Road to Cristo Redentor
Trip Across Magnificent Andes

Road to Cristo Redentor brings you to the pass La Cumbre, in the heart of high Cordilleras on the border of Chile and Argentina to see the statue of the Christ Redeemer and be amazed by the Sea of Mountains - magnificent Andes.

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Road to Cristo Redentor: La Cumbre pass

        Continuing RN-7 towards Chile we arrive to the last settlement on the Argentinean side – Las Cuevas located at about 3200 m above the sea level.

Here the Trans-Andean highway disappears in a tunnel under the Andes to emerge some 3 km “later” on the Chilean side….

Shortly before Las Cuevas there is an exit to the old Trans-Andean road. In countless switchbacks the “dirt-road” (if it can be called road) climbs the massif of Cerro Santa Elena to the pass La Cumbre at about 3,810 m (12,500 ft).

From here it descends in similar zigzags towards the Chilean valleys. These days the road is used only by tourists as the main access to the statue of the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) - a monument symbolizing brotherhood and peace between Argentine and Chile.

Mendoza-Santiago road - Cristo Redentor de los Andes

Las Cuevas - Exit to La Cumbre pass - part of the old Trans-Andean passage to Santiago de Chile.

The pretending to be a two-way road is quite narrow and does not have any protective barriers requiring extra skills and patience from drivers. Going over the edge of the road should not be considered as an option. It will create a big “dust-ball” endlessly rolling down the slop to its miserable destiny at the bottom of the valley.

Given these driving conditions the road is open only during the local summer and even that is based on the “weather-permitting” approach.

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road
full size: 5.15MB 3.70MB 4.55MB

The "Sea of Mountains"... (views from the La Cumbre Pass)

 The initiative to erect the monument overlooking the disputed border between Argentina and Chile came in 1902 from the Archbishop of Cuyo – Msgr. Marcolino Benavente. 

    The bronze statue of the Cristo Redentor is a work of an Argentinean sculptor Mateo Alonso. Weighting 3600 kg (9650 lbs ) and 7 meters tall, it was transported by railroad to the Uspallata Valley and then by mules to the La Cumbre pass. The statue of Christ with the cross in the left hand was placed on the 6 m granite base designed by Molina Civit.

      The monument was inaugurated on March 13, 1904 in the presence of clergy and government officials from both countries as well as few thousands participants.

During the years after inscription several plaques were attached to the base. One of them memorized words pronounced during the inaugural speech by the Chilean Bishop Mrsg. Ramon Angel Jara.

Se desplomarán primero estas montañas antes de que Argentinos y Chilenos rompan la paz jurada a los pies del Cristo Redentor.

It can be translated to English as:

"Sooner shall these mountains collapse than Chile and Argentina shall break the peace they have sworn at the feet of Christ the Redeemer"

     It may be difficult to judge the power and of these words and protection of Providence, but definitely during the last hundred years both countries luckily avoided armed conflicts despite several significant differences. Let it be this way…….

Few other plagues and inscriptions placed on the monument's base are shown on the pictures below.

The monument and its message of everlasting peace and friendship between two nations is not the only magnet for tourists climbing La Cumbre pass. The truth is that panoramic vistas on the massif of Cordilleras from up there have no equals. At about 4000 meters above the sea level you are in the heart of the high mountains.

Imposing rocky peaks, partially snow-capped, partially exposing its dark basaltic origins stay in clear contrast with the deepness of the grey-reddish upper end of the Uspallata Valley well visible over the edge of the pass. Be aware of strong winds – they clean the pass from everything, even from objects that you will never expect to fly …..

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

full size: 4.99MB 3.76MB 3.46MB

Upper part of the Uspallata Valley (at about 3,200m above sea level). This is where the RN-7 enters the tunnel under the Andes.
You can also see small town Las Cuevas (its time of glory is long gone....) and a dirt-road leading to the La Cumbre pass - our next stop!

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

full size: 2.20MB 2.12MB 3.99MB

Christ the Redeemer at the Andean pass La Cumbre.
Right - "...location, location, location ....."; we all may agree it is breathtaking one!

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

full size: 3.63MB 4.48MB 4.22MB

Inscriptions on the Monument's base

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road
full size: 5.49MB 5.09MB 4.39MB

Aren't these views amazing?

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

full size: 5.28MB 4.98MB 7.00MB

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

Mendoza Santiago Cordillera Road

full size: 5.99MB 5.42MB 5.38MB

This road is definitely not for the "faint-hearted". However if you are already there, then the best you can do is to keep optimism :-). It helps!
On the right - that is where the RN-7 vanishes under the massif of Cordilleras....

Cristo Redentor de los Andes ends the Argentinean “odyssey” along the RN-7. Those heading to Santiago de Chile will soon vanish into the tunnel. Others will make a U-turn going back to Mendoza. But by no means you should consider the return trip as a “wasted time”.

Not only that we can have a second look at this fabulous mountainous landscape, focus on specific scenery may be missed on the way up or “transformed” to new shapes by afternoon light conditions. You will be amazed by the beauty of unseen earlier nature....

Going down we will also revive the past glory of the Trans-Andean railway.

To continue our trip down the RN-7 toward Mendoza, please select the link:
Transandino Uspallata Railway (next)

To re-visit the sacred Uspallata, have one more look at the colors and shapes of Puente del Inca, or say "Goodbye" to Aconcagua, please select the link:
Aconcagua - Queen of Cordilleras (previous) 

Not sure yet where to go and what to see in Argentina? You may find help selecting: Tourist Destinations in Argentina

However if you are falling in love with Buenos Aires (I do not blame you, it happened to me) then please select: Buenos Aires Walking Tours

If you want to prepare yourself for vacation in Argentina then please select: Argentina Travel Tips

If you enjoyed this visit, then please share your experience with friends :-)

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