Aconcagua (Vacas Valley)

from $4,295

Summiting Aconcagua – the highest mountain in South America and the highest mountain in the world outside Asia – is “Bucket List” territory for many.

  • Price
    $4,295
  • Duration
    21 Days Door to Door
  • Activity Level Challenging
    5/8
  • Elevation
    6962m | 22 841 ft.

Overview:

At 6962m, Aconcagua is the highest mountain in South America and the highest mountain in the world outside of Asia. Summiting Aconcagua is “Bucket List” territory, and one of the many reasons why we focus on careful acclimatization en route to give you every chance of success!

There are two Aconcagua route options – Vacas Valley Route (a more traditional path that is quieter and more scenic) and the Aconcagua Normal Route (shorter and more direct). Our itinerary gives you the best of both worlds – ascending via the Vacas Valley Route and descending via Plaza de Mulas and the Horcomes Valley on the Normal Route.

Skill Level

While this is not a technical climb, the combination of intense altitude, unpredictable weather and 12 – 14 hours of trekking on summit day moves this expedition into its “challenging” ranking. It is for this reason that we build additional days into our itinerary to allow for a slower ascent, careful acclimatization and more opportunities to summit in case the weather does not play fair.

The adventure package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included?Items that are included in the cost of package price.
  • Professional local guides and a western leader/facilitator
  • Transportation to and from the airport
  • Assistance with obtaining Provincial Park entrance permits in Mendoza
  • Transportation in a private vehicle to and from the base of the mountain
  • Two nights’ hotel accommodation in Mendoza on a bed-and-breakfast basis (twin beds sharing)
  • Accommodation in a hotel in Penitentes
  • High quality tents and sleeping mats in Base Camp and on other parts of the mountain
  • All meals in Penitentes and on the mountain
  • Welcome dinner in Mendoza
  • Mules to carry 30kg of your personal gear into and out of Base Camp
  • Dome dining tent in Base Camp
  • Toilet facilities in Base Camp (showers are available at a small fee)
  • Supervision of gear left in Base Camp while you are higher on the mountain
  • Internet access in Base Camp (at a small fee), a satellite phone for emergency calls and VHF radios for higher up on the mountain
What is not included?Items that are not included in the cost of package price.
  • International airfare and departure taxes
  • Visa costs
  • Items of a personal nature – personal gear, telephone calls, laundry etc.
  • Staff/ guide gratuities
  • Lunches in Mendoza and Uspallata
  • Alcohol, soft drinks and mineral water
  • Personal medical expenses, medical and evacuation insurance
  • Any costs arising from flight cancellation/delays, political disturbance or natural disaster
  • Personal porters. (Please contact the office for prices.)
  • Provincial Park fee. This fee changes each year, but will be +/- US$ 1000
  • Personal medical expenses, medical and evacuation insurance
  • Any costs arising from flight cancellation/ delays, political disturbance or natural disasters.
  1. Introduction Overview

    The ascent via the Vacas Valley and the descent via Plaza de Mulas and the Horcomes Valley is an expedition that offers a complete view of the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas, allowing you to enjoy the magnitude and splendor of the mountain in its entirety.

  2. Day 1 Mendoza (760 metres)

    We arrive in Mendoza and after settling in at our hotel, we meet our guides, check gear and do last minute shopping. A welcome dinner will kick-start the expedition.

    Overnight: Hotel

  3. Day 2 Penitentes (2700 metres)

    Before driving to Penitentes, we obtain our climbing permits and park fees. We travel to Penitentes by van, stopping for lunch at Uspallata. The afternoon will be spent organizing the loads for the following day.

    Overnight: Hotel

  4. Day 3 Pampa de Lenas (2950 metres)

    We drive to Punta de Vacas, check in at the Aconcagua Park entrance and then trek to Pampa de Lenas and set up camp.

    Trekking time: 4 to 5 hours

    Overnight: Tents

  5. Day 4 Casa de Piedra (3240 metres)

    Today we trek to an intermediate camp via Quebrada de Vacas. We will see the impressive West Face of Aconcagua for the first time.

    Trekking time: 6 to 7 hours

    Overnight: Tents

  6. Day 5 Plaza Argentina (4200 metres)

    Today we trek into Base Camp via the steep Relicho slope and the Inferior Plaza Argentina.

    Trekking time: 5 to 6 hours

    Overnight: Tents

  7. Day 6 Plaza Argentina (4200 metres)

    Today is a well-deserved rest and acclimatization day. We will familiarize ourselves with Base Camp and have an opportunity to have a shower, reorganize our equipment and prepare loads for the next day.

    Overnight: Tents

  8. Day 7 Carry to Camp 1 (5000 metres)

    We do a load carry to Camp 1 and return to Base Camp the same day.

    Trekking time: 7 to 8 hours round trip

    Overnight: Tents

  9. Day 8 Camp 1 (5000 metres)

    Today we move to Camp 1, pick up the loads we dropped the day before and set up camp. After some rest and refreshment, we organize loads for the next day.

    Trekking time: 5 to 6 hours

    Overnight: Tents

  10. Day 9 Carry to Camp 2 (5500 metres)

    We continue to acclimatize today by carrying a load to Camp 2 and returning to Camp 1.

    Trekking time: 6 hours round trip

    Overnight: Tents

  11. Day 10 Camp 1 (5000 metres)

    This is a well-deserved rest day. It will be important to hydrate, eat as much as possible and focus on what lies ahead.

    Overnight: Tents

  12. Day 11 Camp 2 (5500 metres)

    Today we climb to Camp 2 via the Ameghino Traverse. We pick up the loads we dropped two days ago and set up camp.

    Trekking time: 5 hours

    Overnight: Tents

  13. Day 12 Carry to Colera/ Camp 3 (6000 metres)

    Today we do a carry to camp Colera. This is a hard day where it becomes very important for us to monitor how we are feeling from an acclimatization and psychological perspective. We return to camp 2 and rest.

    Trekking time: 4 hours

    Overnight: Tents

  14. Day 13 Camp Colera/ Camp 3 (6000 metres)

    We pack up camp and move up to Camp Colera via the last part of Upper Guanacos’ Valley Route. We will position ourselves fairly close to Camp Berlin on the normal route and prepare for our summit push.

    Trekking time: 4 hours

    Overnight: Tents

  15. Day 14 Summit Day (6962 metres)

    This is the most challenging and demanding day of this entire expedition. We climb up to Independencia (6500 metres) via the Normal Route and then follow the traverse to the base of La Caneleta. We climb to the right of the Caneletor. Just before the summit, we will look down onto the dramatic South-West Face. There is nothing more rewarding that standing on the summit of the tallest mountain in the southern hemisphere. After soaking up the incredible views we descend to Camp 3.

    Trekking time: 12 to 14 hours

    Overnight: Tents

  16. Day 15 & 16 Spare days

    We have built extra days into our itinerary to attempt the summit. These spare days are in case of inclement weather and other logistic challenges.

     

  17. Day 17 Plaza de Mulas (4250 metres)

    Today we descend from Camp 3 to Plaza de Mulas where we will enjoy a delicious dinner to celebrate our incredible experience.

    Trekking time: 5 hours

    Overnight: Tents

     

  18. Day 18 Penitents

    After an early breakfast, we descend to Penitents via the Horcones Valley and Confluencia (3500 metres)

    Overnight: Hotel

  19. Day 19 Mendoza

    After breakfast, we drive to Mendoza and check in to our hotel. Celebration dinner that evening.

    Overnight: Hotel

  20. Day 20 International Departures

    Sadly, we say farewell to the warmth and hospitality of the Argentinean people and to the life-long friendships that we cultivated on Aconcagua.

Gear List:

CLIMBING EQUIPMENT:

Ice axe with leash
Crampons
Anti-balling plates
Crampon rubber protectors
Walking sticks

FOOTWEAR:

Double plastic boots/ Double-layered mountaineering boots
Trekking boots
Running shoes
Gaiters
Spare boot laces for trekking boots (optional)
Expedition socks x3
Trekking socks x3
Liner socks x4
Toe warmers (optional)
Booties (optional)

TECHNICAL CLOTHING:

Down jacket
Gortex longs
Gortex shell
Salopets
Trekking pants x2
Thermal underwear – tops & bottoms x2
Normal underwear
Long-sleeved trekking shirts x2
Short-sleeved technical shirts x2
Soft shell jacket
Hard shell jacket
Polartec longs x2
Polartec long-sleeved tops x2

HANDWEAR:

Mitts x1
Polartec gloves x2
Silk glove liners x2
Hand warmers (optional)

HEADWEAR:

Balaclava
Neoprene facemask – optional
Woollen hat / beanie
Woollen scarf / Buff
Head torch – plus spare batteries
Sun hat
Cap
Goggles – 100% UV & IR
Sun glasses – with side covers
Nose guard (optional)

PERSONAL EQUIPMENT:

Expedition backpack – 80 litre
Trekking backpack – 50 litre
Sleeping bag – minus 25˚C
Sleeping bag liner x1
Compression bags
Self-inflatable mattress
Closed cell foam pad
Pillow / cushion
Toiletries
Towel
Thermos flask x2
Thermos mug
Knife, fork, spoon
Nalgene bowl
Leatherman multi-tool
Pocket knife
Water-bottles with insulation x2
Large karrimor plastic bags x2
Medium karrimor plastic bags x4
Pee bottle / funnel
Duct tape
Baby wipes
Zip-lock bags x10
Sunscreen – maximum SPF
Protective cream for lips – maximum SPF
Whistle
Ear plugs
Hand sanitizer

Visas and Training.
Visas & Vaccinations:

Visas

Please check with our office or your local tourism authority for the latest information.

 

Vaccinations

There are currently no vaccinations required for entry into Argentina, however an International Certificate of Vaccination is required for Yellow Fever if arriving from an infected area.

Training Guide:

This training information is intended as a guideline and should be used as such. If you are unsure about anything, please chat to us!

Most importantly, before you embark on any exercise program, please consult your doctor or exercise physiologist to make sure that you are ready for the increased workload.

A focused training program should begin 3 – 4 months before the expedition, but working on your base fitness before that is important as it lays a good foundation for the harder work that will follow.

 

Physical Conditioning

Climbing big mountains requires cardiovascular endurance (via aerobic training), strength endurance (through strength conditioning) and climbing-specific training (i.e. hiking with a pack).

Being in strong physical shape is one of the most important aspects for a successful climb of Aconcagua. You should be planning to progressively increase your aerobic training and speed of weekly training hikes to give you climbing-specific conditioning that cannot be matched by any other sort of training.

 

Cardiovascular Conditioning

Suggested activities include running, cycling, mountain biking, swimming, walking on an inclined treadmill, doing stair stepping or stepmill training, trail running, walking up and down hills, or participating in step aerobic classes.

When first beginning a cardiovascular training program, begin with three workouts (i.e. Monday, Wednesday and Friday) of 30 minutes of sustained activity at a moderate intensity, and build up to 4-5 aerobic sessions of sustained effort for at least 45 – 60 minutes (taking Wednesday and Sunday as rest days, for example).

Be sure to include a 5-10 minute gentle warm-up before working at your target heart rate for the day. For most workouts, choose a level of exertion that allows you to connect a few words together in a phrase, but leaves you feeling comfortably tired at the end of the workout.

Remember to cool down with 5-10 minutes of appropriate stretching of the muscles you used most in your activity, including lower back, calves, hamstrings, hips and quadriceps.

 

Strength Conditioning

Training with weights, backpacks and gym machines will help you build overall strength, particularly in the lower back, abdominals, upper back, shoulders and legs. Developing strength in your upper back and shoulders will help with carrying a pack and using trekking poles.

The calves, hips, quads, hamstrings and glutes are all involved in ascending and descending steep sections and scree slopes, which will be encountered on Aconcagua.

Before embarking on any weight training, please consult with a qualified gym instructor so that you are well briefed in terms of using the equipment. Most important in strength training is to be sure that you maintain proper form at all times in order to prevent injury or strain.

 

Climbing Conditioning

This involves hiking steep outdoor trails, going up and down stairs or training on an inclined treadmill. In the months leading up to the expedition, it is important to do some long walks in the mountains.

Remember that our summit day is likely to be 15 – 18 hours long, involving steep inclines and descents. On our summit push, we will ascend about 1000 vertical metres and descend about 1000 vertical metres the same day.

Remember: All of your training is geared towards giving you the strength and endurance to stand on the roof of the South American Continent and successfully get down again.

Aconcagua is in the southern hemisphere, which means that the climbing season is from December through March. Keep in mind that the weather is extremely cold and windy all year round – even during the climbing season!

Overall Rating
5/5
Steve, Sydney, Australia
Reviewed On 18/04/2019
5/5

It took me three attempts to finally summit Aconcagua. I had been to the summit of Everest, but the Stone Sentinel tripped me up on two previous occasions before I finally stood on her summit. The climb required grit and determination, but that is what big mountains are all about and Aconcagua is a big mountain. I have been on many other expeditions with Adventures Global. Ronnie is truly passionate about what he does and his logistics and leadership comes straight out of the top drawer

Will, Cape Town, South Africa
Reviewed On 05/02/2019
5/5

Climbing Aconcagua was a profound and life changing experience for me. It was extremely tough, but it has revealed to me that I can go on and do bigger things. Thank you Adventures Global for a truly remarkable experience.

Mark, Cape Town, South Africa
Reviewed On 22/01/2019
5/5

Aconcagua is undoubtedly the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life. If it wasn’t for Adventures Global and Ronnie’s experience, guidance and encouragement, I am not sure I would have made it. I have done many trips with Adventures Global and I am not done yet.

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