Andi Colli. He disappeared in Argentina in late 2002
On 18 or 19 December 2002 a friend of mine disappeared in Argentina, and until today his body has not been found. His name is Andreas Colli, also known as Andi. His birth name is Andrea Daniele Colli.
He is German from the city of Ulm and was 37 years old when he disappeared in the province of San Juan, while tramping in the Andes, and heading from the township of Barreal towards the summit of a peak named Mercedario.
We have strong hints that he has not had an accident on his climb to the summit but that he has been murdered on the way back from a place named Laguna Blanca which is below the base camp. For legal reasons we cannot name the main suspects but our lawyers in Argentina are working on the issue, and the case has been treated as a case of murder at the courts for a long time now.
Update 2019: This article has not been updated for many years. Andi's body has never been found, and no-one has ever been punished, not even for misleading the investigation, not for lying in front of the court. There has been no real will by the authorities to find out the truth, Andi's uncle cut off ties with the lawyers in Argentina, and that's it. Case closed. Please be cautious when travelling alone in Argentina, and never trust people just because they wear a uniform.
The last photo of Andi alive: changing clothes at the gendarmeria post of Santa Ana.
On the picture on the left you see one of the sites where they found some of Andis belongings in an early search. On the picture below, also on the left, you see the second site, far away from the first one, where they found Andi's backpack several years later.
After years of near stand-still the case had been transferred to a new judge, and only he started to investigate, interview suspects and witnesses. We were hopeful that the case would take a turn to the better, especially since Andi's backpack and gear were found in the house of a shepherd/mountain guide in Barreal in January 2007, more than four years after his disappearance! But everything has slowed down again. No funds, no staff, no real will.Members of the Argentinian gendarmeria (border police) are involved in the case and have lied to the judges who had to work on the case, other persons have given false alibis. We have all protocols from the coroner's court (Juzgado Correccional) in San Juan. They are full of contradictions. Everybody including a judge should have been able to recognize that some persons have lied whenever they opened their mouths, but no arrests have been made. When the case was transferred to the criminal court three judges recused because they have a friendly relationship with another suspect.
Police in Argentina are intimidating people who know the truth
Reading this, you can imagine that we have stopped believing in the Argentinian justice system a long time ago, and we are frustrated that the police are still able to intimidate people so much that they do not dare to tell everything they know about Andi's disappearance, and many newspapers and radio stations ignore our call for help.
We have built up a lot of contacts in Argentina, and there are quite some people helping us because they do not believe in an accident either. Approximately at the same time as Andi another German tourist named Nicola Henkler disappeared in the south of the country, in Bariloche, she did not come back to her hotel from a simple afternoon walk. As the police are involved in this case, too, there is no forthcoming either. Same country, same system, same frustration.
Although since the find of Andi's belongings things seem to be clearer, everything is at a near standstill, so we keep on asking you to help us. Too many stories are still too strange. The shepherd (baqueano) and gendarmeria are still telling fairy-tales, wanting to make the judge and us believe that some Italian mountaineers found the backpack at a spot hard to imagine that Andi has ever been there.
Apart from that we find it strange that two pairs of hiking boots are missing, and all items of value, the money, wallet, camera etc. Andi had no daypack, so if he had fallen into a crevasse he would have had a pair of boots and walking poles in his hands, and all the valuables in his pockets. And he would not have worn any trousers, as all such gear was found.
Be cautious at Mercedario and with gendarmeria!
Please contact us if you know anything about this case, we will treat your information confidentially. Keep your ears and eyes open if you travel to Barreal or even want to climb Mercedario. If you have ever been in the area and made strange experiences in the Hotel Barreal, in the mountains or at the Gendarmeria checkpoints Las Juntas (La Junta de los Ríos) or Santa Ana, or on the mining road, just everything strange, please let us know.
We - that is Andi's uncle in Germany who is the head of our investigations, two lawyers in San Juan and several incredibly helpful people in Argentina whom we have never met in person - know that some things have changed since Andi's disappearance. The hiking permits are controlled more thoroughly, the Hotel Barreal, after firing the manager, is run and closed down, the police department has a new boss. So especially strange incidents from 2000 to 2004 would be of great interest to us.
As Andi's body has not been found we cannot provide hard evidence, but we do have facts and even the results of the gendarmeria search around Christmas time 2002 strongly suggests that Andi has not had an accident.
Hiking solo without permit
Andi started his tour on Sunday, 15 December 2002. He was tramping solo WITHOUT PERMIT although this was requested by the mining company as the temporary owner of the mining road to El Molle. But the hotel manager who took him to the mountain negotiated a little with his gendarmeria friends at the checkpoint Las Juntas, according to two witnesses in the pickup truck, and the gendarmeria sent the group to the checkpoint Santa Ana, for whatever reason. This was bad luck because Andi had wanted to take the normal route which leads from Las Juntas to El Molle and not the south face route through the Colorado valley which starts in Santa Ana. Only after his pickup service had left, a border policeman (gendarmeria) sent Andi to the normal route and said he would only be allowed to walk until Laguna Blanca, and Andi would have said that he only wanted to do a bit of trekking there, whereas the second policeman said it was clear that Andi wanted to climb to the summit of Mercedario...
This was a huge detour but early the next morning three witnesses in a pickup truck of the mining company saw Andi lying in a sleeping bag beside the mining road (standard route/Ruta Normal) shortly before the mining camp of El Molle. As there was no other person tramping on Mercedario in these days all traces that have been found must have been Andi's.
A police officer found traces of camping beside Laguna Blanca that were only some days old and the footprints were clearly leading DOWNHILL. This is the most important suggestion that Andi has never walked further up the mountain than Laguna Blanca. We are sure that he did not risk anything because he was alone and the weather deteriorated dramatically, so he gave up his summit plans and walked back to Las Juntas from where he should have called his pickup service.
An experienced climber and superior athlete
Andi on the way to the summit of Aconcagua which he climbed before his ascent of Mercedario.
After having read all this you will surely understand why we have to make our own investigations. Please help us to find out what really happened to Andi. Perhaps you have even met him in December 2002 while he travelled and tramped in Argentina and Chile. He flew to Santiago de Chile and would also have flown back to Germany from there.Andi - Andreas Colli - was 37 years old, 1,87m tall, super fit, had shoulder-long curly blond hair, brown eyes and a lovely smile.His EQUIPMENT (some of which can be seen on the photo above) was very distinctive: - big black backpack (brand: Gregory),
- black cap (Lowe Alpine),
- tramping boots (la Sportiva, size 43),
- light walking boots (Merrell),
- sleeping bag in a striking colour (orange, purple or yellow, most probably Marmot),
- yellow/red anorak (Marmot),
- blue/orange feather-down jacket,
- cheap Swatch watch,
- small yellow tent.
While on Aconcagua he still had a big yellow tent but he had left this one behind in Mendoza because it had got damaged.
If you have seen or found or even been offered any of these objects we would also like to know.
Thank you for your interest in Andi's destiny. Always take care on your trips and do not trust people blindly. Good luck everywhere you go!
Those footprints are so important because the track from Laguna Blanca to Las Juntas is not difficult at all, and Andi was such an experienced mountaineer that he would have walked it without problem in his sleep. He had climbed Aconcagua mountain right before this tour, he had climbed for many years in the Alps and South America, and he had always been sensible. He was a super athlete, a former German rowing champion who fanatically worked out with weights, who ran marathon and rode his bikes excessively. So we got suspicious in the early stages after his disappearance because the gendarmeria never spoke about an accident but strongly suggested that he had passed the checkpoint Las Juntas in the middle of the night without even waking up the dogs!!!
Even a witness, a truck driver, appeared who told the fairy-tale of having seen Andi walking on the road between Barreal and Uspallata, away from Barreal, and described Andi and his equipment in all details! Later this guy said the person he had seen could even have been a woman... Later investigations proved that this person had not even driven his truck in that night! Still no judge has ever spoken to this liar again.
Every sensible mountaineer knows that you should never break an agreement about a pickup service one-sidedly because this would trigger a big rescue action and search with absolute certainty. Andi would not have done this, and even if he had passed Las Juntas he would have walked to Barreal and then taken the bus to San Juan and carried on to Mendoza where he had left some of his luggage and his airplane tickets.
It was also strange that one of the police officers in Santa Ana tried to make people believe that Andi was a bloody beginner who would have been lost after two steps in the mountains and too silly to communicate.
Help us to find out what really happened to Andi
Andi wearing a Swatch watch similar to the one he wore on his last big trip.
Newspaper articles about Andi's mysterious disappearance.