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South America, Argentina, Mercedario, East Face

Mercedario, East Face. An Italian expedition from Padua made the first ascent of the east face of Mercedario (21,894 feet). The leader was Toni Mastellaro and the members were Sergio Billoro, Andrea Cassutti, Dr. Pier Paolo Cago, Franco Cremonese, Almo Giambisi, Graziano Mingardo, Nino Portolan and Armando Ragana. From San Juan they traveled via Laguna Blanca to arrive at Base Camp at 13,000 feet on January 8. Two days later Camp I was placed at the foot of the face at 15,200 feet. Camps II and III were established at 16,950 and 18,050 feet on January 13 and 15. On the 16th Giambisi and Portolan left in a push for the summit, establishing Camp IV at 19,850 feet and bivouacking at 20,700 feet before reaching the summit on January 18. A second assault team had difficulties and had to be evacuated by helicopter. The first of the face was gentle (35° to 40°) and the technical difficulties came in the middle, the key being a 50° couloir between Camps III and IV which runs behind the rock rib (“Caballito”) and séracs.