Portezuelo de Laguna Brava – 4,379m

Provincia de La Rioja, Argentina

This is only really a pass when you approach it on the long climb up from Villa Union. Coming from the other direction the pass is only 100m higher than the road’s low point by the shores of Laguna Brava. The real pass and the highest point of the Pircas Negras route between Argentina and Chile is Abra Veladero to the west of the lake.

Coming from the lowlands in the east, this is a wonderful, tough climb. Vicuñas roam around the multi-coloured hills, there is little traffic and the only evidence of human habitation are the century old refugios which over the years have protected numerous muleteers and at least two cycle tourists from the often savage weather. In winter the Laguna Brava Provincial Park is closed to private vehicles, so the park rangers and gendarmeria will try and stop cyclists climbing up to Laguna Brava. (You can’t continue to Chile in winter either as the Pircas Negras border is only open (Thursday-Sunday) in January and February).

Name of Pass Portezuelo de Laguna Brava
Where Between Refugio Veladero (35km) and Refugio El Peñon (12km)
GPS Co-ords 28.4010 S, 68.8491 W
Altitude 4,379m
Amount climbed 3,550m (1,650m on ripio) from Villa Union in 3 ½ days;
200m (all on ripio) from the shores of Laguna Brava in an hour

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Argentina Pass List
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