After two tries this season and an attempt two years ago, we completed a new route on the East face of Mermoz.
We left camp at 1:30 or so on the morning of the 28th making our way to the base of Mermoz just as it was getting light. I took the first block leading up two easy rock and mixed pitches to gain the main gully. I then continued on for two more moderate (AI 3, M5) pitches before turning over the lead to Colin Haley (who decided to join kinda last minute).
Conditions were much improved over our last attempt though temps were rising quickly and things were starting to get slushy as Colin took over. He made quick work of the steeper iced sections and motored through the awesome 6th pitch.
After 8 pitches we reached the end of the main gully and made a traverse left just before the col. Colin connected steep cracks with small sections of aid, which would probably go free at 5.10. This lead to easier snowy terrain that we were able to simul-climb to the junction with the Argentine route (which comes up the Northwest face).
We took a short break on a large ledge before Jens set off leading up the final block. Jens was able to put his rock shoes on but Colin and I opted to remain in boots and gloves for most of the climbing. The climbing was in the 5.6 to 5.9 range with just short sections of 5.10-
We summited just after 5 pm in cold and windy conditions. A couple quick summit photos and we started the long descent down our line of ascent. We crossed the burgschrund sometime after 11pm and continued on through horrendous snow conditions all the way back to Lago de los Tres arriving around 3:30am. Just another 26 hour day in Patagonia.
We decided to call the route Jardines Japoneses (Japanese Gardens), in reference to our favorite climb at our favorite local crag of Index, Washington. Overall the route is of moderate difficulty (650m AI4 M5 5.10 A1) and is very worth of future ascents. This route would be a great choice when the weather is cold and everything else is a bit to icy to climb.