Aconcagua is a mountain in the Principal Cordillera of the Andes mountain range, in Mendoza Province, Argentina. It is the highest mountain outside of Asia, being the highest in both the Southern and Western Hemispheres with a summit elevation of 6,960.8 metres. It lies 112 km northwest of the provincial capital, the city of Mendoza, about five km from San Juan Province, 15 km from Argentina's border with neighbouring Chile; the mountain is one of the so-called Seven Summits of the seven continents. Aconcagua 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 largest glacier is the Ventisquero Horcones Inferior at about 10 km long, which descends from the south face to about 3,600 m in altitude near the Confluencia camp. Two other large glacier systems are the Ventisquero de las Vacas Sur and Glaciar Este/Ventisquero Relinchos system at about five kilometres long.
The most well known is Polish Glacier, as it is a common route of ascent. The origin of the name is contested; the mountain was created by the subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American Plate. Aconcagua used to be an active stratovolcano and consisted of several volcanic complexes on the edge of a basin with a shallow sea. However, sometime in the Miocene, about 8 to 10 million years ago, the subduction angle started to decrease resulting in a stop of the melting and more horizontal stresses between the oceanic plate and the continent, causing the thrust faults that lifted Aconcagua up off its volcanic root; the rocks found on Aconcagua's flanks are all volcanic and consist of lavas and pyroclastics. The shallow marine basin had formed earlier before Aconcagua arose as a volcano. However, volcanism has been present in this region for as long as this basin was around and volcanic deposits interfinger with marine deposits throughout the sequence; the colorful greenish and grey deposits that can be seen in the Horcones Valley and south of Puente Del Inca, are carbonates, limestones and evaporates that filled this basin.
The red colored rocks are cinder deposits and conglomerates of volcanic origin. In mountaineering terms, Aconcagua is technically an easy mountain if approached from the north, via the normal route. Aconcagua is arguably the highest non-technical mountain in the world, since the northern route does not require ropes and pins. Although the effects of altitude are severe, the use of supplemental oxygen is not common. Altitude sickness will affect most climbers to some extent, depending on the degree of acclimatization. Although the normal climb is technically easy, multiple casualties occur every year on this mountain; this is due to the large numbers of climbers who make the attempt and because many climbers underestimate the objective risks of the elevation and of cold weather, the real challenge on this mountain. Given the weather conditions close to the summit, cold weather injuries are common; the routes to the peak from the south and south-west ridges are more demanding and the south face climb is considered quite difficult.
The Polish Glacier Traverse route known as the "Falso de los Polacos" route, crosses through the Vacas valley, ascends to the base of the Polish Glacier traverses across to the normal route for the final ascent to the summit. The third most popular route is by the Polish Glacier itself. Provincial Park rangers do not maintain records of successful summits but estimates suggest a summit rate of 30–40%. About 75% of climbers are foreigners and 25% are Argentinean. Among foreigners, the United States leads in number of climbers, followed by Germany and the UK. About 54% of climbers ascend the Normal Route, 43% up the Polish Glacier Route, the remaining 3% on other routes; the camp sites on the normal route are listed below. Puente del Inca, 2,740 metres: A small village on the main road, with facilities including a lodge. Confluencia, 3,380 metres: A camp site a few hours into the national park. Plaza de Mulas, 4,370 metres: Base camp, claimed to be the second largest in the world. There are several meal tents and internet access.
There is a lodge 1 kilometre from the main campsite across the glacier. At this camp, climbers are screened by a medical team to check if they are fit enough to continue the climb. Camp Canadá, 5,050 metres: A large ledge overlooking Plaza de Mulas. Camp Alaska, 5,200 metres: Called'change of slope' in Spanish, a small site as the slope from Plaza de Mulas to Nido de Cóndores lessens. Not used. Nido de Cóndores, 5,570 metres: A large plateau with beautiful views. There is a park ranger camped here. Camp Berlín, 5,940 metres: The classic high camp, offering reasonable wind protection. Camp Colera, 6,000 metres: A larger, while more exposed, camp situated directly at the north ridge near Camp Berlín, with growing popularity. In January 2
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