Up one level Argentina, Bolivia, Chile » Cerro Toco (5604 m / 18385 ft)

Cerro Toco (5604 m / 18385 ft)
On our third day in San Pedro, Serene decided to take a break while I went to scramble up a volcano. I had set my sights on Volcan Sairecabur (5971 m) because it required a more involved scramble and had a spectacular view of Bolivia from the summit. Since I didn't have a car nor local knowledge of the area (the Chilean-Bolivian border is land mined in certain areas, such as around the volcano Licancabur), I went in search of a organized trip to the volcano. Unfortunately, there were no trips available for anything but Cerro Toco (with agency Vulcano), which is an easier scramble than Sairecabur.
     Although not my first choice, I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and the views from the summit was spectacular. We were supposed to take an old mining road up to the start of the ridge to begin scrambling, but the road was washed out with soft gravel; our driver, Pedro, had to stop a few miles short and we walked up the wash instead. In all, we (the guide Ivan, and a Belgian couple Vincent and Laurence) scrambled only about 2000 feet up a class 2/3 (upper section is a little sketchy) scree ridge to reach the summit. Never having been this high, I expected to suffer some mild altitude sickness (the only acclimitization I did was sleeping three nights at 8000 feet in San Pedro and going on jeep tours up to 14000 feet), but I surprisingly did not suffer even headaches during this trip. I suspect that I was probably not at altitude long enough for any symptoms of AMS to kick in.

crw_3024 Reflections on Laguna Blanca from near the base of Cerro Toco. crw_3028 Ice penitents near the base of Cerro Toco. crw_3038 Ice penitents near the base of Cerro Toco. crw_3039 A new layer of soft gravel covered the old dirt road and the jeep couldn't go up to the normal starting point. crw_3042 Ivan, Vincent, and Laurence walking up the gravel to the start of the ridge. crw_3053 Ivan, Vincent, and Laurence at the bottom of the scree ridge. crw_3061 Laguna Blanca from near the top of the ridge. crw_3064 Ivan topping out on the ridge. crw_3072-6-pano Panorama into Bolivia (facing North) from the summit of Cerro Toco. crw_3085 Obligatory Cerro Toco summit shot (5604 m / 18385 ft). crw_3094 Cerro Toco summit shot (5604 m / 18385 ft) with Volcan Juriques (5740 m / 18832 ft) in the background. crw_3098 The scree ridge we scrambled up. The upper part with the rock outcrops was tricky because it was a steep drop off and you had to scramble around it on loose scree. crw_3100 Laurence, Vincent, and Ivan. We descended the left most gully in the background.