ACONCAGUA (Spanish pronunciation: ) is the highest mountain outside
Asia, at 6,961 metres (22,838 ft), and by extension the highest point
in both the
Western Hemisphere and the
Southern Hemisphere . It is
located in the
Andes mountain range , in the
Mendoza Province ,
Argentina , and lies 112 kilometres (70 mi) northwest of its capital,
the city of Mendoza . The summit is also located about five kilometres
from San Juan Province and 15 kilometres from the international border
Chile . The mountain itself lies entirely within
immediately east of Argentina's border with Chile. Its nearest higher
Tirich Mir in the
Hindu Kush , 16,520 kilometres (10,270
mi) away. It is one of the
Seven Summits .
Aconcagua is bounded by the Valle de las Vacas to the north and east
and the Valle de los Horcones Inferior to the west and south. The
mountain and its surroundings are part of the
Park . The mountain has a number of glaciers . The largest glacier is
the Ventisquero Horcones Inferior at about 10 kilometres long, which
descends from the south face to about 3600 metres in altitude near the
Confluencia camp. Two other large glacier systems are the Ventisquero
de las Vacas Sur and Glaciar Este/Ventisquero Relinchos system at
about 5 kilometres long. The most well-known is the north-eastern or
Glacier , as it is a common route of ascent.
* 1 Origin of the name
* 2 Geologic history
* 3 Climbing
* 4 Camps
* 4.1 History
* 5 In popular culture
* 6 Dangers
* 7 See also
* 8 Notes
* 9 Bibliography
* 10 External links
ORIGIN OF THE NAME
The origin of the name is contested; it is either from the Mapuche
Aconca-Hue, which refers to the
Aconcagua River and means "comes from
the other side", the Quechua Ackon Cahuak, meaning "'Sentinel of
Stone", the Quechua Anco Cahuac, meaning "White Sentinel", or the
Aymara Janq'u Q'awa, meaning "White Ravine".
The mountain was created by the subduction of the
Nazca Plate beneath
South American Plate . Aconcagua, used to be an active
stratovolcano (from the Late Cretaceous or Early Paleocene through the
Miocene), and consisted of several volcanic complexes, on the edge of
a basin with a shallow sea. However, sometime in the Miocene, about
10-8 million years ago, the subduction angle started to decrease
resulting in a stop of the melting and more horizontal stresses
between the oceanic plate and the continent, causing the thrust faults
Aconcagua up off its volcanic root. The rocks found on
Aconcagua’s flanks are all volcanic and consist of lavas, breccias
and pyroclastics. The shallow marine basin had already formed earlier
(Triassic), even before
Aconcagua arose as a volcano. However,
volcanism has been present in this region for as long as this basin
was around and volcanic deposits interfinger with marine deposits
throughout the sequence. The colorful greenish, blueish and grey
deposits that can be seen in the Horcones Valley and south of Puente
Del Inca, are carbonates, limestones, turbidites and evaporates that
filled this basin. The red colored rocks are intrusions, cinder
deposits and conglomerates of volcanic origin.
In mountaineering terms,
Aconcagua is technically an easy mountain if
approached from the north, via the normal route .
arguably the highest non-technical mountain in the world, since the
northern route does not absolutely require ropes, axes, and pins.
Although the effects of altitude are severe (atmospheric pressure is
40% of sea-level at the summit), the use of supplemental oxygen is not
Altitude sickness will affect most climbers to some extent,
depending on the degree of acclimatization . Even if the normal climb
is technically easy, multiple casualties occur every year on this
mountain (in January 2009 alone five climbers died). This is due to
the large numbers of climbers who make the attempt and because many
climbers underestimate the objective risks of the elevation and of
cold weather, which is the real challenge on this mountain. Given the
weather conditions close to the summit, cold weather injuries are very
Glacier Traverse route, also known as the "Falso de los
Polacos" route, crosses through the Vacas valley, ascends to the base
of the Polish Glacier, then traverses across to the normal route for
the final ascent to the summit. The third most popular route is by the
No hard records are kept about
Aconcagua ascents, but the Provincial
Park reports a success rate of about 60% of climbers who attempt the
mountain. About 75% of climbers are foreigners and 25% are
Argentinean. Among foreigners, the United States leads in number of
climbers, followed by Germany and the UK. About 54% of climbers ascend
the Normal Route, 43% up the Polish
Glacier Route, and the remaining
3% on other routes. South summit and ridge
The routes to the peak from the south and south-west ridges are more
demanding and the south face climb is considered quite difficult.
The camp sites on the normal route are listed below (altitudes are
Puente del Inca , 2,740 metres (8,990 ft): A small village on the
main road, with facilities including a lodge.
* Confluencia, 3,380 metres (11,090 ft): A camp site a few hours
into the national park.
* Plaza de Mulas, 4,370 metres (14,340 ft): Base camp, claimed to be
the second largest in the world (after Everest ). There are several
meal tents, showers and internet access. There is a lodge approx. 1 km
from the main campsite across the glacier. At this camp, climbers are
screened by a medical team to check if they are fit enough to continue
* Camp Canadá, 5,050 metres (16,570 ft): A large ledge overlooking
Plaza de Mulas.
* Camp Alaska, 5,200 metres (17,060 ft): Called 'change of slope' in
Spanish, a small site as the slope from Plaza de Mulas to Nido de
Cóndores lessens. Not commonly used.
* Nido de Cóndores, 5,570 metres (18,270 ft): A large plateau with
beautiful views. There is usually a park ranger camped here.
* Camp Berlín, 5,940 metres (19,490 ft): The classic high camp,
offering reasonable wind protection.
* Camp Colera, 6,000 metres (19,690 ft): A larger, while slightly
more exposed, camp situated directly at the north ridge near Camp
Berlín, with growing popularity. In January 2011, a shelter was
opened in Camp Colera for exclusive use in cases of emergency. The
shelter is named Elena after Italian climber Elena Senin, who died in
January 2009 shortly after reaching the summit, and whose family
donated the shelter.
* Several sites possible for camping or bivouac , including Piedras
Blancas (~6100 m) and Independencia (~6350 m), are located above
Colera; however, they are seldom used and offer little protection.
Summit attempts are usually made from a high camp at either Berlín
or Colera, or from the lower camp at Nido de Cóndores. All camps are
used frequently, namely Plaza de Mulas and Nido de Cóndores.
Normal route to the summit
The first attempt to reach the summit of
Aconcagua by a European was
made in 1883 by a party led by the German geologist and explorer Paul
Güssfeldt . Bribing porters with the story of treasure on the
mountain, he approached the mountain via the Rio Volcan, making two
attempts on the peak by the north-west ridge and reaching an altitude
of 6,500 metres (21,300 ft). The route that he prospected is now the
normal route up the mountain.
The first recorded ascent was in 1897 by a European expedition led
by the British mountaineer Edward FitzGerald . FitzGerald failed to
reach the summit himself over eight attempts between December 1896 and
February 1897, but the (Swiss) guide of the expedition, Matthias
Zurbriggen reached the summit on January 14. On the final attempt a
month later, two other expedition members, Stuart Vines and Nicola
Lanti, reached the summit on February 13.
The east side of
Aconcagua was first scaled by a Polish expedition,
with Konstanty Narkiewicz-Jodko, Stefan Daszyński, Wiktor Ostrowski
and Stefan Osiecki summiting on March 9, 1934 over what is now known
as the Polish Glacier. A route over the Southwest Ridge was pioneered
over seven days in January 1953 by the Swiss-Argentine team of
Frederico and Dorly Marmillod, Francisco Ibanez and Fernando Grajales.
The famously difficult South Face was conquered by a French team led
by René Ferlet (fr). Pierre Lesueur, Adrien Dagory, Robert Paragot,
Edmond Denis, Lucien Berardini and Guy Poulet reached the summit after
a month of effort on 25 February 1954.
The youngest person to reach the summit of
Aconcagua was Tyler
Armstrong of California. He was nine years old when he reached the
summit on December 24, 2013. The oldest person to climb it was Scott
Lewis, who reached the summit on November 26, 2007 when he was 87
In the base camp Plaza de Mulas (at 4300 meters above sea level)
there is the highest contemporary art gallery tent called "Nautilus"
of the Argentine painter
Miguel Doura .
Kilian Jornet set a record for climbing and descending
Aconcagua from Horcones in 12 hours and 49 minutes. The record was
broken less than two months later by Ecuadorian-Swiss Karl Egloff , in
a time of 11 hours 52 minutes, nearly an hour faster than Kilian
IN POPULAR CULTURE
The mountain has a cameo in a 1942
Disney cartoon called Pedro . The
cartoon stars an anthropomorphic small airplane named Pedro who makes
an air mail run over the
Andes and has a near-disastrous encounter
Aconcagua (depicted in the film as an anthropomorphic menace).
Aconcagua is the highest peak of South America and is also considered
‘easy’ at nearly seven thousand metres. And through that,
Aconcagua is believed to have the highest death rate of any mountain
in South America – around three a year – which has earned it the
nickname, “Mountain of Death”. More than a hundred people have
Aconcagua since records began.
Due the improper disposal of human waste in the mountain environment
there are significant health hazards that pose a threat to both
animals and human beings. Only boiled or chemically treated water is
accepted for drinking. Additionally, Ecofriendly toilets are available
only to members of an organised expedition, meaning climbers have to
‘be contracted to a toilet service’ at the base camp and similar
camps along the route. Currently, from two base camps (Plaza de Mulas
and Plaza Angeritna), over 120 barrels of waste (approx. 22,500 kg)
are flown out by helicopter each season. In addition, individual
mountaineers must make a payment before using these toilets. Some
large organisers will give a price up to US$100, some smaller US$5/day
or US$10 for the entire stay. Thus, many independent mountaineers
defecate on the mountainside.
Ojos del Salado
Las Heras, Mendoza
* ^ A B C "Informe científico que estudia el Aconcagua, el Coloso
de América mide 6960,8 metros" (in Spanish). Universidad Nacional de
Cuyo . 2012. Archived from the original on 8 September 2012. Retrieved
September 3, 2012.
* ^ A B C Secor, R.J. (1994). Aconcagua: A Climbing Guide. The
Mountaineers . p. 13. ISBN 0-89886-406-2 . There is no definitive
proof that the ancient Incas actually climbed to the summit of the
White Sentinel , but there is considerable evidence that they did
climb very high on the mountain. Signs of
Inca ascents have been found
on summits throughout the Andes, thus far the highest atop
Llullaillaco , a 6,721-metre (22,051 ft) mountain astride the
Chilean-Argentine border in the
Atacama region. On Aconcagua, the
skeleton of a guanaco was found in 1947 along the ridge connecting the
Summit with the South Summit. It seems doubtful that a guanaco
would climb that high on the mountain on its own. Furthermore, an Inca
mummy has been found at 5400 m on the south west ridge of Aconcagua,
near Cerro Piramidal
* ^ A B Forbes, William (2014). McColl, R.W., ed. Encyclopedia of
World Geography, Volume 1 Facts on
File Library of World Geography. 1.
Infobase Publishing. p. 3. ISBN 0816072299 . Retrieved 23 September
* ^ Servei General d'Informacio de Muntanya (2002). Aconcagua
1:50,000 map (Map). Cordee.
* ^ "South American Explorer". South American Explorers Club
(4-19). 1979. Archived from the original on 22 September 2016.
Retrieved September 22, 2016 – via University of Texas.
* ^ "Guías Pedagógicas del Sector Lengua Indígena, Aymara" (PDF)
(in Spanish). Santiago de Chile: Ministerio de Educación, Fondo de
las Naciones Unidas para la Infancia, UNICEF. 2012. p. 62. Archived
from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2013.
* ^ https://www.scribd.com/document/24836826/Geology-of-Aconcagua
* ^ Muza, SR; Fulco, CS; Cymerman, A (2004). "Altitude
Acclimatization Guide". US Army Research Inst. of Environmental
Medicine Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division Technical Report
(USARIEM–TN–04–05). Retrieved 5 March 2009.
* ^ Stewart Green. "
Aconcagua — Highest Mountain in South
* ^ "TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE OF THE "ELENA" SHELTER –
ACONCAGUA PROVINCIAL PARK".
* ^ "Inauguración del refugio Elena".
* ^ Fitzgerald, E. A. (1898). "On Top of
Aconcagua and Tupangato".
McClure's magazine. S. S. McClure, Limited. 12 (1): 71–78.
* ^ R.J. Secor, Aconcagua: A Climbing Guide, The Mountaineers
Books, 1999, pp. 17–21
* ^ Mario Fantin, Some Notes on the History of Aconcagua, The
Alpine Journal 1966
* ^ "Nine-year-old US boy climbs
Aconcagua peak in Argentina". BBC
News. 28 December 2013.
* ^ "Récord: un niño de 10 años hizo cumbre en el cerro
Aconcagua" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 6 July 2011.
Retrieved 26 October 2010.
* ^ "Highest contemporary art gallery". Guinness World Records.
* ^ "
Kilian Jornet Smashes
Aconcagua Speed Record". Climbing
Magazine. 23 December 2014.
* ^ "
Aconcagua Speed Record Smashed Again". Climbing Magazine. 19
* ^ "Pedro (1943)". IMDb. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
* ^ A B C Apollo, M (2017). "The good, the bad and the ugly–three
approaches to management of human waste in a high-mountain
environment". International Journal of Environmental Studies. 74 (1):
* ^ "Deaths on
Aconcagua - Facts and Figures". www.mountainiq.com.
* ^ Cilimburg, A.; Monz, C.; Kehoe, S. (2000). "Wildland recreation
and human waste: a review of problems, practices, and concerns".
Environmental Management. 25 (6): 587–598.
* ^ Barros, A. and Pickering, C.M., 2015, Managing human waste on
Aconcagua. In: J. Higham, A. Thmpson-Carr and G. Musa (Eds.)
Mountaineering Tourism (London: Routledge), pp. 219–227.
* Biggar, John (2005). The Andes: A Guide for Climbers (3 ed.).
Andes Publishing. ISBN 0-9536087-2-7 .
* Darack, Ed (2001). Wild Winds: Adventures in the Highest Andes.
Cordee / DPP. ISBN 978-1884980817 .
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for ACONCAGUA