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South America, Venezuela, El León, North Face, 1989-1990

El León, North Face, 1989-90. The Sierra de la Culata, which runs roughly east and west, lies north of the Andean city of Mérida. It contains the largest number of 4000-meter peaks in Venezuela. On December 11, 1989, I climbed solo Pico Mina de Hierro (4582 meters, 15,033 feet). This is located in the eastern third of the range. It was apparently a first ascent. In January 1990, Isabel Suárez and I climbed the north face of Pico El León (4746 meters, 15,572 feet), a new route. Its access is made difficult by dense vegetation on the middle slopes. The peak may be seen from the streets of Mérida.

José Betancourt, Merida, Venezuela