Provincia de Catamarca, Argentina
Paso San Francisco sits in the heart of the Puna, an area of other-worldly landscapes which boasts the highest concentration of 6,000m peaks anywhere outside Asia. In the vicinity of the pass there are views of some of the loftiest mountains in the Andes – Ojos del Salado, Tres Cruces, Incahuasi and El Muerto, to name but a few. From the pass the acclimatized can climb Volcan San Francisco in a day – probably making it the easiest 6,000er in the world.
Any experience of cycling this pass is entirely dependent on the weather gods. If you strike it lucky and are blessed with sunny, windless summer days then the climb from Fiambala is not too taxing as the road is paved and the gradients are gentle. However, this region is infamous for savage winds and terrible weather at any time of year – it would be a very bad idea to get caught out in the open during a winter storm.
The Chilean side is currently all ripio, though large teams of road workers are in the process of paving the corrugated surface. 20kms from the pass, but still days away from the nearest Chilean village, lie the dazzling emerald green waters of Laguna Verde.
|Name of Pass||Paso San Francisco|
|Where||Between Fiambala (205km) and Laguna Verde campsite (21km)|
|GPS Co-ords||26.8735 S, 68.2988 W|
|Amount climbed||3,820m (all on tarmac) in 3 days from Fiambala|
View Paso San Francisco – 4,767m in a larger map