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South America, Argentina, Central Andes, Mercedario, La Conquista del Poniente

Mercedario, La Conquista del Poniente. This mountain (6,770m), in Provincia de San Juan, is similar to Aconcagua in height, glaciers, and difficulties, but it hasn’t had as many ascents. In 1999 a team of four from the city of San Juan went to the Valle del Colorado, the usual approach to all Mercedario’s routes. They ascended to El Peine (The Comb), the ridge that unites Pico Polaco (ca 6,000m) with Mercedario. They reached 5,000m and then descended to 4,800m at the base of the west face. On their ascent of Mercedario, they made two camps on the face, the first at 5,700m and the second at 6,000m. The terrain they ascended was mixed, with 60° ice and class 5 rock. They reached the summit on November 20, 1999, at 8 p.m. They pitched their tent at 6,600m at nightfall and descended the next day.

Marcelo Scanu, Buenos Aires, Argentina.