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At 22,834 feet (6,959 meters), Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere and one of the Seven Summits. Last January I arrived in Argentina to meet my climbing companions—12 men (it's not unusual to be the only woman on a climbing trip!). We ascended via Guanacos Valley, on the east side of the mountain, and summited on our 14th day. Aconcagua is notorious for its penitentes, the giant popsicles of ice pictured here that severely impeded our march to the top. Rather than curse them, I decided to study the pesky—or rather, lovely—obstacles with my camera. My photos of the penitentes are more appealing than my summit photos!
—Reader Megan Delehanty, 43
Certified Public Accountant
DIY: There are a few routes up Aconcagua, but Guanacos Valley is the most beautiful. I had a great experience with Aventuras Patagonicas (www.patagonicas.com), an international guide service that has been offering high-altitude mountaineering expeditions worldwide for 28 years. I climbed three peaks in Bolivia with Aventuras Patagonicas and hope to join them in Nepal for their first guided ascent of 26,906-foot (8,200-meter) Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world.
I like the strong diagonal line and the vibrant colors of these climbers working their way up through the snow. This photo is successful because it makes me want to see more of this unusual landscape.
—Bill Hatcher, photographer and author of the National Geographic Photography Field Guide: Action & Adventure
Pick up the May 2006 issue for 38 amazing family escapes, wild beaches, and cool festivals; Sebastian Junger's lessons from the road; and the best bikes for summer.
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