My trip trip to Argentina in January/February of 2003 was to climb Mount Aconcagua which is the highest mountain in north and south America. It is the second highest mountain of the famed "seven summits", which are the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, and it is second only to Everest in hight in the seven summit grouping. It is the highest mountain in the world outside of Asia. Aconcagua is located in the Andes mountain range near the border with Chile and it is in the leeward side of the trade winds that blow in from the Pacific Ocean over the Andes. Most of the moisture that comes in with those winds falls on the Chilean side of the Andes leaving only dry air which then creates a desert region of Argentina where Aconcagua is located. Strong, hot winds regularly blow through the valleys surrounding Aconcagua creating very dusty conditions at lower elevations. Since it rarely rains or snows in this area of the mountain range there is not much glacier coverage on Aconcagua and in mountaineering circles it is often referred to as "The Stone Sentinel" because of its mostly rocky, loose scree footing right up to the summit. There is only one glacier on the mountain, the "Polish" glacier, that can be easily traversed without any technical climbing skills. While Aconcagua does not require the technical mountaineering skills that a climb like Denali does, it still punches almost three thousand feet higher up than Denali which creates its own difficulties for climbers due to hypoxia. Hypoxia does not affect a climber in a linear fashion. It grows exponentially the higher you climb as do the effects of it and the three thousand foot higher elevation Aconcagua has over Denali is the difficulty that climbers face on the mountain. For my climb I hired "Canadian Himalayan Expeditions" to guide me up the mountain. It is a small company based in Toronto owned by Joe Pillar, a seasoned traveller born and raised in Toronto. I convinced Joe to arrange this climb of Aconcagua as he had never before set up a climbing expedition to this particular mountain but I trusted his expertise that he could put it all together. He did not disappoint our group in that regard. Even though Aconcagua is not a technical mountain it is still a very difficult mountain to climb and only three of the seven in our group made it to the summit on Valentines day, February 14th, 2003. My first digital camera was purchased the year after this trip and I shot these images with my last film camera, a Canon T-90, which took a beating in the dust, as did a small video camera I took with me. Regrettably, many of the negatives I have from that trip have not held up to storage well and the colours have shifted badly and some of the negatives are not useable. Those that remain that are usable are here and I've done my best to bring back the detail in them but regrettably a number of the images clearly show a lack of detail in the shadows and other colour imperfections that I cannot fix. As much as I was hesitant to include those images because of their poor image quality and my desire to only provide high quality photography on my website I decided that it was more important to show these images anyway because they represent my life of travel despite their poor quality. Aconcagua, and Argentina itself, is a beautiful area of South America that I would recommend to anyone looking to see a stunning part of the world in their next adventure and for the more adventurous among you, give a climb of this mountain a try.
© Steve Tambosso - "The Wandering Fireman"