Aconcagua & Vallecitos

General Description

Aconcagua (22,840ft/6962m) is the highest mountain in the American Continent and one of the Seven Summits. It is valued by thousands of mountaineers in search of a highly demanding effort in altitude or are preparing for an 8000m peak in the Himalayas.
“The Stone Sentinel” as the native called it, rises on the west side of Argentina, in the province of Mendoza. It is part of the Andes mountain range that Argentina and Chile share.

In addition, Aconcagua has always been important for human civilizations. The Incas, the strongest ancient culture from the Andes, considered Aconcagua as a temple; handcraft, special objects and even a mummy have been found as evidence.
This itinerary offers an alternative: instead of acclimatizing while climbing Aconcagua, the acclimatization takes place while climbing another mountain: Mt.Vallecitos (5500m). This difference has several advantages. The climbers on this expedition have a better and gradual acclimatization, the chance to know another part of the mountain range in the same area but less crowded, and also they will climb another famous mountain and gain the experience of climbing two summits instead of only one.

Trip Info

  • Location: Mendoza, Argentina
  • Difficulty level: high
  • Duration: 20 Days
  • Guide to Client Ratio: 1:3
  • Prerequisites: Excellent Physical Condition
  • Season: From November to March

Starting Dates:

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Mendoza (760m)

We greet you at the airport and take you, via private transport, to your hotel. There, we 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 enjoy a welcome dinner.

Day 2: Mendoza / Vallecitos Refuge (2800m)

We go to get the permit to enter to Aconcagua Provincial Park. In the afternoon the private transport takes us to the refuge in Vallecitos area.
It is two hour drive on the same direction as Aconcagua about half way there. Night in the refuge

Day 3: Vallecitos/ Camp 1 (3800m)

We have breakfast in the refuge and we hike up to Camp 1 which is called ¨Piedra Grande¨ (Big Stone). There, we will set up the camp getting familiar with the tents and mountain life.

Day 4: Camp 1/ Adolfo Calle- Stepanek.

We will climb two 4300 meters peaks during the day. This helps to acclimatize because we go back to sleep at 3800m before moving to camp El Salto. These two peaks have a great view of the Plata Mountain range.

Day 5: Camp 1 / Camp El Salto. (4200m)

We ascend to camp El Salto where the base of the cirque of Vallecitos (5500m) is. This cirque is formed by several mountains such as Rincón (5200m), Adolfo Calle (4300m), Lomas Amarillas (5100m), etc. The place to camp is a flat terrace from where we can admire the wide Mendoza River valley and we see Mendoza lights in the night.

Day 6: Camp El Salto / Rest.

We go for an easy walk for a couple of hours to continue acclimatizing but short enough to avoid getting tired. We go to sleep early that night to get a good rest for the next day.

Day 7: Camp El Salto / Summit / Camp El Salto

We get up early in the morning; walk five hours to get to the ridge Plata -Vallecitos from where we are able to see the immensity of Aconcagua in the distance and the spectacular mountain range at our feet. From there we have two more hours to the summit. We descend the same way we go up.

Day 8: Camp El Salto / Vallecitos Refuge

An enjoyable 3 hour walk brings us back to the refuge where we have lunch, time to relax and take a nice hot shower. We spend the night at Vallecitos Refuge

Day 9: Drive to Penitentes

In the morning a minibus drives us to Hosteria Puente del Inca.  There is an interesting natural bridge made by the accumulation of sediment that the water from the mountain carries down. The tourist site is very close to the hotel and there are several small typical souvenirs shops around to visit. Also, it is the time to prepare the loads for the mules.

Day 10: Penitentes / Confluencia (3300m)

Our minibus drives us to Horcones, the entrance of the Park. We hike to Confluencia, the first camp. The walk is just a couple of hours long and pleasant along Horcones River, we have lunch on the way and a welcome snack when we get to camp. Dinner.

Day 11: Confluencia / Plaza de Mulas (4370m)

Trek to Plaza de Mulas Base Camp. This is a longer day usually about eight hours walking, but we have the reward of a welcome snack and a comfortable night at the Plaza de Mulas base camp. Dinner.

Day 12: Plaza de Mulas (4370m) / Rest day

This is a resting day in Plaza de Mulas. This day is just to relax and get our things ready for the final climb.

Day 13: Plaza de Mulas / Camp Cambio de pendiente (5150m)

Climb to Camp 1 Cambio de Pendiente means change of slope, a very descriptive name for the place, because from very steep slope, suddenly we arrive to an almost flat terrace. There, we set up the tents and have dinner.

Day 14: Camp 1 Cambio de pendiente / Rest day

This is a resting and acclimatization day. We go for a walk to camp 2 Nido de Cóndores (5450m) and on the way we get to another summit called El Manso, then back to camp. No more than 3 hours walking.

Day 15: Camp 1 / Camp 3 Berlin (5950m)

Climb to Camp 3, this can take us five hours and the last part gets quite steep. In Berlin we have an early dinner and prepare for the summit day.  

Day 16: Camp 3 / Summit / Camp 3

Climb from Camp 3 to the summit and back to Camp 3. We will get up about 4 AM in the morning because it is a very long day, we start when it is still dark but as we walk we will admire the sunrise and the biggest mountain shadow of Aconcagua on the west Andes.

Day 17: Extra Day

In case of any circumstances or bad weather that alter the normal schedule of the program

Day 18: Camp Berlin / Plaza de Mulas

Return to Plaza de Mulas, we descend 1550 m in one day to get to in Refuge Plaza de Mulas, there we have our well deserved dinner and celebrate.

Day 19: Plaza de Mulas/Mendoza

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

Day 20: Flight back home

A private minibus will drive you from the Hotel to the Airport.

Our 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)
  • Two (2) nights accommodation in Vallecitos Refuge (Full board 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

  • Welcome and farewell dinner
  • Full board in Vallecitos Mountain hut
  • Full board in Penitentes
  • 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

All private transportation:

  • Mendoza airport to hotel in and out
  • Mendoza to Vallecitos
  • Vallecitos to Penitentes
  • Penitentes to Aconcagua Park entrance
  • Park entrance to Mendoza.

Camp service

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