Just The Facts
Aconcagua means "The White Sentinel" in the Quechua language and "The Sentinel of Stone" in Aymara.
Edward Fitzgerald organized an expedition to climb the mountain early in 1897. The lead guide, Mathias Zurbiggen, became the first person ever to climb Aconcagua when he arrived on the summit alone on January 14, 1897. An expedition porter named Nikola Lanti reached the summit with expedition member Stuart Vines on February 13, 1897.
Fitzgerald never reached the top.
First Ascent of the Polish Glacier
The Polish Glacier was first climbed in March 1934 by the Polish team of Otrowski, Narkiewicz, Daszinski, and Osiecki on the eighth successful ascent of the mountain.
Temperatures range from balmy to -25°C,
but frequent and severe winds can make perceived temperature much colder. Windchill can plummet to -15°C with an ambient temperature of 0°C and winds at 40km per hour. Windchill can drop as low as
-60°C when temperatures of -25°C meet winds of 60km per hour.
The proximity to the Pacific
Ocean brings frequent storms to Aconcagua. Humid winds from the ocean reach
the mountain, decreasing in temperature and generating snow.
These dry masses of air then move down the east side of the Andes.
A particular phenomenon on
Aconcagua is a frequently
occurring storm with strong, humid winds that engulfs the peak from the west at
high altitude (above 18,000') and forms huge mushroom clouds of micro ice
crystals. Locals consider it highly advisable to descend when this formation is
The atmospheric pressure at
the summit of Aconcagua is less than half that of sea level. Oxygen diffuses
from the lungs into the blood because the gas pressure in the air is greater
than in the blood. Atmospheric pressure decreases with altitude which means less
oxygen is being pushed into the blood stream. In a healthy person at sea level,
blood is 95% saturated with oxygen. At 18,000' it is only 71% saturated and is
carrying 29% less oxygen.
During the 1998 season, 16
people died on Aconcagua more fatalities than on Everest in the tragic 1996 season.
The Guanaco is a large mammal that lives in South America and is related to the llama. It lives in the mountains, eats mostly grass, and spits when provoked.