Seven Summits: Aconcagua


After Mt. Everest the second highest mountain in the Seven Summits is Mt. Aconcagua. At a striking 22,841 feet, Mt. Aconcagua lies among the Andes in Argentina and is the highest mountain in the Americas.

The first attempt to climb Mt. Aconcagua was made by the German geologist Paul Gussfeldt in 1883. Gussfeldt bribed porters with the story of lost treasure on the mountain for their help. He made two attempts to reach the summit through what is now considered the normal route. The first recorded summit was a British expedition led by Edward FitzGerald. The youngest person to reach the summit of Mt. Aconcagua was Mathew Moniz of Boulder, CO at 10 years old in 2008. The oldest person to summit was Scott Lewis at 87 years old in 2007.

Mt. Aconcagua was created by the subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American plate, but is not a volcano. There are two theories to the origin of the name of the mountain. This first states it is from Arauca Aconca-Hue, which refers to the Aconcagua River and means "comes from the other side". The second theory refers to Quechua Ackon Cahuak, meaning "Sentinel of Stones" or Quechua Anco Cahuac, "White Sentinel".

The mountain is well known for the glaciers that surround the peak. The largest glacier is the Ventisquero Horcones Inferior, which descends from the south face near the Confluencia camp. However the most well known glacier is the north eastern or also known as the Polish Glacier, and is a common route of ascent.

The most popular route to the summit of Mt. Aconcagua called the normal route and is approached from the north. It is considered to be the easiest route. Next many climbers use the Polish Glacier Traverse route, also known as the "Falso de los Polacos" route. This route approaches the mountain through the Vacas valley, ascends to the base of the Polish Glacier, then traverses across to the normal route to the summit. The final route from the north is up the Polish Glacier itself. The routes from the south are more demanding and are considered very difficult climbs.

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