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Aconcagua

General Tips to prepare yourself


Below are general tips about the life in Argentina and on the mountain.

Please also read the FAQ about the Aconcagua trips

 

How to  get to the country? 

 

There are different options:

  • Book a flight to Mendoza
  • Fly to Santiago de Chile and take either a connecting flight to Mendoza (with Lanchile, you can book online) or take a bus or private car / taxi. Buses are about $16 and can be reserved here online
  • Fly to Buenos Aires and take a connecting flight from there (or bus if you would like to see more)

You must go to Mendoza as you have to collect your permit in person! This used to be different, but now it is strictly enforced.

How to get to the mountain?

  • From Mendoza you can take a bus (10 pesos each)
  • You can rent a private car/ minivan (about USD$200 for 3-6 persons)

How to get to the summit:

Where to stay?
  • Santiago de Chile: Santiago is a major city and many hotels can be found here
  • Mendoza: is a big and modern city; here are some of the popular hotels:
Hotel Category  Address Breakfast Swimming pool
Aconcagua 4**** San Lorenzo 545 Buffet Yes
Balbi 4****   Las Heras 340 Buffet Yes
Internacional 3*** Sarmiento 720 Buffet Yes
Microtel 3*** Uspallata 840 - Guay - Continental Yes
Ibis 3*** Acceso Este 4241 -Guay- Buffet No
Cadena del Sol 3*** Garibaldi 82 Buffet No
Gran Mendoza 3*** España 1210 Buffet No
Crillón 3***  Perú 1065 Buffet No
Princess 3*** 25 de Mayo 1168 Buffet Yes
Carollo 3*** 25 de Mayo 1184 Buffet Yes
Ariosto 3*** I. M. San Martín 48 Buffet No
Ritz 3*** Perú 1008 Buffet No
Vecchia Roma 2** España 1615 Continental No
Independencia 2** 25 de Mayo 1222 Continental No
27 de Agosto 2** Amigorena 56 Continental No
Laerte 2** L. Aguirre 19 Continental No

After leaving Mendoza or Santiago, it is wise to spend one night near the trailheads; this can be done near Puente de Inca or near the ski resort of Penitentes (8500ft):

Puente de Inca (for all routes):

  • Camping: near de Bridge (= 'Puente') there are camping spots; beware of theft though.
  • Hosteria Puente del Inca (8,900 ft.)
    Hosteria Puente del Inca is 170 km from Mendoza City and 2 km from Horcones, Park Aconcagua trailhead.
    This is the base from which all equipment is dispatched on mules to the different bases (Plaza de Mulas, Confluencia, Plaza Argentina). You can camp here for free or take a room in the Hosteria: Rooms with private bathroom. Maid service. Restaurant and cafe. Luggage storage available (free of charge) until the end of the climbing expedition. Issuance of bus tickets to Mendoza and Santiago de Chile.
(prices subject to change)

On Mount Aconcagua:

The two main routes are mentioned below, see also the detailed itinerary pages: Normal route and Polish Glacier traverse route.

 

Normal Route (Horcones Valley approach):

  • Confluencia (3,300 meters above sea level -10,890 ft-): This beautiful spot is on the trail that leads all expeditions to Plaza de Mulas and Plaza Francia. Some companies provide meals & services in tents especially furnished with electric power, tables, chairs and dishes. The campsite in Confluencia has its own bathroom facility. Free luggage storage is available until the end of the climbing expedition. Permanent BLU radio link with Mendoza, Plaza de Mulas, Confluencia, Plaza Argentina and VHF radio link with our offices, high altitude camp bases, park rangers and rescue patrols. Of course you can camp here as well.
  • Plaza de Mulas Base Camp (4,230 meters above sea level -13,959 ft-): Full meal service provided in tents equipped with electric power, tables, chairs and dishes. The campsite includes its own bathroom facilities. Permanent BLU radio link with Mendoza, Plaza de Mulas, Confluencia, Plaza Argentina and VHF radio link with our offices, high altitude camp bases, park rangers and rescue patrols. Camp leader speaks English and French fluently. Of course you can camp here as well.
  • Plaza de Mulas Shelter   (4,370 meters above sea level -14,421 ft-): Also known as the highest hotel in the world! Plaza de Mulas shelter, is an ideal spot to adjust to the altitude. It is fully staffed with guides that speak English and French fluently and provide excellent information on the mountain to all expedition members. Same facilities as the base camp tents plus hot showers, cooking facilities, rooms with beds, mattresses and blankets, and a room for leisure activities. Permanent BLU radio link with Mendoza, Plaza de Mulas, Confluencia, Plaza Argentina and VHF radio link with our offices, high altitude camp bases, park rangers and rescue patrols, and long distance phone service. Free luggage storage is available until the end of the climbing expedition. Hyperbaric chamber. Plaza de Mulas Shelter is the operating camp base for Mendoza's Police Department Rescue Patrol.
Polish Glacier & traverse Route
  • Las Lenas shelter (2700m)
  • Casa de Piedra (3200m), 18 kilometers from Las Lenas
  • Plaza Argentina, basecamp (4200m), 15 kilometers from Las Lenas
  • Camp 1: most people make camp 1 at 5000m
  • Camp 2: most people make camp 2 at 5900m
Permits
  • Park Permits: To climb or hike in Aconcagua park you need to buy a permit. IMPORTANT: Permits to access the park's premises are no longer issued at the office in the center of the city, but need to be bought at the Dirección de Recursos Naturales Renovables, (located in the main Park: Parque San Martín). 
  • The San Martin Parque is located on the left side of the map (actually the office is just north of the soccer stadium that's shown). The park is worth a day's visit anyway, join the Sunday morning workout!
  • Office hours are: 8:00 am to 18:00 pm, weekdays and 9:00 am to 13:00 pm Saturdays and Sundays.
  • 25 December and Januari 1 the offfice is closed.
  • IMPORTANT: Starting with the 1999/2000 season, the Dirección de Recursos Naturales Renovables, will require that all permits be petitioned in person. Filing will be done by expeditions members in Mendoza
  • Permit Prices: depending on season and activity:
  • These are the 2005/2006 prices; the cost of permits might probably go up more next season
  • UPDATE: due to robbery, the permit can be paid in the permit office but only during the afternoon and on weekends. From Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 1 pm, the passengers must go to the bank to pay it there, then with the invoice that the bank will give you, go to the permit office and ask for the permit, showing the receipt. The bank is at Olegario V. Andrade and Paso de Los Andes streets. Nacion Bank (Banco Nacion)
  • Argentinean citizens pay only 50% of the fees shown below. Visitors under 18 must have a legally certified parental authorization and enter the Park under the supervision of an older tutor
  • Validity (#days) starts when entering the park, not when it is bought.
  • Children under 14 are not allowed in the parc, between 14 & 21 years, you need 'special documentation', though the park does not explain what this is, it is likely a signed letter from the legal guardians.
  • Note that the rices below are for all routes except for the Guanacos route, that one costs $500 in high season and $400 otherwise!
  • On a trekking permit you cannot go any higher than the basecamps: 4300m
  • There are no trekking permits for the Guanacos route.

Updated park permit prices, season 2010/2011 in Argentinean Peso (AR$):

(In September 2010, 1000 AR$ was about USD $250.)

 

Tariffs for season 2008/ 2009 - National & International category


Category

Ascent / expeditions

Long Trekking

Short Trekking

Season

AR National

Foreigner

AR National

Foreigner

AR National

Foreigner

High

AR$ 720

AR$ 3.000

AR$ 156

AR$ 800

AR$ 84

AR$ 410

Middle

AR$ 480

AR$ 2.200

AR$ 108

AR$ 660

AR$ 72

AR$ 380

Low

AR$ 240

AR$ 1200

AR$ 108

AR$ 660

AR$ 72

AR$ 380

 

High Season: From the 15th. December of every year to the 31st. January of the following year.
Half Season: From the 1st. December to the 14th. December and from the 1st.  February to the 20th. February of every year.

Low Season: From the 15th. November to the 30th. November and the 21st. February to the 15th. March of every year. 

 

 

  • Time zone:

    Local Time in Mendoza (as well as the rest of Argentina): is located 3 time zones west of the Greenwich meridian (GMT or London time). Due to daylight savings elsewhere this can differ one hour more or less.

  • Money

    Exchange Rate: The official currency is the Argentinean Peso, although the American Dollar is widely accepted. The official exchange rate is about 4 peso = 1 US dollar, but they can be exchanged officially for a .5% fee as well. As dollars are easier to forge, not everybody will trust them and $20 notes are mostly the largest denominations accepted, so bring small notes; even more important, bring clean, unstained notes. This is also true for Argentinean currency by the way, also the peso notes are preferred small and many will be held against the light for verification!

  • Language:

    Argentina's and Chile's official language is Spanish. English is spoken at most travel agencies, hotels and tourist information offices. The Spanish is a bit different from European Spanish, but spoken less rapidly. The people on the street are very friendly and will do their best to help you out, even if it means that you speak 'spanglish' to them and they answer in Spanish...

  • Power Supply:

    220 volts, 50 hertz, most hotels have American (flat) as well as European (round) shaving sockets or a combination European/Australian sockets (flat, 45 degree angle).

Mendoza tips:

  • Go to the information booth at the Terminal de Omnibus (bus station), lower right of the map, just east of the hospital, and pick up a sheet of coupons for various things around town, like some of the restaurants you may want to try while you are in Mendoza.
    Some of the Turisma Agencies (on about every block) also have some of these. 
  • There's only a few postcards for sale anywhere of Aconcagua; I know that Aymara Turismo, 9 de Julio 983 in Mendoza, has another dozen or so that you won't see elsewhere, for about a peso each.
  • Check the current Mendoza weather and forecast here!
On the mountain:

The following is taken from www.aconcagua.org, the site from the major guiding companies, but is is important enough to copy it integrally:

 

"Descent with poor visibility 

  • From the peak, in the section of the gully (canaleta) it isn’t frequent to get lost. You simply have to descend directly. But toward the end of it, it is necessary to take great precaution so as not to continue directly to the Great Scree (gran acarreo). The zone is very extensive and totally exposed to the wind. 
  • The logic, based on what you see, is to cross this big scree, but the terrain is not comfortable and it is fatiguing, It is composed of little stones over hard frozen ground Inside the gully (canaleta) the direction of descent is north-west until it ends, later take the north-east direction, again crossing the “Ventisquro of Schiller”, with caution, until the “Pass of the wind” (Portazuelo de los vientos), from which it is possible to see below and to the east-north-east, the remains of Independencia refuge.
  • Once you have reached this refuge, the direction is north-north-west. Descend with much caution so as not to descend to the left or to the right of the edge which leads to the great scree (acarreo) or to the cord of snow spikes (penitentes), respectively
  • The zone of the (Berlin -7S-) refuges (5800 meters) is very difficult to find when you descend in poor visibility conditions. It is not possible to see them until you are literally at their doors The cases of getting lost during the descent are the most numerous and in many cases have resulted fatal. You must consider that the normal route of the mountain permits an easy arrival to places that are potentially very dangerous for the mountaineer who is not an expert or who is physically spent. More than 40 people have died in this route for various reasons"

Logical, but nevertheless useful advice , also taken from www.aconcagua.org

  • Begin the ascent to the peak well acclimatized and with excellent equipment
  • Stay over 6000 meters for as little time as possible. Between one ascent and the other, rest as far below 5500 meters as possible.
  • Carry only the necessary equipment.
  • Don’t try to ascend the mountain in bad weather or if the weather prognostic is unfavorable
  • Never underestimate the characteristics of the normal route.
  • Conscientiously choose your companions.
  • Stay well hydrated by drinking 3-5 liters of liquid per person per day.
  • Perfectly calculate the effects of the cold and the wind
  • Descend immediately if there is a possibility of a considerable health problem, without waiting to get better from the even light sicknesses
  • Consider the effects of the high altitude on the rhythm of your march, your humor, efficiency, etc
  • Speed (once you are acclimatized) is equal to security.
  • While you rest during the climb, look toward the distance not toward the floor


Guanaco near camp I

Summitview

Harry traversing to white rocks

Nightly departure

Dull Hill

Rivercrossing

Polish glacier 2004 from camp II

Hosteria Puente de Inca

Polish from camp2

Penitenties en route to Camp 1