Aconcagua Expedition Itinerary
Day 1: Depart Country of Origin.
Day 2: Arrive Mendoza, Argentina. Climbers should arrive before 5 pm if possible. After checking into your hotel, we will have an orientation for the climb, a Leave No Trace discussion, and equipment check. This will be followed by a group dinner in one of Mendoza's finest restaurants.
Day 3: After completing the permit process in the morning, we board our private bus to the town of Penitentes. We generally stop for lunch in the town of Ushpallata (where 7 years in Tibet was filmed). After arrival in Penitentes, we organize our mule loads then have dinner in the lodge style hotel.
Day 4 - 6: After one night in Penitentes, we drive 15 minutes to Punta de Vacas (8,000’), where we will begin our three-day, 30 mile trek into Plaza Argentina (13,800’), base camp for our expedition. Mules will carry all of our gear so we can enjoy the trek without heavy loads. During our daily lunch stop we enjoy a picnic style buffet prepared by the guides including sandwiches, fresh fruit & vegetables. On the approach, we walk through green desert valleys dramatically enclosed between the mountains of the Andes. Sometimes we see wildlife such as condors or guanacos. During the first half of the approach, our objective will remain hidden by the nearby mountains. However, at the end of the second day the stunning east face of Aconcagua will dramatically be revealed. On the final day of the trek to base camp we cross the Vacas river in the morning then ascend up the Relinchos valley, a steeper & more challenging day of trekking. We set up our camp & say good bye to the mules & Arrieros that transported our gear.
Day 7: Today we take a rest day, while sorting our loads for the remainder of the climb. We explore the local terrain to gain acclimatization to this higher altitude. We enjoy another day of plentiful meals while we relax in the comforts of base camp.
Day 8: Carry to Camp I and return to base camp to spend the night. Camp I is located behind an old glacial moraine at 15,500’. This camp is very private and only Alpine Ascents uses it. Generally we have lunch at th s location while the guides cache our loads. We “double carry” to keep pack weight down and to help ensure good acclimatization.
Day 9: Move to Camp I. We depart base camp after a hearty breakfast & take our time ascending to Camp I. We climb for approximately 1 hour then take a 15-20 minute rest to rehydrate, refuel, & tend to other climber needs. This schedule allows us to climb efficiently and arrive Camp I with sufficient energy to build camp.
Day 10: This day we carry to Camp II, located on a high pass known as Ameghino Col, at 17,700’. Sometimes we use crampons (depending on snow level) to ascend the slopes below the Col. Often we encounter the “penitentes” for which Aconcagua is famous, tall snow triangles that can reach 6+ ft. in the air. Ameghino Camp provides spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the upper route of the Polish Glacier. This is the saddle between Aconcagua and neighboring Ameghino peak.
Day 11: Rest day at Camp I. After the previous day’s carry to Ameghino Col, this is a well deserved & much appreciated rest day. This gives us further acclimatization time and rest before moving higher to sleep. Since we are not climbing or carrying on this day we enjoy creative & plentiful meals while in camp.
Day 12: Carry and move to Camp II. We ascend the same route as the prior carry, & usually feel much stronger & well acclimatized. We arrive at Ameghino Col & set up our tents, then prepare our dinner and rest.
Day 13: Carry to Camp III (19,200’), located just below the Polish Glacier, then return to Camp II. This day involves ascending directly upward then traversing west to the base of the Polish Glacier. Once at camp, we cache our loads & have a brief rest before descending back to Camp II for dinner.
Day 14: Move to Camp III. We arrive camp & build camp, often constructing rock walls around our tents in case of high winds. From here we have a great view of the Polish Glacier, as well as our route to high camp.
Day 15: Rest and acclimatization at Camp III. This will prepare us for our move to Camp IV (high camp). We soak up the views from Camp III and rest while enjoying more lengthy and creative meals. Now that we are comtemplating our summit attempt (2 days out) we are closely monitoring the weather to plan for the best day available.
Day 16: Move to high camp, Camp IV (20,600’), located on the North Ridge. On the approach, we enjoy magnificent views of the Polish Glacier. We traverse west across the Polish Glacier & up the snow/scree slope leading to our Camp IV, which offers breathtaking scenes of many of the highest peaks of the Andes.
This is a single carry day where pack weight may reach approximately 55lbs. The weight depends on a number of factors including: weight of personal gear such as backpack, if extra days were used earlier in the trip consuming food and fuel, temperature on the day of this carry (if all clothing is worn).
Day 17: Summit day begins at 5:00 AM. After breakfast we generally leave camp at 7:00 AM & climb the North Ridge to Refugio Independencia at approximately 21,400’. From there, we traverse the West Face and climb up into the Canaleta, an 800’ couloir that leads to the summit ridge. Finally, the Guanaco Ridge poses an easy traverse to the summit. On the top we have a spectacular 360° view. All around you will see the Andes Mountains consisting of several 20,000’ peaks, including another of the highest peaks in South America, Mercedario. To the west lies Chile and the Pacific Ocean, and to the east, the plains of Argentina. Also from the summit you will be able to look directly down the 9,000’ South Face of Aconcagua, considered one of the great faces of the world.
Day 18 - 19: These extra days are built in to provide the best possible conditions for each participant to summit, & can be used for acclimatization, rest or bad weather days. If not used, you have 2 additional days to enjoy Mendoza & the great restaurants & wine for which Mendoza is famous.
Day 20: We descend from high camp to Plaza de Mulas (Base Camp on the west side of the mountain). This day involves a 6000’ descent into the Horcones valley. Once at base camp we enjoy dinner while appreciating the new perspective from this side of the mountain, & watch the sun set on Aconcagua’s summit.
Day 21: Trek out from Plaza de Mulas to Horcones visitor center. This trek follows the Horcones river, and we have several great vantage points to see the South Face of Aconcagua. We arrive Confluencia camp & enjoy a refreshing snack & lemonade, then finish the hike to the Horcones visitor center. Our outfitter picks us up & transports us a few minutes to Penitentes where we have our celebration dinner and take hot showers in the hotel.
Day 22: Return to Mendoza and our Hotel, to celebrate our time in the mountains and enjoy the comforts of Argentina. If climbers have extra days & want to tour the many wineries surrounding Mendoza our guides can provide suggestions so that you can make the most of your time in Argentina before heading home.
Day 23: Depart Mendoza.
Day 24: Arrive Country of Origin.
Return to Top of Page