This Pic of 5700 m is located in La Ramada range, in Argentina, 200 km north of Mendoza. This area, remote and not crowded, is really worth to be seen ! No map available of the area.
Five "6000 m" peaks, and some 5000 m in the area, with easy routes to the summits, and also interesting opportunities... let's speak of the south face of Mercedario, an incredible 2000 m face, and also the beautiful pyramid of Pico Polaco (6020 m), rarely climbed and considered as one of the most difficult of the area. The valleys are great : the approach to base camp and the place of base camp with its guanacos, and also its views on Pico Polaco and Mercedario.
It's the second time I go to this place. In 2005, we climbed with Matias Erroz (Argentina) the 1300 m south couloir of Pico Negro (5600 m), and the pyramid of Pico Polaco (see on Summitpost). I returned this Januaray 2008. Alpinists : Henry Bizot and Anibal Maturano (Argentina).
And I'll come back !
From Mendoza (an airport in this city), drive north in the direction of Barreal, 100 km of good road and 100 km of bad ones. Barreal is a small city which is worth to be seen, there are some nice hotels and inns.
Just before Barreal, drive west and enter the cordillera. Several kms later, pass a bridge, which is controlled by a mine company. And drive a few kms to Santa Anna gendarmeria post. At the post, you have to fullfill documents (need passport). This is the beginning of the approach walk to base camp. Mules are required to carry equipment.
Walk to BC : 30 km, 1400 m, about 10 river crossing. Pay attention to the river, if it's too high (mainly from midday), you have to walk on the other side, which is longer but safer. An intermediate camp on the way is good for acclimatazation.
Base camp (3600 m) is located in the Rio Colorado Valley, a great valley with nice views on Pico Polaco east face, and also south face of Mercedario.
We give the following names : - the whole route : "Saint Jean de Passy" - camp 1 : camp "Pedrero" - camp 2 : camp "franco argentino" - we recognized two couloirs on summit route : the second is "franco-argentino" couloir.
NOTE: Waypoints are refered to WGS 84 Datum.
From BC, walk to upper valley S 32 01,587 - W070 02,453 - 3823 m.
We crossed the river at S 32 02,285 - W070 02,673 - 3944 m.
Change of slopes at S32 02.284 - W070 03.177 - 4121 m. Slopes with loose dangerous rocks.
On the ridge, camp 1, "camp Pedrero", on a nice platform at S32 02.224 - W070 03.399 - 4318 m. Nice views on Italian glacier and also on La Ramada mountain.
Then take a bad and dangerous loose section in loose material at S32 02.268 - W070 03.552 - 4426 m.
Then a second slope, to reach the frontal part of the Saint Jean de Passy glacier at S32 02.452 - W070 03.701 - 4547 m.
Walk 3 or 4 km on the glacier to reach camp 2, at the base of two main couloirs, camp "franco-argentino", at S32 02.985 - W070 04.506 - 4923 m.
By 45° max couloir "Saint Jean de Passy" or couloir "franco-argentino" (we recognize these 2 couloirs), reach, respectively the points : S32 03.375 - W070 04.952 - 5465 m or S32 03.365 - W070 04.753 - 5376 m.
From one or the other of these points, follow a snow ridge to reach the last 35° slopes of the Pic 5700 m : S32 03.367- W070 05.521- 5700 m.
NB. No technical difficulty on this route. The main difficulty for us was to choose the "good" route, but for chance our choices were good. Moreover we had good weather, and not cold.
Pay attention : on the river in the way of approach to BC.
Pay attention : on the three bad loosy slopes, the 1st one to reach camp Pedrero, and the two next ones above this camp to reach the glacier.