The Andes Range forms the backbone of the South American continent and stretches for hundreds of kilometres, from North to South. At their widest point they are only about 50 kms, but at their highest, Mt Aconcagua, they almost touch 7,000m. Mount Aconcagua is situated just over the border from Chile in Argentina, it is South America’s highest peak and also the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere at 6,960 metres.
This spectacular mountain has a number of routes that range from extremely technical on the South face to moderate and less technical on the North side.
We guide the standard route on the North side which provides a safe and challenging approach to high altitude mountaineering, even for the inexperienced.
Includes: Permit fees (USD1000), mule fees, communal gear, food on the mountain and tents. You are accompanied by an Adventure Dynamics experienced high altitude mountaineer on the entire trip as a guide. 3 nights hotel accommodation in Mendoza on a bed and breakfast basis, one night hostel accommodation. All transportation to and from the mountain, a training program, info pack, t-shirt, discounts on the purchase of personal equipment can be arranged.
Excludes: All airfares to Mendoza, visas (South African passport holders currently do not need a visa to enter Argentina), medical rescue and health insurance, personal equipment, tips (approx $100 per person), soft drinks, bottled water, showers at Base Camp ($20 each), satellite telephone calls ($5 per minute), Porters from BC (allow approx $720 total (10kg load)), internet at Base camp, alcoholic beverages, items of personal nature, lunch and dinner restaurant meals in Mendoza and extra meals, excess baggage fees, change of flight fees, hospitalisation, unexpected costs outside of itinerary and evacuation if required. Hotel accommodation at base camp if required, hotel at end of expedition if expedition ends early (approx $60 per night). Any additional expenses.
(Porters): 20kg load (to be shared between 2 clients) – approx price (TBC) From Base Camp to Camp 1: US$250 From Camp 1 to Camp 2: US$300 From Camp 2 to Camp 3: US$400 From Camp 3 to Base Camp: US$490 TOTAL: US1440 (Indicative)
Your Adventure Day by Day
The Normal route is non-technical and follows the scenic Northwest Ridge of Aconcagua. This route begins at Punta del Inca, a vibrant town on the Ispallata pass between Argentina and Chile situated about 182 km from Mendoza. This route begins at the head of the Horcones Valley and utilises three high camps above base camp to get to the summit. Climbers early in the season should expect to find large snowfields high on the mountain while climbers later in the season will encounter less snow and more dry trail. These snow fields make it essential to have a set of crampons and an ice axe with you on this route.
Day 1: Depart for Mendoza.
Day 2: An Adventure Dynamics Guide will meet you at the airport and escort you to a hotel in Mendoza where the group will be staying. Exploring the charming city of Mendoza, in the heart of the wine country, is always a highlight of this trip. This is a good day to wander about the town, enjoy the many parks, sidewalk cafes and delicious local cuisine and take care of the last minute details. You can purchase last minute climbing equipment. Completion of permits is done on this day. Meet in the evening for a group dinner.
Day 3: We leave Mendoza by private transfer and arrive in Los Penetentes in the afternoon after about 4 hours of driving. We will spend the night in ski style lodge. We visit the climbers grave yard and Puenta del Inca, this name comes from the impressive natural sulphur bridge that crosses the Horcones river. Naturally heated mineral water pours into man made pools. Bathing is prohibited nowadays.
Day 4: We drive to the trailhead, just outside town, and begin our approach to Aconcagua. The trail follows the Horcones River for 8 kilometers to the junction of the Lower and the Upper Horcones River. After crossing the Lower Horcones on a footbridge, we reach Confluencia at 3370 meters where we will set up our camp.
Day 5: We will use this day as an acclimatisation day and will follow the Lower Horcones river on route to Plaza Francia at 4,000 meters. From here, just before Plaza Francia we will have spectacular view of the impressive South Face of Aconcagua. We return to Confluencia for the night (3,370m).
Day 6: We will complete the hike to our base camp, Plaza de Mulas 4230 meters, by covering about 18 km in 5 to 6 hours. Several stream crossings are met during the day and can be made easier if you have brought along a pair of sandals. This is a long and difficult day, but you will enjoy impressive views of Aconcagua and the surrounding peaks. It should be noted that on this very challenging hike, mules would carry about 95% of the gear.
Day 7: Today is scheduled for rest and acclimatisation. There is an optional hike which can be taken where you can explore the remote region of the Horcones Glacier to the North. The views of Cerro Cuerno (5,465 meters) are quite impressive from here! We can visit the Refugio.
Day 8: We follow the philosophy of carry high – sleep low as we ascend the mountain, beginning with a carry of gear up to Camp Canada (4880mm) using porters and back down to Plaza de Mulas for Dinner. Lunch pack will be provided.
Day 9: Today is dedicated towards rest, acclimatisation and preparation for the summit push.
Day 10: We move to Camp Canada and sleep there for the night. Melted water and food is provided at all camps.
Day 11: Today we move our gear and ourselves to Nido de Condores, Camp 1. Hiking time is usually 4 to 5 hours. This is a large flat area with some large rocks that provide wind breaks. The view to the South, across a vast scree field called Gran Acarreo, reveals the famous Canaleta coulior and the summit of Aconcagua.
Day 12: Our route heads East from camp and then South as we ascend the crest of the Northwest ridge. We will again follow the philosophy of carry high and sleep low and cache food and gear at Berlin Camp (Camp 2 at 5,950 meters), then return to Nido de Condores. Trail time 4 to 5 hours.
Day 13: We move to Berlin Camp, our high camp on Aconcagua. The afternoon is dedicated to the resting and getting ready for our summit attempt!
Day 14 – 16: One weather/summit days – have been scheduled into the itinerary in case of bad weather at any part of the climb.
Summit Day: From our high camp, the route continues along the Northwest ridge, passing what was the highest refuge in the world, Refugia Independencia, at 6,550 meters. From these ruins we continue climbing up and right, crossing the Cresta del Viento (windy crest) and then heading up the upper part of the Gran Acarreo to the Canaleta, the most famous part of the Normal Route. The Canaleta is a 33-degree scree chute, which rises 400 meters and requires great patience and stamina.
After topping out of the Canaleta, you will find yourself atop the Cresta del Guanaco, the ridge that joins the Lower South Summit to the higher North Summit. We follow the ridge crest to the true summit, where an aluminum cross marks the highest point in the Western Hemisphere, 6,960 meters! The 360-degree view from the summit is awe inspiring as you gaze out towards the numerous 6,000 meter peaks of the Andes. Summiting and returning back down to the Berlin Camp usually takes between 7-10 hours.
Day 20: We rapidly descend down the mountain, and descend to base camp.
Day 21: We get an early start and continue our descent as we hike out to Puenta del Inca, 10 to 12 hours. Late night transfer to our hotel in Mendoza.
Day 22: Rest day in Mendoza with a wine tour where we enjoy a wonderful celebration dinner/lunch or departure.