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Trekking - Lascar Volcano


Láscar (5592 m / 18,346 ft.)

Eternal fire-spitter

The Láscar is one of the most active volcanoes in Chile. It last erupted in 1993. Because of its vicinity to San Pedro de Atacama, it is a popular target for mountaineers, who mostly content themselves with the crater rim at 5,150 m. The massif is composed of two strato-volcanoes whose centres are 1.6 kms apart. Each crater measures approximately 900 m across. Due to its relatively low altitude, the Láscar is a good mountain to get acclimatized for higher tours. Under normal weather conditions, warm clothes and trekking boots are enough. But after a snowfall, you may well need special gear for the summit area.

Starting Point

San Pedro de Atacama.

How to get there

From the touristic center of San Pedro a road leads through the villages of Toconao and Talabre, past Lejía Lagoon, up to the southeast foothills of Láscar. The altitude and the appalling state of the road make it necessary to go in a 4x4 vehicle. It's a tough road and it'll take you about three hours for a 120 km trip. Mine craters on both sides of the road are mute witnesses of Chile's recent conflict with Argentina.

It is often not possible to camp on the mountain slope due to the sulphur dioxide laden wind that blows down the mountain. Further down, at approximately 4,500 m at the left side of the road, you will find some spots sheltered from the wind suitable for setting up the tents. This place is easy to find: look out for the enormous boulders which were hurled out in the 1990’s eruption within a radius of approximately 5 km. If you prefer, you can camp at Lejía Lagoon (4,300 m), but it is a little far away from the mountain and exposed to strong winds. Anybody who is not yet acclimatized to camp at such high altitudes, can find a nice place to camp at Tumbre valley (3900 m). A good choice, where you will find nice places to hike.

Beware! When it snows, the the road tracks disappear, making it dangerously difficult to find your way back to San Pedro.

Ascent

From the large boulders follow the trail for about 1 hour on foot or 10 minutes by car, up to the end of the track. Then climb up the smooth part in the middle of the slope. From here a discernible path runs up the volcano; however, on this side the air is often rarefied by sulphur dioxide, at which times this route becomes impossible.

Alternatively, take the easy to spot ridge at the western side of the slope. However, this route is steeper, takes you higher and consists mainly of rocks. You will need approximately 3 hours for this route.

Maps for this tour

Descabezado Grande
View of the summit

 

 

El Caminante