Cajon del Maipo in the Summer — Chile

Post by blogger | December 16, 2014      

One of the coolest places we visited in South America last summer was the Cajon del Maipo. The Maipo is a a high valley near Santiago, in the Andes, that holds some incredible skiing. However, it is more well known for summer recreation, and has tons of great hiking and rock climbing. We met Santiago resident Casey Earle while we were down there, and he gave us some great beta about the area. He recently sent some photos from summer hiking in the area. Pretty cool to see the comparison between summer and winter in the area. Check it out:

Cerro Arenas, with the monster couloirs, still holds some snow! Skiable?

Cerro Arenas, with the monster couloirs, still holds some snow! Skiable?

Here's a photo I took from a similar view during September.

Here’s a photo I took from a similar view during September.

Hanging out with Volcan San Jose in the background. That thing is over 5856 m (19200 ft)!

Hanging out with Volcan San Jose in the background. That thing is over 5856 m (19200 ft)!

One of my photos from a similar viewpoint.

One of my photos from a similar viewpoint.

The area has some cool geological formations. We checked out the nearby hot springs on our trip, but lots of stuff was of course covered by snow. Here are some dinosaur tracks.

The area has some cool geological formations. We checked out the nearby hot springs on our trip, but lots of stuff was of course covered by snow. Here are some dinosaur tracks.

Some more interesting rock formations.

Some more interesting rock formations.

Hopefully I’ll be back again someday to see it in winter again. Thanks for the photos Casey!

Read more about our South America skiing travels.


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9 Responses to “Cajon del Maipo in the Summer — Chile”

  1. Max December 16th, 2014 6:44 pm

    My last day skiing this season was the 31st of October (you guessed it, in Las Arenas). Many other “cajones” in the Maipo Area hold snow for even longer, perhaps even until the middle of november…. Avisen para el próximo año!

  2. Mark Worley December 16th, 2014 10:59 pm

    Fantastic, massive couloirs! Tempting.

  3. Drew Tabke December 23rd, 2014 5:55 pm

    That’s (a piece of) Marmolejo in the third pic, not San Jose. #justsayin #imisschile #areyoustillinwashington?

  4. Lou Dawson 2 December 23rd, 2014 6:01 pm

    Thanks Drew!

  5. Casey Earle January 28th, 2015 3:29 pm

    Actually, the third pic features the Cerro Loma Larga (5,400m) at the end of the Arenas Valley. It is part of the Loma Larga Group, west of Marmolejo/San Jose, which includes Cortaderas (at the right in Lou’s photo, 5,200m), Meson Alto (5,300m), and Punta Italia (4,900m).

    Nice comparisons Lou!

  6. Louie III January 28th, 2015 4:14 pm

    Thanks for the corrections Casey!

  7. Mathieu Fagnan February 10th, 2015 10:11 pm

    Hi Wildsnow.

    I went in the Cajon del Maipo on three occasions to climb, always in the late November/early December timeframe (2001,2010,2012). I always thought of this place as a « secret paradise » and selflessly hope it doesn’t get too popular!
    Do you have any beta on going there in mid august, to ski. Do you know what kind of weather and temperature to expect? It seems this period is good for lower altitude resorts (+/-3000m) but do you know about those heights (4000+m)? Do you think a SanJose-Marmolejo traverse is doable on ski (I did it trekking/climbing). Do you have local contact that could inform me on the feasibility of such a project?


    Keep up the truly amazing site


  8. Casey Earle February 22nd, 2015 4:09 pm

    Hi Math,

    August and September are usually good months for ski touring the central Andes, like March or April in the northern hem. Less chance of a prolonged storm, warmer, and a better base than June or July. Having been there, you probably know that the wind increases with altitude, and over 4,000m-4,500, much of these mountains are scoured clean of snow, often leaving only protected south faces and drifts that fill gullies. Extreme cold can be expected above 5,000. I personally have not done bigger peaks at that time of the year, but I know a lot of people go for them more in September, and October too when there is a good base.

    A SanJose-Marmolejo traverse would probably be mostly trekking due to altitude and exposure.

    A couple of contacts for more info (spanish mostly):

    Federación de Andinismo de Chile
    Almirante Simpson #77
    Providencia, Santiago de Chile
    T: +562 222 208 88

    I know you don´t want a sled, but here is a sled operation that tours the Arenas valley extensively in winter, and can probably give you good info:

    Dos Tiempos
    +569 9 3422339
    cw using dostiempos dot cl
    skype: whnsnow
    JUAN PAULO AUDISIO (lead guide)
    +569 9 8988310
    pauloaudisio using gmail

  9. Lou Dawson 2 February 22nd, 2015 5:10 pm

    Thanks for the info Casey, sorry your comment got held up in moderation. FYI, more than a couple of links puts the comment in the holding tank.

    Also, please don’t leave emails or at least obfuscate them as I did for your in an edit. That way the spambots won’t harvest the emails.

    Summer still nice?

    ‘best, Lou

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