Chilean-Japanese Expedition to
Chilean Central Andes 1960
Information provided by Hisao Toyoda,
a member of the expedition and friend of Mel and Pat Oakes

Hisao Toyoda, studied civil engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He received a master's in 1967 for a thesis entitled, "Static behavior of hybrid plate girders". While in Austin, he was assigned to Mel and Pat Oakes as his host family. They formed a lifelong bond that has enriched their lives.

In 1959-60, Hisao was part of a Chilean-Japanese expedition to explore the Chilean Central Andes. Here we provide some record of the journey. Our many thanks to Hisao for photos and information.


From "Sangaku", The Journal of The Japanese Alpine Cub, January 1962.

Chilean Central Andes, 1960,
by Hisao Toyoda

I would like to report the outline of the Chilean-Japanese joint Expedition to the Chilean Central Andes, 1960. Federaciøón de Andinismo y Excursionisimo de
Chile and the Alpine Club of Kobe University, Kobe, Japan organized a joint expedition party to the unknown zone of the Chilean Central Andes in order to promote not only mountaineering techniques but friendship between Chile and Japan.

During the expedition, we ate Chilean food and used equipments manufactured in Japan. Before the expedition our great concern was that of the problem of leadership and membership, because many failures of international expeditions had shown us this difficulty. In our case, however, we could completely overcome all kinds of misunderstandings which arose owing to the difference of languages, customs and way of living. We could complete the expedition successfully and not only learned the technique of mountaineering but also could establish goodwill between our countries.

The 1st Expedition : To the Yeso Valley (February 2—Feb. 22, 1960.)
Chilean Group : Kurt Claussen (Leader) and other four members.

Japanese Group : Naoyuki Ota (29 years old, Leader), Hiroshi Tanba (26 years old), Hisao Toyoda (22 years old)

As is well known, the climate in summer is quite mild and dry in this central part of the Chilean Andes. Therefore the glaciers are neither vast nor dangerous to pass through because of the dry climate. The two days caravan of 22 mules led by two muleteers started from Careda Lodara Mine for the Base Camp (3,600
m) at the end of the Glaciar Bello.

The dry climate enabled us to do without the tents and sleep in the open all through the night and we dreamed many beautiful dreams under the Southern
Cross. From Camp II on the Glaciar, we climbed the Cerro Kobe (5100 m, 1st Ascent), Cerro Belle (5200 m, 2nd Ascent) and Cerro Marmolejo (6100 m). Cerro Kobe is a beautiful mountain crowned with ice and snow. We named it in commemoration of Kobe University. Climbing was not so difficult but the route was quite dangerous because of its frail rocks.

We spent wonderful days wandering about virgin peaks day after day.

Our 2nd Expedition: To the Cipreses Valley (Feb. 27—March 14, 1960.) Five Chileans (Leader Alnardo Gonzalez) and three Japanese.

Ours was the second party that explored this zone. The map was not correct and even the muleteers did not know the topography of this part. It was a long
but wonderful caravan through woods of cypress.

In this region there are no high mountains above 5000 m, but the glacial topography was very characteristic of the Chilean-Central Andes. The Cipreses
Glaciar is vast and the mountains are small and their walls are sharp as the result of erosion by ice. Route-finding on the Glaciar was awfully diflicult and fatiguing because of “Nieve Penitente” (ice-needle, characteristic phenomenon of the glaciers in the Chilean Central Andes).

It was a wonderful climbing, basking in plentiful sunshine. We climbed these three virgin peaks:
Cerro Chile-Japón (4450 m)
Cerro Coton (4550 m)
Cerro Alto Coton Norte (4350 m)

Our 3rd Expedition : To the Colorado Valley (March 19—April 4, 1960)
Five Chileans (Leader : German Mills)
Two officers from the Mountain School of Chilean Army.
Three same Japanese

In this northern desert of Chile, the characteristics of the mountains are their frail rock and desolate scenery. The glaciers are rather small affected by the dry climate.

At the Rio Colorado Station of the Chile-Argentine International Railway we had to abandon the automobiles and ride on the back of mules for many days to
pass through dangerous cliffs. From the Base Camp on the Leiva Pass near Mt. Aconcagua, we made many ascents:
Cerro Expedición (1st Ascent, 5126 In)
Cerro Amarillo (1st Ascent, 5136 m)
Cerro Altar (1st Ascent, 4518 m)
Cerro de los Columpios (1st Ascent, 4200 m) /
Nevado Leiva (2nd Ascent, 4669 m)

From Alpine Journal, 1960-61

Chilean Notes
by Evelio Echevarria C.



ANDES. We have received further information about the joint Chilean—Japanese expedition to the Chilean Central Andes in the early part of last year.‘

Three weeks were spent in the Yeso valley (February 2–22), during which time the Cerro Kobe, 16,733 ft. (first ascent), Cerro Bello, 17,061 ft.
(second ascent), and Cerro Marmolejo, 20,013 ft., were climbed.

The expedition then moved to the Cipreses Valley: there are no peaks above 5,000 m. in this region. Route-finding on the vast Cipreses glacier was rendered dfficult and fatiguing by nieves penitentes. Three first ascents were made: Cerro Chile-Japón, 14,928 ft., Cerro Cotón, 14,272 ft., and Cerro Alto Cotón Norte, 13,944 ft.

Farther south of Santiago, three fifteen thousanders at the head of the Cipreses Valley, east of Rancagua town, were ascended for the first time by university students from Santiago, in February 1959. The same area was visited the following season, in February/March 1960, by a group of native and Japanese mountaineers, the latter from the Alpine Club of Kobe University. In the Cipreses Valley this strong group, ten climbers in all, ascended three fourteen-thousanders; later, in the valleys east of Santiago and Los Andes they climbed ten other peaks, most of them for the first time, thus greatly reducing the scope for pioneer mountaineering in Central Chile. It is believed that at present only four peaks over 17,000 ft. remain unclimbed, one of them being Chimbote, 17,815 ft. a rock peak that has repulsed every attempt 100 ft. below its last rock tower; the number of lesser unclimbed mountains may be much larger.



Chilean-Japanese Expedition Gallery

Acknowledgment:  "Pictures posted from the expedition appeared in home page of
Alpine Club of Kobe University (in Japanese)

Red X marks approximate location of expedition.

Expedition Members

Alto de los Cipreses

Southern Face of Cuerno Blanco

Main Stream of the Cipreses Glacier

Southeastern Face of Cerro Kobe


Yeso Feb 2-20, 1960. Chilean-Japanese Expedition Gallery

Y-1 Start of Caravan at Rodada Mine (Terminal Depo of the overland access from Santiago)
  Y-2 Feeding mules with water at las vegas

Y-3 Portage along the moraine of Glacier Bello in Yeso Valley
  Y-4 Base Camp in Yeso Valley with the view of Co. Cuerno Blanco

Y-5 View of C. Blanco (5030m) from Camp I
  Y-6 Passing Gl. Bello along the Southern edge of C. Blanco

Y-7 View of Co. Bello (5200m)

Y-8 Toyoda with Nieve Penitente (ice needle)

Y-9 Same as Y-8 (ice needles grew as long as 1.2 - 1.5m in Chilean Central Andes)

Y-10 Table stone on Gl. Gello

Y-11 Ascending Gl. Bello on South Wall of C. Blanco
 Y-12 N-East view of the mountain in Central C. Andes

Y-13 Toyoda with K. Claussen, Chilean Leader

Y-14 Unnamed Peak (5100m) from the summit of C. Blanco

Y-15 Parter Claussen climbing ice covered couloir along the S-East ridge
(Decent route took many hours before arriving at the col for bivouac/1960.2.13)

 Y-16 The peak was christened Co. Kobe in commemoration of Kobe University in Japan

Y-17 Transfer caravan through Salillas Valley to Marmolejo Pass
 Y-18 Mules around Marmolejo Pass (4000m)

19 Camp site on the mid-slope of Co. Marmolejo

Y-20 Crossing a crevasse on the ice plateau between High Camp (5500m) and Co. Marmolejo (6100m)

Y-21 Chile - Argentine Border with ice and snow covering the slope of Argentine side

Rio de los Cipreses Feb 27-Mar 13, 1960.
Chilean-Japanese Expedition Gallery

R-1 Caravan through the trail along Rio de los Cipreses
  R-2 18 mules were led by 2 Arrieros

R-3 Camping at Agua de Vida Mine

  R-4 Surveying the glacier vestiges along Rio Cipreses Valley

R-5 N. Ota made a rubbing of the ancient glacier

R-6 L to R: Hisao Toyoda, P. Claussen?, ?, H. Tanba
Taking a lunch on their way to Advance Base Camp

R-7 Co. Alto de los Cipreses with the overhang glacier

R-8 Advance Base Camp on Gl. Cipreses

R-9 Upstream (South) view of Gl. Cipreses
 R-10 East ridges of Gl. Cipreses Valley with Co. Dr. H. Cruz in the back

R-11 Crevasse of Glacier Cipreses

R-12 Going South along Glacier Cipreses

R-13 Going up to North on Glacier Cipreses

 R-14 Passing through the ice fall covering West ridge slope

R-15 N-East ridges of Gl. Cipreses Valley
 R-16 Bird’s-eye view of S-West part of Gl. Cipreses Valely

R-17 Climbing through the ice fall of West ridges (Toyoda at right)


R-18 Passing through Nieve Penitente slope (Toyoda at left)

R-19 Toyoda (middle) with Forster & Rosales at the summit of an unnamed peak (christened "Chile-Japon" 4450m/1960.3.6)

R-20 East ridges seen from the opposite side which formed the branch peaks to Border mountains

R-21 View of East ridges with Volcano Paloma in their back

R-22 Flora in Central C. Andes (name unknown)

R-23 Flora in Central C. Andes (name unknown, these pictures were taken as per request of Kobe University researchers)


Colorado March 19- April 4, 1960.
Chilean-Japanese Expedition Gallery

C-1 Caravan through the highland up in the tributary of Rio Colorado

C-2 Arriero Manuel who managed 24 mules with his assistant

C-3 Caravan went through the trail high up of Rio Colorado Canyon

C-4 Climbing the ridge through the slope covered with fresh snow

C-5 Guanaco shot by the border guard with us. The guanaco (Lama guanicoe) is a camelid native to South America, closely related to the llama. Its name comes from the Quechua word huanaco (modern spelling wanaku). Young guanacos are called chulengos. Guanacos are one of two wild South American camelids, the other being the Vicuña, which lives at higher elevations.

L to R: ?, Teniente Bocaz, ?, Arriero Manuel, ?

C-6 Teniente Bocaz & Ota were excited by a big game

C-7 Border guard shot a condor too
  C-8 Continuation of ridge climbing from the preceing picture C-4.
(As for the first ascents made in Rio Colorado expedition, Table of Peaks to be referred)

    (This caption in Japanese seems to obsolete)

C-9 During each climb we were overwhelmed by Mt. Aconcagua (6960m) of Argentina

C-10 Chilean Leader, G. Mills, with Arriero Manuel

C-11 Members of Chile-Japan Expedition to Rio Colorado Valley.

L to R: ?, H. Tanba, ?, F. Rojas?, ?, ?, ?, ?, N. Ota, Teniente Bocaz, ?, Hisao Toyoda


C-12 H. Tanba with Manuel’s dog
 C-13 Mountain School of Chilean Army (Military style party was held in its bar)

C-14 Entrance to  Mountain School of Chilean Army    

Table of Peaks