I would not hesitate to join another climb with either guide. Exceeded expectations. Very professional. All camps and lodging met or exceeded my expectations. The tents were brand new. Food and group gear were excellent. I am a fan of AAI and will share my opinion when given the chance. - 2016 Climber Read More
Photos: Ben Jones
With over 25 years of guiding, Alpine Ascents is often considered the premier guide service on Aconcagua. Our use of an extra high camp, carefully selecting lead guides from our Seattle-based staff, attention to details such as food, gear list, continually replacing older tents and having an Alpine Ascents staff guide each trip, has put us in a unique position to successfully guide Aconcagua. Other components such as launching 8-12 trips each season allows for great support while on the mountain. For each departure (10 is our team maximum) we take great pride and care in helping you prepare for your climb, as we look to develop close, personal relationships with each climber and are happy to put you in touch with former team members. For 2016/17 we have added the service of having porters carry down waste from each camp, leaving less for the climbers to bring down.
While not technical, Aconcagua is a highly underestimated climb, and traveling with an experienced outfitter with knowledgeable and expert guides will greatly increase your chances of summiting and being safe on the mountain. Essential logistics like food prep, tents and days on the mountains may seem like areas where you can "cut corners", however we profess the importance of these details along with reasonable team sizes (many of our competitors end up combining teams and can have up to 20 with a few guides) are paramount to offering a superb experience.
Over the last 25+ years we have developed our own special way of guiding the mountain, which affords you the best chance of proper acclimatization and summit success. For example, we use 4 camps on the mountain while other companies use only 2 or 3. This 4th camp at 20,600 feet, cuts three or more hours off of the summit day, the hardest day of the climb, allowing you to move at a moderate pace and return to camp well before dark. Needless to say, the shortened summit day increases your chances of reaching the top. The high camp also allows us to traverse down the other side of the mountain, giving you changed views and terrain to experience, as well as shorten the return trip to the trailhead by one day.
There may be many personal reasons to choose a particular guide service, but there are four main areas of concern that you should look at carefully: Safety Record, Guides, Logistics In-Country, and Pre-Trip Planning with the climber. In all four categories, Alpine Ascents ranks highest in the climbing industry. No other guide service has the safety record, quality of guides, finely honed programs, food, care, quality and customer service that we offer. For further information, please read Why Climb Aconcagua With Alpine Ascents?
Strengths - 4 camps which made acclimatizing better and summiting easier. Climbing with a legend like Lakpa Rita was amazing. The pace of the climb, while slow at times, allowed for everyone to acclimatize easily.
About the Mountain:
Aconcagua, which translates as "Stone Sentinel" is 22,841 ft, making it the highest mountain in the Americas and the highest mountain outside of Asia. This spectacular mountain is surrounded by numerous peaks over 20,000 ft. and the surrounding lowlands (up to 13,000 ft.) consist of beautiful desert landscapes with a large diversity of flora and fauna.
Traditionally there are three guided routes on Aconcagua: Route Normal, Polish Variation, and the Guanacos Glacier Route. (Please note the Guanacos Route has been closed for the past several years in an effort to protect the large number of guanacos that breed and raise young in the area). We choose to guide the Polish Variation Route on the east side of the mountain because it sees less traffic and is a much more aesthetic approach. An ascent of Aconcagua by any of these routes requires minimal technical skills but does require excellent physical condition and good backpacking and camping skills.
Summit Success at Our Home Away From Home:
Simply put, we have had over 90% of our teams reach the summit.
In over 25 years of guiding Aconcagua, only a handful teams have not reached the summit - a team success rate of about 90%. We have led numerous expeditions in which all climbers have reached the summit. We are confident our summit success is the finest in the industry. The success is a testament to our guides and the hard work and team spirit of our climbers. Guides are well equipped, experienced and prepared to lead your climbs and properly outfit your climb as we keep a staff and apartment in the launch city of Mendoza. We believe that with our guides and acclimatization schedule, along with our pre-trip assistance, Alpine Ascents offers the best possible chance for you to reach the summit of Aconcagua.
Aconcagua has literally been our home away from home. Our extensive experience guiding Aconcagua (as well as other high peaks around the world) has produced outstanding and perhaps unprecedented success rates. Alpine Ascents International has a long-standing reputation of leading successful climbs as well as acting as a prime resource for guide books, climbers and the media.
Outstanding. The guides were excellent. The planning was terrific. Food was exceptional. Everything was perfect.
We climb Aconcagua using the non-technical Vacas Valley Route (Polish Variation). We traverse the mountain which is a far more interesting and efficient approach than up and down the same route.
This is a fully guided ascent, led by American guides who climb the mountain with you. We are one of the few outfitters that offer this type of support (and in turn, high success and outstanding safety record). It should be noted that many outfitters merely offer a supported trek, where a single guide facilitates the climb but does not act as a guide during the ascent.
Many climbers choose to hire porters. We are happy to organize porters for the entire climb or on a per camp basis. Please contact us for details and prices on hiring porters
Prerequisites & Training
In the best interest of personal safety, success and team compatibility, adequate training and excellent physical condition are required. Team members should be physically and mentally prepared to deal with strenuous situations at high altitudes. Climbers need to be in excellent physical condition for both personal enjoyment and to be an integral team member.
Climbing Skill Level
The Vacas Valley (Polish Variation): Some basic technical skills are necessary, and it is strongly recommended that climbers should have completed our 6-day mountaineering course, Rainier or Mt. Baker summit climb, or the equivalent. Climbers need to have crampon and ice axe experience. We traverse the mountain descending a different route (and our trekking gear is brought around the mountain to meet the team).
Please note that this climb is far more demanding than Kilimanjaro. In addition to the physical demands, climbers should have spent multiple nights outdoors, winter camping, completed multi-day trips with a 45-50 pound pack and be able to assist guides with setting up camp and tents. Please use the training statement to determine what fitness levels are expected, we are happy to work with you on developing a training program. While some minimum standard such as being able to run a 10K in under an hour is helpful, it is often hard to predict how non-mountaineering training will translate to Aconcagua.
From our training statement:
"A reasonable goal would be to ascend 3,500 feet carrying an average pack of 40 pounds in a two to three hour period, or roughly 1,500 vertical feet per hour."
Training Statement From the Guides:
"Although relatively non-technical, this is a highly challenging climb and demands more than most other non-technical climbs (such as certain peaks in the U.S. or Kilimanjaro). This expedition-style climb requires the carrying of a heavy pack for multiple days, making prior physical training of three months or more critical to your success and enjoyment. We highly recommend our 6-day mountaineering course for climbers who have not climbed with a 50 lb. pack or are unsure of the rigors that a climb such as Aconcagua requires. We stress these points to continue our high summit success and ensure that teams are well-balanced."
Example on Itinerary Day 16: This is a single carry day where pack weight may reach approximately 55 pounds. 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).
Our scheduled trips do not employ porters. We are happy to arrange porters for those who would like them. Please call our offices for more details on hiring porters while climbing Aconcagua.