Our approach to Aconcagua Base camp will be from the North East through the Vacas Valley (the sunny side of Aconcagua). This is a much more scenic and less frequented approach than the normal and very cold Horcones Valley, giving you a far better experience away from the crowds.
The Vacas valley route of Aconcagua offers the strong mountain walker, with prior winter walking experience the opportunity to ascend one of the world’s highest trekking summits. Although you will not require any previous climbing experience, the ascent is at very high altitude and therefore requires a high level of fitness, commitment and determination.
The climb is very weather dependent but our high guiding ratios, small group size and levels of support generally gives us a big advantage and improves our summit success. We provide leaders/guides on a ratio 1:4 on the initial 4 and then 1:3 throughout the expedition allowing time for you and your guide to get to know each other and the team is limited to 9 or 10 climbers. Our aim is to reduce the physical hardship and create maximum flexibility to give you the best chance of summit success as we can more easily deal with clients varying walking speeds/fitness and weather. Mountain Porters carry any group gear (tents, stoves, shovels, fuel) and we will work with you in the months preceding your expedition to help you identify the very lightest kit possible to further reduce your load to around 14kg. Your guide will assist you with tent placement, cooking and water preparation at the high camps. The expedition will still be physically challenging (all 7000m peaks are!) and you will still have to work hard to reach the summit but you will probably have the lightest load and the best guiding ratio on the mountain throughout the expedition.
Why climb Aconcagua with Adventure Peaks
- Up to 4 days set aside for a summit attempt
- Ascent via the Vacas Valley, a far more beautiful and less crowded approach than the normal Horcones route allowing more time to acclimatise.
- High-altitude porters to carry group equipment (tents, stoves, shovels and fuel)
- Expedition leaders from the UK who are supported by our regular team of local Argentinian mountain guides to give a 1:3/4 ratio throughout your climb above base camp. Many operators only increase their ratio to this level on summit day allowing little or no time to bond or get to know you! Maximum 9 or 10 clients
- Quality food, our guides prepare or assist with all meals at Camp 1 using a variety of ingredients, to avoid the use of freeze dried food at this stage
- All National Park permit fees are included in the price
- Adventure Peaks has been operating successfully on Aconcagua for over fifteen years and we have gradually developed what we see as the best provision on the mountain, giving you the best chance to acclimatise and retain strength for your summit bid.
Or choose the Highly Guided upgrade
You can choose to upgrade to a 1:1 leader/guide on summit day (standard 1:3) and also have 7 kg of personal kit carried between camps giving you the ultimate chance of summit success. With this option, we can more easily deal with clients varying levels of fitness and walking speeds.
The climb up Aconcagua is non-technical. It is thus suitable for mountain walkers with previous winter walking experience. The route can sometimes be free of snow throughout or can have a solid covering of snow. Clients should have prior experience climbing to around 6000m before attempting Aconcagua. Previous experience of carrying 13-14kg would be advantageous, even though porters carry all group equipment.
Although the ascent of Aconcagua is not technically difficult it is quite a long summit day (from 5900m at high camp to the 6962m summit). This could take 7-10 hours to ascend and 2-4 hours to descend and can prove to be extremely tiring. You should make sure you are fit and used to long mountain days.
On approach we avoid the normal and somewhat busier route from the Horcones valley and opt for the more remote and exciting approach up the Vacas Valley which also provides an additional day of acclimatisation. Mules will be used to support the trek into the base camp. We take the False Polish traverse using Camp 3 Guanacos & Camp Colera joining the Normal Route for the final summit day. Our Itinerary provides upto 4 summit day giving you the best chance of success . One of the continental ‘Seven Summits’. The team will have use of a radio whilst on the hill.
In Mendoza and on the walk in, it can be very hot. Wearing shorts and t-shirts with sunhats and plenty of suncream is the norm. However, there can also be torrential rain on the walk in so full waterproofs are essential. From Base Camp upwards there can be heavy snowfalls and from Camp 1 up, the wind makes for severe wind chill. At high camp and on summit day the temperature can drop to -15 Celsius. So down jackets, good mitts and double boots are essential.
What to carry
On the trek you should aim to carry a very light rucksack. A 35L sac is ideal and this should contain 1-2L of water; waterproofs; a spare warm layer; camera; mini first aid kit; sun hat, sun-cream and sun-glasses; a warm hat and gloves. The rest of your gear can go in your kit bag and/or larger rucksack to be carried by the mules. On the mountain you will need a 60-65L sac to allow for the movement of your personal bulky gear such as sleeping bag, thermo-rest and down jackets. Porters carry group gear
All our leaders hold first aid certificates and carry a fully equipped first aid kit for medical emergencies. However you should bring your own supplies of plasters, blister prevention pads (compeed), paracetamol etc. and any medication you are taking. Consult your GP or a vaccine specialist for professional advice or visit the Fit for Travel website.
Water including that from non-sealed bottles should never be drunk without first sterilizing with chlorine tablets or by boiling. There is a doctor at base-camp who will perform a basic medical check before your climb, including blood pressure 02 Saturation and Heart-rate.
Insurance which covers rescue, medical expenses and helicopter evacuation is essential for all expeditions. We will require a copy of your insurance prior to departure.
Just in case your main luggage goes missing en route, it is a good idea to wear your boots on the plane. Most other things can be replaced but comfortable, well worn-in boots are more difficult to replace.
A detailed equipment list is provided on booking. Specialist items such as sleeping bags and down jackets can be hired or purchased with 15% discount from the RRP of clothing and gear from our shop
For your own comfort, travel light. Normally airlines restrict baggage to 22kg, but you will be wearing boots and one set of trekking clothes. Some items can be left at the hotel for your return. A suitable kit bag is provided but important items should also be packed in plastic bags.
We ask that you ensure that all your rubbish is carried back to base camp where we will pay for it to be removed back down to the valley by mules. You will be handed a bin liner by the Park Ranger upon entry into Aconcagua National Park and this will be numbered and counted in and out and fines issued if necessary.
VISAS AND PERMITS
No visa is required for UK and US Citizens and many other countries. For non-UK citizens, you may need to pay a Reciprocity fee before you enter Argentina.
Aconcagua Climbing Permits are included in our expedition price but we must all go to the Park Office in Mendoza to register and pick them up.
The currency in Argentina is the peso. Cash is preferred but Credit Cards Visa and Mastercard are accepted but surcharges of 10% are common. Ensure the magnetic strip is in good condition.
The average tip is generally 10%. For exceptional service you may wish to consider a higher amount. You should allow around $100
You can read more information about Aconcagua with the following links:
- Adventure Peaks has been operating successfully on Aconcagua for over fifteen years and we have gradually developed what we see as the best provision on the mountain, giving you the best chance to acclimatise and retain strength for your summit bid
- Communication equipment – Satellite telephone to maintain links with our UK office and to receive vital weather forecasts. Radios to allow communication between our groups on the mountain
- International flights from London (Flight inclusive package)
- All National Park permit fees are included in the price
- Quality food, our guides prepare all meals at Camp 1 using a variety of ingredients, to avoid the use of freeze dried food at this stage
- Group Dome Tent at Camp (subject to weather)
- Expedition leaders from the UK who are supported by our regular team of local Argentinian mountain guides to give a 1:3 ratio throughout your climb above base camp. Many operators only increase their ratio to this level on summit day allowing little or no time to bond or get to know you! Maximum 9 clients
- High-altitude porters to carry group equipment (tents, stoves, shovels and fuel)
- Adventure Peaks expedition team leader. Small groups may use a local leader.
- All tents and other communal equipment necessary for the climb.
- Medical First Aid supplies.
- Communication equipment (members on a Grade 3B or above are normally provided with a radio whilst on the mountain and the team is often supported with a Satellite Telephone
- 3 days set aside for a summit attempt
- Hotel and other valley accommodation on a Bed & Breakfast basis as per the itinerary
- Road Transfer Mendoza to the Mountain and Back
- 2 Group Airport Transfer between Mendoza Airport and hotel (excluding if joining land only)
- 110 litre kit bag for expedition members for UK based clients. A logoed top will be substituted for all clients residing outside of the UK
- 15% discount off the RRP for equipment and clothing purchased at our Adventure Peaks shops and online
- Travel to and from UK airport (unless otherwise specified).
- Personal climbing clothes and equipment.
- Drinks and hotel or guest house meals, unless specified.
- Personal medical supplies and personal use of communication equipment.
- Excess baggage.
- Tips for porters and local guides.
- Costs associated with an expedition finishing early.
- Costs associated with you leaving an expedition early.
- Costs associated with extending a trip due to bad weather or other circumstances.
- Transfers to and from Mendoza airport if flights NOT booked with Adventure Peaks
Day 1-2 International flight arriving day 2. (H,B on day 2)
Day 3 Wasting no time in Mendoza we complete the permit formalities before traveling overland into the mountains and to Penitentes, a drive of about four hours. Here you organise your gear in readiness for the mules and our walk into base camp. Hostel, Penitentes (H,B)
Day 4 The trek into Base Camp at Plaza Argentinas starts today with a short drive to Punta de Vacas. Mules will carry all of your gear so you can enjoy the walk without heavy loads. The walk on the first day is reasonably easy although very hot and dusty and takes you through green desert valley scenery enclosed between the steep mountains of the Andes. Trekking up the west side of the Rio de las Vacas to your camp at Pampa de Lenas (2800m) is approximately 5 to 6 hours. The Park Ranger will examine the permits and issue rubbish bags, which will be checked again at the end of the expedition to ensure all garbage is removed from the mountain. Camp, Pampa de Lenas. (C,B,L,D)
Day 5 Leaving camp we cross the bridge over the Rio de las Vacas to then follow it up the beautiful valley to reach our overnight camp at Casa de Piedra (3250m), a journey of about 6 hours. From here you will get superb evening views of Aconcagua. Camp, Casa de Piedra. (C,B,L,D)
Day 6 We start the day with a river crossing to enter the Relinchos valley, initially a steep narrow canyon that eventually leads to a broader hanging valley and our Base Camp at Plaza Argentinas (4200m). The campsite will be in the moraine that provides a convenient windbreak and good views of the route ahead. Base Camp, Plaza Argentinas. (C,B,L,D)
Day 7 Rest day, acclimatisation and preparations for the climb. Base Camp, Plaza Argentinas. (C,B,L,D)
Day 8 Today as our porters take any group gear required for the climb to Camp 1(4850m), we follow taking a small amount of food (about 5kg) as an acclimatisation walk. Although the route to Camp 1 is easy; the altitude will make it feel much steeper. You will return to Base Camp to aid rest. Climbing high and sleeping low is essential for acclimatisation in these early stages; you will feel much stronger in the longer term. Base Camp, Plaza Argentinas. (C,B,L,D)
Day 9 Acclimatisation day and final preparation in base camp. Camp 1. (C,B,L,D)
Day 10 Today we move up with personal gear to Camp 1. Camp 1. (C,B,L,D)
Day 11 Acclimatisation walk to Camp 2 at Guanacos (5400m) to drop off a few kg of food, porters will have moved group gear. The route to Camp 2 is a little steeper up to the col and generally takes around 3 to 4 hours. Return to Camp 1 for overnight. Camp 1. (C,B,L,D)
Day 12 Rest day and acclimatisation that can also be used for crampon and ice axe training depending on snow conditions. Camp 1. (C,B,L,D)
Day 13 Climb to Camp 2 at Guanacos, situated on a platform at 5400m with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. (C,B,L,D)
Day 14 Rest day at Camp 2 Guanacos to acclimatise and prepare for our summit bid. Camp23. (C,B,L,D)
Day 15 Move to Camp Colera, our launching platform for the summit bid. When the team are ready to make their summit attempt we will move up to Camp Colera ready to make the summit attempt the following day (5970m). Porters move group equipment.
Summit Days 16-18 The team has three days in which to reach the summit leaving spare time in case of bad weather, however the summit will be attempted on the first day of good weather. Camp Colera. (C,B,L,D)
Our Expedition leaders are from the UK and are supported by a regular team of local Argentinian mountain guides to give a 1:3 ratio throughout your climb above Base Camp. Many operators only increase their ratio to this level on summit day allowing little or no time to bond or get to know you! Maximum 9 clients.
Our UK leaders for the coming season are all past veterans of Aconcagua expeditions and include Stuart Peacock – 3 times Everest summiteer, Martin Doyle – UIAGM Guide, Everest Summiteer and past Director of Plas Y Brenin, Carrie Gibson – Everest summiteer and Dave Pritt – Adventure Peaks Director, Everest Summiteer and five times Aconcagua. Probably the strongest line up on the mountains, Adventure Peaks are High Altitude experts!
You will receive an Adventure Peaks 120 litre kitbag to use on your expedition and to keep afterwards. (Please buy a small padlock to lock the zips at all times). (If you are a non-UK client or have been on a trip with us before, you will receive a logoed top in lieu of a kitbag. Please let us know your top size.
Please ensure your 60-70 litre rucksack is such that equipment such as tent poles and sleeping mats can be placed inside, rather than hanging from the outside.
Aconcagua can be a very cold mountain therefore quality clothing, gloves and boots are essential for your own comfort and safety.
Boots – the best boots are Boreal G1 Lite’s, La Sportiva Spantik or another double lined boot.
Gloves – Down over-gloves/mitts with a normal glove as an inner are recommended.
Clothing – on summit day good quality fleece trousers and a down jacket are adequate. A warmer alternative would be a down suit or salopettes and jacket.
All of the above items can be bought or hired from Adventure Peaks. Clients receive a 15% discount when purchasing equipment and clothing from the shop.
Here is a great video from our Roy, a client in 2013 with Martin Barnett as our leader and Max the local guide.
The video shows the Aconcagua Vacas Valley route and Plaza Argentina Base camp and out via Plaza De Mulas and Horcones Valley.
Aconcagua 2013 – 2014 from Roy Partington on Vimeo.
Previous trip reports from Aconcagua
Aconcagua – is it for me? - If you have just climbed Kilimanjaro, Elbrus or perhaps trekked to Everest Base Camp and are considering your next challenge, Aconcagua often presents itself as the next logical step. Wondering if you're up to it? Read on. Aconcagua Expedition 6th Jan 18 - 22nd January
Tough conditions meant a difficult ascent but 2 team members reached the summit and everyone else set new altitude personal bests. Be prepared rather than being left at camp! - How’s your personal organisation? Knowing your gear, layering, glove systems, getting ready in sub-zero conditions, being on time and being ready to accept the unexpected. On paper all this appears so simple, but fumbling with gloves in a sub zero blizzard can result in frost bitten fingers very quickly. Read more about personal organisation.
It is vitally important that you have adequate travel insurance for your trip with Adventure Peaks. We recognise the complexity and variety of choice in the insurance market and know that many of you either have your own preferred insurer or have annual multi trip cover in place already. If this is the case, please ensure that your insurer is aware of your Adventure Peaks itinerary and can agree to cover the activities being undertaken.
Adventure Peaks do not provide any advice on travel insurance, although it is a requirement of our booking conditions that you have travel insurance which covers the activities which you are likely to be undertaking on your holiday. Cover must include emergency medical, helicopter evacuation, repatriation and rescue expenses.
It is strongly recommended that suitable cancellation insurance is purchased at the time of booking as all deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.
Suggested insurance companies include:
Expeditions or Treks