Overview of Routes

Ruta Normal, The Normal Route. Approach from the Horcones Valley, through Northwest scree and snow slopes, up the west side to the summit. Challenging due to extreme weather conditions, especially freezing temperatures and winds. Suggested time needed, round-trip from North America: 3 weeks. Average climbing time: 11 days (3 to 14 days) from Plaza de Mulas, the standard base camp. Average descent time: 3 days to Puente del Inca. Not technically difficult. Zurbriggen’s route, 1897.

Horcones Valley

Ruta Glaciar de los Polacos, Relinchos Glacier, The Polish Route. Approach from Valle de las Vacas, through the northeast slopes to the East Face of the Glacier. Difficult. Requires crampons, ice axes, ropes. Suggested time needed, round-trip from North America: 4 weeks. Average climbing time: 15 days from Plaza Argentina. Average descent time: 5 days to Punta de Vacas. Polish Andes Expedition: S. Dasynski, K. Narkiewicz-Jodko, S. Osiecki, W. Ostrowski, 1934.

Also Read ; Backpacking Guide for Beginners

Cara Sur, The French Route, The South Face Route. Approach through the Horcones Inferior Valley, through very steep ice walls and exposed rock. Extremely difficult. French Expedition: A. Dagger, L. Berardini, E. Denis, P. Lesueur, G. Poulet, 1954.

Other Routes:

Newer routes tend to explore the South Face, which is broad and can be climbed in many ways. The West Face has only one route, with one variant that connects to it at 5800 m.

Horcones Valley

Filo Suroeste. Similar to the French Route, but approaches through the Horcones Valley to the southwest ridge. F. Grajales, F. Ibanez, F. and D. Marmillod, 1953.

Ruta Agrentina. Runs through Valley of las Vacas to the southeast face. J. Jasson, E. Porcellana, G. Vieiro, 1966.

Central Couloir. Runs between the French Route and the Ruta Argentina, 1966.

Reinhold Messner. Soloed a direct finish to the French Route, 1974.

Japanese Expedition. Another variation on the French Route on the South Face, 1981.