“What’s the name of the highest mountain in the world? No doubt several would quickly answer Everest, but if I ask: where is the highest volcano in the world? I don’t think it would be many who would know that it is in Chile and that it is called Ojos del Salado.” That was the diagnosis that Chilean mountain climber Juan Pablo Mohr collected as he ascended to the highest summits on the planet and got to know the infrastructure surrounding these areas.
What to do then? “To bring the mountain closer to the people”, concluded the athlete who managed to become the first Chilean to conquer the summits of Everest (8,849 meters above sea level), the Lhotse (8,516 meters above sea level), the Annapurna (8,091 meters above sea level), the Manaslu (8,163 meters above sea level) and the Dhaulagiri (8,167 meters above sea level) without additional oxygen.
Mohr, architect by profession, begins to give life to the project “The 16 of Chile” which is supported by Empresas CMPC. A new challenge that seeks to explore and ascend to the highest summits of the 16 regions of Chile to enhance the culture and mountain tourism in the country. “This is an idea that I have been working on for several years. I always wanted to relate architecture to the mountain. The main objective of creating the DeporteLibre Foundation was to bring the mountain to the city and the people of the city to the mountain”, he assures.
It is also that in each of its ascents the idea is to be able to mark routes and identify a place to plan the construction of shelters of international standards, that allow athletes to rest, spend the night and replenish their strength before summiting or starting the descent.
He explains that “on all my trips to the Himalayas and the French and Swiss Alps, I realized the advanced mountain culture they have, which is reflected in the quality of the infrastructure of the shelters. I believe that in Chile we need to have that same level of construction in order to increase the culture that exists behind this incredible sport”.
And so this journey departed with the exploration of the Tronador Volcano (3,491 meters) located in the region of Los Lagos. “We entered through the valley of the white river and realized that the mountain has 3 valleys that have never been explored because they do not have any accessible routes. We must know Chile has an enviable quality of mountains that we should take advantage of. In fact, the Tronador Volcano is the Chilean simile of Mont Blanc, and very few know,” Mohr describes.
In fact, Jorge Sánchez, one of the few locals neighboring the Tronador Volcano, values this initiative because 90% of visitors to this sector during the year come from Argentina. “This year we had more Chileans, but the vast majority are Argentinians”
For the manager of Petrohue Expeditions, Franz Schirmer, “the Tronador has many routes on the Argentine side, but none completely on the Chilean side. The only one that accesses the Tronador is from the border with Argentina on the south side, in the Vuriloche Pass, which leads to an old shelter built by the Argentines. On the Chilean side there are no shelters, and this project that considers making them is a tremendous contribution of rapprochement towards the mountain”.
Mohr, along with his roped team, concluded that the Tronador “is a strategically good place to connect three valleys where no one has been, because of the complex access they have. Its traditional route comes from a path that reaches from Ralún to Pampa Linda, known as the Vuriloche Pass, a millennial trail that was used by the Jesuits to cross and negotiate with Mapuche communities, many years ago,” he says.
But as the project “The 16 of Chile” not only includes the exploration of the mountains, Mohr along with his foundation DeporteLibre, will develop in the next visits workshops of mountaineering and trainings to the local communities with the target to generate a system that allows the local administration of the refuge and to generate activities that promote the mountain culture. To accomplish this, the challenge “The 16 of Chile” already has the support of the Ministry of Public Assets, the National Institute of Sport (IND) and the National Tourism Service (SERNATUR).
“The Tronador is the first project where we will concrete a refuge. It is an amazing place with three unexplored valleys, which no one has reached because there are no routes. That’s where our work is. The refuge will be built in a sector we have already known, called Lomas de Huenchupán, and our closest tasks are in establishing winter ice climbing routes, as well as simpler and less technical trails, to include all kinds of people,” the mountain climber explains.
Mohr, who has also obtained a Guinness Record in fulfilling the rise of Lhotse and Everest in less than a week without resorting to complementary oxygen and without sherpas’ help, will continue the rest of the highest summits in the national territory for “more local communities to acquire a taste for mountain sport and to make the construction of 16 shelters a reality.”
His next challenge is the Villarrica volcano in the La Araucanía region.