Located in the far west of Mendoza province is the Parque Provincial Aconcagua, home to the tallest peak in not only Argentina and all of South America, but also the Western and Southern Hemispheres, Cerro Aconcagua. The park, which encompasses the mountain and its immediate surroundings, covers some 175,444 acres (71,000 hectares), protecting a crucial portion of the central Andes chain. Designed to conserve the pristine features of this beautiful landscape and its flora, fauna and aquatic life, the park is also a significant archeological site. Most visitors come for the fabled mountain, and for those attempting to reach the summit of Aconcagua, the park and its unspoiled beauty is an ideal base camp and starting point.
At 22,974 ft (6962 m), Aconcagua is one of the highest peaks in the world and the world's highest mountain outside of Asia. Created eons ago by the subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American plate, Aconcagua's name is derived from the Inca word ackon cahuak, meaning stone sentinel.
The park's main entry point at Laguna Horcones, very near the famous Puente del Inca, although the smaller Puente de la Vaca also serves as an entrance. It is bounded by the Valle de las Vacas (Valley of the Cows) on the north and east, and the Valle de los Horcones Inferior (Lower Valley of the Posts) on the west and south. As with many Andes peaks, Aconcagua itself contains within it glaciers, the most massive of which are the Polish and English glaciers.
Climbing the Mountain
If approached from the north (also known as the Normal route), climbing Aconcagua is considered technically as an easy climb. By using this approach, intensive vertical climbing is not necessary, and the only effects presented to the climber are the challenges that accompany high-altitude activities. A trek via this route can be accomplished at an easy pace with three camps spread along the route for rest stops.
The next most common route is the Polish Glacier Traverse route. Ascending the base of the Polish Glacier, Aconcagua is approached from the Valle de las Vacas and the trail later joins with the Normal route for the final ascent to the summit. Routes from the southern and southwest ridges, which make substantially greater technical demands, are considered far more difficult.
The best time to mount an expedition is usually from December through February, and a permit is required. The permits are available in the city of Mendoza only, at the Visitors' Center at the Secretary of Tourism.
Aconcagua Further Information - (External Link)