First visit to Mercedario was in 2006 where we were alomst blown off the mountain because of ghastly showstorms and bad weather. In 2009 I was back again, but tried a different route to the summit ridge which ended in deep snow. Too much time lost and summit attempt gone.. In 2010 my 3rd visit to this beautiful mountain and conditions were perfect. The evening before summitday I enjoyed my dinner outside the tent in the sunshine at the last camp! Great climb. Summit at 14:30hr !
Started the summit push from the camp right below the glacier (4400). Did it in 20 hours tent to tent. I'm really happy with this mountain. The route is superb and quite steep and was a bit icy when I was there (not a great thing, when you have only one, non-technical ice axe). I didn't encounter much rockfalls someone was writing about here. There were some smaller rocks falling, but mostly pieces of ice of all sizes, which wasn't cool either. It was quite windy but not that bad. There are some crevasses in the upper part of the route but I didn't find them dangerous - you can go round most of them. I was really exhausted climbing down the last section through the penitentes. It's definitely one of my best mountain experiences. I liked the approach by Valle Colorado too. Crossing the river so many times is an adventure in itself. Didn't use any mules or support. All in all did it in one week from Barreal to Barreal (Barreal to Santa Ana by bike)
Failed to reach the summit because of a snowstorm. We kept out for 2 nights in highcamp (5800m) before we decided to retreat.
I was on an extremely tight time schedule for this mountain but was well acclimatized after a month of fooling around on other mountains. Unfortunately, I burned two days getting to the base of the face due to some unexpected difficulties in finding my way up the valley. After one rest day, I crossed the spooky bergschrund started slogging my way up through the penitentes that guard the lower reaches of the face. After a couple of infuriating hours of struggling through the weird snow formations I found myself on better snow. However, the sun was up and I was continuously dodging rock fall ricocheting down from the various rock bands. Despite the low angle nature of this route, I would hesitate in recommending it due to its significant rock fall hazard. Once you are out in the middle of the face there is nowhere to hide and the numerous crevasses to the left and right of the route restrict your climbing to the most dangerous area of the face. I spent most of the climb “sprinting” (a somewhat misleading word at that altitude) between pathetically insufficient rock bands for cover and dodging rocks in the open by sidestepping the falling projectiles. I arrived at camp two at the top of the face to find the weather turning and the hour too late to push any higher on the mountain. I turned tail and down climbed the face. In total, I spent seven hours climbing and down climbing the face. My reward for this adventure was packing up my bag and big hike out to meet my ride, which was due to arrive the following day. If you are planning to climb this face, you may want to consider climbing it earlier in the season (to avoid the penitentes) and doing the face at night (to avoid rock fall). I also do not recommend soloing the route as the glacier above camp two has numerous crevasses which must be negotiated to summit the mountain.
I climbed Mercedario with Andy GRAY (Scotland) and Marcos CEBALLOS (Argentina , Guide) on december 18th (after a first attempt failed 3 days before) starting from Pirca de Indios superior (approx. 5400m).
We had quite good conditions during the trip, reaching the top 13 days after leaving El Molle.
I strongly recommend this climb to anyone fond of expeditions in the wild andes, and who enjoy avoiding overcrowded routes, like aconcacgua. But mind about acclimatization (take enough time, especially if weather conditions are bad) and be aware you'll probably be alone on the mountain and far way from Barreal in case something get wrong.(Sat Phone? Cell phone seems to work above 5000/5200m).
I suggest to have some spare days (we arrived at El Molle dec 4th and left 20th).
For weather forecasts, contact the barrick mine (you can ask their phone number to Anibal Matusano, Radio Barreal, Gendarmeria, etc...)
Enjoy the beautiful central Andes!
I was more exhausted and out of breath on this summit than any I have ever been on. Technically, though, this route is just a walk.
One of the the more memorable climbs that I have done. The feeling of having the mountain to myself along with the views and history of the area made this a very special trip with Jonathan Stanley, Ron Diamond, Laurie Skreslet and Gerald Edwards. Jonathan was it really 1992? (•: Cheers William Marler