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The Cerro Aconcagua, Argentina

March 19th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 
 

The Cerro Aconcagua is a mountain located in Argentina. It is the highest mountain in the Americas, the highest in the Southern Hemisphere, and the highest peak outside of Asia. It is one of the Seven Summits.

This member of the Andes Range is bounded by the Valle de las Vacas to the north and east and the Valle de los Horcones Inferior to the West and South. The mountain and its surroundings are part of the Aconcagua Provincial Park. The mountain has a number of glaciers. The most substantial are the north-eastern or Polish Glacier and the eastern or English Glacier.

The Aconcagua River rises on the southern slope and flows west, meeting the Pacific Ocean 20 km north of Valparaíso, Chile.

The mountain was created by the subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American plate during the geologically recent Andean orogeny, however it is not a volcano. The origin of the name is contested, it is either from the Arauca Aconca-Hue, which refers to the Aconcagua River and means 'comes from the other side' or the Quechua Ackon Cahuak, meaning 'Stone Sentinel'.

In mountaineering terms, Aconcagua is technically an easy mountain if approached from the north, via the normal route. Although the effects of altitude are severe (atmospheric pressure is 40% of sea-level at the summit), the use of supplemental oxygen is not required. The record for the normal route is 5 hours and 45 minutes, set in 1991.

The second most frequented route is the Polish Glacier Traverse route. This approaches the mountain through the Vacas valley, ascends up to the base of the Polish Glacier, then traverses across to the normal route for the final ascent to the summit.

The routes to the peak from the south and south-west ridges are more demanding and the south face climb is considered very difficult.

The first attempt on Aconcagua by a European was made in 1883 by a party led by the German geologist and explorer Paul Güssfeldt. Bribing porters with the story that there was treasure on the mountain, he approached the mountain via the Rio Volcan, making two attempts on the peak by the north-west ridge and reaching an altitude of 6,500 metres. The route that he prospected is now the normal route up the mountain.

The first recorded ascent was in 1897 on a British expedition led by Edward Fitzgerald. The summit was reached by the Swiss guide Matthias Zurbriggen on January 14 and by two other expedition members a few days later.

Before attempting the mountain climbers need to purchase a permit from the Aconcagua Provincial Park authority in Mendoza. Prices vary depending on the season.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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