As a country where traveling from the globe’s driest desert in the north sees you passing through seven distinct climates before you reach the cold tundra grassland of southern Patagonia, it’s fair to say that Chile is one of the most geographically diverse places in the world. It’s therefore no wonder that it has taken centuries for this vast territory to be fully charted, with Chilean explorers continuing to dedicate their lives to visiting the many places that have still yet to be explored. So in honor of their work, we’re introducing you to some of the finest explorers and famous people from Chile.
Although many are not known outside of the country, their work has been critical in enabling us to better understand our planet, as well as the complex, fascinating ecosystems and regions that make up Chile.
Famous people from Chile: Luis Risopatrón
Born in 1869, Luis Riso Patrón is an explorer considered by modern Chilean historians and geographers to be the most important of the country’s adventurers.
Some of his notable achievements include charting vast sections of the uninhabited, unexplored parts of the country in 1910, which led to the creation of the first modern maps of Chile. In 1924, he also wrote the Chilean Geographic Dictionary, a 928-page tome indicating the exact location of thousands of mountains, rivers, volcanoes and other natural landmarks, thus revolutionizing cartography and what was known about Chile and its incredible geography.
Although he has failed to be recognized internationally as one of late 19th-century/early 20th-century’s great explorers, Risopatrón is considered by many to be one of the most important in all of South America. As a result, on September 14, 1926, he was awarded the David Livingstone Centenary Medal by the American Geographic Society to recognize his achievements in the field of South American geography.
Famous people from Chile: Enrique Simpson Baeza
Rear Admiral Enrique Simpson Baeza was both a renowned naval officer and important Chilean adventurer. During the end of the 19th-century, Simpson Baeza took the helm of the ship, the Chacabuco, and was the first to navigate through the intricate network of channels in the fjords at the very south of the country.
He led explorations through inlets and channels throughout the Aysen Region, successfully reaching places such as the Guaitecas Archipelago, Laguna San Rafael and the Taitao Peninsula. With each expedition, he was central in expanding national knowledge of this remote system of fjords.
Famous people from Chile: Pablo Besser
Besser is a living Chilean adventurer who in 1998 achieved the first complete crossing of the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap alongside fellow Chileans, Rodrigo Fica, Mauricio Rojasa and Jose Montt. This expedition took a period of 98 days and has still yet to be repeated by any other mountaineers.
Gaining global acclaim thanks to his expeditions throughout southern Chile, Besser led the first complete winter crossing of the Northern Patagonian Ice Cap, as well as subsequent expeditions exploring other remote sections of the Patagonian Ice Field.
Famous people from Chile: Cristian Donoso
Another living Chilean adventurer, Donoso has completed over 40 major expeditions in Chile and the globe, including two in Antarctica.
As a way of approaching otherwise unreachable landscapes, Donoso regularly uses kayaks, including on expeditions to the islands of Antarctica and the fjords in the south of Patagonia. He also explores by foot, having led a series of expeditions into the Darwin Mountain Range in the far south of South America.
Famous people from Chile: Camilo Rada
Camilo Rada, another Chilean adventurer seeking to venture to uncharted corners of Patagonia, is known for making the first ascent of Cordillera de Sarmiento in 2013. The following year during winter, he also achieved the second summit of Monte Sarmiento in 57 years, climbing to the top of this pyramid shaped peak located in Alberto de Agostini National Park in the far south of Chilean Patagonia.
In 2015, Unchartered, a team of people by Rada who seek to combine mountaineering, historical research and mapping of some of the most remote parts of Patagonia, were the first to reach the top of the Aguilera Volcano after a grueling 25-hour climb to the 3,992 ft. (2.546m) high peak.