San Francisco (6023m) isn’t well known but it is, in fact, the world’s most accessible 6000-metre peak and a true altitude school. It sits on the Chile/Argentina border in the middle of the Atacama desert.
You will be following an Ojos del Salado expedition, which is the highest volcano in the world and uses San Francisco as acclimatisation.
This is a fantastic opportunity to test your body at extreme altitudes in a straightforward itinerary. During the expedition, we will approach the mountains using 4×4 vehicles up to the 5200 meters!
Our trip uses a flawless acclimatisation plan designed by Maximo Kausch, our expert leader who has climbed 70 x 6000 meters Andean peaks and knows the region very well. The plan to climb San Francisco is to tackle 2 mountains before it. We’ll work our way up Cerro Siete Hermanos (4780m), Mulas Muertas (5200m) and then climb Nevado San Francisco (6023m).
Requirements to join this expedition are:
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 – Acclimatization on 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 on Laguna Verde – 4300m
Rest day on Laguna Verde. Enjoy hot springs and relax!
Day 7 – Climbing Nevado San Francisco – 6023m
After a very early breakfast, we’ll put our plastic boots and packs on and then drive to 5000 metres to start the climb to Nevado San Francisco via north ridge. The drive takes about 30 minutes and the climb might take us 5 to 7 hours. Would be great if you can try you best to get to the top as this will really push your confidence and acclimatisation. After summiting, our 4WD vehicles will be waiting for us at the bottom, then take us back to the hut. Included: Breakfast, packed lunch, transport and dinner
Day 8 – 2nd attempt or drive to Copiapo – 4400m
Day 9 – Drive back to Copiapo
Included: transport and hotel
Day 10 – Flight out
** The above itinerary is subject to change due weather conditions, performance of the group, political/administrative problems and any other events not described.
** The above itinerary is subject to change due weather conditions, performance of the group, political / administrative problems and any other events not described.
Having good mountaineering equipment is one of the key points to have a successful expedition. Please note all your personal equipment will be checked by one of our guides in the hotel. You can rent equipment in Copiapo, please let us know in advance what do you need so we let you know availability and prices.
Buff or similarQuantity: 1 or 2
Woollen hat or similar for cold daysQuantity: 1
Sunglasses (cat 3 or 4)
With side protection to fit your faceQuantity: 1
Sunscreen and lip balm
30 FPS or moreQuantity: 1
AA or AAA batteries depending on your headtorch. Can be purchased in local store.Quantity: 1 set
Working headtorch and spare batteriesQuantity: 1
Summit Down Jacket
Heavy hooded down jacket for cold conditionsQuantity: 1
A good snow, rain and windproof jacketQuantity: 1
Synthetic fibre long or short sleeve t-shirtQuantity: 2 long sleeve
Used alone or as part of a layer system for better performanceQuantity: 1
Light trekking pantsQuantity: 1 or 2 pairs
Base layer pants
For very cold days and summit pushQuantity: 1 pair
Goretex or similar pants will be used for high wind or during snow conditionsQuantity: 1
Fleece, polartec or similar. To be used with other layers for very cold conditionsQuantity: OPTIONAL
Chemical hand warmers for the summit push.Quantity: OPTIONAL
Thick down mittens for summit pushQuantity: 1 pair
Fleece or polartec gloves for every day useQuantity: 1 pair
Single layer boots
Any single layer boot such as Nepal Extreme, Latok, Batura, pro Thermic Salomon, Super Mountain 9 Salomon, etcQuantity: 1 pair
Sandals or crocs
Sandals or crocs for river crossing or hanging around campQuantity: OPTIONAL (to hang out at camp)
Waterproof trekking boots, try wearing them before the expeditionQuantity: Very thick and waterproof to be used INSTEAD heavy boots
Good thick trekking socksQuantity: 2 pairs
Thick expedition socks
For summit dayQuantity: OPTIONAL
A pair of double or double plastic boots such as Koflach Exped, Koflach Vertical, Asolo Ottomilla, Asolo AFS, Trezetta, Scarpa Vega, Scarpa Inferno, La Sportiva Baruntse, Olympus Mons, La Sportiva Spantik, Scarpa Phantom, La Sportiva G2.
Single layer boots such as La Sportiva Nepal XT, EVO, Batura or Boreal Latok, ARE NOT SUITABLE.Quantity: OPTIONAL
An inflatable mattress and its repair kitQuantity: OPTIONAL
These gels help out on recoveryQuantity: 3
Salty snacks, sweets, etc. Any sort of tasty ready food as complement. On high altitude mountains we don’t normally worry about vitamins and proteins as these kinds of food are too hard to digest. You can buy all these in a local market.Quantity: 300 gr for summit push
A good down sleepingQuantity: -10C (Comfort temperature) - rental costs U$79
A decent rucksack with hip belt and rain coverQuantity: At least 45 litres
Personal Hygiene kit
Soap, tooth brus, come, etcQuantity: kit
We prefer taking 2 foam sleeping mattress because of sharp rocks. If you have an inflatable mattress you should also bring a foam mattress to protect the inflatable one against sharp rocks. Don’t forget bringing a repair kit if you have an inflatable mattress.Quantity: 1
1 litre thermos
Metallic good quality 1 litre thermos for the summit push. You must have one. Please do not bring smaller ones.Quantity: 1
Nalgene 1 litre bottles or similar are great for expeditions! We prefer to not use camelbacks as its hose pipe might freezeQuantity: 2 x 1 litre
Used to transport or store your equipment. In many cases, we transport your personal gear on animals and we don’t want your equipment to get wet or have mule smell…Quantity: 1 (for the drives)
Gives you more stability during walk and summit push.Quantity: 1 or pair
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?
Yes, you can rent it in Copiapo. If your intention is to rent any equipment, please let us know as soon as possible.
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 sleeping bags. We’re focusing on the “comfort temperature”.
Maximo is sponsored by the following brands:
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Maximo Kausch is one of the most accomplished climbers in the world. He is the current world record holder on number of 6000 metre peaks having reached the summit of 89 x 6000 metre peaks and climbed over 100 more extreme altitude worldwide. As expedition leader, Maximo has led several expeditions all over the world. He has climbed many 8000 metre peaks, including Mount K2 in Pakistan.
He was born in Argentina, raised in Brazil and lived over 10 years in the UK. Max is a full-time climber and guide. He literally spends most of his time in the mountains, mainly at the Andes and Himalaya. During his expeditions, Maximo has climbed some of the most remote mountains in the planet and visited at least 30 countries.
Max is a very calm person and focuses on safety and good acclimatisation plans during his expeditions. He is a trained rescuer and has extensive knowledge in high altitude medicine and medical emergencies. On his spare time, Maximo likes rock and mixed climbing in remote mountains.
In 2012 he started an unprecedented project alone and climbed 30 mountains over 6000 meters all alone. His project in now recognised as one of the main exploring projects in the Andes. Max wants to climb all 6000 metres peaks in the Andes by 2019, a total of 104. He has been to at least 11 x 8000-metre expedition at the Himalayas and has plenty extreme logistic experience. Over the years he has helped hundreds of clients to reach the summit of various mountains.
World Record: Maximo has recently become the record holder of the most number of 6000 metre peaks. He has been to at least 170 high altitude mountains over his 19 years of climbing experience.
More about Maximo Kausch
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Nearly everyone who went to Aconcagua has heard of Andy Jones. He's one of the most accomplished guides in the region and has summited Aconcagua 44 times! Andy was born in Rosario, Argentina's capital of the pampas (flatlands). During his early career, he worked as a physical educator (a job he's still very proud to keep), but eventually moved to Mendoza and lives there for the last 26 years. Andy Jones has climbed every sort of Andean mountain since he started climbing in the early 90s. He also climbed several high peaks including the highest in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina. The well-known Andy Jones is an extremely relaxed and easy going person. All this patience probably led him to conquer the reputation of being one of the most successful guides in Argentina with one of the highest summit ratios in the country. Andy is definitely the guy who you want to have around if just started climbing high mountains.
US$2300 per person
What is NOT included: