Logistics

Paperwork

Make sure you submit the following paperwork to Alpine Ascents as soon as possible after registering for your climb.

⎕  Evacuation Insurance (required)
⎕  Passport copy
⎕  Flight itinerary

This information assists us in procuring permits and making final hotel and transportation arrangements.

Please take the time to read the rest of this Logistics section in full. If you have questions, feel free to call the Alpine Ascents office or email us. 

Evacuation Insurance

Evacuation insurance is mandatory for this expedition, required by the Argentinian government to issue climbing permits.

A variety of insurance options are available through different providers. As there are many unforeseen circumstances that may occur leading up to the trip as well, we strongly recommend comprehensive Trip Cancellation Insurance.

There are two basic policies: ‘standard trip insurance’ which can cover injuries or illness, or a ‘cancel for any reason’ addon which covers a wider variety of situations. Note – this addon is considerably more expensive, and if paid out only covers 75% of the trip fee. Please note this is just a summation of the policies available. These plans generally include evacuation insurance, any injury or illness cancellation prior to your trip, as well as a host of other pre-trip issues (family emergency, work conflict, etc).

Please see details of our recommended policy with Ripcord Travel Insurance.

Getting to Mendoza

Note that trip dates include travel time from your home country. A day-to-day itinerary can be found with your confirmation letter. Please forward a copy of your flight itinerary before purchasing flights so we can review departure and arrival dates.

We do recommend arriving a day early in case of lost luggage.

Flying to Mendoza, Argentina

Most travelers fly during the night to Santiago, Chile and then change planes and take a morning or afternoon flight to Mendoza. You may also travel via Buenos Aires, Argentina. Remember to ensure your luggage has arrived when you reach Santiago or Buenos Aires and is booked though to Mendoza. Most airlines allow two 50 lb bags.

Suggested Flight Departure: LATAM Chile Santiago to Mendoza morning flight
Suggested Flight Return: LATAM Chile Mendoza to Santiago late afternoon or early evening.

Other Flights and Early Arrivals: We are happy to accommodate other flights. For those arriving early or departing after the scheduled itinerary, we can make hotel arrangements. Please contact our office in advance of your departure if you would like us to make additional reservations for you at an additional cost. Please note those flying via Buenos Aires have had more lost luggage than other routes.

Missed Flights: If you miss your flight, please contact Gordon Janow by calling our Seattle office (206) 378-1927 and follow the prompt for 24-hour contact.

Upon Arrival

Climbers arriving on the scheduled day of their itinerary will be picked up at the airport. Please look for an Alpine Ascents sign upon leaving customs. If you are arriving early (one day or more) please take a taxi (around $10.00) directly to the Hyatt or local hotel. Those arriving on the scheduled date do not need to make extra arrangements.

Contact information for your guide and/or a local contact will be emailed with your team roster about a month prior to your trip. Please make sure you have this contact information saved or written down while traveling.

Hotel Reservations

For climbers who prefer single room accommodations, these arrangements can be made for an additional fee. Be aware that private rooms are available at hotels and resorts during our trip, but not while on the mountain.

For climbers choosing double room accommodations every effort will be made to pair you with another climber. A Single Room Supplement Fee will apply if a match cannot be made or there is a last minute cancellation. This will help keep our overall program pricing down since unlike other companies we do not charge more for smaller groups.

In Mendoza

We usually lodge at the Park Hyatt Mendoza Hotel while in Mendoza. On occasion, we may use the Diplomatic Hotel. We will inform you if we make this change.

Please contact Alpine Ascents if you would like us to book extra hotel nights for you for early arrival. We do not include hotels after the climb so that you may change your room to a single room if desired (without penalty) and to better accommodate early departure. You will have the option to book your hotel room (usually at a lesser rate) with our local outfitter at the trail head. Guides and local staff will assist with post trip hotel reservations in both Penintentes and Mendoza.

Park Hyatt Mendoza
Chile 1124 Mendoza, Argentina 5500
Single Room Supplement is an additional fee.
Tel +54 261 441 1234
mendoza.park.hyatt.com

Lodging Fees

Rooming arrangements at the end of the trip can be very complicated as some climbers leave early, roommate preferences can change, and climbers may opt for a single room at the end of the climb. While we will make reservations for climbing teams, climbers will pay for the hotel in Mendoza at the conclusion of the trip to provide greater choice of rooming. In turn we usually use the service of hiring porters to carry out waste from each camp when possible to maintain the value of the climb.

Gear List

Please refer to your Gear List:

You are required to bring every item on this list as described, so be as precise as possible when packing. We are happy to work closely with you on finding the proper gear. Climbers may store excess gear at the hotel.

If you are on the Vacas Valley trip, any gear left at base camp will be transported around the mountain to meet you after you descend.  Alpine Ascents rents quality equipment at reasonable rates. In addition, gear is now available for purchase at the Alpine Ascents Equipment Store where climbers on an Alpine Ascents expedition will receive a discount.

If you plan to rent gear, your rental form must be submitted at least three weeks prior to expedition start date. Please call our office or e-mail [email protected] with any questions.

Note: Gear is difficult to buy in Mendoza, so it is extremely important that you be fully outfitted before arrival.

Gear Lexicon

If you’re confused by items and/or language on the Gear List, we encourage you to refer to our Gear Guide for explanations on layering systems, differences between boots, etc.

Helpful Resources

Below are articles written by veteran Alpine Ascents guides that you may find helpful in preparing and packing for your expedition.

Medications & Prescriptions for Mountain Climbing

Women’s-Specific Tips

Not on the Gear List, but in our Backpacks

Blister Prevention and Foot Care

Packing Tips

People generally take too much “stuff” rather than too little. Study each item before you pack it. Eliminate redundant items, extra changes of clothing, and excessive“nice to have” luxuries. You will benefit from traveling light because of the costs of excess baggage and because of the frequent loading and unloading of bags.

Breakfasts and Dinners Provided

We are aware of the potential monotony of expedition food and Alpine Ascents makes every effort to make meals a positive part of the climb. We take great care in our meal preparation, understanding the importance staying healthy, fueling effectively, and enjoying your food. Whenever possible, we use fresh ingredients from local markets in our pre-planned meals. Alpine Ascents prepares all water by boiling and/or with purification tablets. Climbers will fill water bottles at all meals and at certain rest stops.

Alpine Ascents will provide all meals including lunches during the trek in to Aconcagua base camp, but on the upper mountain we ask climbers to bring their own supplemental lunch/snack food. If you love coffee, take heart, Starbuck’s VIA’s have become the new standard on mountaineering expeditions and are an excellent addition to your food supply. We ask climbers to bring these items so that you eat snacks you are comfortable with and not local Argentinean equivalents.

Food you need to bring

You will need to bring items like the ones listed below. Each item should have at least 150 to 200 calories and weight approximately 1.5 to 2.5 oz. Mix and match. Pick your personal favorites. For quantities, refer to the route-specific lists at the bottom of this page.

Energy Bars: ProBars, Luna Bars, Cliff Bars, Lara Bars, etc. You should pick your favorites and have some variety in them. Be mindful of their consistency at cold temperatures.

Candy Bars:
Snickers, Milky Way, Almond joy, Peanut M&Ms, etc. Pick ones you like and that will not get smashed in your backpack.

Granola Bars and Cookies:
Granola bars often do not have as many calories as an energy bar or candy bar. Look at the labels to make sure you are getting the right number of calories.

Energy Gels/Chews: Some climbers like using GU or other energy gels/chews on summit day. If you like these gels/chews (they can be very useful for quick energy) plan on bringing around 6 packets. Honey Stinger Stroopwafels, Shot Bloks, ProBar Bolts, and similar are all good options.

Energy Drinks (strongly recommended):
These are small packets of drink mix that you put into your water bottle. They help replenish electrolytes and make it easier for climbers drink more fluids. Especially at altitude when you may not feel like drinking, these are a huge help. Using drink mix is strongly encouraged, though not required. We recommend Nuun, Crystal light, Emergen-C, Gatorade, etc. You may also consider specialized endurance hydration mixes with calories, like Tailwind, Skratch Labs, or Gu Roctane, though these are more expensive options. Choose packets that are very small, lightweight, add flavor, and contain electrolytes and other ingredients like vitamin C.

Hard Candy (Optional): We also recommend bringing some wrapped pieces of your favorite hard sucking candy (e.g. Life Savers, Werther’s), which help keep your throat from drying out in the dry alpine environment. Ricola Lozenges can also be a good supplement.

 

Food to bring for Vacas Valley

Vacas Valley Route
(5+) Servings electrolyte mix
(3) Energy gels or packs of energy chews
(20) Energy bars/protein bars/candy bars
(1.5) Kilograms trail mix (your favorite variety)
(15) Servings instant coffee (if desired)
A small assortment of hard candy, cough drops, etc.

Optional: Beef/turkey/vegan jerky (extra protein can be nice – note that original packaging is required to avoid trouble at customs)

**Dietary Substitutions: For those climbers who do not eat cheese, dried meat, fruit. etc. you will need to bring more of the above to supplement your lunch food.

Food to bring for Normal Route

Normal Route
(5+) Servings electrolyte mix
(3) Energy gels or packs of energy chews
(15) Energy bars/protein bars/candy bars
(1) Kilograms trail mix (your favorite variety)
(12) Servings instant coffee (if desired)
A small assortment of hard candy, cough drops, etc.

Optional: Beef/turkey/vegan jerky (extra protein can be nice – note that original packaging is required to avoid trouble at customs)

**Dietary Substitutions: For those climbers who do not eat cheese, dried meat, fruit. etc. you will need to bring more of the above to supplement your lunch food.

Expenses

Of all our trips, Aconcagua may be the most complex to figure out expenses given the local economy, ever-changing park fees, and multiple options for early departure. Below please find estimated costs based on last season’s prices.

Cash & Credit Cards

Cash: American dollars are the preferred currency. Carrying cash in conjunction with credit cards is recommended.
Credit Cards: Are widely accepted for most items except some portions of evacuation/early departure fees. Please note that local businesses, including our outfitter, charge a 5% fee for use of credit card.
Debit Cards: ATM’s in Mendoza allow withdrawals of $100 (subject to change).

National Park Climbing Permit Fee

Climbing Permit Fees (not included in Alpine Ascents expedition fee) must be paid before entering the National Park. At this time permit fees are to be paid in person with cash in Mendoza, Argentina. Please note you will need to bring this cash to pay the permit fee. Alpine Ascents can assist you in changing US Dollars to Pesos in Mendoza.

2019-20 Aconcagua National Park Fee Schedule (we will update fee for 2020-21 when available):
(Note: dates are for actual entrance date into National Park, not expedition start date)
Low Season: Enter park before Dec 15 or after Jan 31
High Season: Enter park between Dec 15 – Jan 31

Normal Route High Season/Low Season $800/$590
Vacas Valley High Season/ Low Season $950/$730

Tips

Our guides make every effort to ensure your climb is safe, successful, and as enjoyable as possible. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. It’s difficult to recommend a specific amount as we believe tips should be based on level and quality of services, as well as an amount that meets your budget. Please consider the information below to be a general recommendation.

Tips for Muleteers: $25 – $50
Tips for Guides: The suggested tip is about $500, or a range of $350 – $1,000. These amounts cover all guides on your team and are shared equally. Any contribution to the guides’ tip pool can be given directly to the lead guide and will be appreciated by the entire team.

Pocket Cash

Please review all the information on this page to determine what balance of cash and card you wish to use. We would suggest cash for tips and any other items for which you are comfortable carrying cash to avoid the local credit card surcharge. Please review the early departure fees to help determine how much cash you would like to bring. We recommend taking approximately $2,000 in cash, mostly needed for tips and permits.

There are a number of services at base camp for purchase, such as snacks, showers, and Wi-Fi. Cash or credit cards can be used, with a ~5% fee for credit use.

Lodging Fees

Rooming arrangements at the end of the trip can be very complicated as some climbers leave early, roommate preferences can change and climbers may opt for a single room at the end of the climb. While we will make reservations for climbing teams, climbers will pay for the hotel in Mendoza at the conclusion of the trip to provide greater choice of rooming. In turn we have added the service of hiring porters to carry out waste from each camp when possible to maintain the value of the climb.

Porters

Climbers may hire porters while on Aconcagua at their own expense. Porters do not join the expedition but depart from base camp, pick up your load and carry to the designated camp, then return to base camp. (Aconcagua is different from climbs like Kilimanjaro where porters join the team for the duration of the trip). While porters greatly reduce your pack weight, you will still have to carry a personal backpack with approximately 15-20 lbs of personal gear, water, food, etc.

Our guides will assist with the hiring of porters and make recommendations as to when to use porters. Hiring porters ahead of time and paying through our office can save you from paying the local credit card fee and limit the amount of cash you need to bring with you. If you know ahead of time that you would like to use a porter for your entire trip, we suggest pre-paying with Alpine Ascents. We can also help organize porters on a carry-by-carry basis once we arrive at base camp.

Please note that paying for porters by credit card at base camp will incur a local credit card fee of 5%.

Pack Weights
If not using porters climbers carry roughly:
35-40 lbs. on the Normal Route
45-50 lbs. on Vacas Valley

Pack weights vary on type of gear, how much clothing you are wearing vs. carrying, and any non-gear-list items you have opted to bring. Normal pack weights for an expedition of this length are much heavier, but to reduce pack weights for our climbers we have porters for group gear (not personal gear) on the Normal Route, and utilize double carries on the Vacas Valley route.

Prices per porter service by route and camp are listed below (2020/21 season, subject to change). We realize the porter situation can be complicated; we are happy to chat by phone to suggest porter use based on your needs.

PORTERS TO CAMPS: Vacas Valley

11 to 20 Kg
To Camp I$310 x 2
To Camp III – Guanacos$417 x 2
To Camp IV – Colera$498 x 2
From Camp IV to Plaza de Mulas$340
Total$2,790

PORTERS TO CAMPS: Normal Route

11 to 20 Kg
To Canada – Carry Day$195
To Canada – Move Day$195
To Nido de Condores$280
To Colera or Berlin$340
From Colera or Berlin to Plaza de Mulas$340
Total$1,350

On the Mountain

Physiology Of Mountaineering

Dehydration, hypothermia, frostbite, and altitude illness are all important health conditions to be aware of while climbing. Please read our overview of these physical factors:

Leave No Trace

Alpine Ascents International practices Leave No Trace principles on all expeditions. We believe that given the proper information most people will do all they can to help protect and maintain the environment. Before your climb, please become familiar with Leave No Trace:

7 Principles of Leave No Trace

As guides, we spend time teaching the environmentally appropriate Leave No Trace principles and practices. There is nothing more rewarding than working hard to get high into the mountains, reaching a pristine campsite, witnessing incredible views, and having the feeling that no one has been there before.

Conversely, there is nothing more disheartening than working hard to climb a mountain, reaching a site and encountering trash, food waste, and toilet paper. Please read the seven LNT principles, and call the office if you have any questions about what you can do to plan ahead.

Early Departure/Evacuation

Aconcagua can be one of the most difficult places to determine extra fees due to the many variables when departing early. In most cases, early departure fees can be paid by credit card, but a 5% fee is often assessed.

Early departure fees can include:

  • Helicopter or mule evacuation or departure from base camp
  • Transport from trailhead to Mendoza
  • Nights in Mendoza from arrival to departure
  • Meals in case of early departure

Climbers may be evaluated at base camp by a local doctor (when in attendance). Though not a common occurrence, this doctor has the authority to ask climbers with altitude issues to leave the expedition with evac expenses applicable.

For those needing to depart early from an expedition:

Alpine Ascents will pay for your single night in basecamp as preparations are made for departure.
Our local outfitter will:

  • Set up your departure from basecamp to trailhead and onward to Mendoza
  • Arrange hotels in transit (Hotel Ayelen and Hyatt Mendoza)
  • Arrange transport to Mendoza
  • Helicopter transport may be available from base camp to road head. If not, climbers must hike out with a guide (3 days) or ride a mule with hired guide (usually out in 1.5 days)

Climbers will need to pay for the above services at rates noted below. Payment is made at basecamp via credit card (with a 5% fee). Approximate fees – subject to change.

  • Travel with a guide to the trailhead is approximately 3 days. Guide will care for climber, set up camp and prepare meals. $450 for 1 person and $300 per person for 2 people or more
  • Travel via mule with a guide approximately 1.5 days. Expected cost of $1300 (climber and guide riding out via
    mule)
  • Helicopter (**if available) to trailhead. If an evacuation is needed from BC a helicopter usually costs about $2300 US and is usually refundable via your evac/trip cancellation insurance. Most recent heli costs are: $2300 for 1 person; $1150 for 2; $770 for 3
    ** Please note that helicopter are not always available
  • Once you arrive at the trailhead, transport is arranged (the wait can be a few hours or more) back to Mendoza.
  • Cost of night at Hotel Ayelen for single room $85 (this can be reimbursed by Alpine Ascents after expedition)
  • Cost of night at Hyatt Mendoza $200 (other hotel options may be available and base camp staff will assist and book as many nights as asked for)
  • Private shuttle from Hotel Ayalen to Mendoza is $280 per vehicle for 1-2 climbers and $450 per vehicle for 3-8 climbers
  • Please note we attempted to list all fees but smaller transport fees may be additional

The program was outstanding. Flawless logistics (from airport pickup through entire climb), great office support, world class guides (best on mountain without questions), proven itinerary. Everything was top shelf.

Aconcagua BLOG

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