The Pico Piedras Blancas (also known as Misamán), at 4,748 metres, is the highest mountain of the Sierra de la Culata range in the Mérida State, and the fifth highest mountain in Venezuela. Its name, meaning "White Stones", is of doubted origin, since the massif is predominantly grey in color. Pico Piedras Blancas lacks glaciers, nevertheless, seasonal snowfalls may cover briefly its flanks. From its summit and under clear conditions, Lake Maracaibo is perfectly seen. One of the accesses to reach the base of the mountain, passes through the Mifafí Condor Reserve, which hosts some specimens of this andean bird.
Pico Piedras Blancas is located 35 km (22 mi) to the northeast of Mérida, the capital city of the State. Pico Piedras Blancas is very close to Pico Mucumamó, Pico Los Nevados and Pico El Buitre; all of them are surrounding a high altitude valley located in the heart of the Sierra de la Culata, at approximately 4200 meters above sea level, known in topographic map as Hoyo Negro.
Though being the highest mountain of the Sierra de la Culata, it is seldom climbed, unlike the Pico Pan de Azucar in the same range of La Culata or the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Mérida range.
* Piedras Blancas can be best climbed during the dry season, from October to March.
* The normal route is through the eastern side of the massif.
* There is a cartographical assembly on its summit.
The one day hike to the base of the mountain is a beautiful experience. To access Piedras Blancas there are two main routes:
1.- From Valle de Mifafí.
2.- From La Toma, very near the town of Mucuchíes.
The route from Valle Mifafí start in Condor Reintroduction Station, the staff at this station is making a bold attempt to build-up the population of the world’s largest bird. A large Condor can have a wing span up to 3.5 meters. To capture this majestic creature’s flight by camera will surely be a rewarding memory of the Venezuelan Andes.
From Condor Reintroduction Station at 3800 mts, hike 8 kilometers aprox by a 4x4 drive road to Mifafí pass at 4400 mts, where Scree-covered mountain slopes will surround you along the hike. Then descend a few kilometers to camp at the base of Piedras Blancas Peak. The sandy scree is a marvelous mixture of whites, pinks, and pale yellows, which contrast greatly with the grays and whites of the jagged upper mountain peaks. The walk takes aprox 4 to 5 hours.
It is wise to hire a local guide.