Aconcagua Rapid Ascent

14 Days in Argentina / (Skill level: Intermediate)

Price per person


About this trip

Aconcagua, 22,841 feet (6,962 meters), is famous for many reasons. It is the tallest peak in the Western hemisphere and its high altitude makes it the ideal training ground for 8,000 meter peaks like Cho Oyu and Everest.


  • skill level


  • Duration

    14 Days

Standing at 22,841’ (6,962 meters), Aconcagua is an impressive peak. The tallest peak in the Western hemisphere is the ideal training ground for 8,000 meter peaks like Cho Oyu and Everest. Aconcagua can be climbed without prior technical experience though it makes up for that with huge storms on occasion, cold temperatures and savage winds. A summit of Aconcagua is a proud achievement, requiring hard work– acclimatizing (made easier by Alpenglow’s use of Hypoxico tents), setting camps, and carrying loads (vastly reduced with Alpenglow’s use of extra porters)– before you earn your summit bid.

Given the relatively low technicality, Aconcagua is a mountain that can be attempted without years of mountaineering experience. Far more important are aerobic training, a positive attitude, and excellent logistical support. Our expedition is designed to maximize your enjoyment of this mountain while fostering education and high altitude climbing skills. We focus on bringing each climber to a point of being a competent and active teammate and partner in our climb.

To accomplish these goals and maximize your summit chances, we climb a route called the 360°. The 360° avoids the crowds, trash, and general overuse of the normal route, yet still enables us to have a summit day without any technical climbing. It is the most interesting route on the mountain, since it combines parts of 4 different routes (The Polish Glacier, Normal, Guanacos, and Ameghino) and travels on all the different aspects of Aconcagua, thus the name 360°.

After meeting in Mendoza, we quickly turn around the following day to drive in a private van to the town of Penitentes. After organizing our gear and food, we take a helicopter to base camp. From our 13,800 foot (4,206 meter) basecamp, we spend the next six days placing and stocking three camps and progressively moving up the mountain. During this time we utilize a method of “climbing high and sleeping low” to help us acclimate. Our highest camp is placed at 19,580 feet (5,968 meters), and when we arrive there we will be ready for our summit bid.

The summit day itself is extremely challenging, but entirely attainable. We climb over 3,200 vertical feet (975 meters) over sand, scree, and, in some seasons, snowfields. Our reward is to stand on the highest point in the Americas, with stunning views of the Andes in every direction. After summit photos and celebration we descend back to high camp to rest and rehydrate, and continue down to Plaza des Mulas basecamp. The following morning, a helicopter will whisk us away back to Mendoza, where we will enjoy a well-deserved celebration over the best steaks and red wine you’ll ever have!

By utilizing Hypoxico tents for 1 month prior to departure (this is required & the tent rental fee is included in cost of trip) and helicopters to and from each basecamp, we are able to complete this typically 3-week expedition in a mere 14 days. Additionally, with extra porter support (also included in our pricing), you are able to climb with a moderate weight daypack, allowing you to maintain your comfort and strength. We have had great success with pre-acclimatization in the highest mountain ranges of the world and strongly suggest this method as a way of staying healthy and strong on would-be long expeditions and ultimately, having a greater chance of summit success.

Our Aconcagua expedition will be led by one of Alpenglow’s AMGA-certified lead guides. AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) certification is the highest possible training available to guides, and only the most experienced and dedicated attain it. Our lead guides have also traveled and climbed extensively in South America and know the Andes intimately. Their knowledge of Andean culture as well as the mountains, combined with their passion for teaching others to become competent mountaineers, guarantees that your experience will be one to remember! We combine our guides’ experience with the local expertise of one of Argentina’s best logistics operators. This ensures we have the best in transportation, food, equipment, and lodging.


  • Altitude Experience

    It is required that climbers have prior experience at altitudes up to 14,000' and it is strongly recommended that climbers have prior experience at altitudes over 15,000'.

  • Fitness

    Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

  • Technical Experience

    Prior roped climbing, cramponing, and ice axe skills are required.

    • Day 1 — Arrival

      Arrive into Mendoza, Argentina by early afternoon. This small city is famous for its wineries and traditional barbeque and steaks. We spend the day exploring the town, applying for our climbing permits and preparing for the climb.

    • Day 2 — Head to Penitentes

      After obtaining permits, we will leave Mendoza by private van, for the town of Penitentes (8,000 feet/2,440 meters). Penitentes sits at the entrance to the valleys leading into Aconcagua. We will spend a couple of hours organizing equipment and food for our climb and then helicopter to base camp as soon as weather and timing allow (either this evening or tomorrow).

    • Day 3 — Helicopter to Base Camp or Rest Day

      Today we might helicopter into base camp if we did not last night, or simply have a rest day in base camp, getting used to life at this new altitude. 13,800 feet (4,206 meters)

    • Day 4 — Move to Camp 1

      Our first day on the mountain proper is truly unique. We move over the moraine and then through a field of tall penitentes (fins of ice that can be over 3 meters tall, formed by the intense sun) on our way to our campsite at 16,000 feet (4,877 meters). We utilize porters to assist in moving our equipment to Camp 1 in a single push.

    • Day 5 — Touch Camp 2

      Approximately four hours of hiking takes us through the Amegheni Col and under the Polish Glacier to our camp on the Guanacos Route at 17,900 feet (5,456 meters).

    • Day 6 — Move to Camp 2

      Move to Camp 2, 17,900 feet (5,456 meters).

    • Day 7 — Rest Day in Camp 2

      Rest in Camp 2, 17,900 feet (5,456 meters).

    • Day 8 — Move to Camp 3

      Today we move to our final camp, at nearly 19,700 feet (6,000 meters). This is where we join the Normal route. The day is not difficult, but can provide fantastic climbing on 30 degree slopes as we traverse below the Polish glacier. Reaching Camp III we begin resting and preparing for our summit bid.

    • Day 9 — Summit Day!

      Leaving camp before dawn, we move up past the ruins of Refugio Independencia on the exposed North Ridge. We then traverse the West Face to the Canaleta, perhaps the physical and mental crux of the entire route. The Canaleta is 1,000 vertical feet of scree and sand and must be climbed slowly but consistently. Our reward is joining the easy Guanacos Ridge, which boasts stunning views in every direction and leads us upward from the lower south summit to the north summit. At 22,841 feet (6,962 meters) it is the highest point in the Western hemisphere. The views of the surrounding Andes, the desert plains, the Pacific, and the 9,000 foot (2,745 meter) South Face are mind-boggling. 10-12 hours of climbing finds us back in high camp. After rehydrating and resting we descend the normal route easily to Plaza de Mulas basecamp (13,800 feet/4,206 meter).

    • Day 10 — Built in Weather Day

      Extra Day to be utilized as needed for weather or altitude is- sues.

    • Day 11 — Built in Weather Day

      Extra Day to be utilized as needed for weather or altitude is- sues.

    • Day 12 — Built in Weather Day

      Extra Day to be utilized as needed for weather or altitude is- sues.

    • Day 13 — Head Back to Mendoza

      Today we leave the mountain in style, with one of the most beautiful helicopter flights in the world. The heli takes us directly from base camp to the road, in about a 15-minute flight. After a quick lunch, we jump in our van for the three-hour drive back to Mendoza. By dinnertime we will be enjoying a celebration dinner of traditional asada (barbecue) at one of Mendoza's best restaurants. We spend the night in our hotel in Mendoza.

    • Day 14 — Depart Argentina

      We all say goodbye and catch our flights home to family and friends.

      • Head

      • Kaenon Klay sunglasses

        Must have dark lenses. Minimal light should come in below, above, or around the sides of the lenses.“Wrap” style is best. Ventilation is important and a retainer strap recommended (Chums or Croakies).

        Buy on
      • Alpenglow Grey Flat Brim

        Grey never goes out of style, and neither will this hat! One of Adrian's favorites, this hat is made with 20% wool so it keeps your noggin warm on those cold days. For those that prefer a curved bill, this hat can take a nice bend quite well.

        $31.00 Read more
      • Alpenglow Expeditions Teal Face Mask

        The one and only teal Alpenglow face mask. This is a single layer face mask good at keeping the wind and sun off your face. A guide favorite with more uses than we can list here.

        $20.00 Read more
      • SmartWool Balaclava

        We recommend a tight-fitting balaclava that is worn under your hat. Make sure that it covers as much skin as possible and yet still comfy.

        Buy on
      • Smith I/O 7 Goggles

        These will be worn on stormy or windy days. Make sure you are getting a snug fit with lenses for bright sun. Ventilation and anti-fog features are recommended. Julbo Universe Goggles also recommended.

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      • Eddie Bauer Telemetry First Ascent Beanie

        A comfortable, warm well-fitting hat that covers your ears. Make that one of your hats fits under a helmet. We also recommend the Patagonia Lined Beanie.

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      • Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

        Easily adjustable lightweight helmet that fits with hat and Balaclava. Make sure this is a climbing-specific helmet. *Climbing helmets are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

        Buy on
      • Hands

      • Eddie Bauer Guide Glove

        Insulated GORE-TEX® gloves are the best way to keep your hands warm & dry.

        Buy on
      • Eddie Bauer Mountain Glove

        All-around gloves for mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and hiking. These gloves (and similar options) are warm, wind-resistant, durable and have a sure grip. You will rarely take these gloves off. They should be snug-fitting, and have some sort of reinforced palm. The Black Diamond basic work glove is also recommended.

        Buy on
      • Black Diamond Absolute Mitt

        These mittens should be warm and worn over either a liner glove or Windstopper glove. Down mittens are not required. You should choose a pair that you can still operate locking carabiners with.

        Buy on
      • Feet

      • LaSportiva Bushido hiking shoe

        These light to mid-weight shoes are for every day use. The ideal shoe is comfortable to wear for multiple days and scrambles decently on rock. A Gore-tex lined shoe stays drier when hiking in rain or snow. High top hiking boots are heavy and unnecessary.

        Buy on
      • Lenz heated socks

        These are optional, but highly recommended. Worn on cold days high on the peak, they will keep your feet toasty in even the coldest conditions.

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      • LaSportiva Spantik

        Should be double boots that have a stiff sole and accept a step-in crampon. The boots should be comfortable, have adequate wiggle room for your toes, and your heel should not lift more than 1/8th of an inch when walking.

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      • Western Mountaineering Flash down booties

        You’ll love having a warm, comfortable shoe to slip into when tent-bound.

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      • Darn Tough 1/4 cushion hiking sock

        These are your every day sock, good for day hikes, trekking and town days.

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      • Smartwool Mountaineering Extra Heavy Crew Socks

        A wool synthetic blend. Pure rag wool socks are not nearly as effective in wicking moisture or retaining their shape and reducing blisters. NO COTTON.

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      • Upper Body

      • Eddie Bauer Ignitelite

        A simple, lightweight synthetic jacket. This item is good for layering systems and the Primaloft keeps you warm when wet.

        Buy on
      • Eddie Bauer XV Down Jacket

        A puffy jacket with a hood that will keep you warm during the coldest of conditions. The higher the quality down, the better (800-fill is best). However, be sure the jacket is still lightweight. Marmot Ama Dablam jacket and Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka are also good choices.

        Buy on
      • Eddie Bauer Neoteric Shell Jacket

        A lightweight, waterproof and breathable jacket WITH A HOOD that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Make sure you have pit-zips and if you are using an old jacket, re-waterproof it. Patagonia M10 jacket is also an option.

        Buy on
      • Eddie Bauer Sandstone Soft Shell Jacket

        While this item isn’t required, we know that those who don’t have one wish they did! More breathable than Gore-tex, these jackets block wind and light precipitation. A windshirt is an option for this layer. Patagonia Guide Jacket and Black Diamond Induction Shell are also options.

        Buy on
      • Eddie Bauer Cloud Layer Pro 1/4 Zip

        A polarguard or fleece jacket. Warmer than your expedition weight top, but not as extreme as your big puffy jacket. Full zip is recommended. Patagonia Lightweight R4 Jacket and Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket are also recommended.

        Buy on
      • Eddie Bauer Quantum Short-Sleeve T-Shirt

        Ultra-light base layer that effectively wicks moisture away from your body and is breathable. Quick-dry is important as well. One light colored shirt is recommended for extremely sunny days. The new wool blends are also an option. Patagonia Capilene 1 T-shirt and Icebreaker 150/200 weight shirt also recommended.

        Buy on
      • Lower Body

      • Icebreaker long underwear

        Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. This base-layer will get you through a wide range of temperatures. NO COTTON.

        Buy on
      • Black Diamond Sharp End Pants

        Your waterproof bottom layer for extreme weather days. Make sure you have water-resistant zippers, crampon patches + good pockets.

        buy on
      • Patagonia R1 Pant

        Fitted, light-weight and quick drying. The mid-weight will be a base-layer that will get you through a wide range of temperatures. Also recommended: Patagonia Capilene 4 pants.

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      • Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Alpine

        ou will spend most of your days in these pants. Choose Schoeller® or a soft-shell equivalent. Breathable + water- resistant. These pants should have an ankle zip so they will accommodate your mountain boot. Also recommended: Patagonia Alpine Guide Pant.

        Buy on
      • Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Short

        Throw these on under other layers for when the sun begins to beat, or you have a sudden urge to jump in a glacial lake. Lightweight, durable and comfortable. NO COTTON. Patagonia Baggies Shorts also recommended.

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      • Equipment

      • Nalgene 1 liter water bottle

        Two Lexan 1 liter, wide mouth bottles.

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      • Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

        L.E.D. headlamps are required.. Make sure they have 3+ bulbs. Bring extra batteries. We highly recommend a tilting lamp.

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      • Black Diamond Trekking Poles

        Must be collapsible poles. Make sure that they are durable, lightweight + easily adjustable. You must have at least one, but we recommend 2.

        Buy on
      • Black Diamond Vapor Helmet

        Easily adjustable lightweight helmet that fits with hat and Balaclava. Make sure this is a climbing-specific helmet. *Climbing helmets are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

        Buy on
      • Therm-a-rest Z lite sleeping pad

        A foam pad will help protect the inflatable pad from puncture.

        Buy on
      • Therm-a-rest NeoAir Therm sleeping pad

        72 inch long inflatable pad required. Make sure you also purchase and bring a repair kit + bag for the sleeping pad.

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      • Black Diamond Serac crampon

        Steel crampons with anti-balling plates are required (so that snow does not build-up in the base of your foot). Make sure that crampons have a heel bail. * crampons are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

        Buy on
      • Petzl Altitude Harness

        Must have belay loop, gear loops and adjustable leg loops so that you can layer up underneath it. Easy to pack, lightweight + comfortable. *Harnesses are also available to rent at no charge from Alpenglow expeditions on a first come, first serve basis.

        Buy on
      • Eddie Bauer Kara Koram 0F

        Rated to 0º F. Choose an 800+ Fill Premium Goose Down bag. Make certain that the sleeping bag is the right length. DON’T FORGET A COMPRESSION SACK FOR THE SLEEPING BAG. Many climbers also like a silk liner. Recommended: Granite Gear Compression Sack.

        Buy on
    • Do I have enough experience for this trip?

      Prior roped climbing, cramponing, and ice axe skills are required. It is recommended that participants have either climbed/ trekked at altitude (over 15,000 feet) It is imperative that you are in excellent physical shape. We are happy to detail training programs as needed to get you ready for this expedition.

    • I’m looking at climbing an 8000 meter peak someday. Will this help me get there?

      At 6,969 meters (22,837’), Aconcagua will give you the necessary altitude experience to attempt the bigger mountains in the world, such as Mt. Cho Oyu in the Himalaya. While there are many other skills needed to be a strong candidate for an 8000 meter peak, having the required altitude experience is often one of the harder things to come by.

    • What is rapid ascent?

      Rapid Ascent is a unique program developed by Alpenglow Expeditions that combines the relatively new application of hypoxic training with precise logistics and small team sizes to greatly increase the chances of success while reducing the overall time spent away from home on an international expedition.

    • What is the longest day I can expect?

      Your longest, most difficult day will be summit day. We wake very early in the morning, using headlamps and warm layers. Climbing steadily through the night, we find ourselves high in the peak when the sun rises. After gaining the summit, we descend all the way back to base camp. You can expect between 12 and 15 hours of steady movement.

    • Do you rent gear for Aconcagua?

      For a peak of this magnitude, we recommend and find that most climbers already own personal climbing gear. If needed, Alpenglow can provide harness, helmet and crampons, reservations required. We do not provide boots for this peak, however; so you must have your own double boots. Please see the equipment list for more information.

    • What level of fitness is required?

      Climbers must be in excellent physical shape to join this expedition. This is perhaps the most important aspect of high altitude climbing, and cannot be stressed enough. Regular, challenging exercise for many months in advance of departure is the only way to gain the necessary level of fitness that is needed on big peaks. We highly recommend a structured training regime with a gym or personal trainer to assist you in preparing for climbing at altitude. Please contact us for more information on physical training.

    • Does your expedition cost cover park permits?

      The Aconcagua National Park permit fee is not included in the trip cost. While Alpenglow endeavors to have as few add-on costs as possible on our climbs, the park has been changing this fee each season making it difficult to plan for this fee. Please be prepared to pay the park service directly at the beginning of your trip. The fee must be paid in cash in US dollars or euro, and, at the time of this writing, was $975/person.

    • Do I really need to purchase trip and rescue insurance?

      We strongly recommend purchasing both types of insurance. Trip insurance covers issues that would cause you to cancel your trip in advance. Rescue insurance can help cover costs in the event that you decide to end your expedition early. We recommend purchasing Travel Guard and Global Rescue. You can find links to both of these insurance companies by heading over to our Partners page.

Jaime Avila

Jaime is Alpenglow Expeditions’ senior lead guide. A native Ecuadorian, Jaime has been guiding and climbing throughout South America and the world for twenty years. He has successfully led groups on challenging routes like the Southwest Ridge of Ama Dablam (Nepal), the Shield Route of Huascaran (Peru), the Polish Direct on Aconcagua (Argentina), and El Altar (Ecuador). We have been guiding, climbing, and traveling with Jaime since 1998 and the feedback from members is always the same: there is no better teammate. Whether climbing a tough ice route, humping a huge pack, or stuck in a storm, Jaime will keep you laughing, learning, and glad to be in the mountains. He is an ASEGUIM / IFMGA certified mountain guide.


Guide Certifications
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Chad Peele

Chad Peele has been guiding for 15 years and works full time as a mountain guide. Based out of Ridgway Colorado, Chad spends his winters instructing and guiding on some of the best ice terrain the U.S. has to offer. Outside of Colorado he has traveled and guided extensively throughout North and South America with several trips to the Himalayas including Everest and Ama Dablam. When not in the Mountains Chad does clothing and equipment design for Eddie Bauer’s First Ascent outdoor line.

Chad is a AMGA certified Rock & Alpine guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Alpine Guide
  • AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Zeb Blais

From bushwhacking miles of Manzanita in ski boots to traversing huge glaciers in exotic ranges, adventure draws Zeb in. Originally from Vermont, Zeb has been hooked on big mountains since his first ski tour in Jackson Hole and has pursued skiing, climbing and exploring ever since. Zeb has climbed and guided in the Himalaya, Alaska, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and Asia among others and he’s working hard to keep that list growing. Working as a mountain guide allows Zeb to share his passion for human powered movement in the mountains and to pass along what he’s learned along the way.

Zeb has successfully guided Mt Everest [29,029′], Mt Cho Oyu [26,906′] including a ski descent from the summit, Lobuche East [20,075′],  and four expeditions on Denali [20,320’], including a ski descent from the summit. He has completed 64 summits of Mount Rainier [14,410’]. Additional credentials include 12 summits of Mount Shasta [14,179’]; 5 summits of Mount Shuksan [9,100’]; 3 summits via Mount Baker [10,678’], including one ski descent from the summit, and two ski descents via the North Ridge; 2 summits of Aconcagua [22,841’]; 1 summit of Cotopaxi and 1 summit of Cayabme; 2 summits of Ixtacihuatl in Mexico; 3 summits of Orizaba in Mexico, including a ski descent from the summit; and numerous rock, alpine and ski summits from the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, Coast ranges and Rockies.

Zeb is an AMGA certified ski guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

Cliff Agocs

Cliff has been climbing for 13 years and guiding for 6 years. He currently lives in Bend, Oregon, where he guides year round in the Cascades, Smith Rock, and Mt. Hood. He fell in love with climbing in California where he learned to climb on rock and alpine routes and ultimately traveled all over the world. He says the combination of adventure and cultural exploration is what drives his passion for international expeditions. Some of his favorites places to climb are in Chile, Australia, Argentina and Canada. Cliff instructs Outdoor Leadership at Central Oregon Community College in Bend and writes gear reviews for national publications.

Cliff is an AMGA certified rock guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Esteban “Topo” Mena

Topo’s formal name is Esteban Mena, but he goes by his nickname. Topo is 28 years old and began his guiding career at 19, when he climbed Aconcagua’s South Face and became the youngest person to accomplish this difficult climb. Topo began guiding in Ecuador and Peru. In 2012, Topo summited Manaslu and in 2013, he summited Everest – both without using supplementary oxygen. Topo again summited Everest in 2016 while supporting his wonderful partner Carla as she successfully summited without supplemental oxygen. He also has climbed challenging new routes in Kyrgyzstan and China and one of his climbs (Kyzyl Asker) has been nominated for the Piolet d’Or (as part of an Ecuadorian team).

Guide Certifications
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Logan Talbott

Director of Operations / mountain guide

Logan has been guiding professionally for over 10 years in the disciplines of Rock, Alpine and Ski Mountaineering. When not out guiding, Logan keeps things running smoothly as the director of operations at Alpenglow Expeditions. From one day ascents of El Capitan to big Alpine climbs in the Himalaya, from ski descents on Denali to backyard ski tours in Lake Tahoe, he can’t help but smile when out running around the hills. Logan is a fully certified AMGA/IFMGA mountain guide, an Avalanche course leader with AIARE, as well as a wilderness EMT. In addition to guiding, Logan has extensive experience in mountain rescue, having worked for rescue teams in both Yosemite and Denali National Parks, and volunteering locally for Tahoe Nordic SAR. When not out in the hills, he lives in Truckee, CA with his lovely wife Lynette and spotted dog Arlo.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Gaspar Navarrete

Gaspar Navarrete

ASEGUIM Certified Mountain Guide

Gaspar hails from Ecuador, and has been guiding for over 18 years, and climbing since he was 12. He has extensive experience in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Patagonia, Aconcagua, the Himalaya, the Cascades, the Alps and the Pyrenees. Gaspar has established new routes in both Ecuador and Bolivia. As an active instructor with the Ecuadorian School for Mountain Guides, he has trained in Ecuador, Bolivia and France. He is a Wilderness First Responder, and has spent a great deal of time working at high altitude.

Gaspar joined one of Quito’s oldest climbing clubs at a young age, which gave him the opportunity to mentor under very experienced climbers. He considers the Andes, including Patagonia, his home, and he love to share his enthusiasm for the mountains, the Andean traditions, food and culture with his guests.

Guide Certifications
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

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    Aconcagua Rapid Ascent