The most popular route runs it's way up to the summit from the Park Entrance in Horcones (2.950 m / 9.680 ft) via Camp Confluencia (3.390 m / 11.090 ft) to the base camp Plaza de Mulas (4370 m / 14.340 ft), over several high camps to the summit. Over the years the climbers have paved a narrow trail that winds up to Independencia (6.300 m / 20.800 ft). From there the climb becomes more difficult, more than anything because of the altitude. Due to the high elevation and the slope below, it can be risky to cross especially when climbers are tired. As we continue from Independencia we have to cross snow fields before we reach the last section of the ascent, the 'Canaleta'. This section faces us with the challenge to climb a steep scree field before the summit is reached.
The duration of the expedition depends on the conditions, we count with 18 days, this is the average time we need.
The approach to this route is made by the way of the Vacas Valley. The trip takes three days following a trail from Punta de Vacas (2.980 m / 9.780 ft) that makes it's way through wide valleys with herds of Guanaocos, a typical animal of the Andes. Campsites are Pampa de Leñas (2.950 m / 9.680 ft) and Casa de Piedras (3240 m / 10.630 ft). The destination Plaza Argentina (4190 m / 13.750 ft) is the base camp for this route and the Polish Glacier route. From Plaza Argentina the way zigzags up to the base of the polish glacier and then climbs to Independencia (6.300 m / 20.800 ft) where it connects with the Normal route the rest of the way to the summit. The descent is made via the base camp of Plaza de Mulas. That route does a circle around the mountain, therefore it is named 360 degrees.
The duration of the expedition depends on the conditions, we count with 18/19 days, this ist the average time we need.
There is also the option to do a Trekking over a period from 3 up to 7 days. In a 3-day-trip you could hike to Camp Confluencia, stay overnight, do the next day a hike to see the majestic South Face from Plaza Francia and descend on the third day to Horcones. Or you like to go higher, to Plaza de Mulas or Plaza Argentina. Those two base camps could be visited in a maximum of 7 days.
The real danger lies in the guise of low temperatures and sudden, fast moving storms which come in from the pacific ocean. In such storms you can easily lose your way. The majority of accidents occur as a result of insufficient acclimatization which often results in acute mountain sickness AMS. Many climbers, unaware of symptoms, continue and this can lead to high altitude pulmonary edema or cerebral edema. If not immediately evacuated it leads to death. Many climbers do underestimate Aconcagua. Experience in mountaineering and good physical conditions are essential for each high altitude expedition.
Everybody who likes to enter the Aconcagua Provincial Park has to buy a permit in the office of the Park in the city of Mendoza. There are different categories regarding to your trip. You have the choice between Trekking Permits for 3 or 7 days, or the Summit Permit for 20 days. Only with the Summit Permit you are allowed to climb the summit.
The permit prices vary from season to season. You can count on a discounted permit price if you enter with the assistance of a authorized company and if you use their services. Mallku Expediciones is authorized by the Mendoza Government, we are legalized to work in the Aconcagua Provincial Park.
If you wish to summit, you have to provide evidence that you are insured for the event of a evacuation. It is mandatory to present a document of your insurance company to buy the permit. Please be aware that you need a insurance which covers extreme sports. A normal travel insurance will not cover this risk!
Please see more and detailed information at the official website of the Aconcagua Provincial Park: http://www.aconcagua.mendoza.gov.ar/
Besides experience and good physical condition it is useful to have proper gear and equipment. It makes it far easier to enjoy your expedition. To rest in a decent sleeping bag for example will support your recovery from the exhausting trekking days. Also a pair of good, warm boots which fit your feet is essential.
We can provide you a list of useful gear on request. Ask us!