Peaking above the clouds at 22,841 feet (6,962 meters), Aconcagua is impressive both in stature and beauty. The tallest peak in the Western hemisphere is the ideal training ground for 8,000 meter peaks like Cho Oyu and Everest. It is possible to climb Aconcagua without prior technical experience, but the often devastating weather deters inexperienced mountaineers. The peak is fraught with massive storms that generate freezing temperatures and savage winds. A summit of Aconcagua is a proud achievement, requiring critical preparation and dedication. The climb demands extensive acclimatization (made easier by Alpenglow’s use of Hypoxico tents) setting up camps, and carrying heavy loads (although reduced by Alpenglow’s use of extra porters). A summit bid is no small feat.
Given the relatively low technicality, you can attempt Aconcagua without extensive mountaineering experience. Aerobic training, a positive attitude, and excellent logistical support are far more important elements. We’ve designed our expedition to maximize enjoyment while fostering education and high altitude climbing skills. We focus on transforming individual climbers into competent and active members of the expedition team.
To accomplish these goals and maximize your summit chances, we will ascend a route called the 360°. This more obscure itinerary mitigates the issue of crowds, trash, and overuse encountered on the normal route, while enabling us to summit without any technical climbing. True to its name, this exciting route combines parts of four different routes (The Polish Glacier, Normal, Guanacos, and Ameghino) and traverses all the varied elements on Aconcagua.
Our journey begins in Mendoza with a formal meet and greet. The following day we will take a private van to the town of Penitentes. After organizing our gear and food, a helicopter will carry us to our 13,800 foot (4,206 meter) base camp. Here we will spend the next six days establishing and stocking three separate camps, each at a progressively higher elevation. We will set up our highest camp at 19,580 feet (5,968 meters). During this process, we will utilize the traditional acclimatization method of “climbing high and sleeping low”. When we finally arrive to stay at our highest camp, we will prepare for our summit bid.
The summit day is extremely challenging, but entirely attainable. We will climb over 3,200 vertical feet (975 meters) across sand, scree, and — during some seasons — snowfields. When you reach the summit, you will be standing on the highest point in the Americas. Exceptionally stunning views of the encompassing snow-capped Andes serve as your ultimate reward. After summit photos and celebration, we will descend back down to our high camp to rest and rehydrate and then continue on to Plaza des Mulas basecamp. The following morning, a helicopter will whisk us back to Mendoza, where we will enjoy a well-deserved celebration over delectable steaks and flavorful red wine.
While an expedition of this magnitude typically requires three weeks, we can do it in a mere fourteen days. How? One, participants must use Hypoxico tents for one month before departure, (the cost of the trip includes the tent rental fee). This makes for faster acclimatization on the mountain. Additionally, the use of helicopters and porters (also included) adds to our logistical speed and efficiency. Porters reduce the weight of your load, helping you maintain your strength and comfort, while helicopters serve as swift forms of transportation to and from basecamp. We have had great success with our unique pre-acclimatization methods in the highest mountain ranges of the world. We recommend this method as a way to stay strong and healthy on extensive expeditions, and increase your chance of summiting.
Alpenglow’s AMGA-certified lead guides manage our Aconcagua expeditions. AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) certification is the most prestigious in the world, attained only by the most experienced and dedicated guides. Our lead guides have traveled and climbed extensively throughout South America and possess intimate knowledge of the Andes. A thorough understanding of Andean culture combined with a passion for developing climbers into competent mountaineers guarantees an experience you won’t soon forget. 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.