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From Piedras Grandes

 
From Piedras Grandes

Page Type: Route

Location: Mendoza, Argentina, South America

Lat/Lon: 32.99715°S / 69.40218°W

Object Title: From Piedras Grandes

Time Required: A few days

Rock Difficulty: Class 3

Difficulty: Easy scrambling on loose scree and rocks

Route Quality: 
 - 2 Votes
 

 

Page By: Corax

Created/Edited: Mar 7, 2006 / May 31, 2006

Object ID: 179121

Hits: 2249 

Page Score: 72.76%  - 3 Votes 

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Overview

 
Franke Normal Route
The central valley of Cordon del Plata


Franke's normal route is a looong scramble on loose scree and some rock. The route is not always obvious and the way to the summit is long and sometimes you feel a bit deperate. Does this slog ever end?
The peak is excellent for acclimatization and the views from the summit are excellent. You also have the option of traversing further to Lomas Amarillas a 5100m high summit further along the ridge.

Getting There

To the area

  • Bus or fly to Argentina and Mendoza.
  • Take a local bus to Potrerillos and arrange a ride from there or hitch to Vallecitos Ski Station. The alternative is to arrange a ride all the way from Mendoza. The easiest way is probably to ask in your hostel/hotel or in one of the outdoor shops in Mendoza.

    To the peak

  • From Vallecitos Ski Station you walk up into the central valley. Register in restaurant and walk up and in between the huts to your left. Follow the tracks until you arrive at a little river. Cross it and continue along the river for 1-2 hours until you reach Las Veguitas (Las Vegas), a grassy meadow area at 3200 meters.
  • You can start the climb from here, but it's a long way to the summit from here and the route may be more difficult to find as well.
  • Hold to the left in the valley and follow the well used trail along the right hand side of the little river. Cross it at a suitable place and continue until you arrive at a place called Piedras Grandes. It's easy to recognize by some enormous boulders. This is a good place to camp and rest for the climb of Franke.

    Route Description

     
    A happy climber on the summit
    On the summit of Franke

    Ascent

    Leave downhill from Piedras Grandes and walk for roughly 10-15 minutes until you arrive at a ridge. Look for tracks and a trail. You may not see it in the rocky terrain, but if you just walk uphill along the beginning of the ridge you'll encounter it sooner or later. There are lots of tracks from Guanacos (or Vicuñas?) which makes your walk easier.
    When you have found the trail, just continue upwards on the actual ridge, or just below it. Sometimes it's better to stay below the rockier sections.
    When the ridge connects with the valley coming from Las Veguitas, you'll see some camp platforms now and then. This is an option if you're badly acclimatized - to camp on the way.
    After a long time roughly 400 vertical meters from the summit, the ridge ends and you're on the main ridge. The route is well defined here and there's some rock towers, or piles of huge rocks far away. Aim for the highest in front of you. When at the foot of it you can tell the easiest access to the highest point is to climb up into a gap in between two rock formations and then head to the left for the highest point. The last bit is the trickiest, but for anyone who has been climbing just a little bit, it shouldn't be a problem.
    The summit is marked with a small cross and there was a small flag there when I summited.
    Looking up-valley; you have Lomas Amarillas on the same ridge and further up the massive face of Platita. From here you can't see the summit of the highest peak in the area - Plata. It's hidden behind the sub-peak Platita.

    Descent
     
    Franke Normal Route Descent
    The bottom of the descent route.

    It would be madness to negotiate all the rocks and quite large pebble scree to the bottom of the valley. The alternative is quick and easy. Start with going down the same way you arrived. When the plateau or open part ends, start looking for the ridge you earlier had climbed. Look for a camp platform. That's a very good sign that you're in the right place for the descending-trail. The platform may be a bit hard to spot and if you don't find it, look for a path going downhill to the left of the ridge you climbed before. It's a very, very loose scree path all the way to the bottom. I descended 800 meters here in less than a quarter of an hour, so it's a very fast and easy way down.
    If you aren't alone here, make sure you don't kick down rocks on the person/s below you. It's very easy to start small rock avalanches. At the bottom of the valley you'll realize you arrived some hundred meters over the camp of Piedras Grandes.

    Essential Gear

    Sturdy hiking shoes.
    Gaiters.
    Walking poles.
    Wind proof clothing.
    Plenty of water.
    Snacks.

    A word of warning

    Franke is a very easy peak, but if not acclimatized it can a horrible experience. It looks so close to the summit, but it's much further away then it seems. I met hikers who had travelled all the way from Mendoza and attempted the peak the same day. They were in for a hard time and some fell very ill from the altitude, the strong sunlight and the hardship of almost 2000 meters from the Vallecitos Ski Resort.

    Images

    Franke Normal Route DescentFranke & Lomas Amarillas