Aconcagua - The Stone Sentinel
Part of the Andes mountain range, Aconcagua is located in the Mendoza Province, Argentina. With a summit elevation of 22,837ft, Aconcagua is the highest mountain in both the Southern and Western Hemispheres.
An Aconcagua climb is certainly a scenic one. You’ll have constant views of the surrounding mountains, as well as vast desert landscapes on the lowland which tend to be flourishing with flora.
Unlike many of the other Seven Summits, you do not need advanced technical skills to take part in climbing Aconcagua; especially if approaching from the north. However, you still need to be in fantastic physical condition as cold weather, a heavy backpack and acclimatization can take its toll.
Quick Facts about Aconcagua
- Aconcagua’s peak may be in Argentina, but its western planks are actually situated in the coastal lowlands of Chile.
- The north and south summits of Aconcagua are connected by a 1km long ridge. This ridge is called Cresta del Guanaco.
- The youngest person to reach the summit of Aconcagua was just 9 years old. Tyler Armstrong successfully reached the summit on December 24th, 2013. The oldest man to reach the summit was 87 years old.
History of Aconcagua
In 1883, a group of Europeans made the first attempt to summit Aconcagua. They approached the mountain via the Rio Volcan, which is the most popular route to this day.
The first successful summit was recorded in 1897 when another European expedition saw three party members make it all the way to the top.
The east side of Aconcagua remained unexplored until 1934, when a Polish expedition set off on this far more difficult route. It was this expedition which gave the eastern side the name of the Polish Glacier.
Fast-forward to 2014, and Ecuadorian-Swiss Karl Egloff set a world record, climbing and descending Aconcagua in just 11 hours and 52 minutes!
Experience Required for Climbing Aconcagua
Aconcagua is considered to be one of the more ‘achievable’ Seven Summits, however the climb is still extremely physically demanding.
On the ‘Normal Route’, there is no technical climbing involved, meaning climbers do not need to have stacks of technical skills to reach the summit. The majority of expeditions do require experience with crampons and ice axes though.
All climbers need to have experience in camping at high altitudes in tough conditions, meaning mental and physical preparation is vital.
Main Routes at Aconcagua
There are many routes to embark on at Aconcagua, but the two most popular guided routes are called the Normal Route and the Polish Route.
As mentioned previously, the Normal Route is considered to be ‘non-technical’, meaning climbers do not need vast amounts of technical climbing experience to partake. This route is usually ice-free during peak seasons.
The Polish Route is a slightly more demanding route, yet still isn’t considered to be technical. On the Polish Route, you’ll encounter far less traffic and far more scenery. This route is not to be confused with the Polish Glacier Route, which is one of the more difficult routes to the summit - it involves glacier travel.