OverviewI decided to put Cerro San Francisco out of the Cajon del Maipo page and give it an own side. I do not have too many pictures of it, but I hope an own side is still justified (a Chilean friend I climbed with has more pictures, but he was first in Peru and now guides in Argentina, so it will take a while until he can send me his pictures).
Cerro San Francisco is mostly known for its SE face, which is among the big alpine climbs of Chile. It is also among the easiest to access 4000 m peaks in Chile.
Other sources speak of altitudes of the mountain of over 4900 m. I dealt quite a bit with the topic of altitudes of peaks in Chile, including DGPS surveys conducted by myself, and found the Chilean IGM (Instituto Geográfico Militar) surveys to be generally fairly to very accurate.
So I accept the IGM height of 4345 m as the official height.
The first ascent of the peak was done 1931 by Albrecht Maass by the normal route (Placetas Altas). The massive SE face was first climbed by Eberhard Meier and Luis Krahl in 1945 - this was one of the bigger achievments in Chile´s climbings history.
This route is known as the Krahl-Meier route. Today the route is still demanding and due to the change of the glacier and seracs most of all dangerous. Rated: 70° ice/5.8 rock
In 2004 J. Henriques, A. Koller and P. Schön climbed a variation of the Krahl Meier. It avoids the dangerous serac zone of the Krahl Meier, but is still dangerous, since it does not completely avoid being exposed to the seracs and is hard to protect.
Next to the Krahl-Meier, another route leads through the face: the Czech route (FA 1969, Pavel Klimsa, Ludvik Zahorawsky and Roberto Serey), direct: 5.8 rock trad/60° snow/ice
When you get on this face make sure you know what you are doing: Retreat is difficult (we had to do it anyways, too much fresh snow prevended us in the upper part of a glacier from the necessary progress), protection often impossible to place.
On this route I learned to climb ice and mixed terrain - do not do this!!!
The easy normal route leads up the northwest side of the peak, from the Yeso Valley (hard to reach w/o car). This is also the route of descent if you climb the SE face.
Cerro San Francisco page of Andeshandbook.cl (English, Spanish route desriptions).
Getting ThereYour starting points is the village of Baños Morales at the end of the Cajon del Maipo valley, popular recreasional area for people from the Santiago region.
There are buses running from Santiago into the Cajon del Maipo.
In winter it goes only as far San Gabriel, in late spring and summer all the way to the end to Lo Valdes at 1800 m (5900 ft). From here you can walk to Baños Morales - a bridge leads over the river a bit down the river.
If you only get as far as San Gabriel, hitch-hike further into the valley. Patience is the key, but it works, even in winter.
The departure place of the bus to Cajon del Maipo has changed recently.
Departure used to be every 30 min from Estacion Central, now it leaves from La Florida on the east end of Santiago, every 30 min, first bus at 7:30. You can easily get to La Florida with metro.
I will try to get updated information about that and post it, since that changes occasionally.
The Tourist Information (SERNATUR) has repeadetly passed out WRONG information about the buses. They have good information for the average tourist, but not for climbers. This is by the way the case all over Chile, with the notable exception Copiapo in Northern Chile.
Red TapeEntrance fee into the Morado Nacional Park. Expect to pay about 2000 Pesos (3.5$ US
When To ClimbNormal route: November - March
South Face: both winter and early summer (good ice only until December the latest) ascents are possible; however, winter/early spring are recommended due to better ice conditions and less stone fall
MapsIf you intend to do mountaineering or trekking in the area around Cajon del Maipo/Volcan San Jose, I suggest getting the map "Cajon del Maipo" (1:250 000; Nr. 3300-6900) from the Instituto Geográfico Militar in Santiago de Chile or one of their more detailled maps in 1:50 000.
Costs 8100 Pesos.
IGM maps are quite detailled. However, roads are sometimes not correct, important for those who intend to go travel by 4 WD or motor cycle. Get in this case additionally a good road map in Chile
CampingCamping is allowed - but you are in a National Park. Stick to the usual camping spots.
Mountain ConditionsI suggest contacting the mountain hut in Lo Valdes. It is run by a Dutch couple. Link: Refugio Lo Valdez
You can also contact me. I usually know how conditions are or can contact friends who live there.
For the ones that speak Spanish/Castellano and can interpret meteorolic data the website of the Dirección Meteorológica de Chile provides information.
- Cerro San Francisco page of Andeshandbook.cl
General information in English, plus Spanish route desriptions (Normal, Krahl-Meier, Czech route) with pictures.
- When Tragedy strikes
In 1999 the experienced mountaineer James Weinman from Oregon attempts to solo the Cerro San Francisco South Face and disappears. This site is his his brother´s account of the tragedy and what one can learn from it.