La Via de los Franceses

Page Type
Cordillera Real, Bolivia, South America
Route Type:
Snow and Ice
Time Required:
Most of a day
USA III/AD+/55 degrees/

Route Quality: 4 Votes

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La Via de los Franceses
Created On: Aug 9, 2002
Last Edited On: Jan 29, 2003


From Zongo Pass get on the East moraine ridge, and keep going up toward the summit. You will have to follow cairns or “ducks” that mark the route: the path goes to the end of the obvious moraine, then down to the rith on the side of this moraine and then back up and to the left, until you reach the start of the glacier and the first camp site.

In Zongo Pass you can ask for porters. The family who lives there also can provide this service and believe me, it is best to get this help. This will be a very appropriate service since the hike can be strenuous, mainly if you are not well acclimatized.

You can either camp here, or keep going toward the Campamento Argentino, or Second Camp. To reach the second camp from the first camp, get your glacier travel gear and get on the glacier. The route will go more or less straight up on the glacier. Stay on the left of a rock spur and aim to the top of the glacier which is just another small ridge. Cross this ridge and keep going up and right. Just when the glacier gets steep, it turs to the left and then you immediately arrive to Campamento Argentino. Look for a good place to camp. This is a glacier, and besides the altitude, (5450 mts or 17880 ft) the camp site includes crevasses, avalanches and seracs that collapse. Is it a good idea to stay here after all?

Route Description

From the Campamento Argentino you will go up toward the east face following the normal route. Use your glacier travel gear since the glacier is quite complex here. Instead of turning right and on the ridge, keep going left, aiming to go straight up and parallel a huge bergschrund, until you reach the very notorious slope that forms the Via de los Franceses. Head up the 55 degrees slope, and hope you get good snow, hard and steady.

Once on top, you have to traverse a long exposed ridge toward the right and aim to the south summit. You can drop down between the north and south summits and join the normal route for the descent or get into the south summit following this ridge and then follow the normal route for the decent.

The full attempt will take an average of 4-8 hours, depending on snow conditions.

Essential Gear

Bring basic glacier travel gear. One or two ice axes is your choice, but you are likely to need just your mountaineering axe. Pickets (s) to protect the slope is necessary if team skill is low, but definitely necessary to help protect the final ridge. Later during the season, like in most snow caped mountains, the snow can turn into ice, so may want to ask conditions and carry a couple of screws.

Miscellaneous Info

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