Climbing, simply and joyfully, is the way I love the world.
Steph Davis

The highest non-technical mountain in the world

As with most things, you can climb Aconcagua the easy way or the hard way. While the easy way doesn’t need gear, more injuries and death happen on this route as people underestimate the elevation and the cold, especially as there are no permanent snowfields.

The highest contemporary art gallery in the world

The Nautilius, run by Argentinian painter, Miguel Doura stands at 4300m above sea level. The mountain is also the final resting place of the Aconcagua mummy. The body a seven-year-old boy dating back to 500 BC was discovered by hikers in 1985.

The youngest and the oldest

After the first recorded ascent by Matthias Zurbriggen in 1897 a large number of climbers have tackled the mountain. The youngest was Californian nine-year-old, Tyler Armstrong in 2013. Scott Lewis reached the summit on November 26, 2007 at the age of 87.

The stone sentinel

Rooted in the Quechua language, Aconcagua means ‘The Sentinel of Stone’. Hardly surprising as it’s the highest point on the Western and Southern hemisphere, the second most prominent peak in the world and, at 6 962m/22 841ft is the highest peak outside Asia. Standing in Argentina, Aconcagua is the highest point in the Andes, the world’s longest mountain range. A range that starts in northern South America and runs down to the very tip of the continent, passing through Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.


Wind swept heights of South America

The lower reaches of Aconcagua are almost barren, with scree-like soils and sparsely dotted with scrubby bushes. Climbing them is less climbing and more plodding than anything else. Getting to base camp on every mountain has been different. This one especially, as we used mules to carry the gear. It was December 2002 and five of us had decided to add Aconcagua to our growing list of summits climbed. But at base camp, three of my friends had to pull out. They were struggling to acclimatise and it’s never safe to carry on if you can’t get to grips with the altitude. The mountain is unsympathetic towards climbers. Jon Bojar and I kept pushing on to attempt the summit in January 2003. I found myself struggling with altitude sickness right near the top. What made it even worse was losing a glove. The cold and the extreme wind resulted in me getting frost bitten on the fingertips of my one hand.

Apart from reaching the summit and the view from the top, the head-height sastrugi we had to come through were stunning. The wind and sun sculpt the ice into dramatic needle-sharp towers like something out of a science-fiction film.

Aconcagua Mountain

Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.

Ed Viesturs