Images of Ojos del Salado (left) and Aconcagua (right) by Cedric Larcher.
Climber on Ojos del Salado altitude controversy: Aconcagua is tallest - beyond doubt

Posted: Dec 15, 2006 01:20 pm EST
( Two weeks ago we ran the story about a controversy flying in Chilean media, regarding Ojos del Salado possibly being higher than Aconcagua, and also the only 7000er in America.

Local Andes Magazine quoted René Gajardo, the first Chilean to summit Ojos del Salado in 1956, who reportedly measured its central summit to 7.084 m and doubted other topographic studies done on the mountain.

Summiteer Janne Corax: Article of interest only to the ignorant

Andes Magazine published other testimonies as well, and concluded with a call for climbers and researchers to organize an expedition in order to properly measure the peak and clear up the question once and for all.

ExplorersWeb mentioned that the claims are far from proven, and also noted that there have been several meassuring expeditions both on Aconcagua and Ojos del Salado. One who climbed and measured both is Janne Corax, and he's pretty annoyed with the entire debate. "This article may be of interest for those who have no clue on the subject," he wrote in an email to ExplorerWeb after the story broke.

"Altitudes correct beyond any reasonable doubt"

"The two peaks, as well as Pissis (which for a long time was considered higher than Ojos del Salado) have been measured time and time again. Personally, I have summited all three peaks, plus a side peak of Pissis (which is almost of the same elevation as the main, just to be sure). On top of that I also climbed Bonete Chico, which on some maps is given at 6852m. All in order to find out the truth about these peak's altitudes."

No further measurements needed

"It's beyond any reasonable doubt they're measured to correct altitudes, give or take 3-15 meters on each of them. The difference in between all four peaks are large enough to rule out a list with a new order. On top of that SRTM data is ok for this area and the discrepancies between these and GPS readings are small."

"It sounds like this article in Los Andes magazine is nothing but incredibly ignorant speculation."

The world's highest Holocene volcano, Nevados Ojos del Salado, rises to aprox. 6887m (depending on the source) along the border between Chile and Argentina. The massive volcanic complex contains numerous craters, cones, and lava domes. No historical eruptions have been recorded, but the volcano is fumarolically active.

Due to its location near the Atacama desert, the mountain has very dry conditions with snow only remaining on the peak during winter. The ascent is mostly a hike except for the final section to the summit which is a difficult scramble that may require ropes. The first ascent was made in 1937 by Polish Jan Alfred Szczepañski and Justyn Wojsznis.

In 1989 a team from the University of Padua in Italy, aided by Argentinean climbers and geologists, surveyed both Aconcagua and Ojos del Salado, measuring them with GPS.

Ojos del Salado was determined to be 6 900m. (22,637 ft), and Aconcagua 6 962m. (22,841 ft) - with a possible error of plus/minus five metres (16 ft). None of the measurements were high precision however, so the debate continues.