Altitude: 1, 344 meters; 4,410 feet
Incline: 676 meters; 2,218 feet
Time: 2-4 hours round trip
Difficulty: normal (physical), normal (technical)
Looking right over Santiago, Cerro Carbon was an ideal evening excursion. It is a relatively easy climb located very near Santiago, right off the highway. In total, it took us about an hour a half to the peak and then an hour down (but only so long going down because we descended at night).
We started the trip by meeting on the Pedro de Valdivia entrance at Cerro San Cristobal and crossing over until the rotunda, where you could easily head towards Vitacura and there’s a school called Colegio Saint George. About 5:30 we started climbing a surprisingly steep jaunt that felt a bit like we were going the wrong way. Once we got to the top there was this fence with a little passway perfectly cut out for us to pass through. From here, it was obvious we were on our way and, furthermore, that we were allowed to be there because there were some bathrooms and a sign pointing the way.
From here until the first lookout spot, the path had a both nice, flat parts as well as steep ones. But, nothing unmanageable as this would be a good climb for beginners, too. The path was great, very clear and well marked with signs along the way telling us a certain amount of meters to the next lookout. We went in the evening so the sun was setting as we were going up, lighting the mountains and city streets underneath in a magnificent way.
We were overlooking Santiago for quite a bit of the hike, which was cool to see and think about the millions of people, living their busy lives in that very moment. The first lookout was around 900 meters, a lovely place with benches, greenery, and a great view. It would be a nice place to come with a picnic… or even a bottle of wine/beer. There’s something about being above the sprawling city, next to the mountain that is so peaceful.
We enjoyed it for maybe 10 minutes but continued on quickly because we wanted to do as much hiking as possible during the daylight. Especially because the path did get quite narrow at times and it’s much easier when you can see the rocks under your feet! The last lookout before the peak was fantastic. It was on the verge of blackness so the picture definitely doesn’t do the background justice. The combination of the shadows from the trees, the mountain lines in the back, and the lights from the city below was a unique eyeful.
From here, we had a terrific view of Cerro Manquehue right next to us. There is a connection from Cerro Carbon to Manquehue and many people I am told do both peaks together when they make it a day trip. We could see a small light in the distance, which was probably someone camping on Cerro Manquehue… how awesome, to be camping so close to the city yet still so far removed. I could see myself doing that and getting way too philosphical for the night, haha!
Anways, we continued up the rocky path and arrived at the peak. I was so happy to have done it during the night as we we were able to grasp the vastness that is Santiago. Looking down it was city, city, city. Streets gridded out, blinding lights, black spots where the many hills like. It was awesome. I am not sure what the view is liking during the day, considering the horrible smog we have in Santiago, so I would probably only be interested in doing that if it was the day immediately after rain. But, this, at night, was perfect.
The headed down, which was a bit difficult only because of the pitch blackness. The rocks on the steep path made it easy to slip and slide, so we were slow movers, going sideways at some points for more traction. Once we got to the bottom we made our way for some of the biggest sandwiches I’ve ever seen and a equally large tap beer.
A great Friday night, that’s for sure.