3 x 6000 metre peaks: San Francisco / Vicuñas / Barrancas Blancas - 14 days

About

3 x 6000 metre peaks: San Francisco / Vicuñas / Barrancas Blancas - 05/03/2018 until 18/03/2018

Set date: 05/03/2018 and 18/03/2018

This trip is designed for those who want to increase their altitude experience. By climbing 3 of some of the most accessible 6000-metre peaks in the Andes, you would really understand how your body responds in extreme altitudes. Our expeditions are going side to side with an Ojos del Salado expedition who is acclimatizing with us up to the 8th day.

San Francisco 6023m – believe or not San Francisco is one of the easiest 6000 peaks in the world. Of course, no 6000-metre peak is easy, but amongst the Andean 6000-metre peaks, San Francisco is one of the most accessible ones. It sits on the Argentine-Chilean border and we actually drive up to nearly 5200 metres. The trek to the summit takes 3 to 4 hours from where we stop.

Vicuñas 6088m – this is our second peak and is located entirely in Chile. Our route, the north ridge, has no technical difficulties and is just slightly harder than San Francisco as it has some steep sections. We drive our cars up to 5050 metres.

Barrancas Blancas 6135m – The last of the three mountains is a little more demanding than the Vicuñas due to it has a longer summit day. Here, however, we will be on our 12th day and super acclimated! If all goes well, we will reach the summit in less than 6 hours.

The acclimatization plan was designed by the expert Maximo Kausch who has already climbed 85 x 6000-metre peaks in the Andes and knows the region very well. Additionally, we will climb Cerro Siete Hermanos (4780m) and Mulas Muertas (5200m).

Requirements to join this expedition are:

  • International Travel Insurance;
  • Multi-day altitude trek experience;
  • Be healthy and fit enough;
  • Fill the booking and medical form;
  • Read all the information available on this website.

Itinerary

3 x 6000 metre peaks: San Francisco / Vicuñas / Barrancas Blancas - 14 days

Set date 2018: 05/03/2018 until 18/03/2018

Day 1 – Arrival to Copiapo – 800m

We’ll pick you up at the airport, 50km away from Copiapo. In the same day, we will check your personal equipment, making all final adjustments and shopping if necessary. Today we’ll have our first dinner together and meet the rest of the team. Included: transport and hotel

Day 2 – Copiapo – Laguna Santa Rosa Hut – 3700m

After a 210km drive, we’ll sleep in a small mountain hut at the edge of a beautiful salty lagoon called Santa Rosa. Included: Breakfast, transport, lunch, and dinner

Day 3 – Climbing Siete Hermanos – 4780m

We’ll climb Siete Hermanos up to its summit or go as high as we can depending on the team’s condition. This is a fairly ‘low’ 4780m peak near Laguna Santa Rosa. Included: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 4 – Laguna Santa Rosa Hut – Laguna Verde Hut – 4300m

After a nice and generous breakfast we’ll drive 120km to Laguna Verde. We’ll cook and gather in a small mountain hut and sleep in tents. Good news is that inside the hut there is a rather large pool of warm water which comes from nearby hot springs. Included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner (and bath!)

Day 5 – Climb to Mulas Muertas – 5200m

Another day of acclimatisation. Today is our turn climb Mulas Muertas located just a few kilometers away from our hut. Again, we’ll take it very easy and go as high as we can without compromising our bodies. Included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner (and bath again!)

Day 6 – Rest day – Laguna Verde – 4300m

Day 7 – Climbing San Francisco – 6023m

We’ll leave the hut at 5am as we plan to be at the foot of San Francisco ready to climb at 6am, just before sunrise. We expect to summit around noon. Included: breakfast, transport, packed lunch, transport and dinner.

Day 8 – Rest day – Laguna Verde – 4300m

Day 9 – Climbing Vicuñas – 6088m

This cone shaped volcano requires about 5 hours. Our 4WD cars will take us to 5000 metres and we plan to stop 3 times for snack breaks and a few more times for water breaks. Included: breakfast, transport, packed lunch, transport and dinner.

Day 10 – Rest day – Laguna Verde – 4300m

Day 11 – Climbing Barrancas Blancas – 6135m

After leaving at about 5 am, we have a 23km drive, then the cars will drop us at about 5050 metres. The ascent might take 5 to 7 hours and descent will take 2. Included: breakfast, transport, packed lunch, transport, and dinner.

Day 12 – Spare day in case of bad weather or acclimatisation

Day 13 – Descent to Copiapo

Day 14 – Flight out 

Day 9 – Drive back to Copiapo

Included: transport and hotel

** The above itinerary is subject to change due to weather conditions, performance of the group, political/administrative problems and any other events not described.

Equipment

Having good mountaineering equipment is one of the key points to have a successful expedition to San Francisco. Please note all your personal equipment will be checked by one of our guides in the hotel. There are no rental shops in Copiapo or Santiago. If your intention is to rent mountaineering equipment, no problem, we can rent it for you in Mendoza but we need to know all your sizes in advanced. Find out rental prices in our FAQ.

FAQ

Where should I fly to?

The best way to get to Copiapo is to fly to Santiago (usually via LAN Chile) then take a secondary flight (usually via Sky Airlines) to Copiapo. The second flight can be very cheap. Also, search for flights from your home country to Copiapo. LAN does the connection and it might be cheaper sometimes.

What are the huts like?

The huts are abandoned and maintained by commercial expeditions and mountaineers who frequently climb any of the 38 x 6000m peaks in the surrounding area. Laguna Santa Rosa Hut is usually well maintained as more people visit more frequently. Also, there is a CONAF station (park rangers) 100 metres away from it. 9 people can sleep in mattresses comfortably inside.

Laguna Verde Hut is very basic. We normally don’t use its 6 mattresses inside and we only use it for cooking and go to the warm pool inside.

Claudio Lucero is huge! It has 16 mattresses and 2 floors. It doesn’t have any regular maintenance but is usually fairly clean.

If there are more teams climbing, we usually use the ‘first to arrive first to use’ but we are generous specially when other teams don’t have tents or someone is sick.

Can I rent equipment in Copiapo or Santiago?

No, you can’t. However, we can rent it for you in Mendoza and bring it to you in Copiapo. If your intention is to rent any equipment, please let us know as soon as possible. If you need rental boots, no problem, we need you to draw the contour of your foot on a blank A4 sheet of paper, scan it and then email it to us.

Do you think I’m able to summit 3 mountains in just 9 days?

Keep in mind that the Siete Hermanos and Mulas Muertas are just acclimatisation mountains and not our expedition’s goal. In our last expedition to the vast majority of our clients did Summit San Francisco but for safety reasons, we didn’t go all the way on Siete Hermanos or Mulas Muertas.

Is there electricity in the huts?

The mountain huts we’ll use are very basic. Most of them were abandoned over 20 years ago and the only maintenance is done by mountaineers. There are no power plugs or any kind of services in these huts. There are however mattresses and some furniture that make our stay easier.

Can I exchange money in Copiapo?

Yes. There are exchange offices that buy US dollars, sterling and euro in Copiapo. Best rates are in US dollars.

How much equipment will I have to carry? Can I can make it?

Your backpack will never weigh more than 6-8kg. The only time you will have to carry your personal basic gear. Because we break camps and load all equipment on 4WD vehicles, you won’t have to carry heavy stuff.

There is communication on the mountain?

Yes! At any time you can use our satellite phone. The calls cost U$3/minute. Throughout the expedition, we will post daily updates to our Facebook page via SPOT satellite.

Would you guys call my family and tell them I’m alright?

Of course! Even better! We have a blog that is updated every day! We normally post messages or photos about the expedition progress. Please visit our Facebook page and check the latest posts.

I’ve heard San Francisco is just a walk, is it true?

In fact, it is not a technical mountain. However, don’t forget its a 6000-metre peak. Altitude and bad weather have caused many people to lose their lives because they didn’t respect their own boundaries and underestimated the mountain.

Can I charge my iPhone battery or my camera?

Yes! We have solar panels to charge batteries, iPods, etc. Of course, this changes when there’s not enough sunlight. Car 12V DC plugs are also options while our vehicles are on the move.

What if I abandon or quit the expedition?

If you quit the expedition 1 week before departure, it is possible to recover part of your investment. Contact us and find out more.

If you quit the expedition in Copiapo, you can continue enjoying the services we provide you such as transportation and hotel. However, we can not pay back the money you invested because logistics will already be hired.

If you quit the expedition after we left Copiapo, you will have to cover individual transportation and accommodation costs. Everyone who leaves the expedition for personal or health reasons should pay these costs.

If you give up during the summit attempt, you will never have to go down alone. Usually, we coordinate your descent with more expedition members. One of the guides will always be with you.

To leave San Francisco, one of our vehicles will have to travel 600km to make a roundtrip to Copiapo. Fuel, maintenance and guide’s expenditure must be covered in case you wish to return home.

What’s your philosophy?

We accept women and men of any age, experience or ambition. We ask our members to be patient, respect the leader’s decisions and never go up or down alone.

Remember that you don’t pay us to take you to the summit, you pay mountaineering professionals with several years experience to help you up and down a steep mountain in the safest possible way.

Our itinerary may seem slower than other companies, this is due to a longer acclimatisation plan based on safety. More days will actually improve the chance of reaching the summit!

The need to take money?

You should take enough money in case you decide to abandon the expedition. We recommend you to bring a total of U$300 in US currency and 40.000 or more in Chilean pesos for the whole trip.

Can pay for rental equipment with a credit card?

No, this must be paid in US dollars to our guides.

How much does the climbing permit costs?

There is a required permission to climb San Francisco called DIFROL. This has no cost and is carried by the expedition leader.

What experience do I need for San Francisco?

Ideally, anyone attempting an easy 6000m peak should have trekked in high altitudes before in order to become familiarized with acclimatisation and snow walking. Treks such as Everest Basecamp, Annapurna Basecamp or machu Picchu are enough.

How is the weather at San Francisco?

This is a very windy mountain! It is also a very dry region where the wind from the Pacific starts at around 11am and blows until abut 5pm. It is common to have at least one snow storm during the expedition. Our team receives daily weather forecast updates.

What if I have a special diet?

Please tell us in advance about any food issues you might have and also please remind our guides about it too. Unless you bring your own food, we cannot help you if you are macrobiotic vegan or celiac due to extreme logistical difficulties. Contact us and let us know about your food restriction.

Who cooks at the huts?

We have very skilful guide/cooks! We guarantee you will e impressed about the meals!

Is there water at San Francisco?

There is no liquid water on the mountain. Eventually some snow might melt and start running a little stream. These are however temporary and we cannot count on it. We take all the water from Copiapo. In our last expedition we took 320 litres of water for each whole expedition.

What if I have a health problem?

Our leader Maximo Kausch has extensive experience in mountain medicine and can solve most of problems you might encounter.

What if I need a rescue?

All our guides are trained rescuers and experienced in rescues on big mountains. Rescues can be made with one of our 4WD vehicles, this way you can get to a hospital in just three hours.

Do you recommend the use of Diamox?

NOT for the Central Andes. In extreme altitudes like the Himalayas or Karakorum we do recommend using Acetilzolamide or Diamox. This drug seems to actually work during the acclimatisation period by increasing the breathing rate at night (reduces CO2 levels), and also is a diuretic which eliminates sodium out of your system. In the Andes mountains however, mountains are too dry and taking diuretics such as Diamox actually decrease your acclimatisation capacity.

I was climbing in Peru before and I had a hard time communicating to my guide. Do your guides speak any english?

Yes, our leader Maximo Kausch has lived in the UK for 10 years and speaks fluent english. Please check our team’s information and find out about our guides’ communication skills.

What percentage of your clients actually make it to the summit?

It depends upon weather, experiences, fitness and their nationality. But usually, about 95% of our European and north American clients get to the top of San Francisco.

Where do we go to the toilet on the mountain?

San Francisco is not a controlled mountain. However, we take care of it! There are designated toilets near each hut. Anywhere where there aren’t designated toilets, we make our ‘business’ in bin bags and take them back to Copiapo.

What’s the temperature my sleeping bag should stand?

We recommend you to bring good down sleeping bags with comfort temperature of -15 up to -22. Please note there are 2 types of temperatures shown in most of the sleeping bags. We’re focusing on the “comfort temperature”.

Map

Cost

Expedition cost is U$ 2850, contact us to know payment methods:

What’s included:

  • Leadership of Maximo Kausch, world record holder on number of 6000- metre peaks;
  • 1 or 2 assistant mountain guides (EPGAMT/AAGM certification) depending upon number or clients (client per guide ratio = 2/3);
  • Collection and return of rentals in Mendoza (if necessary);
  • Transport from/to airport;
  • 2 nights in a 3-star hotel in Copiapo – the rooms are shared by each two expedition members;
  • 4Wd private transport;
  • Use of all mountain huts;
  • Use of tents;
  • Use of medical kit and medical oxygen;
  • Stoves and gas in all altitude camps;
  • All meals out of Copiapo;
  • Bureaucratic permissions (if necessary);

What is NOT included:

  • Flights from/to Copiapo;
  • Personal climbing equipment (check equipment tab);
  • Money return in case you abandon the expedition;
  • International travel insurance;
  • Lunch and dinner in Copiapo;
  • Reimbursement for loss or damage of your personal equipment.

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