Aconcagua Peak Trek
Cerro Aconcagua, the jagged, humpbacked peak is the tallest mountain in the Western and Southern hemispheres or anywhere else outside of Asia. The 18 day itinerary achieves the perfect balance for both acclimatisation time & summit success. The trip is ideal for climbers who have already done a few high altitude trips and want to take their adventurous selves to the highest trekking peak in the world.
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Challenging
Group Size Medium Group
Cerro Aconcagua, the jagged, humpbacked peak is the tallest mountain in the Western and Southern hemispheres or anywhere else outside of Asia. Yet, if you follow the popular Normal Route on the north west side, you can potentially make the long slog to the top without using crampons or ropes at all.
With plenty of acclimatisation built in, this 18 day itinerary achieves the perfect balance for both acclimatisation time and summit success. The trip is ideal for climbers who have already done a few high altitude trips and want to take their adventurous selves to the highest trekking peak in the world.
Our expedition begins in Mendoza, Argentina. On your arrival at the international airport, you will be received and driven to your Hotel. A group meeting will follow and you will be introduced to your guides and team members.
Mendoza - Penitentes (2720 M)
After breakfast we will go to get the entrance fee at the Aconcagua Park Office. After organizing our luggage, we will be driven along a picturesque road to the mountain. 3 hours of travel brings us to Villa Los Penitentes, where we stay at a Hotel in the mountains. In the afternoon, we prepare the equipment for transportation to the base camp by mules.
Penitentes - Confluencia (3390 M)
Today, we drive to Horcones, Aconcagua Park Entrance, where we get our first view of the mountain. After permits are checked at the Ranger station we then head off to Confluencia, at 3390m. Once there, organize your personal gear, drink some tea and enjoy dinner.
Confluencia - Confluencia (Acclimatization Trek To Plaza Francia) (3390m)
Day for acclimatizing better and increasing your chances to summit. We’ll trek for about 5 hours until we arrive to Plaza Francia (4200M) with a view of the impressive Aconcagua South Wall. One of the nicest points of the expedition for a breathtaking first view of Aconcagua that you will never forget. Return to Confluencia for the night.
Confluencia – Plaza De Mulas (Base Camp) (4250 M)
We will begin our second approaching day trekking into Plaza de Mulas, the base camp for our expedition. Early in the morning we start our walk across ”Playa Ancha” (meaning wide beach) it’s a deserted and always windy valley. We slowly gain altitude walking up to the Horcones Superior Valley. After 8-9 hours hiking across Playa Ancha and climbing up through a very steep path; ”Cuesta Brava” (meaning Rugged Slope), we reach Plaza de Mulas, at 4250 m. By the end of the day most of us will feel the altitude.
Plaza De Mulas (Rest Day) (4250m)
The first day in Base Camp is always a rest day. This is a good opportunity to familiarize yourself with the Camp, take a shower and explore the area. We get together with the guides, do a medical checkup, reorganize and review the equipment, prepare the loads and organize food for transportation for the next day. This is the time to get to know the climbers from other parts of the world and to meet the people that work in the camps.
Advanced Base Camp to Summit (4575m) and back to Khulara Base Camp 3-4 hrs
Wake up early to be up on the summit to see the sunrise on wide Himalayan panorama. Loads of photo opportunity ! The walk up to the summit at 4575m would take a couple of hours and we descend to be in time for hot lunch at base camp. Evening party !!!
Plaza De Mulas (Load Ferry To Camp 1) (4250m)
The following morning we will carry some of our equipment and food to Camp 1, called ”Plaza Canada”(5050M). We keep our backpacks light and carry as little as possible in order to be able to gradually adapt to the altitude. During the load transportation to camp 1, we reach a level of 5050 m. It is very important to maintain the acclimatisation of our body to altitude. we return to Plaza de Mulas for the night
Plaza De Mulas (Rest Day) (4250m)
After the hard day of carrying and climbing, we rest and recover our energy at Base Camp. We want everyone to have the best possible chance to acclimatize and summit.
Plaza De Mulas - Plaza Canada (5050 M)
After breakfast we start our ascent to Camp 1. Walk 5-6 hours on easy terrain to reach Camp 1 (5000 mt). We meet with the supplies that we brought the day before, assemble the camp and then divide load for following days of carry. Rest and dinner.
Plaza Canada - Nido De Condores (5560 M)
On this day, we move from Plaza Canada to Camp 2 named “Nido de Cóndores” at 5560m. This is when we start enjoying the real beauty of high altitude, ascending more and more, surrounded by a spectacular view of the Andes.
Nido De Condore-Nido De Condore-Load Ferry(5560m)
On this day, we carry equipment to Camp 3 called Plaza Colera (6000 m). This routine helps us keep our backpacks as light as possible and fundamentally to continue with our gradual acclimatization to higher altitude. After carrying the equipment up, we return to Camp 2 to sleep
Nido De Condores - Plaza Colera (6000m)
Early in the morning, after breakfast and after disassembling our tents, we start ascending to Camp 3. Plaza Colera sits at the same altitude as the Berlin refuge, strategically situated for its altitude and cover from winds. From there, we have unforgettable views of the highest peaks of the Central Andes. We set up our last high altitude camp here. The Guide individually reviews each member of the group and gives his final recommendations. We also plan the final strategies for the last day of ascension to assure success in reaching the summit. We have dinner and rest
Plaza Colera - Plaza Colera (Summit Day) (6000m)
The day begins at 5:00 am. This is the most demanding day of our expedition. We continue north and join the Normal Route at 6200m. We continue on the Normal Route up to Independence Refuge (6500 m). This is normally where we see the first sun rays of the day. We ascend the ”PortezuelodelViento” where we can experience strong winds, even on calm days. From here on we pass by the superior part of the Western face and climb ”La Canaleta”, a 300 m channel that takes us to edge of the summit. From here we go through the Filo del Guanaco, which leads us to the summit. From the ”Filo del Guanaco” we can directly observe under our feet the Southern Wall of the Aconcagua, considered one of the largest faces in the world. An indescribable feeling of satisfaction takes over as we reach the summit at 6961 m, where the prize is waiting for us; a 360° view and the experience of achievement that you only finally understand once you reach it. After sharing these moments of accomplishment and emotion with our expedition mates we then descend to camp 3.
We consider these two days spare days in case of bad weather. If we do not use them, we can stay at Base Camp to rest and enjoy the mountain.
Return to Plaza de Mulas (4250 m)
Return from Camp 3 to Base Camp. We will have a special reception and have a celebration dinner.
Descent to Penitentes and back to Mendoza
We have breakfast and then start the descent from Plaza de Mulas to Penitentes. There is a private transport waiting to take us to the hotel in Mendoza City. DAY
Descent to Penitentes and back to Mendoza
Breakfast at the hotel. End of of a Fantastic Trek!
See you next time 🙂
We believe that along with the privilege of adventure in the Himalaya comes a serious responsibility, the responsibility to protect and contribute to its ecology, cultures and its tremendous beauty. The “Leave No Trace” philosophy is followed to the letter and we work to minimize the environmental impact of our trips. We are scrupulous in our camping, cooking and sanitation practices; we limit the number of trekkers we allow to join us on our trips and the number of trips we lead in a given area.
In wilderness, commercial agreements between service provider and client require a depth of understanding that is more than what is routinely attached to similar agreements elsewhere. In the outdoors, we have to balance pursuit of stated objective and risk. We try to overcome risk and deliver the objective promised in the agreement between client and service provider. But that does not mean that we ignore risk altogether to chase an objective. We wish you to be informed on what makes a trip safe for you and everyone else.
Please take a few minutes to read the following:
The nature of wilderness
By definition wilderness implies remoteness. It means that response to any accident or mishap takes time. Timely intervention is a life saver. Working back from this, it becomes imperative that any commercial adventure in wilderness be conservative in terms of the risk it courts. Yet adventure means there will be risk. The way out is to manage the risk involved in such a fashion that a safe experience is provided. There are a few things that the client can do.
Prepare in advance
Commercial expeditions entail strain even if others are carrying your load and doing the team’s work. Prior physical conditioning – particularly of the cardiovascular sort contributing to improved endurance – helps. Please invest time and effort for that before embarking on the trip. It will help you in the field.
Be honest, speak up
We encourage clients to be honest about how they are feeling on expedition days; voice any personal difficulties they may be experiencing. This helps the team make relevant decisions for clients’ well being, something crucial when venturing into altitude. Not all of us are meant for altitude. If your physiology rebels, there is nothing to be ashamed of it. Speak up. Make sure that your disclosures about self are not biased by an objective you are feverishly trying to achieve like getting to the summit of a peak or crossing a high pass at any cost. Don’t let summit fever and similar instances of extreme personal ambition, consume you. It puts you and your support team at risk. Stay with the team’s assessment of risk. Go with the resultant decisions. If you think you have a point to make by all means do so. We will hear you out. But risk assessment and decisions, will be by the team leaders as the onus of a safe expedition primarily rests with them.
Let the leaders work
You may be familiar with rivers, mountains and altitude. We don’t wish to question that. But there are reasons why many of us choose to go as clients. One of them is that our primary vocation is something else, while those working in the mountains as guides have chosen to make that their primary vocation or at the very least, dedicate time to it. More than us, they are in the mountains. They are alive to it. That’s why we entrust our passage to them. So, please let them work free of interference. Please don’t influence their judgement. Your expedition needs their best work and best judgement. In any expedition, leadership style will vary with the risk being tackled in a given situation. There will be times when we can travel easy in a very consultative fashion. There will be times when that is not advisable and a more directive style may be adopted by your guides. Please comply.
Be open to alternatives
We can set up the best safety systems possible, checking and double checking to make sure that nothing is left to chance. But we don’t control or totally overcome variables like weather and terrain / river conditions. They impact expedition’s progress. If team leaders review / alter plan citing concerns on any front, we request that it be respected and not viewed as money’s worth denied even if it dims prospects for achieving an expedition’s original goal. Such challenges are frequent in the outdoors. Seasoned trekkers and climbers, when they realize that a particular objective does not seem achievable on a given trip, learn to be happy with other pursuits to compensate – like staying camped and enjoying the mountain environment or attempting more doable hikes from wherever they are. We request you to stay aware of these possibilities. Be open to them. Decades ago when exploration and first ascents were happening in the Himalaya, the explorers / mountaineers / hikers devoted months to their work. Committed outdoorsmen still do. They wait out unfavourable circumstances by having a lot of time and patience. Time is what the modern world does not have even as the mountains remain the same, posing the same challenges; the same risk, the same unpredictable circumstances. An exceptionally lucky circumstance may deliver success. But luck isn’t commonplace. We should be mentally prepared for the above mentioned alternatives.
If you don’t achieve your objective it isn’t the end of the world. Be patient, another chance will emerge. There is a simple reminder, climbers often tell their colleagues leaving for a summit: “ the mountain will always be there; make sure you are there.’’
In other words – be safe.
Our expedition trips are designed for energetic and flexible people who have the spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. Previous experience in the outdoors and camping helps, though is not a must. These trips are participatory in nature, and everyone is expected to pitch in, set up and break down their own tent, clean their own dishes. Look up our trip grading before you sign up.
Grading of Trips
We have graded our trips in four different categories and you should choose one that suits you the most. Grading of each trip has been done keeping in mind a lot of factors like the trip duration, the altitude, the terrain, the no. of hours of activity everyday, temperatures and conditions encountered, and the level of fitness needed. Any kind of exercise which gets you fitter before this trip is advisable, as it will enable you to enjoy the region more.
- Easy : Most of our camp based trips, with easy activities, that are optional and involve fairly easy travel. Trips may include short hikes of two to three hours or optional walks at low elevations. Includes less demanding whitewater trips with easy support and myriad options.
- Moderate : Active trips involving hiking over reasonable terrain, within vehicular access, upto elevations less than 4000 meters, or trips with long walking days, multiple rafting days, wilderness camping. Includes more demanding whitewater trips with Class III rapids.
- Demanding : Hiking and trekking to elevations exceeding 4000-5000 meters, away from vehicular access, over multiple days. Encompasses demanding whitewater with Class IV rapids.
- Challenging : Our most demanding trips include climbing at high elevations in excess of 5000 meters, in remote and extreme conditions with no access to roads; trips to remote, extreme wilderness; mountaineering trips, and demanding whitewater trips with Class IV-V rapids.
The Next Step
Ready to go? Email us at [email protected] to book your place and we will guide you through the booking process. Please sign and scan/email us your booking form and inform us about the status of your payments at the time of confirming the trip (Booking form and Payment details below).
Why travel with Aquaterra Adventures?
We are a pioneer in active adventure travel, and run the most number of rivers in India, having opened them up over the past several years. We set the standard and have a strong reputation for excellence. We have a lot to live up to and we ensure we provide the safest, quality trips for our guests.
Should you wish to contact any of our past guests for a trip reference, write to us.
In remote regions, we often use local suppliers who provide services that may include vehicles for transportation, equipment, logistical support, hotels, guest houses etc. We do not own or operate these independent services or suppliers. We work with them as they share our commitment to service and quality.
- All travel from Mendoza airport in Argentina & back
- All arrangements for staying and camping while on trip
- Meals as per plan detailed
- Accommodation on twin sharing basis in tents/ hotel or in a dormitory at confluencia & base camp
- All group climbing gear (ropes, anchors, slings, etc.)
- Individual climbing gear – hired (ice axe, crampons & harness only)
- Safe drinking water
- Peak fee/sanctuary fee/royalty/permits where applicable
- Portage upto 30kg/person upto base camp
- Flight prices not included in the above-mentioned cost
- Sleeping bag
- Bottled water
- Items of personal clothing & equipment
- Expenses of personal nature (laundry/phone calls/alcohol/cigarettes/ camera fee/etc.)
- Any costs arising out of unforseen circumstances such as bad weather/landslides/road conditions/any other circumstances beyond our control
- Tips and gratuities (we recommend 5-10% of your trip cost – to be distributed among the team) – personal choice
- Travel & cancellation insurance
- Rescue costs or other costs due to the abandonment of the expedition. (riding mule, pack mule, individual transfers, helicopter flight, extra nights, meals, extra costs for changes in your flight ticket, personal porter service, etc. – it is recommended to take out insurance to cover these expenses).
- Personal expenses (tips, laundry, phone, drinks, satellite phone, internet access, showers and porters)
- Extra nights in hotel in case of early return to the city/ in case you don’t use the “spare days” and decide to come back to mendoza.
- Meals and drinks not specified in the itinerary. E.g.: lunches and dinners in mendoza or uspallata.
Portage on the trip is divided in 4 parts:
- From HORCONES VALLEY Park’s Entrance to Plaza de Mulas’s BASE CAMP
You will have to carry your small personal backpack with water (at least 2 liters), snacks, hat, sunglasses, an extra jacket, sunscreen, buff, gloves, etc.
- At Plaza de Mulas’ BASE CAMP and before you definitely move to CAMP 01
Before you actually ascent to CAMP 01, all participants should segment their luggage again and take out only their high altitude gear – we will use it from base camp to the Summit.
We meet this gear at Base Camp E.g.: ice axe, crampons, double plastic boots, etc.
- From Plaza Mulas’ BASE CAMP to CAMP 03
You will be required to carry – without exception – your personal gear “High Altitude Gear” + an equal share of the COMMON EQUIPMENT (Food, fuel, stoves and cooks utensils). Each member will have to carry as “common equipment” the maximum of 10 kilos. So, including the personal equipment, the total backpack weight to carry will be approx 15 to 20kg.
REGULAR PORTER SERVICE In our services, we included 1 porter every 4 persons (to carry up to 20kilos) This porter will be in charge to carry the team waste, trash, and the double tents.
The intention is to lighten the loads to be carried, prioritizing to double tents, personal waste, and the garbage it will be generated in the high camps, also, if they are available extra kilos they will help as well in lightening the rest of the things you necessarily must carry plus your personal gear, what we called “common equipment: food, fuel, stoves, kitchen sets”.
PORTERS can not offer their work, above CAMP 03.
- From CAMP03 (Cólera) to Aconcagua’s SUMMIT
Most of your personal equipment+ the common equipment will remain at CAMP 03.. The day you push the summit you will return to sleep there. PARTICIPANTS Will be required to reach the summit with their small backpack (with the basic elements).
Personal Porter Service:
If you need help with moving your loads, you can hire a personal porter.
If you need personal porters it is recommended to book them in advance to ensure availability. The porter service includes the transportation to high camps for up to 20 kg. We also offer half porter services, which are up to 10kg.
You should be aware that even if you hire the porter service for your personal equipment, you will not be exempted to carry your own backpack from Camp 3 to summit. Basically, you will transport water, snacks, hat, cap, gloves, sunscreen, camera, sunglasses, goggles, buff, and the bag should have enough space for keeping your duvet jacket in case that at some point in the day do not feel comfortable to use.
Booking conditions: All bookings are subject to availability of space at Camp. We book space on a 100% advance. All payments by wire transfer, cash or cheque/draft in favor of “Aquaterra Adventures (I) Pvt. Ltd.”
Tips & Gratuities: Our recommendation is a minimum 5-10% of your trip cost for tips to be distributed amongst the team that makes your adventure safe and successful. This includes drivers, guides, cook, kitchen team, porters and horsemen. Of course, this remains a personal choice.
If it becomes necessary to cancel your tour, you must notify Aquaterra Adventures India Pvt. Ltd. immediately in writing. Once we receive your notice, cancellation will take effect. Please note that the following charges will apply on cancellation:
- if cancellation takes place more than 45 days prior to departure, your full deposit
- will be returned except a processing charge of Rs. 5000 or US$ 77 ; (60 days for Brahmaputra trip)
- if cancellation takes place between 45 and 30 days prior to departure, 50% of the
- tour price will be forfeited (between 60 and 30 days for Brahmaputra trip); and
- if cancellation takes place less than 30 days prior to departure, 100% of the tour price will be forfeited.
Some trips attract a minimum processing charge – please check.
The tour price is quoted as a package. No partial refunds or credit will be given for services not used. We recommend that you obtain travel insurance upon booking.
The aconcagua normal route technically presents steep slides that you can ascend walking and easy snow slopes. It is not necessary to use hands or security ropes. It is not necessary to rock or ice climbing experience.
Some camping experience, trekking and basic knowledge of mountaineering will increase the summit chances. Depending on weather conditions and the snow amount, the use of crampons will be needed. The guide will teach how to use them at base camp. On the summit day, we have the most demanding part of the expeditions. There is a snow traverse approximate 300mts before reaching the canaleta base. This snow used to be frozen so crampons are essential to cross it. The guide will evaluate the group’s skills and the snow conditions. If it’s necessary he will use a security rope. Less than the 10% of the expeditions need rope assistance.
Risks: the altitude and weather are the major difficulties that these routes present. The altitude is responsible for most of the emergency evacuations. This is the reason why we are so careful with acclimatization including on our programs the “climb high, sleep low” principle. We include trekking and carrying of the equipment to high camps. This will keep the backpack weight lighter in order to keep energy for the summit day. On the other hand, if we have bad weather conditions, this issue can be minimized by the good equipment. The first day of the expeditions the guide will check all the gear and if it is necessary he will assist the climber on the renting or buying the missing equipment.
Physical: participants must be in excellent physical condition, able to carry a heavy pack, and have basic mountaineering skills. Aconcagua expedition is strenuous and entails many days at higher altitudes exposed to low oxygen, very cold and high caloric requirement so a physician’s approval is strongly recommended. Those climbers who suffer chronic illnesses should talk with their personal doctor.
How do aconcagua & kili compare?
Aconcagua is taller, farther, harder, longer and colder than kili. No climbing or mountaineering experience is needed to participate in our guided aconcagua normal route expeditions. However, you are recommended to do some conditioning. Anyone who is in good health and mentally prepared can take part in our expeditions. Be sure that a good physical preparation and training will increase chances to get the top. The required equipment is not the same either. The participants should expect 25 – 30°c belows freezing. You better start your training if you want to enjoy the expedition.