Planning to climb Mt Aconcagua in Argentina? Want to know how many routes there are? Read our guide for facts & information on choosing the right route for you…
Aconcagua Routes for Ascending to the Summit
There are a number routes to the summit of Aconcagua Mountain. The three best known are the Normal Route, the Polish Direct Route and the Polish Traverse Route. These routes are all on the northern face of the mountain and are ideal for beginners and mountaineers of intermediate skill. The southern mountain face is a sheer 2800 foot wall of crumbling rock and presents a dangerous ascent for even the most experienced climbers. While commercial enterprises offer guided expeditions up the Normal Route, the Polish Direct and the Polish Traverse routes, those wishing to tackle the southern face are mostly on their own.
The Normal Route
The Normal Route was pioneered in 1883 by geologist, Paul Gussfeldt. It is more of a trek than a climb and requires no special equipment and minimal skills. Altitude sickness and weather conditions present the greatest challenges to would be climbers.
The Polish Traverse Route
The Polish Traverse Route presents greater challenges than the Normal Route, although it is still suited to beginners and intermediate climbers. From Base Camp 2, the Polish Traverse crosses the glacier to meet the Normal Route at Base Camp 3. The trek to the summit follows the normal route which is also used for the descent.
The Polish Direct Route
At Base Camp 2 the Polish Direct Route, which was created by Polish mountaineers in 1934, continues up the glacier in a relatively straight line meeting the Normal Route at the summit. This climb is not for beginners, but is a challenging climb for those with intermediate mountaineering skills.
The Southern Face
The southern face of Aconcagua has a desolate atmosphere and is plagued by high winds from base to summit. Dust storms, avalanches and rock falls are common. Only the most expert climbers even attempt ascents on the southern face and there are no commercial expeditions offered for these routes. There are two primary routes on the southern face of Aconcagua.
The French Route
The French Route is considered the easier of the two ascents, but it still presents a treacherous climb up the sheer mountain face. The French Route begins in a pile of rocks and rubble which have fallen off the mountain. This ascent is not merely a challenge, it offers the very real possibility of death and serious injury with little help available to climbers.
The Slovene Route
Many climbers with a high level of expertise consider the Slovene Route more like the suicide route. One climber said that the only reason to attempt such a climb would be as a desperate flight from dangerous enemies. The base of the Slovene Route is often used by climbers who traverse to the French Route further up the face since the Slovene Route has a more accessible base.
Climbers of all skill levels will find challenges on the many routes to the summit of the second highest mountain in the world.