Mercedario, First Winter Ascent. Many parties had attempted the winter ascent of Mercedario (6770 meters, 22,212 feet), fourth highest in the Americas, but all had had to retreat under extreme conditions. In June, Mauricio Fernández, Carlos Domínguez and Esteban Arellano met Humberto Cam- podónico, who was making a solo attempt. They joined forces. Separately, they had walked from Borreal by the Río de los Patos, Río Blanco and the old houses at Los Molles to the Quebrada de la Laguna Blanca, where they met at Ojos de Agua. Snow fell that night, but the next morning they continued along an old road. The Laguna Blanca was frozen. They camped in the old shelter of Laguna Blanca at 3100 meters. On June 21, the first day of southern winter, they passed the day organizing equipment. The next day, they climbed to camp at 4100 meters and built snow walls against the fierce wind, but the wind ripped one of their tents and so they retreated to Laguna Blanca. On June 25, they made a new attack, leaving at eight A.M. and reached the Inca ruins at Pircas de Indios at 5000 meteis at six P.M. At six A.M. on June 26, they set out for the summit. They climbed past La Hollada (5800 meters), El Diente (6100 meters) and finally the summit ridge with its numerous false tops. The main summit was gained at 4:50 P.M. with a -22°C temperature. The descent was fast. At ten P.M., they were back at Pircas de Indios and the day after they reached Los Molles.
Marcelo Scanu, Grupo de Montaña Huamán, Buenos Aires, Argentina