Is Mount Aconcagua really dangerous?

Thousands of workers, many of whom were foreigners, were needed to bring the tracks to the site and set up the infrastructure. The cruelty of the climate, the pests and the hardness of the work, caused many to die and as their bodies were not claimed and there was no time to take them down to the city, they were buried in that place, and for this reason the railway cemetery was built in Puente of the Inca.

One of the oldest tombs that are recognized dates back to 1908, belonging to a doctor, it is about Dr. Eduard J. Cotton, English. The man was at the scene trying to combat a diphtheria epidemic that had broken out. According to the story, a woman coughed in his face and thus contracted the disease that cost him his life, his son also died in the epidemic and the two were buried in the cemetery.

Cotton had been an expedition companion of his compatriot Edward Fitzgerald on the ascent of Aconcagua in 1897.

In 1928 the British officer Basil Marden had the audacity to attempt the summit of Aconcagua in winter and alone, in the month of July, the following summer they rescued his frozen body, which no one claimed and that is why it was decided to bury him in what until now then it was the railway cemetery of Puente del Inca, Climbing Aconcagua

this was the first mountain climber buried, and in this way the history of the Andinista Cemetery began.

The largest cross in the cemetery corresponds to Juan Fiorini and dates from 1903, among the valuables, there is a cross carved by the artist Chipo Céspedes that was donated on the anniversary of the Club Andinista Mendoza, that cross had been cut to steal it, but they rescued her in time.

The development of the cemetery can be marked in three stages: the first is the railway, then that of the climbers who died on the mountain and now the volunteer, because many ask to be buried there.

Aconcagua and its dead

Each tomb in the cemetery hides a story of adventure and mystery that ended fatally, workers who were never claimed, epidemics that the area experienced, deadly avalanches, baqueanos and mountaineers who left their lives around Aconcagua.

It should be clarified that there are graves in the cemetery in which it is impossible to determine their identities, due to the large number of years in which no type of registration or care was carried out.

There are more than 20 climbers who died on Aconcagua, whose bodies still rest, frozen, on the mountain and in their memory memorial plaques have been placed in the cemetery as a tribute.

The concern about the abandonment of the cemetery reaches the point that there are relatives of great mountain men who today do not take their remains there for fear of looting due to the abandonment of the place.

Some of those who rest there:

John Stepanek Aconcagua Guided Climb

First dead on Aconcagua. Austrian by birth, he had settled in the city of Rosario. He, together with Miguel Gossier, attempted the summit of Aconcagua in 1926. They were surprised by a strong six-day storm. Gossier, who had run out of his license, proposes to return, Stepanek decides to attempt the summit alone. Twenty years later his body is found in the Gran Acarreo at 6500 meters. by the Military Expedition commanded by Lt. 1st Valentin Ugarte. After being buried for 20 years in the cemetery of the City of Buenos Aires, he was finally buried in the Cemetery of the Andeanists.

Juan Stepanek, in memory of the precursor who died on Aconcagua. Cemetery of the Andinistas Aconcagua Hike

Basil Marden

Captain of the Ninth Regiment of Lancers of the English Army. The British soldier had arrived at Puente del Inca from Santiago de Chile, in the first days of July 1928, with the intention of carrying out a winter expedition, alone, to Aconcagua. Skis and a sled were part of his equipment, with which he left on the 16th of the same month. He never returned, they went out in search of him in the middle of winter but they reached the Plaza de Mulas Superior, at that time called the Ryam Field, but only finding his sled so they thought that he would be about to attempt the summit in the next few days. In the following summer, his remains are found by a guide from the area, named Carlos Lobos, who was accompanying a group of climbers. The body by its position seemed. Head of the expeditions to Aconcagua in 1945, 1946 and 1951, Golden Condor of the Mountain Troops specialty, installed the shelters on Aconcagua: Presidente Perón at 6,700 meters, Eva Perón at 6,400 meters, Lieutenant Plantamura at 6,400 meters. and the Exploradores Baqueanos de Cuyo at 4,400 meters. He rescued the bodies of Juan Stepanek, Juan Jorge Link, Adriana Bance, Walter Schiller and Albert Kneild. He was head of the first Japanese Expedition to Aconcagua in 1953. Vice President of the Argentine Ski and Mountaineering Federation. President of the Mendoza Association of Mountaineering and Skiing. Head of the Olympic Ski Team. Oslo and Switzerland 1952. Peronist Gold Medal for the installation of high altitude shelters. Cross of Honor of the Government of Austria for his activities in the mountains. Author of the book Historia del Aconcagua.

Colonel Carlos Driolet

Head of the High Mountain Skiers Company 8 Lieutenant 1st IBAÑEZ”, between 1965 and 1966.

Lieutenant Colonel Jorge Santos de Oro

He died on October 14, 1993. Head of the High Mountain Skiers Company 8 Lieutenant 1st Ibáñez, between the years I961 and 1962.

Details to take into account when buying your equipment

Mules Square 4,260mts. to Piedras Conway 4,600mts.

Weather. 1h.

From this point you ascend a steep zig-zag ascent over a wide haul up the west face of the hill until you reach the ridge of the north face, from where another zigzagging ascent begins, reaching Piedras Conway. This place is protected from the wind, where you can take a break.

Conway 4,600mts. to Plaza Canada 4,800mts.

Time.1:30 to 2 hours.

It begins with a traverse to the Northwest until you reach the foot of a large rocky outcrop. From above, continuing to the west, follow the path that leads to another ledge, Plaza Canada, where you can go up to the right.

It should be noted that from Piedras Conway to the East, continuing to the left, follows another path that leads directly to Cambio de Pendiente.

Canada Square 4,800mts. a Change of slope 5,200mts. Aconcagua 360 Route

Weather. 1:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.

You leave in a northwesterly direction taking the left until you reach some rocks that protrude from the ground, from there you have to make a series of steep zigzags until a decrease in the slope of the land (Change of slope). It is an ideal place to set up camp.

Change of slope 5,200mts. to Nido de Cóndores 5,300mts.

Weather. 1 to 1:30 a.m.

From Change of slope, two alternatives can be followed. One, which goes directly to Nido de Cóndores. Generally it is with snow where the straight line is marked by the transit of the mountaineers.

The other, in a southeasterly direction, follows a zigzag trail that ends in an old refuge called Antarctica Argentina (abandoned). Then follows a long journey to the Northeast.

Condors Nest

Nido de Cóndores, spacious but very unprotected, only has some rocky sectors that serve as protection against the wind that at this point can manifest itself with violence.

Small partially frozen lagoons can be seen from which water can be extracted, although care must be taken as they are not always clean. From this camp, in addition to observing several neighboring peaks.

Nest of Condors 5,300mts. to Berlin 5,850mts.

Weather. 2 to 4 hours.

Leaving to the East, you reach a small rocky strip, which you circle on the left side until you reach the top and thus return to the South, until you find a winding path and then go below another large vertical rocky strip.

Aconcagua Mountain Guides

This is surrounded by the left, heading East until reaching a small zigzag that then returns again to the South. In traverse you ascend to the top of this rocky section, and thus be located in the Berlin camp.

This site has two small shelters that admit up to 4 people each (Plantamura and Libertad). If you follow about 30mts. higher up is a third with greater capacity (Berlin). From this camp most climbers attempt the summit.

Berlin 5,850mts. to Independence Shelter 6,400mts.

Weather. 2 to 3:30 p.m. Aconcagua Treks

Leaving Berlin in an easterly direction, up to a rocky strip that you pass to the right in a south-easterly direction, a steep traverse is made that leads to some walls. White Rocks 6,050mts. Then we continue in the direction of a small, very windy hill, towards the Southeast until another rocky sector, called Piedras Negras 6,200mts.

Continue on the journey until you start another series of zigzags that lead to the top of a small hill, where the Independencia Refuge (abandoned) is located.

From here you can see the footprint that comes from the base of the Polacos glacier to continue along the Falso Polacos route from Plaza Argentina. It is also possible to see the valley that comes from the Alta Vieja ravine, which leaves Plaza Guanacos.

Elena Refuge 5,970 meters.

The Elena refuge was inaugurated on January 1, 2011 in the camp known as “Plaza Cólera” at 5970 meters above sea level, which allows, in case of rescues and emergencies, to be able to access from there both mountaineers who go to the North or Normal Route as well as the increasingly busy Route of the Polish Glacier

Independence Refuge 6,400mts. to the Summit 6962 meters.

Weather. 4 to 8 a.m.

at 30 meters From the Independencia shelter in a southwesterly direction, you pass through a pass called Portezuelo del viento where there may be days with winds that make transit impossible. Once you have passed this portezuelo, you enter crossings to the right in a Southwest direction, until you reach the For the descent, half the time spent on the ascent is normally calculated. However, exhaustion often causes this time to lengthen, so it is necessary to anticipate its duration while ascending. You have to be careful when going down the Gran Canaleta, it is misleading because it appears to be near Nido de Cóndores or Cambio de Pending. It is important to find the descent trail and turn right towards the Northeast to get back to the Independencia refuge, which is on the eastern side of the mountain. Then you have to keep left North direction to get to the Berlin camp.

How to face the preparation to climb Aconcagua

In December 2019, Czech air runner Martin Zhor set a new record for the fastest ascent and descent of Aconcagua. He completed the return trip from base camp in just 3 hours, 38 minutes, and 17 seconds.

In 1944, the French Adriana Bance became the first woman to climb Aconcagua. Tragically, she and her husband would later die on the mountain.

In 1947, a British plane rumored to be carrying Nazi spies and a cargo of gold mysteriously disappeared near Aconcagua. In 1999, remains were discovered 100 km away on a mountain called Tupungato. Despite a massive investigation, the mystery of the gold, spies and a cryptic Morse code message sent moments before the crash remains unsolved. Many of the remains remain hidden in glaciers.

The Aconcagua appeared in a 1942 Disney animation called Pedro. Pedro, a “baby glider”, almost crashed on Aconcagua while transporting mail over the Andes, while he was covering for his father who “was lying down with a cold in the cylinder head”. In January 2009, there were five fatalities on Aconcagua in four separate incidents. It is unusual for so many people to die in such a short time on Aconcagua and the events caused shock in the local community.

One of those deaths was that of Italian Federico Campanini, winter climbs in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges of Asia are crowded, and since peak times on Aconcagua typically correspond at night in Nepal and Pakistan, when a climber summits Aconcagua, he is likely to be briefly (as I was) the tallest person to ever stand on Earth Climbing Aconcagua

Finally, the strawberry of the dessert is one of the largest peaks in the world. With its more than 6,962 meters high, Aconcagua is the most imposing mountain in the range. This does not go unnoticed since almost from any point in Mendoza you can see its top. Climbing Aconcagua is an extreme sport, and a challenge for professional athletes who spend years training. However, this is not an impediment for you to see it up close. You can visit the Mount Aconcagua Provincial Park, get to its base, and in the process enter one of its trails surrounded by nature. This is one of the activities in Mendoza that will leave you speechless and wanting to take thousands of photos.

Did you see all the things there are to do in Mendoza? Walk its streets, relax in hot springs, get to know one of the highest peaks in the world and much more. The official elevation of Aconcagua according to the IGM (Military Geographical Institute), is 6,962 meters. Being the highest summit in South America, and one of the seven peaks belonging to the circuit of the highest mountains of each continent. Located between 60º 50´ Long. West and 32º 39′ Lat. South.

The name Aconcagua comes from the Quechua “Ackon Cahuak” which means stone sentinel. This is the most accepted origin.

On the colossus of America, 34 ascent routes have been traced. The one described in this review is the well-known “normal route”, it is traced on its Northwest face.

Location of Aconcagua, Mendoza, Argentina

Access to the Horcones Valley

From the city of Mendoza, following International Route No. 7, we arrive at Penitentes and Puente del Inca.

Penitentes is located 165 km. from the city of Mendoza and 6 km. from the park. It has an excellent infrastructure of hotels and inns.

Puente del Inca also on the same Route No. 7, 175 km. from Mendoza and at an altitude of 2,750 m, it is a small town where there is an Argentine Army base. It has post office, inn and shelter.

Within the same Puente del Inca there is a chapel Aconcagua Guided Climb

and the ruins of an old hotel swept away by an avalanche. 1 km. Before reaching the town, you will find the Andinistas Cemetery, where the remains of mountaineers who lost their lives on Aconcagua remain. 3 km. from Puente del Inca to the northwest is the Valle de Horcones. After passing the Pyramid of the customs complex and leaving Route No. 7, you enter a dirt road that leads to the park ranger post.

Once the procedures are finished, the same valley is followed, passing by the shore of the Horcones lagoon and thus continuing on the left bank of the Horcones river, until meeting the first bridge (built when the film Seven Years in Tibet was made), that crosses to the right.

Horcones 2,800 meters. to Confluence 3,300 meters.

Time: 3 to 4 hours.

From this point on, the right bank of the Horcones River is maintained, following a narrow track well marked by the transit of mules. After doing 9 km. from Horcones, you reach the union of the Horcones Superior and Horcones Inferior rivers; this place is called Confluence.

Aconcagua Provincial Park

Confluence 3,300 meters. to Playa Ancha 3,500 meters.

Time: 1 to 2 hours.

From Confluencia you can follow two Aconcagua Hike

alternatives. The track that goes to Plaza Francia and the one that goes to Plaza de Mulas. Following the latter, you must cross the Horcones Inferior river through a bridge to then turn right and thus keep to the left bank of the river, heading northeast until the trail detaches from the river, to continue along the valley towards northwest.

Following the Horcones valley, you pass through a mallín (marshy land), crossed by small streams of water that flow into the Horcones Superior river. Here the right bank of the river is maintained, following a well-marked footprint on red earth, which leads us to a large stone which marks the beginning of a wide ravine called Playa Ancha.

Wide square 3,500 meters. to Plaza de Mulas 4,260 meters.

Weather. 4 a.m. to 7 a.m.

After making several fords to the upper Horcones river, you have to stay on the right side of the river and follow the trail, until you reach 4 km. to the ruins of the old Plaza de Mulas Inferior. From this point and to the right you can see the imposing west face. Follow the trail on a steep slope called Cuesta Brava. Once you get over the slope, you go down until you cross a stream and then continue up through moraines to Plaza de Mulas, where the park rangers, the various service providers and mountaineers are located.

The average time from Confluencia to Plaza de Mulas is between 7 to 9 hours. The distance from Horcones to Plaza de Mulas is 38 km.

Is personal equipment for Aconcagua very expensive?

The technical equipment necessary to make the ascent to Aconcagua is one of the most important points to face this challenge, since in most cases it avoids injuries and health problems that could prevent you from reaching your goal of reaching the summit.

That is why when choosing clothing, keep in mind to bring the following elements:

– First skin: This clothing is in direct contact with the skin and its function is to evacuate sweat, keeping the skin dry. Clothing of this type has two characteristics: it maintains body heat, but it is permeable to air, which also allows you to have a feeling of freshness. Ideally, the material of this layer is polyester. The use of cotton garments is not recommended, since they maintain moisture and help reduce body temperature. The first skin garments are pants, shirts, gloves and socks.

– Second skin: This clothing is placed on the 1st skin and its main function is thermal insulation, maintaining the heat generated by the body and favoring the evacuation of moisture. This skin is made up of different types of fabrics, the most common being fleece. The garments of this layer are pants, jacket or sweater, vest, hat, gloves and socks.

– Third skin: This layer must be completely waterproof, breathable and windproof. The combination of these qualities will mean that, in a storm or river crossing, the water does not penetrate the garments but, at the same time, it allows the sweat to escape. In mountain areas, staying dry and warm will be synonymous with comfort and health. The garments of this skin are pants, jacket, hat and gloves

Remember that 30% of body heat is lost through the head, so it is essential to have good warm hats, balaclavas (polypropylene or capilene) and neckerchiefs.

-Fourth skin: This last layer is, specifically, thermal insulation. The clothing can be filled with feathers or fibers and is used in very cold temperatures (from -10°C to -35°C). The garments of this skin can be a jacket, vest or overalls. On the footwear side, this is a fundamental element when facing the ascent of a hill. This must meet different qualities such as impact absorption, versatility and shelter.

In the case of Aconcagua, trekking boots can be used to Nido de Cóndores or to Plaza Argentina. From here, it is essential to ascend with double or triple boots, these are the only ones that will prevent the feet from freezing.


There are also accessories that cannot be missing for the ascent:


– 12 point crampons; pickaxes / light ice axes (only in Glaciar de los Polacos).

– Canes.

– Backpack for expedition of 120lts approx. and attack backpack (for the summit day) from 20 to 40lts.

– Headlamp and spare batteries.

– Sunglasses with 100UV sun protection, with side shields (two pairs).

– Duvet sleeping bag, which supports up to -30ºC.

– Insulating mat.

– Tent (height).

– Heater (petrol or gas) and spare parts (a spare part per day is calculated for one person and one and a half spare parts per day for two people)

– Freeze-dried foods.

– High-factor sunscreen and lip balm. The Aconcagua is located within the Provincial Park located 185 kilometers from the City of Mendoza. It can be accessed by renting a car and Aconcagua 360 Route by heading towards National Route No. 7 until the signs that mark the entrance to the park. They are approximately 3 hours away.

Another option is to take a bus at the terminal in the center of Mendoza (Av. Acceso Este and Av. Videla) the Buttini bus line to Uspallata and once at the local terminal go to the taxis located at the entrance to the entrance. from the Aconcagua Provincial Park (73 kilometers).

To start the trekking and ascent to Aconcagua it is mandatory to register online, request the permit and pay the entrance fee. For the walk to Laguna los Horcones, online registration is not necessary. Payment is made at the visitor center of the Provincial Park.

For the trails it is mandatory to carry a DNI or passport, sports shoes, a coat, sun protection, food and drinking water. There is no food sale in the park! A couple days ago, on sep 4, 2021, we received these photos and an email: “Hello Victor, My name is David Perez, a mountaineer from Mendoza and Aconcagua Mountain Guides, an architect by profession. This summer, exploring new routes of the mountain , I went to a hill of more than 5000m to the East of some Cerro , in the Aconcagua area (-32.70833° -69.89526°).

At first we thought that this hill would not have had previous ascents, given that we had not found antecedents in maps or stories and that, furthermore, during the entire route we did not find human traces. But we were surprised to reach the top and find Aconcagua Treks

Aconcagua Climbing – Never underestimate the “age” of Aconcagua

The cabinet tests carried out on the matrix of the deposits were carried out according to the operating conditions and are described below.

Mineralogical analysis: The mineralogical composition, except clays, has been analyzed from 2-3 grams of an 80-gram sample, ground to a size less than 35 μm, through X-ray diffraction, using a D5000 diffractometer ( Bruker AXS). The Aconcagua 360 Route used Cu radiation and an accessory graphite monochromator. Diffraction data were taken from 4° to 70° 2θ, with a scan width of 0.02° and a counter tube scan time of 2 seconds per step. We worked with 40 KV and 30 mA. The quantitative analysis of the phases was determined using the Rietveld technique contained in the BG MN/AUTOQUAN software (Bergmann et al. 1998).

Grain size analysis: For this type of analysis, 12-15 grams of sample were used. The organic components were dissolved through treatment with H2O2. The remaining material was sieved into two fractions: larger and smaller than 63 μm. The first was screened at all phi divisions (phi > -2). From the material smaller than 63 μm, the clay-sized fraction was separated using the Atterberg method, while that corresponding to silt was analyzed with a Micromeritics SediGraph 5100 in all phi divisions.

Grain roundness grading: Some of the remaining material was sieved at 250-500 μm and 100 grains from each sample were graded using Turner’s two-dimensional visual roundness tester. Bearing in mind that Confluencia is the site where both types of deposits are best exposed, we first How to Climb Aconcagua proceeded to define their lithological characteristics there, to compare later what was observed in the different valleys. With this information, the proper genetic interpretation was carried out. The Confluence above profile is exposed in the ravine located on the left bank of the Inferior Horcones River, just in front of its junction with the Superior Horcones River. This profile, of approximately 20 meters, presents two types of deposits recognizable by their different color and stratigraphic position: 1) reddish, the oldest, and 2) gray, the youngest (upper third of said profile).

The upper, grayish deposit comprises a breccia with blocks several meters in diameter (recognized up to 5 Aconcagua Guided Climb meters) scattered in a poorly selected, also breccia matrix (from gravels to clays), predominantly of the same composition as the blocks. The latter shows the typical lithologies of the volcanoes of the Aconcagua Volcanic Complex, made up of lavas, breccias, and tuffs, of andesitic and dacitic composition. It is important to note that this breccia level covers most of the Confluencia sector.

Aconcagua Climbing – Expedition or climbing alone?

Some small sinkholes in the distal part of the deposit and very few depressions with lagoons, which indicates the presence of an impermeable substrate. The mounds are rounded and smooth on the surface and soils have developed in the depressions. In a profile product of a road cut, a soil has been observed in these depressions, covered by detrital material from the mounds that surround the hollow, as converging microslopes. This remobilization of material from the top of the mounds into the surrounding depressions has considerably smoothed the original surface of the deposit. In addition to gravity, periglacial processes, Aconcagua Argentina surface weathering and wind deposition have contributed to it. Towards the distal zone, at the Confluence with the Cuevas valley, the deposit is divided into two lobes; one penetrates perpendicularly to the valley of the Cuevas river, in the same direction that it brought in the Horcones, while the second lobe extends downstream in the valley of the Cuevas river, advancing approximately 2,000 m in it. The cross-sectional profile of the Horcones deposit indicates that it is higher in the center than towards the flanks. The distal edge of the Horcones deposit is therefore located at the Confluence of the Horcones and Cuevas river valleys. This distal edge of the Horcones deposit is perfectly defined and has a variable height between 5 and 10 meters, which allows the deposit in question to be separated from the surrounding land. The latter correspond to a lithologically similar deposit located just below, and Mount Aconcagua also has an irregular morphology, although smoother than that of the Horcones deposit. In accordance with what was mentioned above, the study of the filling material of the valleys of the area made it possible to distinguish essentially two types of deposits, also well distinguishable by their field (megascopic) and morphological characteristics, previously considered as till by other authors.

Numerous mineralogical, granulometric and roundness analyzes were carried out on the matrix of both deposits present in the different valleys, in order to capture the complete lithological characterization of Aconcagua and precisely define their genesis. Sampling was carried out in the Horcones Inferior, Horcones Superior and Horcones valleys (both proximal and distal, already at the intersection with the Cuevas River). The underlying deposit exposed by the deepening of the Cuevas River, only had a microscopic study of the loose grain of the sandy-silty material in order to determine its mineralogical composition. A synthesis of the lithological characteristics of the Quebrada de Horcones deposit was presented by Lagorio et al.

Information about the type of terrain on the hill

This characteristic meant that various types of deposits were located there. Espizua (1989) described six drifts in the area (Punta de Vacas, Penitentes, Horcones, Almacenes, Confluencia and undifferentiated moraines). Of these, the moraines of the Punta de Vacas, Confluencia and Penitentes drifts can be identified in the Confluencia zone as glacial deposits because they preserve the morphology imposed by the process. But part of the deposits mapped as Horcones moraine, Almacenes moraine and undifferentiated moraines have a morphology and composition that complicates their interpretation as glacial deposits. The detailed genetic characterization of Aconcagua Expeditions constitutes, consequently, one of the objectives of this contribution.

These deposits, here under review, are distinguished by a landscape of gentle elevations and depressions (hummocks) composed of a greyish, almost monolithological breccia of internally fractured clasts and angular blocks, which correspond to outcropping volcanoes in the upper part of Aconcagua hill ( Aconcagua Volcanic Complex). At the mouth of the Tolosa ravine, a deposit with similar characteristics is observed.

Precisely in the area of ​​Confluence, in the ravine located on the left bank of the Horcones Inferior valley, a profile of approximately 20 meters is presented, where the contact between said grayish gaps and the underlying reddish glacial deposits assigned Aconcagua Climb is clearly exposed. previously by Espizua (1993) to Drift Penitentes. Between Confluencia and the Durazno ravine, the Horcones valley narrows. Here there are only few remnants of lateral moray eels.

The valley of the Horcones river, downstream of the mouth of the Durazno stream, is filled by the deposit here called Horcones. It stands out in the landscape due to its large volume and a very particular surface morphology. The Horcones River is lying on the left bank of the valley, where it carved out a narrow gorge.

The area covered by the Horcones deposit is approximately 6 km2. Although no complete profile is observed in this valley section, unlike what was described for Confluencia, it is estimated that it is probable that the deposit exceeds 30 m thickness throughout most of its area. Climbing Aconcagua According to this, its volume could be at least 180 x 106 m3 for the sector under analysis. Taking into account that there are remains of the deposit from the Horcones Inferior valley, the total volume of the flow must have been even greater.

Its surface morphology is characterized by a succession of elevations and depressions, represented by conical or elongated mounds 5 to 10 m high and between 15 and 30 m in diameter.

Aconcagua Climbing – A hill of millions of years

For all these analyses, a photo interpretation was carried out, with frames at a scale of 1:50,000; Aster satellite images were also interpreted, from which digital topographic models were made and, finally, field tasks were carried out. During the latter, observations were made of the sedimentological characteristics of the deposits located along the aforementioned valleys, collecting samples to carry out Climb Aconcagua compositional (mineralogy) and textural (granulometry and roundness) analyzes in order to fully define the lithological characteristics of the same. Lastly, absolute dating was done using carbon 14C methods on fluvial and lacustrine deposits, and cosmogenic nuclides (NC) on surface blocks of the deposits under discussion. The analysis of all this information finally made it possible to interpret the genesis of the different deposits, the age of the processes that originated them and to evaluate what could have been the determining factors and triggers that produced them.

The work has been organized in such a way as to first present the field observations, the mineralogical and textural data and the absolute ages of the deposits, then the interpretations that arise from the analysis of all this information and, finally, the conclusions.

Geomorphological features

It stands out in the landscape due to its great elevation and is also notable for the presence of glaciers located on it at different heights (Upper Glacier, Middle Glacier and Lower Glacier) The Upper Glacier draws attention, because it communicates through a small step with the Ventisquero de Los Relinchos, a glacier that flows into the valley of the Las Vacas River. On the other hand, this last Aconcagua Expedition glacier also has very particular characteristics, since it ends on the southern wall of Cerro Aconcagua without a feeding basin or glacial cirque. Starting from the morphological observation, the Superior Glacier and the Los Relinchos Glacier can be united in a single glacial tongue, considering that they would have flowed, in the past, in a valley to the east as the East Glacier and the Ameghino Glacier do. These three glacial tongues coincide in height, Aconcagua Hike, unlike the Horcones Inferior glacier, much deeper in the landscape due to differential erosion, as a consequence of the asymmetry in the size of the glaciers, in relation to the orientation of the valleys with respect to of sunstroke. To complete this scheme, all that is needed is a watershed or interfluve that currently does not exist, between the valley of the Superior Glacier-Ventisquero de Los Relinchos and the valley of the Inferior Horcones. It is interpreted that said divide, absent today, would have existed in times of the Quaternary glaciation, as will be analyzed later.

The confluence area:

This area bears that name because the valleys of Horcones Inferior, Horcones Superior and the Tolosa ravine meet there. The sector is a little wider than each of the valleys individually.

Do I need technical knowledge to climb Aconcagua?

If we move from the foothills to the high basin of the Mendoza River, Espizua (1989) describes the Penitentes, Horcones and Almacenes drifts. Subsequently, the Horcones deposits were assigned by Pereyra and González Díaz (1993) to flows originating from rotational landslides. Recently Fauqué et al. (2008a and b) considered the three drift deposits as distal flows of rock avalanches. In this case there is no doubt that the area was glaciated during the Pleistocene, but what is being discussed here is the Aconcagua Mountain Guides validity of the glacial stratigraphy of the Mendoza river basin, based on the mass shear deposits identified .

These antecedents allow us to observe that glacial deposits and mass removal deposits have been confused for more than 60 years. Therefore, the need arises to review and reinterpret the morphology together with the sedimentological characteristics of the high mountain Quaternary deposits. The incorrect identification as moraines made of deposits corresponding to rock avalanches that have survived erosion in previously glazed terrain, has been pointed out by Hewitt (2002) as frequent in many parts of the world. Detailed mapping of Quaternary deposits has been insufficient in many high mountain regions, despite the fact that it is linked to knowledge of geological risks.

It was precisely a study linked to the Aconcagua Ascents geological risks that affect the town of Puente del Inca, the reason for which the issue of the genesis of the deposit located in the Horcones ravine was addressed, in order to discern if it is of glacial origin or associated with mass removal. The resolution of this problem made it necessary to extend the observations to the Cuevas river valley and to the deposit assigned to the Penitentes drift.

The recent reinterpretations of the Horcones, Almacenes and Penitentes drifts were presented in abstracts at the XVII Argentine Geological Congress, therefore we intend here to provide all the information on which the new interpretation of the three deposits is based. We will start with the Horcones deposit and finally we will refer to the one located immediately downstream from the town of Penitentes. In the investigation of the Aconcagua Treks Horcones, Almacenes and Penitentes drifts, special attention was paid to the surface morphology of the deposits, their location and extension in the valleys and their volume. The morphological characteristics of the valleys of Horcones Inferior, Horcones, Tolosa, Cuevas and Mario Ardito were also analyzed, comparing them with other valleys in the area. The southern wall of Cerro Aconcagua was also studied in detail, as some anomalous and/or unusual morphologies were noted in it.

Brief tips for climbing the Colossus

In the event of the preparation of a susceptibility map to the mass removal processes that affect the town of Puente del Inca, the controversial genesis of the Horcones deposit was reviewed. The morphology of the deposit and the surrounding landscape, the mineralogy and texture of its materials were analyzed and finally radiometric dating was performed. Based on these studies, it is concluded that the Horcones deposit is the result of a saturated flow derived from a rock avalanche or mega-slide, caused by the collapse of a watershed on the southern wall of Mount Aconcagua, during times late glacial or postglacial Aconcagua 360 Route. Deposits similar to Horcones fill the Cuevas river valley to the east and are covered by others, which were also previously considered glacial (e.g. terminal moraine of the Penitentes Drift). The analysis of this material in the vicinity of the town of Penitentes, using a similar methodology, reveals that it corresponds to a large-scale flow coming from the Mario Ardito creek. According to these new interpretations, the need to carry out an exhaustive review of the glacial stratigraphy in the area is clear. New ideas also arise regarding the genesis of the Puente del Inca natural monument. Finally, understanding the geomorphological evolution of the southern wall of Mount Aconcagua sheds light on the Horcones glacier surges. The southern wall of the How to Climb Aconcagua hill (6,965 m a.s.l.) constitutes an unusual morphological feature; With a drop of around 2,700 m, it is one of the great walls of the Earth. In it, rocky outcrops alternate with hanging glaciers, from which ice avalanches break off, giving this slope a greater risk. We rarely stop to think how these walls originated or, if we do, we combine: tectonic ascent, erosion and thousands of years, to finally give rise to a free interpretation. In the case of the southern wall of Aconcagua, among the erosive processes that the Aconcagua Guided Climb modeled, there were no less than two rock avalanches, which we will also call mega-slides (because of their enormous volume), which originated flows whose deposits have been previously interpreted by other authors as glaciers. The discrepancies about deposits assigned indistinctly to the Pleistocene glaciations or to mass removal are long-standing in our geological literature. During the studies carried out in the foothills of Mendoza, Dessanti (1946) described the “Morena del Quemado”, reinterpreted by Polanski (1953) as Cenoglomerate del Quemado and assigned to flows associated with rising debris. In fact, based on the different interpretation criteria of the deposit, the existence of an extensive englazation of the piedmont was being discussed.