / Villa Paulina. Right after that, you have to sign-in at the Conaf post, and then it`s 4 more km to Villa Paulina where the dirt road ends. There is no public transport; in Winter, busses run to the ski region. You can hitch-hike from the turn-off to Farellones.
Villa Paulina, a former mining camp, which is very popular now as a camping and picnic area, especially on Summer weekends, is at 1,940 m altitude. From here, the easy trail runs entirely on the eastern side of Yerba Loca creek. After roughly 4 hours you will reach a mountain valley at about 3,000 m, with pastures below the rock of Casa de Piedra Carvajal - the best campsite. Before the halfway point, you can fill your water bottle in Agua Larga Creek. This hike to Casa de Piedra and back can easily be done as a day tour (7-8 hours).
From the camp, you can get to the hanging glacier of Cerro Paloma by walking up the valley, in another hour and 500 m in altitude.
Optional tour: Mountain climbers with sufficient experience can climb the peak of Paloma from here in a day. To do so, walk around the rocky hill in front of the mountain to the West following the culoir above the glacier up to the ridge between Paloma (4,930 m) an Altar (5,222 m). From there, it's another 300 m in altitude to the peak via the western side of Palma.
Take the same route back to Villa Paulina.
Alternate Tour: Cordón de Yerba Loca
This strenuous day tour takes you from Villa Paulina to the peak of Cerro del Manchón (3,871 m). Right after Villa Paulina, you will cross a bridge, and after a few hundred meters, turn left uphill (no trail here) to Cordón de Yerba Loca. Once at the top, follow the ridge in a northerly direction (parallel to the trail in the valley) all the way to Cerro del Manchón, which provides an impressive view of the glaciers of Plomo (5,424 m), Altar, and Paloma. Take the same route back (approx. 7-8 hours total).
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