North East Ridge

Page Type
San Juan, Argentina, South America
Route Type:
Scramble with some ice patches
Time Required:
A few days
Easy / Walk Up

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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North East Ridge
Created On: Apr 30, 2005
Last Edited On: Mar 7, 2007


If you have missed the part on how to get to base camp, look here.

From Mercedario south face base camp in the end of Valle Colorado, head West along the obvious trail follow this for about 30mins and turn North into the Upper Valle del Colorado (Hikerman99: before you get to the obvious yellow canyon in the main Valle). There may be some alternative trails. The one highest up on the slope is the easiest. One of the lower ones takes you in the direction of Pico Polacos.

The trail is steep scree for the next 500m until you reach the obvious boulder field. Aim for the top left corner of the boulder field and work your way through and down onto the pebble / scree field (note the fossils in just about every rock here!). (Hikerman99: you can climb directly through the boulder field or take a trail that contours along the scree slope above the boulder field on the left as you are going up the valley.)

Follow the obvious path across the pebble field towards the Italian Glacier of Cerro La Mesa. You can fill your water bottles here NOTE there is no more flowing water from this point that can be relied upon.
(Hikerman99: 12,940 ft., 3944 m., 32.0374S, 70.0435W. Though only a few hours from base camp, it might make sense to camp here because of the water supply.)

After filling your water bottles follow the edge of the scree hills over towards Ramada. There are multiple trails leading up the lower flanks of Ramada and it is easy to become confused. Look for those trails marked with a Cairn.
(Hikerman99: I saw very few cairns anywhere on the climb. The key is to head up the scree slope somewhere on the left rather than continuing up the valley).

Route Description

If you have found the correct trail you will now be in front of some very steep, red, scree / clay hills with an obvious erosion gully to your left. There are some simple tent platforms and wind shelters here. Head up switch-backing as needed untill you reach the top. You will see a group of boulders about 1km above to your left with a very large valley lined by sheer clay / stone walls. There are some flat ground here some hundreds of meters below the rocks. You can pitch a tent here, but you will be quite exposed to high winds.
(Hikerman99: There are some flat spots for camping at 15,000 ft, 4568 m., 32.0487S, 70.0264W. Getting to here from the pebble field below the Italian glacier is easy.)

There are some open, wide valleys to your right, below the long ridge of Ramada proper. Traverse on a long scree field until you reach some large boulders. Head up the steep hill until you reach a plateau. This is a good place for an attack camp. It's on an altitude of about 5400-5450m depending on where you camp. There are some old shelters and platforms here. If you're lucky there may be some water in a small melt-off creek in the left hand side of this plateau. This place is usually called camp 2.

(Hikerman99: There are camps at 16,800 ft. 5122 m., 32.0578S, 70.0170W) below some pinkish boulders and at 17,800 ft, 5420 m., 32.0637S, 70.0125W. There is also one at about 16,200 ft. near a penitentes field.)

From camp 2 you have an awesome view of the Ansilta range, Mercedario and most of the other peaks within the valley.

Leaving Camp 2 head up another very steep scree hill aiming to exit to the top right hand corner. There was some ice at the top when we were there in December 2004 so crampons may be required, use your judgement. (Hikerman99: A bit of confusion about what is "Camp 2" here. The picture identifies this as the 16,800 foot camp, after which there is a fairly long rising traverse across a scree field to about 17400 ft. before switchbacking up to the 17,800 ft. camp. This traverse can have some snowfields that may be a bit tricky.)

When on top of the steep scree hill (Hikerman99: we hit this pass at 18,700 ft. 5700 m., 32.0701S, 70.0106W.) you have: a large open valley in front of you and some lower peaks forming a ridge on the far side. On your right a wide scree slope lead you towards the upper reaches of Ramada.
Follow the path of least resistance until it starts to get steep on approx. 6200m.

Aim for the right hand side until you reach a little saddle. In front of you a horse shoe shaped ridge appear. Some sort of a visual trick makes it appear huge and the way to its top seems to be long. It isn't. Depending on how fast you are, you're now 15-45 min from the summit of Ramada. (Hikerman99: We didn't notice a saddle or horse shoe ridge. The section from the 18,700 ft. pass to the summit is very straightforward and easy--we simply stayed to the right of a large snowfield that started at about 20,400 ft./6200 m.)

Walk along the left hand side of the ridge. Easy scrambling on rocks, possibly with some snow on top. When at the top of the ridge you're at a really nice vantage point from where you can see Aconcagua far away and Ramada's three summits close by. The first one with a little cairn on top is the true summit. The yellow rock pinnacle about 50m further on is slightly lower and the larger summit hundreds of meters away is about 20 meters lower.

Essential Gear

Usual climbing appareal.

Plastic boots (leather could be used)
Trekking/ski poles
1 Axe - for collection ice to melt
Warm four season clothing
Good sunglasses/goggles

A variation

From camp 2 you can also head more to your right. There's a huge boulder shaped as a tulip about 150m higher than camp 2. When you have reached it, preferably on it's left hand side. Continue under the rocky ridge and traverse on steep ground further right. When the slopes gets steeper you can see some gaps in the rocky ridge. Walk towards the second one and navigate in between large boulders until you reach a steep section on rocks, which requires some easy scrambling/climbing. It now flattens out and you're on the main route at approx. 5900m.
This variation is only recommended if there's good snow on the slopes. If not, you're in for a horrible scree slog and you better shoot for the normal route.
On this route crampons are necessary as it's a much steeper approach. An axe is also recommended to stop a potential fall.

North East Ridge

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