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.

Aconcagua Climbing – The challenge of reaching Colera

Finally we arrived in Berlin, we made the tents since there was no room in the shelters, Esteban, who arrived first with Graciela, had a strong dispute with the guide of another expedition who was reserving places inside the shelter, as you can see the “criolla liveliness” it is immune to high altitudes, we look for snow far from the shelters so that it is not contaminated and we make water. Aconcagua Guided Climb

The fatigue at this height is incredible, to set up the tent, look for snow or simply change clothes. I took photos on the ascent. We are all very tired and the lack of oxygen is very noticeable. Tomorrow we plan to leave for the summit at four in the morning, I hope that the weather will be with us and we will achieve it because the effort is tremendous.

It’s a pity that the photos I don’t think show the imposing mountain landscapes and the precipices on the side of the path in their true dimension, when I look down I feel chills, a fall here must be more than 1000ms and without a doubt it is from the path to eternity, there is no chance of surviving something like that, the other big problem and what I see when looking up in some sections are avalanches, those avalanches of thousands of tons of ice and stones that bury everything in their path. However, at no time did I feel fear, only exhaustion and a tremendous desire to reach the summit. Aconcagua Mountain Guides

Arriving in Berlin we see a large number of lower snow-capped hills that surround us and the summit of Aconcagua covered by rock formations. We set up the tents with great effort and again go looking for snow to make water. Melting snow seems simple, but to make a liter of water from snow takes about forty minutes, the specialist in melting it is Mario and I go looking for it, Eduardo is the taster, he does the quality control… an efficient team .

Meals are quick and basic, based on instant soup, cheese, cold cuts, 4-cheese noodles, sausages, and cookies.

At this altitude, it is necessary to hydrate well, approximately 3 liters per day, to prevent the complications of altitude. In general, one is neither hungry nor thirsty despite great efforts, but eats and drinks liquids even if one does not feel like it, because dehydration and weakening due to lack of calories is fatal. I also take a vitamin pill every day. Aconcagua Ascents

The temperatures in Berlin are 15 degrees below zero, in the tent I estimate 5 degrees below zero.The tent moves a lot but it holds, I don’t know if we can go to the summit tomorrow.

Aconcagua Climbing – Different types of training for Aconcagua

Without a doubt, the efforts and sacrifices are great, but the emotions and the incredible and moving landscapes that we observe make up for everything, anyway I think that this is not for everyone and with this I do not want to make a value judgment, one is not even better no worse, it’s different. The sensations that one experiences in these situations are not known in the traditional activities that 90% of people resort to for fun or recreation. Aconcagua 360 Route

We chatted until 10 pm about everything, a very good relationship with my tent mates Eduardo Morales and Mario Mónaco.

Thursday 12 /02 /04

“I am tremendously aware that, if nature deploys all its power, I have no chance. And in that case no plan will work, no matter how well laid out.”

The snowfall continues and last night was the coldest night, I calculate 20 degrees below zero outside and 5 below zero in the tent. Anyway with the sleeping bags we were not cold. Mario continues with a cough, but he slept, Eduardo and I are fine. The tent condensed on all its walls, it is as if it were snowing inside when one touches it.

It dawned very cold, but with sun, if the weather continues like this, we will arrive without problems in Berlin (6000m). We would already be only 1000m from the long-awaited summit. Gladys feels bad and goes downstairs. Her face is very swollen, without a doubt her height is affecting her a lot and she is careful not to take unnecessary risks.

We are waiting for the weather report, to decide the conduct, apparently it is very cold and windy higher up. Aconcagua

Finally, we break camp and leave for Berlin at 1:30 p.m. and arrive at 3:30 p.m. with a 500m drop. It was a very hard ascent because we carry 15 kg in our backpack and the height shows… Leandro turned around halfway through the journey, due to great fatigue and general malaise. We had to reorganize his backpack and the distribution of the tents, each carrying a  How to Climb Aconcagua little of the load that he brought and was essential to continue. What I am telling you in a few words was quite dramatic because it happened in the middle of the climb and with very little room for manoeuvre, the trail is very narrow and the precipices on the side are hundreds of meters long… in general one tries not to look down.

Aconcagua Climbing – Statistical data on Aconcagua

“And yet, while I was looking at her, the mountain took on another aspect, softening its fierce lines. There seemed to be something magical in that majestic presence. I was almost seduced by her. I was aware that not only a climber is fascinated, that anyone who get close enough to the mountain will continue, despite all obstacles, in pursuit of the holiest and highest place in the West”

It dawned with 30 centimeters of snow around the tents and luckily . The landscape is impressive, it is very difficult to express in words what I feel in this place and at this moment, I hope that photos help. Climbing Aconcagua

As the movements cost, putting on the double boots takes fifteen minutes, with several pauses due to the agitation, removing snow from the roof of the tent, or removing the stones from the base generates a great shortness of breath accompanied by tachycardia.

It’s sunny so we take out everything wet to dry, we melt snow to make water, calculating three liters for each.

We were able to communicate with the Directorate of Parks, who informed us that today the snowstorm is over, therefore tomorrow we would leave for Berlin. Plans are to camp there and attempt the summit on Friday.

It’s 3 pm, it started to snow again, before we had a brief snowball fight, without a doubt the spirit is still high. Today there were moments of radiant sunshine and others cloudy with snowfall. In the afternoon we slept two hours of siesta, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., we read and talked about politics and ethics (compatible?) Aconcagua Argentina

Tonight we will have four cheese noodles for dinner in our tent, I don’t know what the others will eat, because in each tent the menu is decided according to tastes and provisions. Tomorrow around noon, weather permitting, we’re going to Berlin.

Leandro and Gladys will not be in the game, they are physically and mentally ill. I feel very well physically, I perfectly resist the great efforts to which we are subjected, not only because of the slopes, but also because of the great height, with its corresponding lack of oxygen, pressure and humidity. Mount Aconcagua

It is the third time that I am above 5500mts, the others were my attempts at Cerro El Plata (6000mts), the first time I did not reach the summit due to lack of training, but I exceeded 5500 (being 300mts from achieving the summit), and the second by a wind and snow storm at the summit. That beautiful mountain that I see every day from my house, is in debt to me, perhaps he will be able to climb it next year, Fernando says that he reached the summit of Plata on the fourth attempt.

Aconcagua Climbing – Useful data for the Aconcagua

State of Route 40

Check the status of Route 40 on our website: Status of Route 40.

Important Tips

Bring water and food. A map in paper format.

If you are going to visit the mountain range, have warm clothes, a jacket and a warm hat on hand, even in summer. The climate in the high mountains can be variable and the wind chills.

Bring blankets and a heater for any problem that may occur and require you to spend the night on the route.

It can rain torrentially in summer, and summer melting can cause seemingly dry streams to swell. Be careful on speed bumps and water steps.

In winter it can freeze and temperatures in Andean areas drop to -25°C, it can snow and cut off traffic on Route 7.

We suggest reading our tips for driving in snow if you are going to drive in winter as ice in shady areas and snow can be problematic.

Also read our tips for driving safely in the mountains and on gravel roads.

Aconcagua Mountain Guides

Access to Aconcagua from Route 40

This is the access map to Aconcagua from Mendoza.

From the city of Mendoza, take National Route 7, which connects it with Santiago de Chile and drive west towards Puente del Inca. Go past the Argentine Customs (unless you are going to Chile, in which case you must complete the corresponding controls).

Route 40 reaches the city of Mendoza from the South, coming from El Sosneado and Malargüe, and from the North, from San Juan.

We describe the section of the Route in the Uco Valley in our Section from Pareditas to Mendoza (Section 10).

The previous section, towards the South, is the section from Barrancas to Pareditas and the one that follows is the section from Mendoza to Guandacol, passing through the city of San Juan. 

Aconcagua Ascents

Fuel in the Zone

There is fuel in:

Pareditas, San Rafael, San Carlos, Tunuyán, Tupungato, Maipú, Luján de Cuyo, Uspallata, and throughout Greater Mendoza

Location of Service Stations on Route 40

This is the Sigma Project, which seeks to measure the advance of tectonic plates in that massif using GPS. The data you collect is vast. It is in charge of the Ianigla (of the Cricyt), the UNCuyo, the Directorate of Renewable Natural Resources and the University of Hawaii. Through the so-called Acon GPS Permanent Station and the meteorological station, which are already operational, GPS reference patterns will be established in Argentina, and the variations in height and displacement of that hill and other chains will be specified for seismological purposes; It will also provide information on glaciers using a method similar to tomography Aconcagua Treks