Aconcagua from park entrance, November 2004
Elevation 6,962 m (22,841 ft)
Prominence 6,962 m (22,841 ft) Ranked 2nd
Listing Seven Summits
Country high point
Pronunciation Spanish: [akoŋˈkaɣwa]
English: /ˌækəŋˈkɑːɡwə/ or /ˌɑːkəŋˈkɑːɡwə/
Aconcagua is located in Argentina
Mendoza Province,  Argentina
Range Andes
Coordinates 32°39′12.35″S 70°00′39.9″W / 32.6534306°S 70.011083°W / -32.6534306; -70.011083Coordinates: 32°39′12.35″S 70°00′39.9″W / 32.6534306°S 70.011083°W / -32.6534306; -70.011083
First ascent 1897 SwitzerlandMatthias Zurbriggen (first recorded ascent)[1]
Easiest route Scramble (North)

Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Americas at 6,962 m (22,841 ft). It is located in the Andes mountain range, in the Argentine province of Mendoza and it lies 112 kilometres (70 mi) west by north of its capital, the city of Mendoza. The summit is also located about 5 kilometres from San Juan Province and 15 kilometres from the international border with Chile. Aconcagua is the highest peak in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres. 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 Aconcagua Provincial Park. The mountain has a number of glaciers. The largest glacier is the Ventisquero Horcones Inferior at about 10 km long which descends from the south face to about 3600m altitude near the Confluencia camp.[2] Two other large glacier systems are the Ventisquero de las Vacas Sur and Glaciar Este/Ventisquero Relinchos system at about 5 km long. However the most well-known is the north-eastern or Polish Glacier, a common route of ascent.

The mountain was created by the subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American plate during the geologically recent Andean orogeny; however, it is not a volcano.[3][dead link] The origin of the name is contested; it is either from the Arauca Aconca-Hue, which refers to the Aconcagua River and means 'comes from the other side',[citation needed] the Quechua Ackon Cahuak, meaning 'Sentinel of Stone',[citation needed] or Quechua Anco Cahuac, 'White Sentinel'.[4]



In mountaineering terms, Aconcagua is technically an easy mountain if approached from the north, via the normal route. Aconcagua is arguably the tallest 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 required. Altitude sickness will affect most climbers to some extent, depending on the degree of acclimatization.[5]

Aerial view

The second most frequented route is the Polish Glacier Traverse route, also known as the "Falso de los Polacos" route. This approaches the mountain 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 the Polish Glacier itself.

The routes to the peak from the south and south-west ridges are more demanding and the south face climb is considered very difficult.

The camp sites on the normal route are listed below (altitudes are approximate).

  • Puente del Inca, 2,740m (8,990 ft): A small village on the main road, with facilities including a lodge.
  • Confluencia, 3,380m (11,090 ft): A camp site a few hours into the national park.
  • Plaza de Mulas, 4,370m (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.
  • 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, 5,980 metres (19,620 ft): A larger while slightly more exposed camp situated directly at the north ridge near Camp Berlín, with growing popularity.
  • Several sites possible for camping or bivouac, including Piedras Blancas (~6100m) and Independencia (~6350m), exist 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.

Normal route to the summit


Aconcagua 3D

The first attempt on 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 that there was 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[1] ascent was in 1897 on a British expedition led by Edward FitzGerald. The summit was reached by the Swiss guide Matthias Zurbriggen on January 14 [6] and by two other expedition members a few days later.

The youngest person to reach the summit of Aconcagua was Matthew Moniz of Boulder, Colorado. He was 11 years old when he reached the summit on December 16, 2008. The oldest person to climb it was Scott Lewis who reached the summit on November 26, 2007 when he was 87 years old.[7]

Popular culture

Pedro and Aconcagua

The mountain has a cameo in a 1942 Disney cartoon called Pedro.[8] The cartoon stars an anthropomorphic small airplane named Pedro who is compelled to make an air mail run over the Andes and has a near-disastrous encounter with Aconcagua. The mountain (also anthropomorphic, and scary-looking), later appeared in an illustration used in a retelling of the story in a Disney anthology book. It was also mentioned as the correct answer to a quiz show question in the 1969 Disney film, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes.

See also


  1. ^ a b "There is no definitive proof that the ancient Incas actually climbed to the summit of the White Sentinel [Aconcagua], 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 North Summit with the South Summit. It seems doubtful that a guanaco would climb that high on the mountain on his own. Furthermore, a Inca mummy has been found at 5400m on the south west ridge of Aconcagua, near Cerro Piramidal" R. J. Secor, Aconcagua: a climbing guide, The Mountaineers, 1994, ISBN 0-89886-406-2, p. 13.
  2. ^ Servei General d'Informacio de Muntanya, 2002, "Aconcagua 1:50,000 map", published by Cordee
  3. ^ Simkin, T. and Siebert, L. (2002-). What is the world's highest volcano? Smithsonian Institution, Global Volcanism Program. Accessed 28 November 2007.
  4. ^ Secor, op. cit., p. 13.
  5. ^ 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 2009-03-05. 
  6. ^ Fitzgerald, E. A. (1898). "On Top of Aconcagua and Tupangato". McClure's magazine (S. S. McClure, Limited) 12 (1): 71–78. 
  7. ^ "Récord: un niño de 10 años hizo cumbre en el cerro Aconcagua" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  8. ^ "Pedro (1943)". IMDb. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 

External links

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