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At 6,962 meters (22,841 ft), Cerro Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Americas and the highest peak in the Western and Southern Hemispheres. Aconcagua lies 70 miles northwest of Mendoza and 9 miles east of the Chilean border.

Roughly 7,500 climbers attempt the summit each year, yet only 20% summit. Though Aconcagua is technically an easy climb if approached from the north, the altitude and the perception that it’s easy can cause problems. The atmospheric pressure is 40% of sea level at the summit. Ill prepared and poorly acclimatized climbers and tourists manage to get themselves into trouble every year.

In terms of equipment, there are no permanent snowfields on the Normal and Polish Traverse routes, but crampons and ice axe may be required in certain sections.

The most popular route is the Normal Route.  The second most frequented route is the Polish Glacier Traverse route, which approaches the summit through the Vacas valley. The third most popular route is the Polish Glacier itself.  Both of these routes are much longer.

The routes to the peak from the south and south-west ridges are extremely difficult.  

Interesting Facts:
  • The youngest person to reach the summit of Aconcagua is 10 year old Matthew Moniz of Boulder, Colorado.
  • The oldest person to climb it was 87 year old Scott Lewis who reached the summit on November 26th 2007.
  • The fastest ascent of the Normal Route was accomplished by Christian Stangl, who climbed it in 4h 25 min in March 2003.  

Aconcagua - Normal Route

Normal Route Itinerary:

DAY 1: Puente del Inca 2,740m (8,990ft) to Confluencia, 3,380m (11,090ft), 3-4 hours

DAY 2: Plaza de Mulas, 4,370m (14,340ft), 6-7 hours
Base camp, second largest in the world after Everest with several meal tents, showers, and internet access.  There is also a lodge 1 km from the main campsite across the glacier.

DAY 3: Rest day at Plaza de Mulas

DAY 4: Camp Canadá, 5,050 meters (16,570 ft), 4-6 hours.  A large ledge overlooking Plaza de Mulas.

DAY 5: Nido de Condores or Camp Alaska

DAY 6: Camp Berlín or Colera (alternate), 5,940 meters (19,490 ft), 5-6 hours.  The classic high camp, offering reasonable wind protection.

Day 7: Summit day, 8-12 hours round trip and then camp at Berlin or Colera

DAY 8: Buffer day for weather on summit or rest day

DAY 9: Plaza de las Mulas

DAY 10: Puente del Inca

DAY 11: Back to Mendoza