Pico Piedras Blancas
|Pico Piedras Blancas|
Pico Piedras Blancas (Right) and Pico Mucumamó (left) seen from Alto de Mifafí
|Elevation||4,737 m (15,541 ft)|
|Location||Mérida, Mérida, Venezuela|
|Parent range||Sierra de la Culata, Andes|
|First ascent||Unknown, however|
|Easiest route||Walk, easy climb PD|
The Pico Piedras Blancas (also known as Misamán), at 4,737 metres (15,541 ft), 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 uncertain origin, since the massif is predominantly grey in color (however, see ). Pico Piedras Blancas lacks glaciers. However, seasonal snowfalls may briefly cover its flanks. From its summit and under clear conditions, Lake Maracaibo can be seen. One of the accesses to reach the base of the mountain, is 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 state capital. Pico Piedras Blancas is very close to Pico Mucumamó, Pico Los Nevados and Pico El Buitre; all of them surround a high altitude valley in the heart of the Sierra de la Culata at approximately 4200 meters above sea level, known on topographic maps as Hoyo Negro ("Black Hole").
A former measure of 4762 metres, given by Jahn in 1910, was corrected to 4737 metres in 1951. The latter measure was confirmed by a 2002 GPS survey.
Though being the highest mountain of the Sierra de la Culata, it is not as frequently climbed as 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 principal accesses are two: through the Mifafí Condor Reserve, near Casa de Gobierno in the Trasandina road, and through the town of La Toma, nearby Mucuchíes, also in the Trasandina road.
- The normal route is through the eastern side of the massif.
- Silva, Gustavo (2001). "Los Picos más altos del Estado Mérida-Venezuela". Rev. Geog. Venez. 42 (1)
- Pérez, O; Hoyer, M; Hernández, J; Rodrígez, C; Márques, V; Sué, N; Velandia, J; Deiros, D (2005). "Alturas del Pico Bolívar y otras cimas andinas venezolanas a partir de observaciones GPS". Interciencia. 30 (4). 
- "Determinan la altura exacta del Pico Bolívar" (2003). Instituto Geográfico de Venezuela Simón Bolívar. IGVSB-BG No 14. 
- Laffaille, Jaime. "Las montañas que lloran". 
- It is known that guide Daniel Toro and his father climbed it toward 1964.
- Although there is some uncertainty regarding the name of the mountain, there is a local legend about the origin of the mountains and surrounding lagoons at Páramo de Piedras Blancas. It tells about the mourning into which the women of the local indigenous tribes fell after the conquistadors slaughtered their husbands. God, afflicted by "the suffering of His daughters", and wanting to alleviate their great sorrow, turned them into mountains, but still those "mountains" cried, giving origin with their "tears" to the local lagoons. If any tear became entrapped inside any frailejón, or trap of the terrain, it would turn into a "stone as white as milk, of which there are thousands on the summits of the Páramo de Piedras Blancas".