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21st December 2001 - 10.15 GMT

A99 - Part 3

San Pedro de Atacama - Laguna Verde - Laguna Colorada - Laguna Verde







Calama - Valle de la luna - C15





C15 - San Pedro de Atacama





Bus San Pedro - Hito Cajon, Laguna Verde - C16





C16 - Laguna Salada - Sol de Mañana - C17





C17 - Laguna Colorada





Laguna Colorada - Sol de Mañana - C18





C18 - Laguna Salada - C19





C19 - Laguna Blanca - Base Camp Licancabur



Worried about the time left I decided to take a ride from San Pedro (2500 m) up to the border at the Hito LXXXI Cajon at 4500 m. After some easy 10 km I passed the Laguna Verde and continued the way up, a strong wind gave a good support and soon I reached the pass at 4700, then followed the down hill to the Laguna Salada, where I made camp.

At the Laguna is a nice little warm spring, which was perfect to take a little rest. Then began the long climb to the geysers at Salar de mañana and the traditional wind started at noon, it was so strong that even pushing was extremely exhausting. Shivering from the cold I arrived the geysers one hour after sunset, my hands aching from the cold. I stayed half an hour in the sleeping bag, before I could begin with cooking.

The next day was easy goin´, must the time going down to the fantastic Laguna Colorada. The guys from the travel agency who carried me up the Cajon also delivered a food package with Coke, Atun and Biscuits to the hut at the Laguna. I underestimated the distance to the hut, which were 16 km from the main track and arrived there only at 20:00.

Profile Laguna Verde - Laguna Colorada

Vulcan Licancabur



Climb Licancabur




Base Camp - Laguna Verde - Km 27 - C22





C22 - San Pedro de Atacama



It was the day of the Grand Prix of Imola so it was a good idea to dedicate the climb to Scuderia Ferrari and Michael Schumacher.

When I set out at 6:30 am after a good breakfast, I still thought, that it would be a tough but not difficult trek. But because I didn't found the trail up it became a real adventure, a climb over rocks, boulders and snow.

On a small trail soon I arrived the saddle with views on the Salar de Atacama and was wondering, where the way up was hidden. After some searching I choose the free style up. With increasing inclination the ground was getting softer, with gravel and sand. Progress was slow and the risk of sliding down was eminent. Looking for the safest route, means over big boulders, consumed a lot of time and involved a lot of risky crossing over gravel.

At the Laguna Verde I was told that it should take only 4 or 5 hours up, but after 6 hours there were still 500 m missing. It was certain, that I was on the wrong way and suddenly I realised the great risk I was taking. Alone, far away from the trail it would take at least weeks for somebody to find me. I controlled an upcoming feeling of panic, but was marching now with much more care. Finally there were the last 200 m, some steep cliffs but technically easy. With 1000 m of abyss under my feet. Around 16:00 I reached the last saddle, only 100 m over an easy slope separated my from the summit. Here I found also the first footprints to my great relief. I pushed the last meters and took some pictures, then heading back. I knew that it was almost impossible to return on the way I came up so I had to check out for the right trail.

By occasion soon I found the trail and descended fast, sliding over the gravel.

Totally exhausted, but very happy that everything went OK I arrived at the last daylight at my Base camp.

The next day I tried to do it easy. Stayed long in the sleeping bag and rolled back to Laguna Verde to replenish my stock of Coke. Due to the extremely strong wind the way to the Hito Cajon was very heavy going I somewhere there I lost a big bottle of Coke. As it was already rather late I realised I couldn't make it to San Pedro this day. As not expected the downhill will anything but a pleasure, the very strong and cold wind continued and I was shivering to the bones. It was getting so bad that couldn't control the bike. I needed something to eat, but there was nothing more left. Right at that very moment heaven sent Carlos form Colombia, who delivered food to the construction camp at the pass. He still had some food left, which he offered me generously. I accepted it without hesitation and ate it on the spot.

Shortly after I made camp C22 and on the next day I reached finally San Pedro again.

Then came the last anxious moment, I had thought about so much in the last 48 hours. Who had won the GP of Imola. I found and old newspaper and very nervous searched the sport pages, until I found on the last page a huge photo of Schumacher. Yeah, once again he made my day.  

Paso Hito Cajon



San Pedro - Hito Cajon - San Pedro





Bus San Pedro - Calama




Calama - Santiago




Arrival Santiago, Flight SCL-MAD 13:20 - 7:55





MAD-LIS 9:30 - 9:40


Average km



As there was still one day left and as there is nothing more refreshing than a nice, steep pass, I set out again to the direction of the Laguna Verde to climb up to the border mark Hito LXXXI Cajon.

Thanks to the low weight the progress was good, only in the afternoon I slowed considerably due to the very fresh wind and the altitude. At the top I changed as quickly as possible my clothes as I had every piece of warm stuff with me. Gore, Fleece and Down. So the downhill was rather comfortable and after one more hour of riding during the night I reached very tired San Pedro.

Hito Cajon Profile of Hito Cajon

The next day I got the bus to Calama, where I stayed until the next morning. I hardly couldn't sleep because I was too afraid to miss my bus, but everything went well. After another 24 hours we arrived early in the morning in Santiago and after 17 km finally I was again at the airport.  

Airport Tax Santiago de Chile: 18 US-$

Special Thanks

Anke & Wolfgang (Düsseldorf / Germany) - my dear parents for taking it again

Ros (Lisbon / Portugal) -  my baby for giving me all the support

Victor Arenas (Collahuasi / Chile) - Not only for his great help and support inside and outside the Collahuasi Mine, but also for his great company. Vielen Dank Victor. Und vergesse nicht Machu Pichu.

Carlos from Colombia - For the unexpected, but extremely welcome dinner on the downhill from El Cajon. I wouldn't have finished it without it. Muchas gracias, Carlos !

Carabineiros de Chile - To all the nice and always helpful policemen in Chile. Especially the guys in Gualltire, who gave me shelter on a damned rainy day and shared their dinner with me.

Danilo Caron from Canada -

Coca-Cola - For their delicious and nutrious products

Michael Schumacher (Kerpen / Germany) - For the lot of inspiration he gave at the long hours of biking

And all the nice people of Chile and Bolivia

- I