Road trip guide: Conquering Pascua Lama

Pascua Lama is an international high mountain peak at an elevation of 5.256m (17,244ft) above the sea level, located in the Andes mountains, on the southern reaches of Atacama Desert, on the border of Argentina and Chile. It's one of the highest roads of Argentina.

Pascua Lama

The road to the summit is totally unpaved and usually impassable from October to June (weather permitting). Great trail for experienced wheelers. Avoid driving in this area if unpaved mountain roads aren't your strong point. 4x4 vehicle required. Stay away if you're scared of heights. Thunderstorm activity can quickly change unpaved roads to four-wheel-drive condition or make them impassable. At the summit there’s a gold mine. The road to the summit is very steep, with 25 hairpin turns. Local residents, who live off of the land, worry about the effects of the mining on such a fragile ecosystem and the mining companys plan to displace the glaciers. Along with NGOs and environmental associations, they strongly oppose the project. Do not take this drive if you have respiratory problems or any type of heart condition. Babies under 4 months of age should not make the ascent, either. Notorius lack of oxygen that tests the organisms and a high degree of steepness. Most people feel altitude sickness at around 2,500-2,800 meters. Extremely low oxygen for engine combustion.