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Cerro de San Francisco (6016m) | Alta Catamarca, Argentina


An ideal peak for climbing to 6000m for the first time, and acclimatising well to go on to some giant of the area (Pissis-Incahuasi-Ojos del Salado...). Technically, a very easy route, and with a path in the hardest part (not very usual in the area).


Area: Alta Catamarca, Argentina               Andes

Type of activity: Expeditions

I also recommend reading:  Index of the area     Villages and refuges     Recommendations     Transports






1 Map Argentine IGM

2 Diagram

3 Leaving Paso de San Francisco

 4 The small valley where the camp can be set up



Difficulty: A high altitude walk, extremely dry, often windy climate. Distances longer than they seem.

Recommended material: High mountain-expedition equipment.

Best time: November-March

Difference in level: 1300m

Times: For information only, as the conditions of the terrain and the personal conditions can vary a great deal. Paso de San Francisco-C1  2'30h    C1-Cerro San Francisco 5h    Cerro San Francisco-C1 1'30-2h    C1-Paso de San Francisco 1-1'30h.

Map:  Carta topográfica-Hoja 2769-17 Paso de San Francisco 1:100.000 IGM Argentino or Alpenvereinskarte 0/13 Nevado Ojos del Salado 1:100.000 (German).

Recommendations: The peak can be reached in a long day, or making an intermediate camp at 5200 metres. Dangerous without previous acclimatisation, for although it is easy, 6000m is reached in a few hours.

Waypoints in UPS UTM/Datum WGS84 position format: The waypoints must be a further aid, but never the main reference to guide us, as a fault in the apparatus, run down batteries, any error in data entry, poor cover etc, may cause serious problems. The best thing is to have good orientation, know how to read the land well, have a good map and also a good compass.

Paso San Francisco 19J  0569640  7027379    Pass for accessing the first camp 19J 0571380  7024685  C1  19J 0571494  7024319    Breach for reaching the plane 19J 0572957  7023663    Pass at the end of the plane  19J 0573280  7022924    Cerro San Francisco  19J 0573262  7022257



From "Las Grutas" we take the road until we reach Paso de San Francisco (4750m-20 km). If we want, or if we are going by 4x4, from Paso de San Francisco we can go on towards the mountain over a large plain.






5 From camp 1 the path to the peak is highly visible

6 The climb along the lava flow is very fatiguing

7 Reaching the higher plain

8 The peak, as seen, while descending the higher plain



We leave Paso San Francisco (there is a small refuge with 5 places) for the mountain, following the imaginary frontier (South-East). The first part is completely flat, and then we have to follow some vague traces by 4x4. Very soon, we see a transversal depression before us, where we have to go. To cross it, we choose the lowest point, and immediately go to the right down the valley between the depression and the peak, where we can set up Camp 1. From here the path crossing the mountain diagonally is visible. If we make the camp, there are good locations and a field of rocks at the top of the depression normally to the west, for getting water.



To attend the summit, we look for the lava flow pass, which climbs from right to left to the large plain there is at the top. Here, there are two peaks to the south, and the correct one is the one on the right, so we go towards the pass between the two and then cross to the right, going around a permanent patch of snow to the peak. Great views. Incahuasi-Pissis-Nacimiento-Fraile-Walter Penck-Ojos del Salado-El Muerto-Tres Cruces-Cerro Cóndor-Dos Conos-Peinado-Cerro Bertrand-Pabellón-Chukula-Morocho and Falso Morocho-Laguna San Francisco...






9 Final part from the pass to the peak, going around the patch

 10 The descent is very fast

11 Incahuasi and San Francisco from Cerro Bertrand

12 San Francisco from San Francisco Lagoon


Different names we can find along the route 

Cerro San Francisco, Nevado San Francisco, San Francisco Volcano


Date of information: 2007

Date of the route: December 2006




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