Paso Internacional Los Libertadores, also called Cristo Redentor, is a mountain pass in the Andes between Argentina and Chile. It is the main transport route connecting the Chilean capital city f Santiago to Mendoza city in Argentina and so carries quite heavy traffic. With twenty nine hard switchbacks on an extremely steep incline, it is also one of the most challenging roads to navigate.
The road begins on the Chilean side with a steep rise, approximately 50 km from the city of Los Andes which lies 70 km north of Santiago. The switchbacks start soon after. The first 20 switchbacks stretch over 4 km with a change in elevation from 2,275 m to 2,550 m. The road then climbs gently for 2 km to an altitude of 2,650 m. The next 9 switchbacks take you up to an altitude of 2,800 m over a distance of 2.5 km. From this point, it’s another 5km to the Chilean immigration post and then two more kilometers to the start of the old road leading up to the summit.
A few kilometers beyond the Chilean immigration post, at an elevation of 3,175 m, lies a tunnel leading across the border into Argentina. Opened in 1980, the tunnel of the Christ is 3,080 m long, and serves as an important land crossing between Chile and Argentina. The path can be closed during winter because of heavy snows blocking both ends and the threat of rockfall.
At the summit (3,840m) is the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer unveiled in 1904 as a celebration of the peaceful resolution of the border dispute between the two countries. The Argentine side of the pass is of a gentler grade and much better maintained. It also carries more traffic as many tourists drive up and back to enjoy the views. From the summit, you’ll descend approximately 1,000m over 9km before reaching the Argentine immigration post at Las Cuevas.
The trip is best undertaken in the summer months, as the Paso Internacional Los Libertadores can close due to snow and inclement weather during the winter.