Aconcagua is the highest mountain outside Asia, at 6,961 meters (22,838 feet), and by extension the highest point in both the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.
The mountain itself lies entirely within Argentina and immediately east of Argentina’s border with Chile.
The mountain and its surroundings are part of the Aconcagua Provincial Park.
The mountain has many glaciers, with the largest one being the Ventisquero Horcones Inferior, which is 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) long and near the Confluencia camp on the south face at about 3,600 meters (11,811 feet). Two other large glacier systems are the Ventisquero de las Vacas Sur and Glaciar Este/Ventisquero Relinchos system at about 5 kilometers long. The most well-known is the north-eastern or Polish Glacier, as it is a common route of ascent.
The mountain was formed by the collision of the Nazca Plate and the South American Plate during the relatively recent Andean orogeny or period of mountain building. The Nazca Plate, the ocean crust to the west, is being subducted or pushed beneath the South American Plate, forming the long chain of the Andes.
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”.
In mountaineering terms, Aconcagua is technically an easy mountain if approached from the north, via the normal route. Aconcagua is arguably the highest non-technical mountain in the world, since the northern route does not absolutely require ropes, axes, and pins.
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 first female ascent was by Adrienne Bance from France on March 7, 1940 with members of the Andinist Club of Mendoza.
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 years old.
In March, 2008, Francois Bon made a speed-flying descent of Aconcagua’s 2,750-metre-high (9,000 feet) South Face in 4 minutes and 50 seconds. Speed flying is a blend of free skiing and high-speed paragliding.
In 2014 Ecuadorian-Swiss Karl Egloff set a record for climbing and descending Aconcagua from Horcones in 11 hours 52 minutes.
These days, around 3,500 climbers tackle Aconcagua each year.
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.
More than 140 climbers have died on Aconcagua — primarily because of complications of altitude sickness, but also from falls, heart attacks, hypothermia and other causes due to severe weather.
During the summer, the temperature at night above 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) is about -20°C (-4°F), and the usual temperature at the summit is -30°C (-22°F).
There is no definitive proof that the ancient Incas actually climbed to the summit of the Aconcagua, but there is considerable evidence that they did climb very high on the mountain. 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 its own. Furthermore, in 1985 an Inca mummy has been found at 5,300 meters (17,400 feet) on the south west ridge of Aconcagua, near Cerro Piramidal.
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.
The mountain has a cameo in a 1942 Disney cartoon called Pedro.