Aconcagua Climb in Argentina
- Climb spectacular Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas, a South American holiday of a lifetime
- Revel in breathtaking views of green desert valleys dramatically enclosed between the Andes
- Alpine Ascents ranks highest in the climbing industry for safety
Aconcagua, which translates as "Stone Sentinel" is 22,840 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. The most magnificent South American vacation.
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 3 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 one fifth the amount of climbers (1,000 vs. 5,000 yearly) 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 skills.
Over the last 19 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 new 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, and customer service that we offer.
- All land transportation in Argentina
- Hotel accommodations in Mendoza for one night before and one night after climb
- Hotel accommodations in Penitentes, Argentina (dormitory style)
- Meals: Alpine Ascents pays for all meals from the first night's dinner (on scheduled date) until departure from the mountain. Climbers pay for own meals upon return to Mendoza at the end of the expedition.
- All group climbing gear
- All group supplies, such as tents, stoves etc.
- $25 wire transfer fee (if applicable)
- International round-trip airfare USA-Santiago-Mendoza
- Climbing permit fee ($330-$500, depending on season)
- Single room supplement
- Argentina entrance fee
- Some supplemental snacks such as candy bars
- Additional hotels, meals & transportation should the climb end early
- Excess baggage charges and airport taxes
- All fees for early departure from team (such as non-scheduled mule transport)
- Personal gear
- Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of Alpine Ascents
- Trip cancellation insurance
Day by Day Itinerary
Depart country of origin.
Arrive Mendoza, Argentina. Climbers should arrive before 5 pm if possible. We will have an orientation for the climb, a Leave No Trace discussion, and equipment check. This will be followed by a group dinner in one of Mendoza's finest restaurants.
After completing the permit process, we board our private bus to the town of Penitentes. In Penitentes, we organize mule loads and spend the night.
After one night in Penitentes, we drive 15 minutes to Punta de Vacas (8,000’), where we will begin our three-day, 30 mile trek into Plaza Argentina (13,800’), base camp for our expedition. Mules will carry all of our gear so we can enjoy the trek without heavy loads. On the approach, we walk through green desert valleys dramatically enclosed between the mountains of the Andes. During the first half of the approach, our objective will remain hidden by the nearby mountains. However, at the end of the second day the stunning east face of Aconcagua will dramatically be revealed.
After our arrival at Plaza Argentina, we set up camp and spend the next day preparing for the climb, exploring the local terrain and acclimatizing to the higher altitude.
Carry to Camp I. Camp I is located behind an old moraine at 15,500'. This camp is very private and only Alpine Ascents uses it. We double carry to keep pack weight down and to help ensure good acclimatization.
Move to Camp I.
This day we carry to Camp II, located on a high pass known as Ameghino Col, at 17,700'. Ameghino Camp provides spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the upper route of the Polish Glacier.
Rest day at Camp I. This gives us further acclimatization time and rest before moving higher to sleep.
Carry and move to Camp II.
Carry to Camp III (19,200'), located just below the Polish Glacier, then return to Camp II.
Move to Camp III.
Rest and acclimatization at Camp III. This will prepare us for our move to Camp IV (high camp).
Move to high camp, Camp IV (20,600'), located on the North Ridge. On the approach, we enjoy magnificent views of the Polish Glacier. Camp IV offers breathtaking scenes of many of the highest peaks of the Andes.
Summit day begins at 5:00 am. We climb the North Ridge to Refugio Independencia at approximately 21,400'. From there, we traverse the West Face and climb up into the Canaleta, an 800' couloir that leads to the summit ridge. Finally, the Guanaco Ridge poses an easy traverse to the summit. On the top we have a spectacular 360º view. All around you will see the Andes Mountains consisting of several 20,000' peaks, including another of the highest peaks in South America, Mercedario. To the west lies Chile and the Pacific Ocean, and to the east, the plains of Argentina. Also from the summit you will be able to look directly down the 9,000' South Face of Aconcagua, considered one of the great faces of the world. Also included are acclimatization, rest and bad weather days.
These extra days are built in to provide the best possible conditions for each participant to summit
We descend form high camp to Plaza de Mulas (Base Camp on the West side of the mountain).
Trek out from Plaza de Mulas to Punta del Inca, where we take a car back to Penitentes for the night.
Return to Mendoza and the Hyatt Hotel, to celebrate our time in the mountains and enjoy the comforts of Argentina.
Arrive in country of origin.
About The Operator:
Alpine Ascents International
A Brief History
Founder Todd Burleson has traveled the globe incessantly (from 8 Everest expeditions and the 7 summits, to Greenland, Mongolia and Iran) not only for his love of guiding but his never-ending pursuit of perfecting the Alpine Ascents approach. In 1986 there wasn't much of a business model for international guiding, but making a living at something you love has its merits. While Todd's proficiency in climbing was well regarded, he had a propensity for not only guiding and teaching, but looking at mountains as to how they might be successfully and safely guided (routes, camps, guide ratios, supplies and itineraries). From our early successes on Himalayan Peaks, this approach soon took hold on mountains around the world. Willi Prittie joined on with Todd and added his relentless pursuit of perfection and joy of the mountains to the zeitgeist of Alpine Ascents. This unique combination snowballed into some of the finest logistics, training and guiding in the industry.
With this recipe, Todd and Willi began sculpting a reputation - as a climber's outfitter. This included Willi maniacally developing the Alpine Ascents Mountaineering School, with the theme that any graduate should possess enough safety skills to call themselves a climber. Enter Gordon Janow who brought his eclectic background of writing, business and many years of traveling through Asia to galvanize Alpine Ascents as a business and mind set. This led to other strategic and opportune partnerships with old climbing friends such as Vernon Tejas, Peter Athans, and Jose Luis Peralvo, as well as recruiting, developing and training a host of younger guides that eventually became the core of the Alpine Ascents guiding staff. The office staff, not to be outdone, put the expertise of Matt Lepisto and Kristine Kitayama, and more recently Brent LaDoux, Alayna Cullen, Garrett Madison and Savannah Klunder, along with Todd and Gordon to the task of organizing and creating all that manifests the visions of guides and climbers alike. Most of the original members are with us today, keeping it a jovial and enthusiastic (bordering on obsessive) team.
Alpine Ascents International Today
Alpine Ascents International leads expeditions that have become benchmarks of quality in the climbing community and operates what we believe is the finest mountaineering school in the country. This expertise is based upon years of accumulated experience, not just from individual mountain guides, but through experience on particular mountains where details are fine-tuned over time. We maintain our ongoing process of multi-leveled and critical evaluation for each expedition. Innovations like daily weather reports, established season-long base camps, environmental pioneering, and operating our trips with small climber-to-guide ratios led by Alpine Ascents guides are just some of the factors that keep us in the forefront. Our guides are the primary reason that Alpine Ascents has built such a unique reputation. Many of our guides have been with us for most of their careers and have had the opportunity to participate in a wealth of climbs and programs. Our guides are generally not seasonal employees, who teach a few courses and head back to "other lives", but are dedicated and committed to a life of climbing.
Along with these elements, our commitment to the environment and ethical global business practices make Alpine Ascents the most respected and well-rounded mountain guiding company in the industry. Alpine Ascents is proud to be one of a small minority of companies authorized to guide on Denali, Mt. Rainier and throughout Washington's Cascades.
Program Philosophy ~ Mission Statement
Alpine Ascents is committed to developing safe, self-reliant and environmentally-conscious mountaineers and offering courses and expeditions of unsurpassed quality throughout the world. Our business practices stress ethical and culturally aware travel.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the skill level of this climb?
While technical skills are not necessary, it is strongly recommended that climbers should have completed our 6-day mountaineering course or the equivalent.
What is the physical conditioning for this climb?
Climbers are expected to be in excellent physical condition.
Any tips on how a climber can maximize their chances of success?
Review the training page of our web site.
Who is the guiding team composed of (How many guides? Climber to guide ratio?)
Our Aconcagua climbs never exceed a 5:1 climber to guide. Most trips have a 3:1 ratio. Our 6 person teams depart with 2 guides and our 10 person depart with 3. Additionally we utilize other Alpine Ascents teams already on the mountain who may help with descending climbers.
What is the best season to climb / which dates will have the most chance for success?
December through February is when the weather is most stable. High winds can occur any time of the year.
How many climbers are on this expedition?
Never more than 10. Typically a group has between 6 to 8 climbers.
Will I be sharing a tent or lodging with other climbers?
On the climb you will be sharing expedition tents. You will share rooms on this expedition in town but you can pay a higher fee for single rooms. Contact our office for information on single room supplements
How much will my pack weigh?
How does your gear rental system work?
All rental gear will be mailed to the climber prior to the climb. Climbers are expected to clean all rental gear and those requesting rental gear must submit an expedition rental form with payment by fax or mail. Return it to us by mail following the expedition
Any further advice on gear and using your gear list?
While all items are required there may be times when some of the items on the gear list may not be used (such as warm weather or changing conditions). The gear lists are created by the guides to assist in having climbers be prepared to summit in any conditions.
As it is impossible for us to list all brands for certain gear, we do have a current suggested Brand List and Lexicont for most items on the gear list. We also list manufacturers which have a strong track record of providing quality gear. Please feel free to call our offices with any gear questions or substitutes. Plastic boots are required for this climb.
How is drinking water treated?
Water is boiled or purified using a chemical treatment like iodine or a chlorine solution.
What will the meals on the expedition be like?
Meals on the trek in and at base camp will include fresh fruits and vegetables. Light weight nutritious foods are prepared higher on the mountain.
Can I bring some food from home?
All meals will be provided on this climb but you will be asked to bring your own power bars and drink mix (optional).
Are there any innoculation requirements?
Not at this time. We do recommend you visit the CDC web site for the most up to date information.
What is the best air route to my destination?
Detailed flight information will be sent to you upon registration.
When should I book my flight? Do I need to use your Travel Agent?
Fares are generally less expensive when booked early. You may use our Travel Agent (Charles Mulvehill 1-800-727-2157) or book flights your self. Please note that flights booked on-line are often difficult to change. Please send us a copy of your flight schedule as early as possible as this allows us to book pick ups and hotels.
Where do I meet my guides?
Your guide or an Alpine Ascents representative will meet you at the airport. Look for a large Alpine Ascents sign.
What if I arrive early or depart late? Can you arrange extra night lodging? Is there a single room option for this expedition?
We are happy to make arrangements such as personalized tours, extra hotels rooms, airport pick ups and arrange for private rooms. Please indicate that you would like a private room on your application and we will contact you with information on single room supplement costs
Are there any entry or Visa requirements?
Not at this time.
Is there any communication while we are on the mountain?
Regular updates are posted on our web site once teams are on the mountain. Our teams communicate between the camps with two-way radios.
Can I contact the others on the climb? How about the guide?
You can always call our offices and one of guides will contact you, generally about 1 month before your trip departure. 30 days prior to departure, we mail a list of other team members to you.
How much should I budget for this expedition? How much cash should I plan to bring?
Please see climber information sheet in your confirmation email.
How much should I tip my guide and staff?
Guides are permitted to accept and greatly appreciate tips. Contact our office for specific guidelines for your trip.You may call our offices with a credit card or mail/fax an application with a check or credit card number.
When is the money due for this expedition? What kind of payment do you except?
We accept MasterCard, Visa, American Express, personal checks and Alpine Ascents gift certificates. To reserve a space the deposit is $700 balances are due 90 days prior to departure. Unpaid balances can result in forfeiture of trip.
What is your cancellation policy? What is your refund policy?
Note: Alpine Ascents International highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions. Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits, Alpine Ascents International must adhere to a stringent refund policy.
- Each deposit, regardless of amount, includes a $200.00 non-refundable registration fee.
- Full refunds, less registration fee, will be provided 90-days or more prior to course, trek and/or expedition date.
- 50% refunds will be provided 60-89 days prior to course, trek and/or expedition date.
- No refunds will be provided 59-days prior to course, trek and/or expedition date.
- All refund requests must be made in writing and be received in our office within the 90-day period, as stated above.
- All balances are due 90 days prior to departure date unless otherwise specified.
- Participants whose balances are not received by the 90-day deadline as stated above, risk forfeiture of their place on the expedition.
Note: Alpine Ascents reserves the right to waive any fees. As we offer personalized service, we will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations when necessary, waiving certain fees when feasible.
What happens if I need to leave the expedition early?
If a climber needs to leave early, arrangements can be made with the assistance our Base Camp Manager.