When you reach the summit of this gigantic mountain, you’re standing on top of the roof of both the Southern and Western Hemispheres.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about Aconcagua, one of the most famous mountains in South America that literally make you feel extremely humble.
1. It’s is located in the western central part of Argentina
Aconcagua is the highest peak in the Principal Cordillera, a mountain range located on the border of Argentina and Chile, two countries in South America.
This is a subrange of the much larger Andes Mountains which run all across the western part of the continent.
The mountain is located in the Mendoza Province of Argentina, about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the border with Chile.
The capital of this province is the City of Mendoza which is located at a distance of 112 kilometers (70 miles) to the southeast of its summit.
2. This mountain holds more than one amazing record
The summit of Aconcagua reaches a height of 6,961 meters (22,838 feet) above sea level. This not only makes it the highest mountain in Argentina but in all of South America as well.
The records don’t end there because it’s also the highest peak in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres, which makes it the highest mountain outside of Asia as well.
Because of these facts, it’s also the second-most prominent mountain in the world as only Mount Everest in the Himalayas has a higher topographical prominence.
3. It’s the main attraction of a national park with the same name
The mountain is pretty easily accessible from a major road just south of it. The mountain is the most fascinating and prominent attraction of the Aconcagua Provincial Park in the Mendoza Province of Argentina.
The mountain itself is bounded by two major valleys, the “Valle de las Vacas” to the north and east,” and the “Valle de Los Horcones Inferior” to the west and south.
The other major attraction inside the park, which is a great place to hike as well, is the “Horcones Lagoon,” an amazing bed of water nestled in between the mountains.
4. Its flanks are covered with volcanic rocks even though it’s not a volcano
Perhaps one of the most fascinating facts about Aconcagua is that its flanks are covered with lava rocks, breccias, and pyroclastics.
These rocks of volcanic origin reveal the fact that this mountain used to be a volcano. This was the case until the Nazca Plate beneath the South American Plate started thrusting vertically.
This process started about 8 to 10 million years ago and pretty much covered the volcanic base of the mountain, seriously lifting it upwards in the process.
5. One side is considered to be easy to climb in mountaineering terms
Aconcagua is considered to be the deadliest mountain in South America, but it remarkably doesn’t have to be. The north side of the mountain is considered to be pretty easy to climb for experienced mountaineers.
This also makes it the highest “non-technical” mountain in the world. The main danger is the altitude level and subsequent lack of oxygen at a height of nearly 7,000 meters (23,000 feet).
The south face, on the other hand, is considered to be quite difficult and the main reason why it’s sometimes nicknamed “The Mountain of Death.” Over 100 people have lost their lives trying to reach the summit from either side.
The mountain is littered with camps for climbers at various levels of elevation. This is needed because an estimated 3,000+ people try to make the ascend.
More interesting facts about Aconcagua
6. Even though there are various proposals as to where the name of the mountain comes from, it’s most likely a reference to the Aconcagua River.
Even though the river doesn’t originate on the slopes of the mountain about 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, it may refer to the word “Aconca-Hue” in the Mapuche language which means “from the other side.”
7. The first man to reach the summit of Aconcagua was a Swiss guide named Matthias Zurbriggen (1856-1917). He took part in an expedition led by British mountaineer Edward FitzGerald between 1896 and 1897.
The group tried about 8 times to reach the summit, and only Zurbriggen managed to reach the summit on January 14, 1897.
8. Even though there are over a dozen campsites scattered all across this fascinating mountain, the main base camp is located right along the main road in the area.
The village of “Puente del Inca” is located at an altitude of 2,740 meters (8,990 feet) and has all facilities needed, including a lodge to stay the night. There’s also a natural arch crossing the Las Cuevas River located in the area which is worth checking out.
9. Climbing the north ridge is by far the most popular method to ascend Aconcagua. That’s because it’s considered to be quite easy to reach the summit in terms of technicality.
The two camps most used to make the final climb to the summit are called “Camp Berlin” at an altitude of 5,940 meters (19,490 feet) and “Camp Colera” not too far from it at an altitude of (19,690 feet).
10. The mountain features a large number of incredible glaciers. The longest one is called the “Ventisquero Horcones Inferior” and has a length of nearly 10 kilometers (6 miles).
The second-most popular route to ascend the mountain is via another amazing glacier known as the “Polish Glacier.” This one of located on the east side of the mountain and is named as such because the first people to reach the summit this way was a Polish expedition on March 9, 1934.
11. The range of the age of climbers emphasizes the fact that Aconcagua is one of the most popular mountains in the world to climb.
The youngest person to reach the summit was a 9-year old boy named Tyler Armstrong from California. He did so on Christmas Eve of the year 2013. The youngest girl to reach the summit was a 12-year old named Kaamya Karthikeyan of India who reached the summit on February 1, 2020.
In contrast, the oldest person to reach the summit was an 87-year old man named Scott Lewis who reach the summit on November 26, 2007, quite an achievement!
12. The mountain was considered to be sacred to the Inca civilization that thrived in the Andes Mountains. Places of worship were built here and people were buried at high altitudes.
This went quite far because it even involved the human sacrifice of children. Evidence of this horrible practice was found in 1985 when the remains of a 7-year old boy were found that had been sacrificed on the mountain at an altitude of 5,300 meters (17,400 feet).
Yes, this majestic mountain still has a lot of secrets to reveal, that’s for sure!