Cerro Mercedario expedition - San Juan - high altitude mountaineering

Very close to Aconcagua and with similar difficulty it´s the 8th highest mountain in America

  • Start Date : Request!
  • Hora Inicio: 9am
    Hora Fin: 6pm
  • Meeting Point:Mendoza City
    End: Mendoza City
  • Duration:15 days + trip
    Availability: 6 spots
Cerro Mercedario Expedition - 6720 masl


EL MERCEDARIO is one of the highest and most important mountains in America (the 8th); Just 100 km north of Aconcagua, this mass dominates a circus of other gigantic hills, more than 6000 meters high, that rise to the side, such as Pico Polaco, La Mesa, Alma Negra and La Ramada. These mountains are part of the Polish expedition history, in1934, when they were able to ascend all of them and signed the first official ascent to El Mercedario; all that story is immortalized in one of the most extraordinary mountaineering book in Argentina, Higher than the Condors, written by one of these Polish mountaineers, Victor Ostrowski. Then they moved to the Aconcagua area and made the first ascent through the Polacos Glacier and the second official ascent of this mountain.

Our style in Argentine mountaineering:

We form a group throughout the year, in physical and mental preparation and with previous outings to the mountain. We hold preliminary meetings with the group with audiovisuals and specific talks. We advise you during all the previous months on your equipment. It doesn´t matter if you don´t live in Buenos Aires, where the trainings take place, we can advise you anyway in your preparation.

We propose an itinerary that includes progressive and staggered acclimatization.

Confirmed El Mercedario ascent dates - 2020/2021 Season:

  • December 5th
  • January 7th
  • February 4th
  • March 4

Programming-Itinerary: the programming of the first week, for the options Short Trek or Balcón de los 6000 Trekking, is also included here.

Day 1: Mendoza-Barreal - 1650 masl. Meeting in the Mendoza city in the morning. Guides presentation, equipment check, advice for rent. Last shopping. Charter vehicle transfer to Barreal town (San Juan), passing through Uspallata. Accommodation in a cabin complex.

Day 2: Barreal-Laguna Blanca - 3100 masl. Breakfast. Free morning. We´ll begin our great adventure in the colossi of San Juan and we´ll transfer on charter vehicle through the Valley of Rio Los Patos to a small farmhouse called El Molle; From there we make a short walk to Laguna Blanca, our first camp, at more than 3000 meters high. Hydration, food, rest and spend the night in mountain tents.

Day 3: Laguna Blanca-Guanaquitos Base Camp - 3550 masl. Breakfast. New approach hike to Guanaquitos base camp, at a 3,500 meters altitude. With the collaboration of the animals that will carry the equipment, we´ll carry out the trekking with lightweight. We continue with hydration and we reach the first great views of El Mercedario. Base camp with tents.

Day 4: Guanaquitos Base Camp - 3550 masl. Breakfast. Resting day (acclimatization) or walk back and forth to the viewpoint of El Caballito glacier and Arroyo Turquesa, amazingly colored water that rises suddenly on a slope. The walk is to acclimate.

Day 5: Guanaquitos BC- Cuesta Blanca (4350) - Guanaquitos BC / Descent of the Mercedario short trekking group (Arroyo Turquesa) / Continuation of the tour for the Trekking Balcón de los 6000 group. Expedition group will carry the equipment to Camp 1. Return to base camp. Last night in base camp.

Day 6: Cuesta Blanca (4350) - Ascent to Camp1. Day of ascent to Camp1. Approx 4 hours.

Day 7: Cuesta Blanca - 4350 - Pirca de Indios (5200) - Cuesta Blanca - Equipment carry day. Carrying and rest day (acclimatization) in Camp1.

Day 8: Pirca de Indios - 5200 masl. Ascent to Camp 2. Day of ascent to Camp 2. About 4 hours of activity.

Day 9: Pirca de Indios - rest or carrying to La Hollada - Pirca de Indios. Rest day in Camp 2, short walks in the area.

Day 10: La Hollada (or new rest) Pirca de Indios. Breakfast. Ascent to La Hollada high camp (camp 3 - 5700 masl) or new day at camp 2, according to the guide's decision; final preparation for the summit attack, the next day.

Day 12: Summit attempt 1.

Day 13: Summit attempt 2.

Day 14: Descent to Guanaquitos Base Camp. Long descent day to base camp.

Day 15: Descent to Laguna Blanca and transfer to Barreal. Night in cabins. Last trek Day, to Laguna Blanca where transportation is waiting to take us to Barreal. Toast to the end of the expedition.

Day 16: Transfer to Mendoza (arrival at noon); end of our services. Final transfer to Mendoza.



In the unlikely event of an accident or someone not being able to continue with the expedition, the procedure we implement in our expeditions is as follows:

In the first 4 days (til the Guanaquitos Base Camp), the person can be evacuated by our guides and expedition assistants. If necessary, we hire a mule.
In the section between the base camp and the camp 2 Pirca de Indios, we can also count on the assistance of animals, if necessary, the guides and helpers will also descend the person. We forbid the self-evacuation system (to return walking alone).
In the stage of the high-altitude camps (last 8 days), people have evacuation on foot included, with a guide or helper assistance, to the base camp. They also have included the stay in Plaza de Mulas, with meals and tents. Then they can end up descending with the rest of the group that attempted the summit.
And if necessary, a vehicle goes up to Laguna Blanca and the person is evacuated conveniently.


We have designed a schedule of departures thought-out
to achive this great goal. Every month we make trips to the mountains focused on physical-mental and technical training to be prepared for the great occasion of trying great mountains such as Lanin-Tronador-Domuyo-Chañi and many others ...

Check the schedule of the Training Plan in the Training program that we do on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday

Included Services

Your purchase in an official agency - travel and tourism company registered with the tourism secretariat (Ascent 23 EVyT Leg: 16396)

  • Certificate of summit and participation in the expedition.
  • Professional mountain guides
  • Assistants and cooks
  • Transfer from Mendoza city to Barreal round trip
  • 4x4 transfer from Barreal to Laguna Blanca round trip
  • Evacuation on foot, on mules or, if necessary, helicopter
  • 2 nights in a cabin complex in Barreal
  • Technical safety equipment, VHF radios, mountain first aid kit.
  • Heaters and kitchen elements.
  • Base camp service (dining tent, chairs, tables, kitchen) in Guanaquitos - Base Camp, 3550 masl.
  • Sleeping tents throughout the expedition.
  • Satelital phone
  • Full board (all meals) throughout the Expedition: breakfast, energy, lunch, snack, dinner.
  • Carrying general and personal equipment (on mules) to the Guanaquitos base camp
  • Carrying general and personal equipment (on mules) to the high altitude camps Cuesta Blanca and Pirca de Indio.
  • 1 duffel bag per person, to carry personal equipment (returned at the end of the expedition)
  • Training plan throughout the year (50% off AEX training)
  • Special bonus on trips during the year (check training program)
  • Specific advice on materials and personal equipment.
  • Personal accident insurance
  • Permanent assistance

Services NOT included
  • Meals before arriving to Barreal
  • Extra personal equipment carriers
  • Tips
  • Expenses for evacuation and eventual transfer outside the program.
  • Expenses for eventual abandonment of the program, before the official end date (mules, transportation to Barreal-Mendoza, others)
  • Personal Equipment (check requested list)
  • Tickets from the each passenger origin city to Mendoza capital.

Photo and Video Gallery

Where do you sleep

cabin complex in Bar Real
High mountain tents during the expedition (possibility of requesting individual tent).


If I never did  mountain activities, can I dream of reaching the highest point of the Mercedario?

As long as you are physically fit and can adapt to the personal and / or group training system that we propose and you can make previous trekking and mountaineering trips with us or on your own. In the event that your experience is basic or null, it is essential that you make a long or two short trips with us (from the training trips plan with extra discount) so that we can know you and advise you properly.

I don't have even half the equipment that is required, can it be rented? what to buy?

We´ll advise you on this. Basically almost everything can be rented; In Mendoza there is a store we work with that rents boots, jackets, pants, goggles, crampons, third layer gloves and much more. There is equipment that should be bought such as underwear, trekking shoes and clothing, poles, headlamp, some gloves and others.

What real requirement does this expedition have? how much do you walk per day?

We are not walking every day. The expedition takes so long because the body needs a mandatory period of acclimatization to the altitude; there are days that we only rest. The longest days are the peak days, which can take more than 16 hours.

Where do we spend the night?

The overnight stay takes place in mountain camps in comfortable igloo-type tents for 2/3 or 4 people.

Within the PROTOCOL COVID-19-SALIDAS AEX, we include the possibility of spending the night alone in the tents.

Do I have to bring a tent?

The tents are included in the service.

From what age can this activity be done?

From 18 years of age.

How much does the backpack weigh?

Range between 8 and 12 kilos to base camp. 15 kg from the base camp upwards (except for the summit day or rest days; summit day only what you wear, water, flashlight and food)

Is there a carrying/porter  service?

We have a mule carrying service, which will take the general equipment and the personnel that you do not use to the base camp and some high altitude camps.

What do we eat?

  • In all our expeditions we offer the food service IN FULL BOARD PLAN. In this case, which is a long and high expedition, the demands are great, which in certain cases deepens the intake of nuts, carbohydrates in general with rapid or medium digestion.
  • Marching lunches (cold meals): Salads, vegetables, cheeses; Milanese and tomato sandwiches, cold cuts, snacks, tapas, etc.
  • Dinners: Vegetable-bacon-red chorizo ??stews, Chicken and vegetable casseroles, Pasta with various sauces or stew, Roast beef, Chaw Fan, Chicken with rice in the saucepan, pizzas ...
  • Breakfasts and snacks: Tea, Coffee, Cappuccino, Mate, Milk powder; bread, cookies, jam, honey, dulce de leche; cereals, fruit.
  • Individual bag with energy: Nougat, bars, nuts, chocolates, alfajores, candies, others ...
  • It is necessary to complete the personal / medical file to clarify if someone does not eat any type of food.

Difficulty graduation

Mochila: Peso / Duración de la Jornada.

Exigencia Física

Técnico: Dificultad en el Terreno / Equipo.

Fortaleza Psicológica

Exposición a la Altura

Backpack (M)

This point has to do with the weight that we must carry in our backpacks. Trekkings or crossings where we have pack animals allow us to bear less weight on our backs. And the multi-day journeys in Patagonia (without the option of having pack mules) generally make us carry more weight, especially in the early days.

20% Up to 5 Kilos: Short excursion walks / Trekking Talampaya

40% Up to 8/10 Kilos: Round-trip trekking / Vallecitos 3 and 4-day programs

60% Up to 12/15 kilos: Crossing trekking with porting / Crossing of the Andes Paso Portillo

80% More than 15/18 kilos: Cross-country trekkings with little or no portage / Trekkings in Patagonia (Paso Vuriloche, PN Lanin or Nahuel Huapi, etc)

100% More than 25 Kilos: With a lot of equipment on top and little or no porting / Continental Ice

Fitness (F)

We consider physical demands to the wear that we can suffer both aerobic (climbs = possible shortness of breath) and muscle (resistance = many hours walking) and of legs and joints (descents = knees / ankles).

20% half a day or less with little unevenness.

40% more sustained slopes and longer days in the activity. 2-3 days / more than 6 hours per day.

60% Long ascents and descents with a longer duration. Ascents to more than 4000 meters in the central mountain range / intense 4-day trekking (Uruguayan plane)

80% Important work of legs in resistance. Very long days. Very long day ascents (Lanin - Domuyo) or more than 5000 meters. Ice courses.

100% Maximum demand. Aerobic work and constant effort on legs. Continental Ice, Aconcagua, mountains of more than 6000 meters.

Technical (T)

The technical difficulty is mainly based on the terrain. How much can it cost us to climb a slope, if it is very steep or if we have to use our hands in some section (simple climbing), both in rock and snow-ice, or materials such as crampons and pegs in other ascents.

20% flat land

40% trails with moderate ups and downs. General crossing trekkings . Sierra de la Ventana, Córdoba, Patagonia, Cuyo, north, others. Classic ascents

60% Steeper slopes and trails. Possible use of crampons. Domuyo, Cordón del Plata, Cordillera Central.

80% Mixed terrain, with snow or ice. Alvear, Lanin, Tronador. Bolivia, Peru.

100% Highly technical terrain. Glacial transit and climbing in sections. Hill climbing with sections on slopes of more than 60 ° inclination

Psycho (P)

We maintain that this point, the psychological factor, represents a relevant factor. Each one needs a factor of conviction, confidence, self-control and will power to achieve a goal. And depending on the attitude with which we face distances, slopes, terrain and many other objective factors, we can achieve performance with very different results.

20% We will not be much affected.

40% This is a normal level of attention.

60% We require more motivation, enthusiasm and concentration.

80% The activity will require us to be very connected and convinced.

100% Maximum control and emotional-psychological performance.

Adventures (A)

It is the factor that, the height above sea level, influences us depending on the activity we carry out. Managing and overcoming symptoms caused by altitude is the key to this point

0% + sea level.

20% Up to 2000 masl.

40% + 2000 masl.

60% + 4000 masl.

80% + 5000 masl.

100% + 6000 masl.

Gradual Adventure Activity Difficulty System designed by Leandro Scheurle.
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Required equipment


  • Special trekking backpack (70 to 90 liters)
  • Bag to load the mules (90 or more liters). INCLUDED ! We give it to you in Mendoza
  • Warm sleeping bag (–15 degrees comfort, eg 1000gms of down or good synthetic).
  • Insulating mat (10 to 15mm).
  • Inflatable insulating mat (optional)


  • High mountain boots (synthetic or plastic double boots)
  • Trekking shoes
  • Light trekking shoes (trail-running type)


  • Underwear.
  • Cotton shirts (to be in the camp and to sleep)
  • T-shirts and / or short-sleeved synthetic shirts
  • Synthetic shirts with long sleeves
  • Pants or leggings made of polypropylene or similar (not cotton). To wear as warm indoor pants
  • Thin gloves made of polypropylene or similar (not cotton)
  • Fleece cap
  • Pairs of synthetic thin socks (not cotton)
  • Buff neck


  • Trekking socks (synthetic-thermal)
  • thick mountain socks
  • cotton or wool socks ( wool is for sleeping)
  • 2 long trekking pants
  • Shorts
  • Sweatshirt (Fleece 100 or Fleece 200)
  • Thin - Feather duvet jacket
  • Thick feather-duvet jacket
  • Fleece gloves (with fingers)
  • Sun hat


  • Waterproof jacket - parka (gore tex or similar)
  • Pants cover (gore tex or similar)
  • Waterproof and breathable gloves
  • Ski gloves
  • Mountain gaiters


  • Crampons (possible to rent)
  • Climbing helmet
  • Trekking poles


  • Passport, ID card, ID.
  • Medical insurance
  • Medical and personal information completed, authorization.
  • Permit  printed for payment.


  • FRONTAL flashlight with batteries (with spare batteries)
  • Sturdy plastic bags for storing clothes.


  • Sun glasses with UV protection Category 4
  • Spare lenses (can be goggles, highly recommended)
  • Personal first-aid kit (medication with the relevant recipe)
  • Sunscreen , Lip balm
  • Soap, shampoo (small) and small towel.
  • Toilet paper. Baby wipes.


  • Containers to drink water, for at least 4 liters (2 bottles of 1 liter and 1 bag of hydration with hose of 2 lt.)
  • Small thermos
  • Personal dishes: Plate, glass / jug, cutlery

 OPTIONAL, not mandatory (check space and weight)

  • SILVER TAPE for blisters and repairs
  • Mini - sewing kit
  • Binoculars. Camera or video equipment
  • Book, travel diary, pencil, pen

Rental Equipment

Trekking sleeping bag

Booking in Advance

US$ 16 + options

Pair of Trekking Poles

Booking in Advance

US$ 10 + options

Rental mittens

Booking in Advance

US$ 8 + options

Pair of Crampons

Booking in Advance

US$ 15 + options

Rental : helmet, crampons and ice ax

Booking in Advance

US$ 36 + options

Combo Top: helmet, crampons, ice ax and full harness

Booking in Advance

US$ 50 + options

Category 3 sunglasses - Shepra Julbo Spectrom

Booking in Advance

US$ 5 + options

Backpack for trekking and mountaineering - Woman

Booking in Advance

US$ 10 + options

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Contact and Enquiries

RECOMENDACION: Pueden comunicarse de formar directa al 54 9 1124012278
Request info

AEX S.R.L - Argentina Extrema ® - Ascenso23 EVT Leg:16396 - Disp:1532/15
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