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Aconcagua

Aconcagua

Aconcagua is the name of the highest mountain in the Americas. Located in an Argentine provincial park of the same name. Learn more about it.

Aconcagua is the name of the highest mountain in the Americas. Located in an Argentine provincial park of the same name, the mountain forms part of the Andes mountain range. About 6000 to 7000 visitors come every year from around the world to enjoy hiking, mountain climbing and gorgeous views of glacier systems, snow capped peaks and colorful sunsets.

Mount Aconcagua attracts climbers of all levels and ages. Despite its daunting height, certain climbing routes do not pose any major technical challenges; in fact on the most popular route, called the Normal Route, most of the climb up simply involves hiking on trails. The main equipment you will need for this route is an ice axe and crampons for snow covered areas you may come across toward the top. Hikers here will also face a lot of scree; powdery rock terrain that can make your boots slip and sink a little. Going down steep scree slopes can get tricky and you may have to engage in something of a controlled slide, jog technique called screeing.

The technical easiness of this route however leads many visitors to underestimate the dangers of the extreme environmental conditions of the climb. Every year, climbers die on the mountain. The most dangerous factors that climbers face on the Argentine mountain are the cold, dry, windy weather, and the altitude. Higher altitudes mean thinner air, which can cause a number of altitude sickness symptoms such as: headaches, drowsiness, and shortness of breath. A more serious form of altitude sickness is acute mountain sickness, which can cause vomiting and loss of coordination, and if left untreated for more than 12 hours could even cause death. The best way to prevent altitude related illness is to follow a simple rule: find a comfortable speed and don’t push yourself up the mountain. The body needs time to adjust to the thinner oxygen. Take advantage of the camp sites provided at various heights to stop and rest as long as necessary to go at your own pace. You can also spend time acclimating to altitudes at the camp site located at the base of the mountain. This camp features access to electricity and other amenities such as kitchen service, showers and telephones.

Several companies offer guided expeditions up the various Aconcagua routes, teach climbing skills, and have mule service. Mules can only carry about 60 kilos of supplies including the food you will need while on your expedition. Remember to bring food that you can eat and prepare while on the trail, such as bread, instant noodles, granola bars and trail mix. People who have grown up in the area and know the mountain landscape well, work with the mules guiding them through rivers and over rugged terrain. These muleteers often act as guides and may also provide climbers with necessary assistance.

Visiting the Aconcagua Provincial Park and Climbing Mount Aconcagua can be very rewarding and memorable experiences. They give you the chance to discover exotic blue lagoons, wonderful glimpses of condors and purple eagles, and banks of babbling mountain streams dotted with spotted sandpipers. All this, not to mention breathtaking views of snow covered Andes mountain summits. Those that plan to go should be avid walkers, and should be physically fit. A physical examination given by doctors posted at base camp is required for climbing. Most importantly, come prepared for the cold and the high altitude. Proper preparation, awareness and patience on your way up can help ensure a safe visit.