Ascent of Cerro Cantillana on 2013-11-26

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Adrian Rayner
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Cerro Cantillana
    Elevation:7484 ft / 2281 m

Ascent Trip Report

The traditional Boxing Day ramble... This is a nice peak, doable as a fairly long day hike, but note there are access issues and a permit/registration is needed for the most accessible routes.

This was the first peak of a trip to the Chilean Lake District - as Adrian and I had two days spare before Duane and Adam arrived and the peak is easy to access from Santiago SCL airport.

We had intended to climb from the southwest as there is an old 4 x 4 road which can be hiked to a point high on the west shoulder. However the first part of the route is along an active quarry road and the guy on the gate (S34.02543 W71.00676) wouldn't let us in (no public access, safety etc).

With better Spanish we might have been able to explain that we wanted to follow the road for only a short distance before branching off left on an old road which crosses the west shoulder. However, we backtracked and drove Ruta 5 to the pass (S33.85239 W70.98120) Cruce which crosses the north ridge of our peak. However there is new fencing here and a new building, Privado signs, and no convenient parking, although the trail is obvious on the ground.

The last route I know about is from the northeast, near Lago Aculeo. The obvious route turns out to be a gated CCTV'd access road to some private cabins. A young lad comes out and tells us the route to Cantillana starts next door at the Conaf office (entrance at S33.86820 W70.92168, 388m, parking for a few vehicles - this is the trailhead). The gate to the latter is locked so we park and have some food. A young lad arrives and starts talking to us (mainly Adrian who has some Spanish). He seems OK with our plans but probably doesn't know much about climbing the peak. He certainly doesn't tell us we need to register, nor is there any info at the gate or at the door of the (closed late evening) visitor centre. However, there is a need to register and this we understand is one of the places to do it. There may be relevant info online at
We later learn that there are two routes which bypass the guard post up on the ridge. However it is probably best to register.

Eventually the Conaf lad leaves with a late-working colleague (this is Christmas Day!) and we grab our hiking gear and bivvy gear and climb over the (low) wall beside the gate, walk past the visitor centre, through another gate and turn L along an old dirt road. In a few hundred metres we find a nice bivvy spot in open scrub, have a beer then sleep: lovely mild night, starry sky.

Next morning we pack up, stow our bivvy gear under a bush and are hiking by 0610, first light. The dirt road passes what could be an old trailhead, enters woodland and swings left. We were following trails shown on (20m contours, well worth having on gps although trail accuracy is variable) but the simplest way is to find a L fork at S33.87209 W70.93673 and follow a trail more or less directly uphill marked with red topped posts (gate to climb at S33.87478 W70.96009) to reach a gap in the wall to your L (S33.87552 W70.96367, 741m). If you have failed to register you could try going L here, through the wall. The mapping shows trails which are also visible on google earth, although the land may belong to the private cabins.

At the gap in the wall we kept R of the wall, following a small trail through scrubby open woodland, eventually climbing up to a spur (S33.87364 W70.97065, 856m). We turned L (SW) up the spur, following a good trail. At S33.87866 W70.97772, 1078m we reach an area with a few tent sites, at the point where we join the main north ridge coming up from the Ruta 5 pass mentioned earlier.

After a rest in the shade (sun is hot even at 8 am) we continue south on the main path. At xxxx is a nice viewpoint, with the route turning L and zig zagging steeply uphill. After a level area with a fine view of Laguna de Aculeo (best in the afternoon) the trail contours R of the ridge, with a view ups and downs, and fine views R across a ravine.

At S33.88579 W70.98095 we reach a fence and locked gate with a notice Reserva privado, and this is where the trouble starts. A man appears from a small cabin and tells us we should have registered. We explain as best we can that it is hard for overseas climbers to find info on these things, and he relents, notes our addresses and passport details on his list, and tells us it is about 3.5 hours to the summit (he's right). Note that the gate is open from 9 til 6, and to get to the summit and back in that time isn't easy. We had about 90 mins spare, moving quite quickly.

From the ranger post the path contours a little then zigzags steeply up, finally reaching the broad ridge via a small stream which had a little water (late December). Most of the ascent is now done but the summit is still 7 km away. The obvious trail continues, skirting a few minor summits, with a few ups and downs. Scenery is good, with steep drop offs, plenty of rock, and the main Andes chain ranged across the eastern horizon.

At S33.91580 W70.97147, 2000m we reach a trail fork: best keep R here. The trail becomes indistinct for the last kilometre and we find our way past a couple of small rocky peaks. The terrain is rocky and brushy but not difficult, with animal trails (cattle and wild horses) to follow.

Cantillana has three summits close together. The first is at the edge of a small untidy comms array. The second is apparently higher and involves a 4m scramble, quite easy YDS 3. It has 3 small pointed outcrops all about the same elevation, and a small radio antenna (lettering on the rock face says Radio Club de Chile). Summit co-ords: S33.96677 W70.96649, 2279m. A short way beyond is a large square triangulation pillar (S33.96699 W70.96694). From here is a view southwest over the mine: the track crossing the west shoulder is clearly visible.

There's a cool breeze and we stay for about 30 minutes before heading down. The ranger/guard was waiting for us, perfectly friendly, doesn't ask us to sign back out. He had mentioned there had been problems with people dropping litter, so as a peace offering we show him ten empty beer cans we've picked up along the route.

It's very hot on the descent and it's good to get into the shade of the forest lower down. We retrieve our hidden bivvy gear and are back at the car by 5 pm - thirteen hours round trip.

We find a hotel in Santiago, as we're flying to Temuco the next day to climb some Chilean Lakes volcanoes, starting with an ascent of Volcan Lonquimay.

Cantillana photo album

Richard Mclellan's photos from their 2014 trip
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6860 ft / 2089 m
    Extra Gain:328 ft / 99 m
    Round-Trip Distance:26.1 mi / 42 km
    Route:From NNE
    Trailhead:1280 ft / 390 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 1
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:7 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:5 Hours 30 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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