Aconcagua Normal Route

General Description

Aconcagua, at 6962m / 22.841 ft, is the highest peak in the American Continent. It is one of the Seven Summits, composed by the highest mountain on each of the continents.  Aconcagua’s Normal Route, while requiring excellent physical condition, can be ascended by people who do not have a high level of technical mountain experience, enabling them to reach one of the highest points on the earth.

ACCLIMATIZATION:
Because of the low pressure of oxygen at altitude, some people feel sick, get a headache and in some cases, develop mountain sickness.
Our itinerary is designed to reduce the possibility of suffering altitude related problems. Our ascension up the mountain is gradual and strategically combined with rest days.

SOME REASONS TO CHOOSE US:

  • We are expert Aconcagua guides (IFMGA-UIAGM)
  • Guide – client ratio (1:3) guaranteeing personalized attention
  • More than 21 years of experience guiding on Aconcagua
  • Knowledge how to reduce of the symptoms and problems associated with altitude
  • Daily acclimatization monitoring and the ability to make necessary adjustments during the expedition to maximize the possibility of summitting
  • Best Base Camp service
  • Porters for group gear
  • Better quality equipment: The North Face tents, pulse oximeter, hyperbaric chamber, communication equipment.

Trip Info

  • Location: Mendoza, Argentina
  • Difficulty level: high
  • Duration: 18 Days
  • Guide to Client Ratio: 1:3
  • Prerequisites: Excellent Physical Condition
  • Season: From November to March

Starting Dates:

  • December 7th, 2016
  • December 21th, 2016
  • January 4th, 2017
  • January 18th, 2017
  • February 8th, 2017
  • For private groups Contact us

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Mendoza (2.493ft / 760m)

Andes Guiding will pick you up at the airport and bring you, via private transport, to your hotel. At the hotel, you will gather with the guides and the rest of the group to go over the expedition plan and check your gear. In the evening, at a restaurant that offers typical Argentinean food, we will enjoy a Welcome Dinner.

Day 2: Mendoza/Penitentes (8.858ft / 2700m)

After obtaining Aconcagua Park Permits, we will travel by vehicle 112 miles/ 180 kilometers northwest to Penitentes. Along the way, we will see many vineyards and valleys as we follow and cross the turbulent waters of the Mendoza River. In Penitentes, we will stay at a mountain hotel. We will also use the hotel as our staging ground to organize the loads that will be transported by mules the next day.

Day 3: Penitentes/Confluencia (10.826ft / 3300m)

On the route to the Park entrance, we will have a brief view of Puente del Inca, a natural bridge formed by sulfur thermal waters. We will enter the Park via the Quebrada de Horcones, and from here, we will get a spectacular view of the South Face of Aconcagua. After approximately three hours of hiking, we will arrive at Confluencia and be rewarded with well-earned snacks and appetizers.

Day 4: Confluencia/Plaza Francia (13.123ft / 4000m) /Confluencia

A day of trekking on dark glaciers will bring us to Plaza Francia lookout where it is common to observe, in the distance, large avalanches on the South Face of Aconcagua. After lunch, we will start our return to Confluencia where, as part of our acclimatization program, we will sleep a second night.

Day 5: Confluencia/Plaza de Mulas (14.337ft / 4370m)

A beautiful 12,5 mi/20 km valley separates Confluencia camp and our Base Camp: Plaza de Mulas. In a long and demanding day, we will traverse Aconcagua’s west side. Crossing rivers will be part of our path across Playa Ancha (Wide Beach), an extensive flat and sandy glacial valley which permits us to slowly gain altitude. After crossing Playa Ancha, the terrain becomes markedly steeper, allowing us to quickly gain altitude until we arrive at the Colombia Refuge, destroyed years ago by a winter storm. A short break will allow us to recuperate enough energy for the final challenge of the day: the steep “Cuesta Brava”. Once this final section is complete, we will arrive at Base Camp Plaza de Mulas. This day takes approximately 8 hours.

Day 6: Rest Day at Plaza de Mulas

Adapting to altitude requires time to rest and recover your energy.

Day 7: Plaza de Mulas/Camp 1 Canada (16.568ft / 5050m)/Plaza de Mulas (14.337ft / 4370m)

Carrying our food and equipment to Camp Canada not only reduces the amount that we will need to carry up on Day 9, but also serves to further our acclimatization. Our efforts for this hard day will be rewarded with beautiful views of Mt.Cuerno, Mt. Plomo, Mt. Juncal and the other mountains surrounding us.

Day 8: Plaza de Mulas (14.337ft / 4370m)

This will be our second rest day at Plaza de Mulas. We will prepare our gear for the ascent towards the summit.

Day 9: Plaza de Mulas/Camp 1 Canada (16.568ft / 5050m)

The ascent to Camp 1 Canada takes about 4 hours. The path zigzags over the northern part of the West Face and provides us with an incredible view of the entire valley and of the surrounding mountains. With the help of porters, we will set up our camp and later we’ll rest, hydrate ourselves and enjoy a magnificent sunset while we eat our dinner.

Day 10: Camp 1 Canada/Camp 2 Nido de Cóndores (18.241ft / 5560m)

We will ascend to Camp 2 “Nido de Cóndores” (Condors Nest) in approximately 5 hours. The panorama is increasingly more intense as we progress and, at this altitude, you can see the Andean Range from North to South. We again will have the help of our porters to transport our equipment and to set up camp.

Day 11: Camp 2 Nido de Cóndores (18.241ft / 5560m)

It is important to continue with our acclimatization and gradual ascent. For this reason, we will concentrate on recuperating our energy for the last part of the expedition. This day will be spent taking a short walk to the summit of Mt. Manso 17.700 ft / 5400 m and to some other view points around Camp Nido de Cóndores.

Day 12: Camp 2 Nido de Cóndores/Camp 3 Berlin or Cólera (19.356ft / 5900m)

We will break down camp and head out towards Camp 3 “Berlin” or Cólera, a trek that will take approximately 4 hours. During this section of the journey, we will see how the smaller 5000 m adjoining mountains appear to have become smaller and smaller.

Day 13: Camp 3 Berlin/Summit (22.841ft / 6962m)/Camp 3 Berlin or Cólera

Before sunrise, we will begin our ascent of the Northwest Face.

The first rays of sun will hit us just as we are arriving at Independence Refuge (20.669ft / 6300m). We will continue towards Portezuelo del viento (Col of the Wind) where we can see the route we will travel to the summit.

“La Travesia” The traverse that crosses the “Grand Acarreo” big scree area will bring us to the base of the famous “Canaleta”, a steep and precise section. Reaching the Ridge of the Guanaco, the ridge that unites the South summit with the North summit, we will walk not far from the edge, with a close view of the South Face.

The landscape and the summit so close will inspire us to dig deep for the last steps. At 22.841ft / 6962m, we will be on the highest point of the American Continent, with an awe inspiring view of the Andean Cordillera.

Generally on summit day, from Camp 3 Berlin to summit and back to Camp 3 Berlin takes between 10 and 14 hours.

Days 14/15: Extra Days

We count these days of the expedition as extras days in case of poor weather or other circumstances that disrupt the normal schedule. These days are added in to increase the probability of summitting.

Day 16: Campo 3/Plaza de Mulas

The descent from Camp Berlin to Plaza de Mulas takes about 3 hours. We will retrace the same route we used while ascending. We will finish off the day with a celebratory dinner and toasts with our expedition group members.

Day 17: Plaza de Mulas/Mendoza

After breakfast, we will organize the loads that will be transported by mules. This will allow us to travel lightly, with only a small backpack with water, food and an extra warm layer. We will descend via the Quebrada de Horcones.

Our transportation will be waiting for us at the Park entrance, ready to bring us back to the hotel in Mendoza.

At day’s end, we will have our final feast together and commemorate the experience with a certificate of achievement.

Day 18: Return Flight

Breakfast at the hotel in Mendoza. End of our services. Drive to the airport to take the flight back home.

Services

Mountain guides

Certified High Mountain Guides (IFMGA – UIAGM, AAGM) International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations – Unión Internacional de Guías de Montaña, Asociación Argentina de Guías de Montaña.

An experienced and responsible guide is crucial for the success your Aconcagua expedition.

Accommodation

  • Two (2) nights accommodation in a four-star hotel in Mendoza (breakfast included)
  • One (1) night accommodation in mountain hotel in Penitentes (breakfast and dinner included)
    The rest of the nights are spent in mountain tents.

Meals

All meals and beverages on the mountain are included. At base camps (Confluencia and Plaza de Mulas) the meals are served in dining domes with tables and chairs.

We pay special attention to giving good quality food during the trips. Fresh and dehydrated fruit and vegetables, meat, cereals, whole grains, rice, pasta, etc. If you have special diets we can adapt the menu to your restrictions. Please let us know in advance.

Transportation

  • Mendoza airport to hotel
  • Mendoza to Penitentes
  • Penitentes to Aconcagua Park entrance
  • Park entrance to Mendoza.

Camp service

  • Full board, complete camp service at Confluencia. Maximun two nights
  • Full board, complete base camp service at Plaza de Mulas. Maximun five nights

Porters

Porters have a very important role in the success of an Aconcagua expedition. The help carry the loads: tents, food, stoves, fuel, cooking sets, etc. They know the mountain well and they can help, putting up the tents in a windy moment and they can really cheer you up if you cross them on the track. In Aconcagua, one load is 20 kilograms. We provide one porter per every 3 clientes which is plenty enough for group gear. If you would like to have the service of a porter for your personal equipment, please let us know and we will be glad to help you hire one.

Mules for gear transport

Mules to transport personal equipment: maximum 66lbs/30kg is included, which is more than enough. If you think you need more kilograms, you are probably bringing too much stuff. The mule service in Aconcagua is well established. A mule carries up to 60 kilograms. The muleteers “arrieros” know how to tie it safely. We use mules to carry everything from Penitentes to Plaza de Mulas base camp and what we need for the first two nights, comes to Confluencia camp first. We hike with a light day backpack to Confluencia, to Plaza Francia and to Plaza de Mulas. During the hikes to higher camps we need to carry our own personal gear. However,  you have the option to hire a porter because mules only reach to Plaza de Mulas.

Tents and camping equipment

  • Tents (The North Face). We have tested different types and brands of tents and we have chosen the ones we think are the most efficient for Aconcagua, due to the strong winds and the weight we can carry.
  • All cooking equipment. We have all the necessary cooking sets and stoves to provide you excellent meals in high camps.

Communication

Communication equipment: VHF portable radios that allow communication between guides, camps, and camps with Mendoza, park rangers and rescue squad. There is internet connection in Plaza de Mulas at reasonable cost.

Medical equipment

Medical equipment: Daily, we monitor your acclimatizing progress. Our client’s health and safety is our number one concern, so we update ourselves the latest knowledge about mountain medicine and high altitude mountain sickness. We expect you to take resposibility as well, taking care of yourself and drinking lots of water, and telling the guide how you feel.  We use pulse oximeters to check on our oxygen saturation daily. We carry an oxygen tube, in case of emergency, and a full first aid kit.  We have permanent radio contact with the doctors based in Plaza de Mulas who have vast experience in high altitude mountain sickness symptoms. We have access to hyperbaric chamber if necessary and to Aconcagua park’s helicopter in case of emergency situations.

Other services

  • Assistance and transport to obtain Aconcagua Park Permit: it is a procedure that requires your physical presence and passport, done in Mendoza office.
  • Welcome dinner on first night (does not include drinks)

Services not included

  • Aconcagua Provincial Park permit
  • Costs associated with leaving the expedition early or in case of emergency rescue
  •  Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal porters
  • Other costs not specified in the list of included services