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Los Picos 6500: on the summit of Volcan Tupungato 6570 m
Photo by archivio Los Picos 6500
Los Picos 6500: Silvestro Franchini battling 80-90 km/h winds climbing Mercedario 6701m
Photo by archivio Los Picos 6500
Los Picos 6500: Tomas Franchini, Silvestro Franchini, Michele Leonardi and Franco Nicolini
Photo by archivio Los Picos 6500
Los Picos 6500: double party: birthday celebration of Franco Nicolini and, on the same day, Aconcagua summit with Tomas Franchini, Silvestro Franchini and Michele Leonardi
Photo by archivio Los Picos 6500

Los Picos 6500, first summits climbed in the Andes by Franco Nicolini, Tomas Franchini, Silvestro Franchini

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In the Andes the Italian alpinists Franco Nicolini, Tomas Franchini and Silvestro Franchini have successfully climbed the first three mountains of the Los Picos 6500 project. The aim is to climb the 16 highest peaks above 6500 meters in the South American Andes in circa 60 days and shortly after their arrival they ascended Aconcagua, Tupungato and Mercedario. They will be accompanied by their friend and fellow mountaineer Michele Leonardi.

Aconcagua, Tupungato and Mercedario. These are the first three summits bagged at breakneck speed by the Trentino alpinists Franco Nicolini and the brothers Tomas and Silvestro Franchini. After more than a year of preparation, the three are currently in the Andes attempting their fascinating and complicated project, namely the 16 summits above 6500 meters in this mountain chain.

Reaching the top of just one of these peaks in the chain that runs down the western flank of South America is a dream for many, but Nicolini and the Franchini brothers aim to climb all sixteen of them and, furthermore, they plan to do so in about 60 days… Before departing Nicolini told planetmountain.com: "I really like the idea, in many respects its a continuation of the my way of interpreting mountaineering, how I’ve taken to the mountains all my time, but this time it’s applied to the highest peaks of South America."

Bearing this in mind, it’s worth pointing out two other major projects Nicolini carried out in the past: the enchainment of 106 Dolomite mountains above 3000 meters in 50 days with Mirco Mezzanotte in 2007 and the enchainment of the Alps 82 4000ers in 60 days with Diego Giovannini in 2008.

After arriving in Argentina the three made quick work of Aconcagua, at 6965 meters the highest mountain on the continent. Their debut climb was impressive to say the least. After reaching Plaza de Mulas base camp they did the following: establish ABC at Nido de Condores at 5500 m and return to BC on day 1, ascent to 5500 m on day 2, cumber at 3:30 on day 3 and return to BC. The trio reached the summit with friend and fellow mountaineer Michele Leonardi who will document the project, help out with the logistics and, as Nicolini explained, "maybe climb a couple of peaks.”

After this lightning-fast start, the group traveled to Chile to try "the mountain of storms", ie Volcan Tupungato. As expected they had to fight against strong winds and after getting up at 3 am they postponed the climbing until 6:15 am due to the strong gusts of wind. In order to reach the 6570m summit they had to negotiate 7 km of terrain up 2100 meters in altitude gain and the summit was reached first by the Franchini brothers, then at 14.45 by Nicolini and Leonardi. After the ritual photos they descended rapidly and at 18:45 pm all four were safely back in base camp celebrating. On 12 March they ascended Mercedario 6701m, reached after having battling against 80-90 km/hour winds. "We can hardly manage to stay on our feet ..." stated Tomas Franchini "the power of nature is incredible on these giants!"

Currently the Trentino mountaineers are heading towards Mount Bonete 6759m. Talking about his project prior of departure Nicolini had explained "The countries we will visit while climbing these mountains are Chile, Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. The last two mountains await us in Peru and we reckon that’s where we’ll encounter the biggest problems since we’ll get there in late winter, early spring ... we’ll see how things unfold."

Links: FB Franco Nicolini, FB Tomas Franchini, FB Silvestro Franchini, FB Michele Leonardi

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NEWS / Related news:
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First-class Italian mountaineering in China: the Mount Edgar report
After the initial fragmentary news, François Cazzanelli now reports about the expedition to Mount Edgar (6618 m) in the Nanmengou Valley in Sichuan, China which included Francesco Ratti, Emrik Favre, Tomas Franchini, Matteo Faletti and Fabrizio Dellai. The Italian alpinists succeeded in establishing numerous routes including the first ascent of the West Face of Mount Edgar (Franchini, solo), the first ascent of the NW Face and a repeat of the original route first ascended in 2003 by a Korean expedition.

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