Towering over western Argentina, in the part of the Andes mountains that borders Chile, Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in the Western hemisphere. Reaching 22,837 feet tall, and boasting some of the most extensive views of the Andes, Aconcagua has become one of the most popular mountains for active travel and tours—attracting an average of 3,500 people every year. In fact, it’s so impressive that many say it gives adventurous climbers a true taste of what it would be like to scale the Himalayas.
Perfect for a solo adventure, there are parts of Aconcagua that are easy to power through and others that are more difficult. While its main routes are considered some of the easiest to trek by avid climbers, its altitude (some call it “the highest trekking peak in the world!”) has made the summit too difficult for many climbers to reach. This is due to both the time it takes to hike the mountain and the weather facing climbers once they get there: the final 1,000+ meters to the peak are usually covered in ice and snow, and trekkers often need crampons and ice axes to get through them. That said, countless daring souls who have taken on the climb have made it to the top, and it is definitely doable for most skill levels and types of adventurers.
Ready to get your blood-pumping? Excited to see a new side of South America you wouldn’t see otherwise? Read below to find out basic information you need to know, and contact us at Surtrek to help you plan the Aconcagua adventure of your dreams.
(Remember: Here at Surtrek, our experienced guides want to save you the trouble of navigating active travel and tours on your own—we can even go with you and show you the way!)
There are three main routes to get to the top of Aconcagua: Normal, Polish Traverse and Polish Glacier. Read below to find out about each, and pick the one that works best for you!
Normal: Great for all skill levels, the Normal route is non-technical. It follows the mountain’s northwest ridge all the way to the summit, going through Horcones Valley, Confluencia, Nieve Penitentes, Piedras Blancas and Portezuelo del Viento. This route takes a total 17 days roundtrip.
Polish Traverse: Also called the “False Polish Glacier Route,” this stunning hike approaches the summit from the east side of the mountain. It takes hikers through Valle de las Vacas and Plaza Argentina, goes around the mountain, and eventually gets to the summit from Aconcagua’s northwest side. Bypassing the mountain’s glacier altogether, Polish Traverse is 20% longer than the other routes and faces harsher winter conditions. It finally joins forces with the Normal route for the last 1,000 meters of the hike. This route takes a total 20-21 days roundtrip.
Polish Glacier: This route is the hardest to climb. Different from the Polish Traverse route, this one cuts straight through the east side of the mountain. Here, you’ll be powering through steep ice slopes and heavy snow, so ice picks and crampons will be necessary. This route takes a total 20 days roundtrip.
The official Aconcagua climbing season runs from November 15th to March 31st every year. Within this, peak climbing season is from the middle of December to the end of January.
Inspired to try it for yourself? Contact Surtrek, the leader in South American adventure travel, and get your solo adventure in Argentina started.