Aconcagua, Argentina

Join us this season as a member of our high altitude Mountaineering expedition to one of the great mountains of the world! Let us help you stand on the top of Aconcagua, the highest summit in the Western Hemisphere! We will be ascending the Polish Glacier Traverse route on the south-eastern side of Aconcagua. Canada West Mountain School has been successfully guiding expeditions on this route up Aconcagua since 2000.

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Pre Requisites:
Aconcagua via the Polish traverse route is a non-technical climb, though climbers looking to attempt Aconcagua should not underestimate the physical challenges.

Anyone attempting this peak should be in excellent physical shape, and be prepared to carry loads that weigh up to 25 kg's (55 lbs). You will spend much time at altitudes above 5,000 meters and will need to be as fit as possible to help with your performance.

  • $5,450. (US $)
    Included in the cost of the Aconcagua trip:
    • All guiding services and organization
    • All food while on the mountain
    • All expedition fees and climbing permits
    • Transportation to/from Mendoza to the start of the climb
    • Mule support in and out to base camp
    • Technical climbing and safety equipment as required
    • Tents and camp supplies
    • Base camp dining tent and meals
    • Use of satellite phone
    • Two nights lodging in Mendoza (first night and final night)
    • One night lodging in Los Penitentes (trailhead)
    • Not included in the cost of the trip:

    • Participants are responsible for their own international transportation to and from Mendoza
    • All meals while in Mendoza and while in transit
    • Personal clothing and equipment (see equipment list)
    • Medical insurance* valid for Argentina
    • Visa's and proper travel documents for travel to Argentina
    • Lodging while off of the mountain (except as noted)
    • Miscellaneous personal costs on and off the mountain
    • Tips and gratuities
    • Any costs incurred by travel delays, lost or delayed baggage, or for any other reason
    • Personal costs on and off the mountain (laundry, alcoholic beverages, internet access, etc.)
    • All costs incurred as a result of early return from the climb
    • Any costs as a result of rescue or evacuation, including helicopter, mule or transportation costs
  • Our 22-day schedule allows enough time to comfortably acclimatize while on the mountain to give us the best chance of summitting while also being able to actually enjoy the ascent! This schedule includes 8 days for ascending and moving camps; 5 rest days; a 3-day window for summit attempts; 3 days to descend;and, 2 extra days are added in case of inclement weather, if extra rest days are required, to extend the summit window, to deal with potential logistical "glitches" and other unforeseen events, or to do some extra side trips along the way.

    Day 1- The team will meet in Mendoza and relax, sort & confirm gear, etc. This night you will sleep low at 2,430'. All team members should plan on being in Mendoza no later than January 20th, though ideally arriving 1 to 2 days earlier will allow you to deal with unforeseen glitches – lost baggage, delayed flights, etc.

    Day 2 - Everyone will head to the Park Office in Mendoza in order to obtain the Parks Permit required to enter Aconcagua Park. Each person must be there in person to get their permit. After this is done, the group will drive to Los Penitentes with a private van. This drive is approx. 4 hours on good roads. Everyone will sleep at a hotel in Los Penitentes at 8,800' – the first night of acclimatization. Los Penitentes is close to the crest of the Andes, and a few miles from the Chilean/Argentinean border. In the afternoon there are opportunities to go on a short hike to view the SW side of Aconcagua from the trailhead of the Normal route.

    Day 3 - This morning you will load all your gear up on the mules. Each mule carries up to 60 kg's of food, communal gear and personal equipment. Utilizing the mules spares team members from 3 days of carrying heavy loads, a crucial element to preserving strength for the upper mountain. The group will have a short drive to the Punta de Vacas trailhead at 7,630'. You will then begin the 3-day hike up the Rio Vacas valley towards our Base Camp at Plaza Argentina. This first hiking day you will travel approx. 12 km to the first camp at Pampas de Las Lenas. This hike is approx. 4-6 hours. The gear travels with the mules and you will have access to it once you arrive at the camp. Your camp that night is at 8,860'.

    Day 4 - The team will spend the 2nd approach day hiking up the spectacular Vacas valley for 14 km's to the confluence of the Relinchos and Vacas rivers. Here you will camp at Casa Piedra, the “Stone House”. This hike will be approx. 6-8 hours. Again, the gear travels with the mules between camps. Your camp this night will be at 10,500', in an area known for its abundance of wild Guanacos, a smaller version of the Andean Llama.

    Day 5 - This day you will start off with a crossing of the Vacas River, either by foot or on a mule. After this exciting start to the day, you will hike up the Relinchos Valley to Plaza Argentina (PA) at 13,780’. This hike will be approx. 10 km and takes 6-8 hours. This will be the last day that your gear is carried by mules!

    Day 6 - This is a very welcomed rest day and allows time to sort gear and prep for the upper mountain. You will sleep at PA at 13,780'.

    Day 7 - This day is used as either another rest day or as a carry-day to move gear and food up to Camp 1 at 16,400'. You will sleep at PA at 13,780'

    Day 8 - Move to Camp 1 approx. 4 hours (optional extra rest day used at PA). You will sleep at Camp 1 at 16,400'.

    Day 9 - This day is a rest day at Camp 1. You will sleep at Camp 1 at 16,400'.

    Day 10 - Carry to Camp 2, with stop at Camp 1.5 (at the col between Ameghino Peak and Aconcagua at 17,200’). This is a long day, approx. 8 hours return. You will sleep at Camp 1 at 16,400'.

    Day 11 - Move to Camp 1.5 at Ameghino Col. This is a shorter day with approx. 4 hours of travel. You will sleep at Camp 1.5 at 17,200'.

    Day 12 - This is the final moving day, you will head directly to Camp 2. This is again a short day with approx. 4 hours of travel. You will sleep at Camp 2 at 18,900’.

    Day 13 - Rest day and prep for summit. You will sleep at Camp 2 at 18,900'.

    Day 14 - This day is scheduled as a possible 2nd rest day at Camp 2 or you may choose this as a summit day if the team is well acclimatized.

    Day 15 - Summit day! You will get up at 2:30 am and have a light meal, fill your water bottles with hot fluids, and head out by 4 am. This day is a long day, approximately 12-14 hours return and 4,000’ (1,200 meters) of vertical climbing. You will possibly begin the day wearing crampons as the initial sections of the climb crosses a small ice-field. On your return you will sleep at Camp 2 at 18,900'.

    Day 16 - This day is scheduled as a back-up summit day, and as an extra day in the schedule in order to allow for weather delays, acclimatization or any delays in the program up to this point. We prefer to have extra days built into our program rather then not enough days!

    Day 17 - This day will be your first descent day, though it is a challenging one! You will need to get all of the gear back to Plaza Argentina base camp in one haul. Once at PA, you will celebrate with a good meal while enjoying the “thick” air back down low! You will spend this night at PA at 13,780’.

    Day 18-19 - These are extra days included in the itinerary in case of bad weather, logistics delays, extra summit attempts or for any number of reasons in case we need them. Better to have more time on the mountain, than to have to leave early due to not enough!

    Day 20 - You will start your hike back out the Relinchos and Vacas Valleys to Los Penitentes. On this day you will hike from Plaza Argentina to the Park Boundary at Pampa de las Lenas, a short hike away from the trailhead.

    Day 21 - Your final day will start with a short hike in the morning to get to the trailhead where you will be picked up and taken to your hotel in Mendoza! We will have a celebration dinner at one of the fine Mendoza restaurants on this night as well.

    Day 22 - This will be your final day to enjoy Mendoza before heading home or continuing your adventures in South America!

    This itinerary is of course dependent on many different factors, including weather, acclimatization rates, conditions on the mountain and other factors beyond the control of the guides or of the team. Please remember that this is only a guideline, the actual schedule on the mountain may vary, including camp locations and timing.

  • Equipment list for Aconcagua expedition
    • Boots - double plastic mountaineering boots - Scarpa, Koflach, etc. Must be properly fitted and broken-in
    • Approach boots - sturdy but lightweight hiking boots/shoes suitable for extended hiking on rough trails
    • River shoes - lightweight shoes for river crossings. Beach shoes, paddling shoes, old running shoes, etc.
    • Sleeping bag - good to a -20 Celsius range.  A light silk or cotton liner is recommended.
    • Sleeping pad – Therma-rest style pad plus a thin closed-cell foam pad combo is best
    • Backpack - internal frame, minimum 70+ litres, suitable for carries of personal gear plus a share of food/communal gear.
    • Daypack - approx. 30 litres. This is used for the approach and possibly on summit day.
    • Outer shell jacket with hood - Gore-Tex style suitable for all weather conditions.
    • Full-zip pants or bibs - Gore-Tex style.
    • Long underwear - top and bottom, Poly-pro, Capilene, wool, etc. 1 set light weight + 1 set medium weight
    • Hiking pants – lightweight synthetic pants for lower mountain (1 pr)
    • Hiking shorts – for approach, cotton or synthetic (1 pr)
    • Long pants - synthetic pants for upper mountain/cold weather hiking conditions (1 pr)
    • Insulated pants – fleece, pile or down pants for around camp and summit day (1 pr)
    • Shirts – suitable for athletic purposes, synthetic (2)
    • Gaiters – ensure they fit properly over your boots. Can be insulated but not over-boots (1 pr)
    • Gloves - medium weight wool, wind stopper or synthetic style (1 to 2 pr)
    • Expedition style gloves or mitts w/removable liners (1 pr)
    • Overmitts - shells only that can fit over Expedition gloves for summit day (1 pr)
    • Socks - synthetic, wool or wool blend (3-4 pr)
    • Liner socks (Poly-pro type) (2-3 pr)
    • Warm parka - down, fleece or pile with a hood (1)
    • Jacket – lightweight fleece or wind-stopper style (1)
    • Sweater or vest - wool, fleece or down (1)
    • Toque/insulated hat - wool or fleece (1)
    • Balaclava or face mask for wind protection (1)
    • Hat with sun visor (baseball cap, etc) (1)
    • Bandannas (2)
    • Glacier style sunglasses with side shields and nose shields
    • Ski goggles
    • Headlamp with extra set of batteries
    • Personal kit - (toothbrush, foot powder, skin cream, etc.)
    • Personal 1st aid (blister kit, medications, etc.)
    • Misc. personal items (camera, book, cards, journal, music player, lighter, etc.)
    • Water bottles/hydration system - 2 L capacity. Hydration systems with hoses are good for approach only, not summit-day
    • Knife - Swiss army style
    • Sunscreen and lip screen (min. 30 spf & waterproof)
    • Collapsible ski/walking poles (1 pr)
    • Crampons - adjusted to your boots (1 pr – supplied if required)
    • Ice axe (60 - 70 cm – supplied if required)
    • Large duffel bag with lock suitable for storing your pack in for transport on mules.
    The equipment that you choose to bring on this climb can directly affect your chances of reaching the summit. Please ensure that you only bring good quality gear that you have had a chance to try out. Also strive to select lightweight gear, though without compromising quality. The total allowed limit for all of your personal gear that will be packed with the mules is 20 kg's.

    When organizing your equipment, remember that the conditions on Aconcagua may vary from +30 degrees Celsius in the lower valleys, to -25 degrees Celsius on summit day, with possible extreme high winds and snowfall. Outer clothing should be capable of venting, and you should be able to get in and out of it easily.  Inner layers should dry easily and retain warmth when wet (no cotton on the upper mountain). Take into account your own personal "warmth rating".  If you know that your hands don't warm up easily, that you sleep cool, or your feet are always cold, keep this in mind!

  • Logistics and transportation
    The Aconcagua trip begins and finishes in the city of Mendoza, Argentina. Participants must arrange their own travel to and from Mendoza, via Buenos Aires, Argentina or Santiago, Chile. Once in Mendoza, all transportation and logistical details are pre-arranged. The trip officially starts in Mendoza, Argentina on the first scheduled date posted.

    We suggest that you should plan on arriving in Mendoza at least one day in advance though, in order to allow for any flight delays or luggage issues. The first scheduled night (and the last night of the trip) are included in the cost of the trip – any other nights you wish to stay in Mendoza are not included.

    If you are arriving from Santiago via air, when you arrive at the Mendoza airport you will have to clear customs into Argentina. If you arrive via Buenos Aires you will clear customs in Buenos Aires first. Clearing customs is generally not an issue in Argentina, though you are not allowed to bring any food that is not in its original packaging (home made goods, loose trail-mix, fresh fruit, etc). Anything in original packaging has not been a problem in the past, so if you are bringing any personal snack foods make sure they are in original sealed packaging.

    If you plan on flying via Santiago and wish to spend time in Chile, there is an entry “tax” of approx $60 USD for Canadians and citizens of some other countries, though this is all arranged at the point of entry and does not require any advance planning. If you are just transferring through the Santiago airport en route to Mendoza this fee is not applied.

    Mendoza is a very relaxed modern and pleasant city. Generally it is a safe city, though travelers should still take the usual common sense approach to traveling.  It is mid-summer there in January - the weather in Mendoza will be very pleasant, temperatures in the mid to upper 30’s and sunny. Shorts, light shirts and sandals are recommended for Mendoza. You can leave your bags checked at the hotel as well while you are on the climb, so don’t hesitate to bring extras if you are not sure about any gear or clothing items – you can decide down there what to bring and not bring on the mountain.

    When you register, a pre-trip package of information will be sent to you, as well as follow-up discussions via phone and email to ensure you are well prepared for your adventure!