Ascent of the Bonete Chico 6772 meters – Argentina.

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After driving 4 clients from Brazil on Cerro Plata 5943 m Argentina. We returned to Mendoza to wait for the next expedition that would be in Salta together with Ana Sudo on 02/28.

Luciana Moro and I were at Camping Suizo on Monday 02/21/2022 and we received an invitation from friend Pedro Hauck from Soul Outdoor to a barbecue at Refúgio Mausy in Cordón del Plata Provincial Park. Obviously we do!
Pedro was about to drive Cerro Plata with clients with the help of the guide Seba (Sebastián Hernán García). We already knew him from another expedition at Ojos del Salado in 2020, another barbecue too. In addition to being a guide, Seba is an excellent parrillero (barbecue chef). Also there were our friend Filipe Careli de Almeida and the other acquaintances until now only from WhatsApp groups such as Douglas Dutra and Bernardo do Espinhaço.

After the feast, which even had a delicious stuffed pork matambre, we camped near the refuge. On the morning of 02/22 I helped Hauck with the weighing of equipment for the mules of his expedition.
We checked the weather forecast for some mountains and saw that there was a window of good weather for the fourth highest in the Andes. And she was still on our way to Salta. Since Pedro had guided the only successful Brazilian expedition to the summit of Bonete Chico. We cleared all doubts before leaving.

We started our 419 km trip to San José de Jáchal with the intention of camping at the municipal campsite. We stopped at a market in Mendoza to buy food for the next mountain and also meat for the next barbecue.

We chose a beautiful piece of Tomahawk weighing over 1 kg and a good Malbec Salentein Reserva wine. All this for a modest US$ 11,50. In Brazil, the same meal would cost more than US$ 57,70.
On 02/23 we started our 307 km trip to Refúgio del Peñón on the RN 76. In Villa Unión we made the only stop to fill up the car. We arrived with plenty of time at the beautiful refuge built between 1860 and 1870. We camped nearby together with other groups that were going to do the 4×4 of Corona del Inca the other day.
On 02/24 we dismantled the camp and set off for 68 km of road and 4×4 trail. We were a little apprehensive, because the tracklog we had was an old one from Max Kausch from Gente de Montanha. The most current ones we got were unreliable.

On the way we stopped at another stone refuge. According to the story, a muleteer died of cold on the spot and his body was covered with stones next to the refuge. But the next day it dawned uncovered (giving the refuge its name).
We follow Ruta Nacional in the direction of Paso Pircas Negras, but take the 4×4 road that leads to Corona del Inca. From here, Max’s tracklogs and the most current ones started to diverge. We prefer to take a chance and use the most current tracklog.

In a moment we detour to a 4×4 trail on the right. We basically followed in the footsteps of the few who used this path. We were able to reach 5420 meters by car without difficulty. We set up the base camp on site with a beautiful view of Veladero 6436 m and Baboso 6070 m.The night after receiving confirmation of good weather for the next 2 days via Inreach Garmin. We plot our summit attack strategy. One would have to make an advanced camp at 5730 m and attack the summit from there. In 3 days there would be a lot of wind to the summit.

We woke up late on the 25/02. It wasn’t that cold, but I went to check on the car. Diesel car suffers from low temperatures, as the fuel can turn into a gel and clog the fuel pump. On the trip to the mountain I didn’t find the diesel “anti-freeze”. So I started the car and left it running for about 30 minutes to warm up the engine and circulate fuel between the tank and the engine. We set everything up and set off in alpine style for the 2,697 km trek to the advanced camp.
On the way we saw tire marks from a 4×4 car that approached even higher. At the time, he regretted not having investigated the land the day before. However, it passed when I remembered that the car would stay overnight in an even colder place and with a greater risk of not starting anymore.

We arrived without great difficulty to a good place for the night, protected from the wind and with patches of snow to obtain water. After setting up the tent, we started with the ice melting process. We slept without problems.

On 02/26 we woke up at 4:30 am to get dressed, eat something and hydrate well with hot tea. We left the tent at 5:45 and it was -9 ºC without any wind. Still in the dark, we followed the route that the GPS showed. The early morning was spectacular.
There were some patches of snow where we needed to use crampons and ice axes, but we managed to get around them. We take both, but in this kind of situation where you put it on and take it off all the time, you lose a lot of time to put it on and then take it off.

Closer to the summit, we understand the reason for the name Bonete Chico.
Bonete Chico translated into english is a child’s birthday hat. From a distance looking at the mountain you don’t notice this small elevation. However, when it is close to the summit, it is a small elevation.
We arrived early at the summit around 10:57. We stayed there until 11:40, watching the Corona del Inca, Reclus 6275 m, Pissis 6795 m, Tres Quebradas 6239 m, Famatina 6107 m and dozens of mountains above 6000 meters in the Puna of Atacama region.

We started our descent and arrived at the advanced camp 5730 m at 14:50. In total, there were 8,555 km of attack to the summit between going and returning.
My curiosity about the 4×4 path was great and so I asked Luciana to stay and dismantle the camp. I went down the 2.697 km to the intermediate camp at 5420 and checked where I could go up with the car.

It took me some time, but I found the tracks of the bad 4×4 path with many big rocks. Lucky I had BF Goodrich A/T tires, as the rocks had sharp edges. To Luciana’s surprise, I parked the car at 5 pm at the advanced camp.
We packed everything in the car and went down immediately to try to camp as low as possible. The forecast for the next day was very windy. The lenticular cloud that we saw near Famatina 6107 m corroborated the prognosis.
On the way back, a photo of Cerro Bonete Chico seen from the 4×4 trail.
In the late afternoon, almost early evening, we arrived at the Refúgio del Peñón and camped. Again it was full of tourists who came to ask where we came from. A car with a Brazilian license plate in a step disabled due to COVID was not common. We told them what we had done and they were amazed at our speed on the way up the mountain. We had dinner and slept very well after the exhausting day.

On 02/27 we woke up with a lot of wind in the camp at 3610 meters. Imagine up there! We dismantled the camp and set off for the province of Salta. On the way we stopped for photos in the beautiful Quebrada de la Troya.
We stopped at Villa Unión to buy meat and vegetables for the celebratory barbecue. On the way, we tried to camp in the city of Rosario de la Frontera, but there was a municipal soy harvest festival and the municipal campsite was closed. We went to the municipal campsite in the next city in San José de Metán in the province of Salta. Where we finally camped late and had our celebratory roast.
Finally, on 02/28, we traveled for another 147 km to Salta and met Ana Licia Sudo at the airport. The next day we would start another expedition through the Puna of Salta.

Our tracklog:  https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/bonete-chico-6672-m-115536875

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Author:  Tiago Korb
Guide since 2007 by Clube Trekking.
Guided 17 different Andean summits above 6000 meters:
Aconcagua (6962m via the 360º route), Ojos del Salado (6893m – 2x),
Pissis (6795m), Mercedario (6720m – 2x), San Francisco (6018m), Fraile (6061m), Barrancas Blancas (6119m), Vicuñas (6067m), Peñas Blancas (6037), Ermitaño (6146m) and Nevado Famatina (6115m), Bonete Chico (6759m), Aracar (6095m), Quewar (6140m), Llullallaico (6752m), Antofalla (6440m), Laguna Blanca (6018m).
Owner of  Clube Trekking Santa Maria  and  Loja Bota na Trilha.

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