Want to know if the Polish glacier route is the easiest way to climb Aconcagua in Argentina? To find out read our guide for more facts & information…
The Polish Glacier Route of Aconcagua Mountain
The normal route to the summit of Aconcagua through the Vacas Valley provides little challenge for experienced climbers with the two primary dangers being weather conditions and altitude sickness. Climbing equipment is not required. In 1934 a group of Polish mountaineers opened the Polish Glacier Route to offer greater challenges to advanced climbers. There are actually two routes across the Polish Glacier, the traverse, which uses part of the normal route and the Polish Glacier Route which makes the ascent entirely over the Glacier.
Both Polish Glacier Routes begin at the Plaza Argentina and ascend to Camp 1 and Camp 2. At this point, the Polish Glacier Direct Route diverges onto the Glacier, while the traverse route crosses the glacier to meet the normal route near the summit. The direct route requires more technical knowledge and climbing experience than the Polish Glacier Traverse Route. Climbers must be able to use ropes, harnesses, pins and ice axes with a degree of expertise. They must be also be experienced in snow and ice climbing conditions.
The Polish Traverse Route is an easier climb, but does require at least intermediate mountaineering skills. Experience in ice climbing is necessary, although the traverse route is a less arduous climb than the direct. This route meets the normal route at Camp 3, about 6400 feet up the mountain. From there the climb is completed along the normal route. As a rule, both the Polish Direct and the Polish Traverse routes use the normal route for descent. The Polish Direct Route meets the normal route at Aconcagua’s summit.
The choice of routes depends entirely on the skills of the climbers and expeditions to both routes are available through local guide services. While offering some challenge many experienced climbers do not find the ascents on these routes especially arduous. In fact, for all its height, Aconcagua is considered one of the easiest ascents of the Seven Summits. In recent years, some routes have opened on the southern face which is considered a much more difficult climb. One advantage of the Aconcagua ascent is that climbers of all skill levels can find a route to the summit which will challenge their skills without requiring expertise or experience they do not have.
The Polish Glacier Route is an excellent climbing experience for intermediate to advanced level mountaineers. Truly experienced climbers may prefer the more difficult climbs on the southern mountain face while beginners can still conquer the summit via the normal route. The two Polish routes offer challenges to climbers of intermediate and expert skills and are recommended for those who want a true climbing experience rather than a difficult hike.