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Aconcagua 2020 – Climbing the Polish Glacier Direct Route

A view of the summit of Aconcagua, the tallest peak in South America.

Normally, Alpenglow Expeditions Rapid Ascent™ teams climb the “360 route” on Aconcagua. The 360 route begins in Plaza de Argentina and ascends a less traveled route up the mountain, allowing our teams to move quickly by avoiding the crowds of the more popular Plaza de Mulas side of the peak. After attaining the summit, these teams descend the opposite side of the mountain ending their climb in Plaza de Mulas.


Climbing the Polish Glacier Direct Route on Aconcagua

In January of 2020 though, we have a single climber in a 1:1 guide ratio led by Esteban “Topo” Mena attempting a more difficult line called the “Polish Glacier direct route”. The climber, Justin, is training to attempt Mt Everest in a few short years. This is a big test for him and we’re stoked to see both of these guys attempting a more technical line. It’s important to note that they are climbing Aconcagua in Rapid Ascent style. Justin pre-acclimatized at home for 4 weeks so that he could move directly to base camp and get to business.


First Climbed in 1934

Named after a Polish team climbed the route on Aconcagua in 1934, this is a more technical line of ascension versus the normal route and should not be confused with the old “Polish traverse route” which is non-technical. The direct route goes up the center of the glacier and at its steepest section has some 60 degree snow and ice. The hard climbing begins at 6000m in elevation.


Team Progress on Aconcagua

As of January 31, Topo and Justin are in base camp (4206m) after having acclimatized a bit further. The following day they will be moving to camp 1, situated at 5000m. The following day they’ll move up to camp 2 at 6000m and spend one final night before attempting the summit push. The steep ice and snow occur above 6000m and will comprise the bulk of the difficulty on summit day.

We’re all watching closely and will update their progress with subsequent blogs.