Monday, September 30, 2013

Aconcagua in Popular Culture

As the Aconcagua season ramps up, we decided to take a look at the "Stone Sentinel" and it's impact on popular culture. Most of you are aware that the peak is the world's highest mountain outside of central Asia and, as such, is the tallest mountain in the Americas. It stands at 22,842 feet (6962 meters) in Argentina, just a few miles east of the Chilean border. The mountain is about 225 air miles northeast of Santiago and 600 miles west of Buenos Aires.

The South Face of Aconcagua
Photo by Andy Bourne

Aconcagua has become incredibly popular over the last few years. While cold and high, the standard routes are not terribly technical. The result is that climbers from all over the world and of all ability levels come to the mountain in search of a high altitude experience on one of the Seven Summits.

For non-climbers, Aconcagua is a somewhat obscure mountain. Unlike Mount Everest or K2, the tallest mountain in the Americas has not seared itself into the public consciousness. But that doesn't mean that it hasn't poked around in popular culture. Cerro Aconcagua has made appearances in a Disney cartoon, a feature length film and in a video game.

In 1942, Disney produced a short cartoon about a small plane that must face "the terrors of Aconcagua." This cartoon, which was originally designed for a Spanish speaking audience was re-dubbed for English speakers. The premiere of the cartoon in the United States was likely the first time that the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere was introduced to North Americans on a large scale.

In the cartoon a small plane with the characteristics of a small child is charged with bringing the mail over the Andes. The plane must pass by a very steep looking and angry anthropomorphic Aconcagua. As is the case with all Disney stories, things turn out well for the little plane.

In 1964, a full-length color Argentine adventure movie called Aconcagua made its way to the silver screen. The film was directed by Leo Fleider and written by Norberto Aroldi.Aconcagua started the popoular Argentinean actor, Tito Alonso. The film was distributed by Gloria Films and premiered in Buenos Aires on June 18, 1964. This is a very difficult film to find. And should one find it, it's highly unlikely that it will be subtitled, much less dubbed.

In the year 2000 a Playstation video game entitled Aconcagua was released in Japan. The premise of the game seems to be a mix of Piers Paul Read's book, Alive and Sylvester Stalone's 1993 film, Cliffhanger. So in other words, plane crash survivors in the Andes meet gun-toting maniacs. To see a preview of the video game, please view the following video.

Aconcagua sees thousands of ascents every year and is slowly building a reputation amongst non-climbers. A combination of the popularity of the seven summits and the sheer number of people who have climbed the mountain makes it likely that Aconcagua will have a future in popular culture.

We will be running a handful of trips to Aconcagua this winter. To read about them, click here.

--Jason D. Martin

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