Expedition Aconcagua 360°

The highest mountain on the South American continent towering at 6,962m above sea level

This circumnavigation mountaineering trip is a real treat!

Facts

6961 m
Argentina
medium
easy
4C

The adventure

What to do after climbing Kilimanjaro? Ascending Aconcagua! This is the ideal way to refine your high-altitude climbing skills.

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 a height of 6,962 m, Cerro Aconcagua is not only the tallest mountain of South America, it is also the highest peak of the entire American continent as well as outside Asia. On 14 January 1897, the Swiss mountain guide Matthias Zurbriggen set out alone and became the first person to reach the top of the mountain, which is in Mendoza province near the Chilean border. Even though Aconcagua is not a volcano, it consists of volcanic material. 

Kobler & Partner’s favourite route is practically a traverse of the mountain. It takes us through the wild Vacas Valley to reach Plaza Argentina, the base camp on the east side of the mountain. We ascend the “Polacos Falsos”, the “False Polish Route”, on the north side and descend via the east to Plaza de Mulaz. From here we hike through the long Horcones Valley towards the south and finish our traverse in Puente del Inca. If you have booked the Aconcagua Express tour, we will fly back from Plaza de Mulaz.

Being the highest mountain of South America, Aconcagua is one of the Seven Summits. Just like Kilimanjaro, it is considered one of the easier ones of the highest peaks on the seven continents. Kobler & Partner organises expeditions to all Seven Summits:

https://www.kobler-partner.ch/angebot-kategorie/7summits-and-both-poles/

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.

Please Note:

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 - Los Penitentes

Today will be a long day! We walk all the way to Horcones from where we will drive to Uspallata. Luckily, the pack animals carry most of our luggage, which means that we only have to carry a light daysack on our descent. The route through the beautiful Horcones Valley allows us to reminisce about our climb as we walk past impressive rock formations and have the impressive south face constantly in our view. Once we reach Puente del Inca, we will get on a bus that takes us back to Los Penitentes where we check into our hotel for one more night. A cosy evening with beautiful memories is guaranteed. 

Day 19: Drive from Los Penitentes to Mendoza

We leave Los Penitentes, our small island after the ascent of the Aconcagua, for Mendoza - the wine metropolis of Argentina. As Mendoza is a great place to explore and hang out, we spend one more night in this amazing town before returning back home. If we reach the summit early, Mendoza is also the perfect place for excursion. However, expenses for additional nights in Mendoza have to be covered by the members. 

Day 20: Flight Back Home

We will have enough time to have breakfast before we take the plane back home. 

Day 21: Arrival Back Home

Important info

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.

Included

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

2 hotel nights (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

Guide-to-member-ratio 1:4 

Certified and experienced mountain guide

Not included

International flights to/from Mendoza/Argentina

Insurances

Individual beverages

Personal medication

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

ndividual, performance based, tips

General:

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.

Personal Gear:

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 (season 2019/20): 

  • Down jacket US$ 100.-,
  • Sleeping bag US$ 300.-
  • High altitude mountaineering boots US$ 220.-

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.

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.

Local Agency

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.

Climate

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.

Permit

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.

      Important

      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 base camps at Plaza Argentina and Plaza de Mulas are equipped with spacious insulated mess tents. There is a possibility to have a warm shower at both base camps.

Trip preparation

The expedition price includes international flights. Scheduled flights from Switzerland usually depart in the morning, however, the airlines’ flight times are subject to change. We are also happy to check other points of departure for you.

If your point of departure results in additional charge we will inform you in due time. For train times to Swiss airports, please check the timetable of the Swiss Railways:SBB Fahrplan

No visas are needed for Argentina and Chile.

Your passport must be valid at least 6 months after the return date.

Aconcagua 360° Gearlist

2 duffle bags, 110l (water-proof, available from K&P at a discount for members)

Clothing

Jackets

Down jacket for expeditions with 800er down filling

Primaloft jacket

Goretex jacket

Softshell jacket

Midlayer (fleece sweater or jacket)

Pants

Trekking pants, light and long

Softshell pants for mountaineering

Goretex pants

Primaloft pants

Short pants

Baselayers / T-Shirts

T-shirts

Underwear

Long sleeved thermal top

Thermal tights

Handwear

Insulated shell gloves

Down expedition mittens

Liner gloves, thin, silk or fleece

Footwear

Trainer

Trekking boots

High altitude all in-one boots for 7,000m

Trekking socks

Heavyweight socks, thick and warm

Sleeping

Down sleeping bag (comfort zone -20°C)

Insulated inflatable sleeping pad

Down booties (nice to have!)

Pillow case (stuffed with your down jacket, it makes a nice pillow!)

Foam Iso-Mat in the Base Camp is provided by Kobler & Partner.

Headgear, face and eye protection

Sunglasses

Glacier goggles (with nose guard, if possible)

Ski goggles, high UV-protection (also protects from the wind)

Buff

Baseball cap

Headband

Beanie, warm

Balaclava or face mask (wind-stopper or neoprene)

Sunscreen, SPF 50

Lipscreen, SPF 50

Technical Equipment

Backpack 60 l

Raincover for the backpack

Ice axe, light

Hiking poles

Crampons with anti-balling plates (customised to fit expedition boots)

Compression bags for down equipment

Food utensils, light for the high camps (Bowl including cutlery)

Water bottle with large opening (Nalgene)

Thermos

Pee bottle / plastic bags

Headlamp (including spare batteries) and a small spare headlamp

Pocket knife or multi-tool/Leatherman

Lighter

Altimeter

Hand and toe warmers

Miscellaneous

Departure letter from K&P (contains the final information)

Cash for personal use and for tips

Credit card (MasterCard or Visa)

Passport

Passport copy

2 Passport photographs

Small personal first-aid kit (personal medication / compeed)

Writing utensils

Cellphone

Toiletry bag

Microfibre travel towel

Hand sanitizer (50 ml)

Ear plugs

Tissues, Wet Wipes

Swimwear

Photographic equipment

Your K&P mountain guide will provide well-stocked medical kits for base and high camps, radios, GPS, travel books and maps.

Dates

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Ulla_Mengel

Ulla Mengel

office@kobler-partner.ch