Expedition Aconcagua 360°
The highest mountain on the South American continent towering at 6,962m above sea level
Aconcagua is an ideal mountain to gain high-altitude climbing experience
We approach the mountain via the Vacas Valley and return via the Horcones Valley – a full circumnavigation of Aconcagua, hence the name "Aconcagua 360°."
Have you always dreamt about climbing Aconcagua? If so, this is definitely your trip. We ascend and descend on different routes giving you a new view from each camp.
Quality bonus: 1 local guide per 4 members, food preparation at the high camps, porters for tents and cooking gear (to the 3 high camps and back down).
Being the highest mountain of South America, Aconcagua is one of the Seven Summits.
At 6,962m, Cerro Aconcagua, or simply Aconcagua, is the highest mountain in South America, in the entire southern hemisphere and the highest mountain outside the Trans Himalayas. On 14 January 1987, Swiss mountaineer Matthias Zurbriggen became the first person to reach the summit of this beautiful giant. The enourmos peak in the Argentinean province of Mendoza near the Chilean border has its origins in volcanic activity, however, it is not an active volcano.
On this expedition, we traverse and circumnavigate the mountain. From Penitentes, we fly through the wild Valle Vacas to Plaza Argentina base camp on the east side of the mountain. Our ascent follows the Polish Glacier Traverse to reach the summit of the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere while our descent takes us to Plaza de Mulas base camp on the west side. Once at base camp, a helicopter will pick us up and take us through the long Valle Horcones towards the south where we finish the circumvention of the mountain in Puente del Inca.
Being the highest mountain on the South American continent, Aconcagua is one of the Seven Summits. It is not a very technical peak which together with Kilimanjaro makes it one of the easier highest mountains on the seven continents. If you are interested in climbing the Seven Summits, check out our website – we offer trips to all of them!
Day 1: Flight to Mendoza
Day 2: Arrival in Mendoza
We usually arrive in Mendoza in the morning. Once we have checked into our hotel, we have a look what the famous wine capital has to offer. After a short sightseeing tour, we finish the day with a delicious supper. You will find out for yourself that Mendoza is not only famous for its fine wines, but also for its mouth-watering Bife de Chorizo.
Day 3: Los Penitentes - Base Camp Plaza Argentina
Well-fed and rested, we embark on our trip to Aconcagua. However, before we set out on the beautiful drive from Uspallata to Los Penitentes, we have to pick up our climbing permits from the administration of the National Park. Los Penitentes is located at 2,580 metres and sits directly at the park entrance. We check into a comfortable hotel and spend the afternoon sorting our equipment and preparing for the exciting climb ahead of us.
Day 4 - Day 6: Los Penitentes - Base Camp Plaza Argentina
We spent the following three days trekking to our base camp at Plaza Argentina. A short drive takes us to Punta de Vacas, where we load our equipment and luggage onto pack animals. Thanks to these amazing beasts, we only have to carry a light daypack on our 20-kilometre-trek to base camp during which we gain 1,800 metres of altitude. During the first two days, we hike through the valley of the Rio de las Vacas where we cross this wild river over suspension bridges several times. The first night we stay at Pampa de Leñas (2,864 m) and the second night at Camp Casa de Piedra (3,245 m). Shortly before we reach Camp Casa de Piedra, we get a first glimpse of our goal – the majestic Aconcagua. A breathtakingly beautiful sight!
On the third day, the path gets more adventurous: we cross the Rio de las Vacas which meanders through the valley. From here, the route becomes considerably steeper and after approximately 5-6 hours, we reach Plaza Argentina at 4,198m. We settle into our tents and use the afternoon to find our way around this colourful tent town. As everyone attempting the mountain is required to be examined by an Argentinean doctor, we will visit the clinic to get medical clearance to climb the mountain.
Day 7: Trek to Cerro Colorado (4,566 m) or Rest Day
For acclimatisation purposes, we go on a 3-4-hour hike to Cerro Colorado (4,566 m), which is literally the ‘house’ mountain of base camp. The ascent via its gravel slopes, which are typical for this region, is relatively easy. We take our time to reach the summit from where we can enjoy an amazing view of base camp as well as Aconcagua. Should you not want to go for a hike, you can spend this day relaxing at base camp.
Day 8: Gear Carry to Camp I
Today, we carry our gear to Camp I at 5,000m and return to base camp for the night. This means we do not have to shift all our gear (personal gear as well as necessary food and fuel) to Camp I in one go. Touching Camp I for the day also benefits our acclimatisation. In the afternoon, we descend back to base camp.
Day 9: Rest Day
We use this day to rest at base camp and settle into our tents.
Day 10: Base Camp - Camp I (5,000 m)
Today, we follow our footsteps from a few days ago. We have the entire day at our disposal which means that we can take our time and go slowly, which is important at this altitude. Once we reach camp, we spend the afternoon recovering and enjoying the fascinating scenery. Watching the beautiful skies in the evening will remind us why we are here!
Day 11: Gear Carry from Camp I - Camp II (5,520 m)
Just like we set up Camp I, we establish Camp Guanaco (Camp II) at 5,520m. The route starts off very steeply, however, it soon flattens out and we can steadily climb to Camp II which takes 3 to 4 hours. After we have dropped our gear at Camp II, we return to Camp I which will take approximately half the time of the ascent.
Day 12: Camp I (5,000 m) - Camp II (5,520 m)
We retrace our steps from yesterday and carry the rest of our gear to Camp II, where we spend the night. The campsite is located in a wind-protected hollow which is not far from the Polish Glacier.
Day 13: Camp II - Camp III (6,000 m)
As we only climb up to Camp III (Colera) once, we have to take all our equipment with us. However, it will not be too much as we only plan to spend one night up there. The climb covers 400 metres in altitude, which means that today will not be as strenuous as it might appear at first glance. It is extremely important not to exhaust ourselves too much today as Camp III, which is also called Colera, is already the starting point for our summit attempt.
As soon as the members and guides start their ascent to Camp III, our support team will take our gear from Plaza Argentina to Plaza de Mulas, which means your equipment will be waiting for you at Plaza de Mulas after our summit bid.
Day 14 - Day 17: Aconcagua Summit (including two spare days)
Our itinerary is generous enough to plan for three possible summit days, which allows us - depending on the weather – to have one entire day at high camp. The actual summit day will be long and strenuous. Depending on the weather, we will leave for the summit at the crack of dawn between 4am and 6am. We will follow the well-trodden path and soon meet the normal route coming up from Plaza de Mulas. Before we tackle the traverse of the Canaleta, we will take a break at Independencia, a small wooden hut at approximately 6,400m. Technically speaking, it is not very difficult, however, it often gets beaten by the wind – so be prepared for a blustery traverse. At the other end of the crossing at the foot of the Canaleta, we will have another short rest at a comfortable spot before we tackle the final summit slope. Without having to literally climb, we negotiate the famous Canaleta which ends just below the summit. This part is often the mental crux for many climbers as even though the summit seems within one’s reach, it still takes some time to get through the Canaleta. But all of a sudden it all happens very quickly and we will find ourselves on top of the 6,962m-high Aconcagua. The summit plateau is so spacious that we could actually play a game of football up there, however, we are probably better off enjoying the view of the majestic summits of the Andes.
On our descent, we retrace our steps back to Camp III. Here we have to gather our last strength to dismantle the camp before we continue our descent. We pass Nido de Condores and return to Plaza de Mulas via the normal route. There is an option to spend the night at Camp III, however, it is better to descend all the way to base camp.
Day 18: Plaza de Mulas - Mendoza
Today will be a long day! We walk all the way to Horcones from where we will drive to Mendoza
Day 19: Transfer to the airport of Mendoza
As Mendoza, the wine metropolis of Argentina, is a great place to explore and hang out. If we reach the summit early, Mendoza is also the perfect place for excursions. However, expenses for additional nights in Mendoza have to be covered by the members.
Day 20: Arrival Home
The Profilcheck is a fixed part of the detailed travel programme. Please read through it thoroughly and assess yourself. Due to the required point score for an expedition you can unmistakably read from your self-assessment if your skills, your fitness and your mountain experience meet the requirements. With your registration you confirm to us that you are fit to go on this expedition.
Please note the following points concerning the expedition procedure:
The expedition is exhausting. The height alone has certain risks associated with it.
The members do not have to be “super alpinists”, but they should posses some high altitude mountaineering experience. The members will form independent roped parties among themselves. Active participation on the mountain, camaraderie and tolerance are of great importance to us.
One the mountain everybody has to be able to recognise their limits and possible admit defeat and retreat. The expedition is undertaken on your own risk.
The leader of the expedition is responsible for the management of the entire group during the expedition but he is not responsible for the personal support of the individuals. Nonetheless, everybody has to be ready to listen to the advice and follow the decisions made by the expedition leader. These are made in the interest of the entire group.
Depending on the existing circumstances improvisations and changes to the programme might become necessary.
Kobler & Partner denies any liability for accidents, damages or loss of equipment.
The Aconcagua is a non-technical mountain. However, depending on the snow conditions it can happen that we have to cross short, up to 25° steep snow fields. The height should not be underestimated, after all, the mountain is almost 7,000 metres tall.
A successful ascent of the Aconcagua depends on many different factors. The most important ones are good stamina, the individual’s capability to adapt to the height and of course the current weather conditions as well. Furthermore, there are many other factors that come into play in addition to these, however, they are usually very different depending on the stamina and skills of the participants. Please note the services described in the category “Support” that can make an ascent much easier to manage. However, because these are individual wishes, these wishes are bookable separately.
Organisation of the entire expedition
All transfers by bus and jeep
Pre-expedition briefing at Bächli Bergsport, including a 10% voucher for equipment
Full board during the entire expedition, breakfast in Mendoza excluded
1 hotel night (double room) in Los Penitentes
Comfortable mess tent, toilet
1 tent per 2 members
High altitude stove
High altitude porters for common gear (tents, gas and stove: NOTE: members have to carry their own high altitude food to the high camps)
Our local guides prepare the food at the high camps
Rubbish fee for Acconcagua National Park
Clearing rubbish from the high camps
Communication (radio) at base camp
Radio (9 Volt)
Satellite phone, excluding call charges (only at Aconcagua base camp)
Weather forecast at Aconcagua base camp
Free Wifi at both base camps
Mules to and from base camp (maximal 22kg personal luggage per member)
Gear transport from Plaza Argentina to Plaza de Mulas for equipment that is not needed at the high camps
Medical kit with pulse oximetre
Climbing map Aconcagua
Kitchen: chef and kitchen helpers
Certified and experienced mountain guide
Personal porter to the high camps (look at “Good to Know”)
Summit permit (look at “Good to Know”)
In case no partner can be found for a booked double room, we charge half of the single room surcharge (look at “Additional Costs”)
Surcharges that may arise due to changes being made to the planned travel programme
Individual, performance based, tips
Kobler & Partner’s Plaza Argentina base camp is of a very high standard with a very good kitchen. It is the best place to recover and gather our strength to carry our gear to the high camps and attempt for the summit.
High Camp Food:
Apart from their personal gear, every member is required to carry some of the food to the high camps. You can expect an additional load of 8 to 10kg to Camp I; 5 to 7 kg to Camp II and 3 to 5 kg to Camp III.
High altitude climbing requires a great deal of personal gear (see gear list).
Some of the equipment can be hired in Argentina. If required, Kobler & Partner can check availability of sleeping bags, down jackets as well as high altitude mountaineering boots prior to the expedition.
The following costs can be expected for rent:
Down jacket US$ 100.-,
Sleeping bag US$ 300.-
High altitude mountaineering boots US$ 220.-
Personal High Altitude Porter:
There is a possibility to hire a personal high altitude porter. The price varies according to the season and is difficult to calculate. The reason for the fluctuating price is the high inflation rate as well as the unpredictable exchange rate US$ / Peso.
The reference price (season 2019/20) for porter services (20kg) for the ascent and descent is US$ 1,400 and has to be paid in cash in Argentina.
We will process requests for rented equipment around three weeks prior to the start of the expedition. Please indicate your clothes and shoe sizes when requesting equipment. Please note that we take no responsibility for the quality of the rented equipment. All rented equipment has to be paid in US$ in Argentina.
Kobler & Partner have build up, together with an Argentinian partner, our own local agency in Mendoza. This means that we have extensive local know-how as well as a larger capacity to act and a larger degree of flexibility. Furthermore, the co-operation with local organisations and authorities is also made considerably easier because of this. This gives us the advantage that we can cater to the individual wishes of our guests more easily.
The north of Argentina is arid and thus it is subject to large daily temperature fluctuations.
The Aconcagua characterised by low humidity, low oxygen content
in the air and strong winds.
The winds that blow from the Pacific Ocean and the humidity they carry clashes against he Andes and cool down. Thus mountaineers on the tallest mountain of America often encounter not only winds, but also snowstorms. A peculiar weather phenomenon is the famous “hongo” (mushroom), that forms around the summit region at a height above 5,500 metres above sea level. This ‘mushroom’ can be seen from Plaza de Mulas and it makes for a magical view, but it is also a sign that heralds strong winds, rain or snow in the alpine region of the mountain.
During summertime the temperatures at night at 5,000 metres above sea level are around -20°C. On the summit the temperatures can go as low as -30°C. While one wears a simple polar jacket on the summit, at the Base Camp one can usually wear shorts during the day; so, the Aconcagua weather is not always hard and rough. However, it is advisable to always expect and be prepared for sudden weather changes.
An ascent of the Aconcagua is thus always connected with a bit of weather luck. In our experience the best time window for an ascent is from December until the beginning of March.
The flat fee does not cover the permit costs for the Aconcagua. The costs for the permit vary from season to season and they are published by the park administration only shortly before the beginning of the mountaineering season. The reason for this is the high inflation and the unforeseeable exchange rate. Kobler & Partner communicate the actual costs of the permits the latest during the preparation meeting.
The following prices are considered to be benchmark prices (permit costs season 18/19)
High-season: 15 Dec. - 31 Jan.: USD 950
Off-season: 20 Nov. - 14 Dec. as well as from 1 Feb. - 15 Mar.: USD 730
The ascent permit has to be acquired personally in Mendoza and it has to be paid cash in USD.
In case not all days that are available for the ascent of the Aconcagua are used up or in case a participant abandons the expedition early, the rest of the time is spent in Mendoza. The thus resulting costs are not covered by the flat fee of the travel offer and they have to be covered by the participants, and they have to be paid on site by the participants themselves.
Hotel and tent accommodation is indicated in the itinerary.
The two base camps, Plaza Argentina and Plaza de Mulas, are furnished with large thermal isolated group tents and our guests have the option of a warm shower at Plaza Argentina.
Return flights to Mendoza are NOT included in the expedition price. We are happy to assist you with the booking.
Argentina does not require a visa. Please make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the dates of your trip.
Aconcagua 360° Gearlist
2 duffle bags, 110l (water-proof, available from K&P at a discount for members)
Down jacket or down suit for expeditions
Primaloft jacket or light down jacket
Midlayer (fleece sweater or jacket)
Trekking pants, light and long
Softshell pants for mountaineering
Expedition down pants or down suit
Baselayers / T-shirts
Long-sleeved thermal top
Insulated shell gloves
Expedition down mittens
Liner gloves, thin, silk or fleece
Comfortable shoes (running shoes)
Expedition boots for 7,000m
Heavyweight socks, thick and warm
-20°C down sleeping bag
Insulated inflatable sleeping pad
Down booties (nice to have!)
Pillowcase (stuffed with your down jacket, it makes a nice pillow!)
K&P provides a foam mat at base camp
Head gear, face and eye protection
Glacier goggles (with nose guard, if possible)
Ski goggles, high UV-protection (also protects from the wind)
Balaclava or face mask (wind-stopper or neoprene)
Sunscreen, SPF 50
Lipscreen, SPF 50
Backpack approximately 40 l
Raincover for backpack
Ice axe, light
Crampons with anti-balling plates (customised to fit expedition boots)
Compression bags for down equipment
Food utensils, light, for high camps (bowl including cutlery)
Water bottle with large opening (Nalgene)
Pee bottle / Plastic bags
Headlamp (including spare batteries) and a small spare headlamp
Pocket knife or multi-tool/Leatherman
hand and toe warmer (nice to have!)
Departure letter from K&P (contains the final information)
2 duffle bags 90-110 L (waterproof, available from K&P at a discount for members)
Enough cash to pay for the permit fee and for personal use
Credit card (Mastercard oder Visa)
2 Passport photographs
Small personal first-aid kit (personal medication / compeed)
Microfibre travel towel
Hand sanitizer (50 ml)
Tissues, wet wipes
Your K&P mountain guide will provide well-stocked medical kits for base and high camps, radios, GPS, travel books and maps.
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