Top Ten South American Mountains

Top Ten South American Mountains


  1. Aconagua, Argentina
    Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Americas at 6,960.8 m (22,837.3 ft). It is located in the Andes mountain range, in the province of Mendoza, Argentina, and lies 112 km (70 mi) northwest of its capital, the city of Mendoza. Aconcagua is the highest peak in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres. It is one of the Seven Summits. Aconcagua is bounded by the Valle de las Vacas to the north and east and the Valle de los Horcones Inferior to the West and South. The mountain and its surroundings are part of the Aconcagua Provincial Park. The mountain has a number of glaciers, with the largest being the Ventisquero Horcones Inferior at about 10 km long, which descends from the south face to about 3600 m altitude near the Confluencia camp. Two other large glacier systems are the Ventisquero de las Vacas Sur and Glaciar Este/Ventisquero Relinchos system at about 5 km long. The most well-known is the north-eastern or Polish Glacier, as it is a common route of ascent. The mountain was created by the subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American plate during the geologically recent Andean orogeny; but it is not a volcano. The origin of the name is contested; it is either from the Arauca Aconca-Hue, which refers to the Aconcagua River and means “comes from the other side,” the Quechua Ackon Cahuak, meaning “‘Sentinel of Stone,” or Quechua Anco Cahuac, “White Sentinel” or the Aymara Janq’u Q’awa, “White Ravine,” “White Brook.”
    Links: Top Ten Argentinian Attractions,,
  2. Monte Roraima, Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana
    Mount Roraima is the highest of the Pakaraima chain of tepui plateau in South America. First described by the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh in 1596, its 31 square km summit area is defended on all sides by tall cliffs rising 400 m (1,300 ft.). The mountain also serves as the triple border point of Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana. Mount Roraima lies on the Guiana Shield in the southeastern corner of Venezuela’s 30,000 square km (12,000 sq mi) Canaima National Park forming the highest peak of Guyana’s Highland Range. The tabletop mountains of the park are considered some of the oldest geological formations on Earth, dating back to some two billion years ago in the Precambrian. The highest point in Guyana and the highest point of the Brazilian state of Roraima lie on the plateau, but Venezuela and Brazil have higher mountains elsewhere. The mountain’s highest point is Maverick Rock, 2,810 m (9,219 ft.), at the south end of the plateau and wholly within Venezuela.
    Links: Top Ten Brazilian Attractions, Top Ten Venezuelan Attractions, Top Ten Guyanese Attractions, Top Ten National Wonders of the World, Top Ten Plateaus,,
  3. Yerupajá, Peru
    Yerupajá is a mountain of the Waywash mountain range in west central Peru, part of the Andes. At 6,635 m (21,768 ft.) it is the 2nd highest in Peru and the highest in the Waywash mountain range. The summit is the highest point in the Amazon River watershed, and was first reached in 1950 by Jim Maxwell and Dave Harrah, and its northern peak (Yerupajá Norte) in 1968 by the Wellingtonian Roger Bates and Graeme Dingle. The mountain’s local name is El Carnicero, which means The Butcher. This name refers to the knife-edge-sharpness of its summit ridge, and possibly to the climbers who have died trying to climb it. Many visitors consider Yerupajá to be the most spectacular peak in South America. There have been only a few successful ascents of the peak because it is one of the hardest Andean high peaks to climb. The most popular route is the southwest face. The approach is normally made from Huaraz southwards via Chiquián and Hawaqucha.
    Links: Top Ten Peruvian Attractions,,
  4. Alpamayo, Peru
    Alpamayo, Allpamayu (“earth river”) or Shuyturahu (“slim and long snow covered mountain”) is one of the most conspicuous peaks in the Cordillera Blanca of the Peruvian Andes. It is named after the river Allpamayu which originates northwest of it. It is a steep (sixty degrees), almost perfect pyramid of ice, one of a number of peaks that compose the Pukarahu massif, the northernmost massif of the Cordillera Blanca. Although smaller than many of its neighboring peaks, it is distinguished by its unusual formation and overwhelming beauty. It actually has two sharp summits, North and South, separated by a narrow corniced ridge. On July 1966, on the German magazine “Alpinismus,” a photo made by American photographer Leigh Ortenburger, came together with an article resulting from an international survey among climbers, photographers, etc., making the choice for Alpamayo as “The Most Beautiful Mountain in the World.”
    Links: Top Ten Peruvian Attractions,,
  5. Kapak Urku (El Altar), Ecuador
    El Altar or Kapak Urku, “sublime mountain,” is an extinct volcano on the western side of Sangay National Park in Ecuador, 170 km south of Quito. Spaniards named it so because it resembled two nuns and four friars listening to a bishop around a church altar.
    Links: Top Ten Ecuadoran Attractions,,
  6. Nevado del Huila, Colombia
    Nevado del Huila at 5,750 m (18,865 ft.), is the highest volcano in Colombia located in Huila Department, Tolima and Cauca Departments. After being dormant for more than 500 years, the volcano showed heavy signs of activity in 2007 and 2008. As of February 20, 2007, there were more than 7000 “minor” seismic events, and a high state of alert was in place for the departments of Cauca, Huila, Caldas and Valle del Cauca. The volcano erupted twice in April 2007, once in April 2008 and again in November 2008. Any eruption would affect the small villages around the volcano, mostly Paez, Cauca, where their inhabitants still have in memory the eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano and the destruction of Armero.
    Links: Top Ten Colombian Attractions,,
  7. Chimborazo, Ecuador
    Chimborazo is a currently inactive stratovolcano located in the Cordillera Occidental range of the Andes. Its last known eruption is believed to have occurred around 550 AD. With a peak elevation of 6,268 m (20,564 ft.), Chimborazo is the highest mountain in Ecuador. It is the highest peak in close proximity to the equator. While Chimborazo is not the highest mountain by elevation above sea level, its location along the equatorial bulge makes its summit the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center.
    Links: Top Ten Ecuadoran Attractions,,
  8. Pico da Neblina, Brazil
    Pico da Neblina (Mist Peak) is the highest mountain in Brazil, 2,994 m (9,823 ft,) above sea level, in the Serra da Neblina, Serra do Imeri, a section of the Guiana Highlands on the Brazil–Venezuela border. As determined by a border survey expedition in 1962, its summit lies just within Brazilian territory, at a horizontal distance of only 687 m (2,254 ft) from the Venezuelan border at Pico 31 de Março. As the peak’s name suggests, it is shrouded in dense clouds most of the time. It was first ascended in 1965 by members of a Brazilian Army expedition.
    Links: Top Ten Brazilian Attractions,,
  9. Cerro Marahuaca, Venezuela

    Cerro Marahuaca is a tepui in Amazonas state, Venezuela. It has an elevation of 2,832 m (9,291 ft.) above sea level and is the 2ndhighest mountain of the entire Guayana Shield (after the Cerro de la Neblina complex). Cerro Marahuaca shares a common base with the much larger Cerro Duida and together they form the Duida–Marahuaca Massif. Both tepuis are located entirely within the bounds of Duida–Marahuaca National Park. Cerro Marahuaca actually consists of two summit plateaus, the slightly larger northern one going by the Yekwana Amerindian name Fufha or Huha. The southern plateau is known by two local names; its northwestern edge is called Fuif or Fhuif, whereas its southeastern portion is called Atahua’shiho or Atawa Shisho. A massive ridge known as Cerro Petaca rises to at least 2,700 m (8,900 ft) just west of these two plateaus. Cerro Marahuaca has a total summit area of 121 km2 (47 sq mi) and an estimated slope area of 325 km2 (125 sq mi).
    Links: Top Ten Venezuelan Attractions,,
  10. Pico Cristóbal Colón and Pico Simón Bolívar, Colombia
    Pico Cristóbal Colón is the highest mountain in Colombia, with an estimated height of 5,700 m (18,700 ft.). It is also the 5th most prominent in the world. The nearest peak that is higher is Cayambe, some 1,288 km (800 mi) away. There is a permanent snowcap on this peak and on the nearby mountains. It is part of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range, along with Pico Simón Bolívar. The peak is named after Christopher Columbus. Pico Cristóbal Colón and Pico Simón Bolívar are the two highest peaks in Colombia and are very nearly equal in elevation. It is possible that nearby Pico Simón Bolívar is higher than Pico Cristóbal Colón. If so, then Pico Simón Bolívar is the true highest mountain in Colombia and the 5th most prominent in the world. Pico Cristóbal Colón was first climbed in 1939 by W. Wood, A. Bakerwell and E. Praolini.
    Links: Top Ten Colombian Attractions,,
  11. Illimani, Bolivia

           Illimani (from Aimara, meaning “golden eagle”) is the highest mountain in the Cordillera Real (part of the Cordillera Oriental, a subrange of the Andes) of western Bolivia. It lies just south of La Paz at the eastern edge of the Altiplano. It is the 2nd highest peak in Bolivia, after Nevado Sajama, and the 18th highest peak in South America. The snow line lies at about 4,570 m (15,000 ft.) above sea level, and glaciers are found on the northern face at 4,983 m (16,350 ft.). The mountain has four main peaks; the highest is the south summit, Nevado Illimani, which is a popular ascent for mountain climbers. Geologically, Illimani is composed primarily of granodiorite, intruded during the Cenozoic era into the sedimentary rock which forms the bulk of the Cordillera Real. Illimani is quite visible from the city of La Paz and is its major landmark. The mountain has been the subject of many local songs, most importantly “Illimani,” with the following refrain: “¡Illimani, Illimani, sentinela tu eres de La Paz! ¡Illimani, Illimani, patrimonio eres de Bolivia!”
    Links: Top Ten Bolivian Attractions,,
  12. Huayna Potosí, Bolivia

            Huayna Potosí is a mountain in Bolivia, located about 25 km north of La Paz in the Cordillera Real. Huayna Potosí is the closest high mountain to La Paz, a city which is surrounded by high mountains, and itself is the highest capital city in the world. Huayna Potosí is roughly 15 miles due north of the city, which makes this mountain the most popular climb in Bolivia. The normal ascent route is a fairly straightforward glacier climb, with some crevasses and a steep climb to the summit. However, the other side of the mountain, Huayna Potosí West Face, is the biggest face in Bolivia. Several difficult snow and ice routes goes up this 1,000 m high face. The first ascent of the normal route took place in 1919 by Germans Rudolf Dienst and Adolf Schulze. Some climbing books report this mountain as the “easiest 6,000er in the world,” but this claim is arguable. The easiest route entails an exposed ridge and sections of moderately steep ice, with a UIAA rating of PD. There are many 6,000 m mountains that are easier to climb in terms of technical difficulty. Perhaps, the main reason Huayna Potosí has been called the easiest 6000 m climb is that the elevation gain from trailhead to summit is less than 1400 m; with easy access from La Paz. Since La Paz is at 3,640 m, climbers have an easier time acclimatizing.
    Links: Top Ten Bolivian Attractions,,
  13. Cotopaxi, Ecuador
    Cotopaxi is a stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains, located about 28 km (17 mi) south of Quito, Ecuador, South America. It is the 2nd highest summit in the country, reaching a height of 5,897 m (19,347 ft.) and is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Since 1738, Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times, resulting in the creation of numerous valleys formed by lahars (mudflows) around the volcano.
    Links: Top Ten Ecuadoran Attractions, Top Ten Volcanoes,,
  14. Cordillera del Paine, Chile
    The Cordillera del Paine is a small mountain group in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. It is located 280 km (170 mi) north of Punta Arenas, and about 1,960 km south of the Chilean capital Santiago. It belongs to the Commune of Torres del Paine in Última Esperanza Province of Magallanes and Antártica Chilena Region. No accurate surveys have been published, and published elevations have been claimed to be seriously inflated, so most of the elevations given on this page are approximate.
    Links: Top Ten Chilean Attractions,,
  15. Tupungato, Argentina
    Tupungato, one of the highest mountains in the Americas, is a massive Andean stratovolcano dating to Pleistocene times. It lies on the border between the Chilean Metropolitan Region (near a major international highway about 80 km (50 mi) east of Santiago) and the Argentine province of Mendoza, about 100 km (62 mi) south of Aconcagua, the highest peak of both the Southern and Western Hemispheres. Immediately to its southwest is the active Tupungatito volcano, which last erupted in 1987. The mountain gives its name to the Tupungato Department, an important Argentine wine producing region in the Mendoza province.
    Links: Top Ten Argentinian Attractions,,
  16. Nevado Sajama, Bolivia
    Nevado Sajama is an extinct stratovolcano and the highest peak in Bolivia. The mountain is located in the Oruro Department, Sajama Province, Curahuara de Carangas Municipality, Sajama Canton. It is situated in the Sajama National Park in the southwest area of the country some 16–24 km (10-15 mi) from the border with Chile. The peak is an isolated cone, but is geologically complex, with lava domes of andesitic and rhyodactic composition overlain by an andesitic stratovolcano. The treeline of Polylepis tarapacana on the volcano is as high as 5,200 m above sea level, one of the highest altitudes trees can be found growing anywhere in the world. From the village of Sajama an acclimatized team can climb the mountain in two or three days if weather conditions are favorable. Currently the easiest of the routes is the SW ridge. This route is technically easy, require some minimal mountaineering equipment and does not present any particular difficulty except some snow slopes up to 45 degrees. In August 2001, two teams of Sajama villagers and Bolivian mountain guides played a soccer match on top of Mount Sajama in an effort to show that altitude itself is not a limitation to physical strain. Indeed, the objective was to protest against the FIFA decision to discontinue the use of La Paz as a location to hold international football matches, because of its very high elevation.
    Links: Top Ten Bolivian Attractions,,
  17. Coropuna, Peru
    Coropuna is the largest and highest volcano in Peru, attaining an elevation of 6,425 m (21,079 ft.). It is located about 150 km (90 mi) northwest of Arequipa, the 2nd largest city in Peru. Three summits have over 300 m of prominence, the true summit, 6,425 m, is at the northwest corner of the plateau. The southwest summit Kasulla (Casulla) has an elevation of 6,377 m, but may be equal or greater in height depending on the depth of seasonal snow. A further summit with over 300 m prominence is Coropuna E, 6,307 m high. A permanent ice cap of about 130 square km (50 sq mi) in area covers the summit region, extending down to roughly 5,300 m (17,400 ft.) on the north side and 4,800 m (15,700 ft.) on the south. The name Coropuna means “shrine on the plateau” in Quechua. Coropuna was and still is one of the most sacred mountains in Peru, and in 1553 its temple was claimed to be the 5th most important shrine in the Inca Empire by the chronicler, Cieza de Leon. In 1982 the Peruvian archaeologist José Antonio Chávez was able to briefly visit an Inca site called Achaymarka (Achaymarca), which he felt was a likely candidate to be the temple of Coropuna. In 1989 Chávez and Johan Reinhard led an expedition to visit Achaymarka and surveyed the central ruins at 4,030 m (13,222 ft.), which was part of a complex of over 200 structures, including an ushnu, an Inca ceremonial platform. They also traced an Inca trail up to 5,500 m (18,044 ft) on the western slope of the mountain, where it disappeared beneath the glacier ice. Along this trail was an Inca site at 5,090 m (16,699 ft.) that they named Aqukancha (Ajocancha). In 1996 they organized another expedition which found wool and llama bones at 5,760 m (18,897 ft), llama bones and shards at 5,947 m (19,511 ft), and wood at 6,200 m (20,341 ft), providing evidence of pre-Columbian ascents. Another large Inca site, Mawk’allaqta, has been investigated by Peruvian and Polish archaeologists in recent years. It lies several km to the east of Achaymarka at the head of a separate drainage system and also contains an ushnu and numerous structures. Thus two “temples” of primary importance had been established by the Incas on the slopes of Coropuna.
    Links: Top Ten Peruvian Attractions,,
  18. Tronador, Argentina and Chile
    Tronador is an extinct stratovolcano in the southern Andes, located along the border between Argentina and Chile near the city of Bariloche. The mountain was named Tronador (Spanish for Thunderer) by locals in reference to the sound of falling seracs. With an altitude of 3,470 m, Tronador stands more than 1000 m above nearby mountains in the Andean massif, making it a popular mountaineering destination. Located inside two National Parks, Nahuel Huapi in Argentina and Vicente Pérez Rosales in Chile, Tronador hosts a total of eight glaciers, which are currently retreating due to warming of the upper troposphere.
    Links: Top Ten Argentinian Attractions, Top Ten Chilean Attractions, Top 100 Birds,,
  19. Monte Pissis, Argentina

    Monte Pissis is an extinct volcano in La Rioja Province, Argentina. The mountain is the third-highest in the Western Hemisphere, and is located about 550 km (340 mi) north of Aconcagua. Monte Pissis is named after Pedro José Amadeo Pissis, a French geologist who worked for the Chilean government. Due to its location in the Atacama Desert, the mountain has very dry conditions but there is an extensive glacier (with crevasses, which is unique in the region).
    Links: Top Ten Argentinian Attractions,,
  20. Huascarán, Peru
    Huascarán or Nevado Huascarán is a mountain in the Peruvian province of Yungay, situated in the Cordillera Blanca range of the western Andes. The highest southern summit of Huascarán (Huascarán Sur) is the highest point in Peru, and in all of the Earth’s Tropics. Huascarán is the 4th highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere after Aconcagua, Ojos del Salado, and Monte Pissis. The mountain was named after Huáscar, a 16th century Inca chieftain who was the Sapa Inca of the Inca empire. The mountain has two distinct summits, the higher with an elevation of 6,768 m (22,205 ft.). Huascarán gives its name to Huascarán National Park which surrounds it, and is a popular location for trekking and mountaineering. Huascarán is normally climbed from the village of Musho to the west via a high camp in the col that separates the two summits, known as La Garganta. The ascent normally takes 5–7 days, the main difficulties being the large crevasses that often block the route. The Huascarán summit is one of the points on the Earth’s surface farthest from the Earth’s center, closely behind the farthest point, Chimborazo in Ecuador. The summit of Huascarán is the place on Earth with the smallest gravitational force.
    Links: Top Ten Peruvian Attractions,,
  21. Links: Mountains,