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CLIMB ACONCAGUA
Aconcagua summit

Plan your Aconcagua climb

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Aconcagua is the highest peak in South America, which gives it membership to the “Seven Summits” club.

Aconcagua is one of the seven summits and comes in as the second highest, just under Mt Everest. At 22,835 feet, or 6,960 meters high, Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the western hemisphere and the highest trekking peak in the world.

It is also the highest trekking peak in the world, though the fact that it is a 'trekking peak' does not mean that it’s easy.

To climb Aconcagua you need to be physically fit, have strong mental stamina and be capable of strenuous exercise for several days duration. Expedition members can expect to be exerting themselves for about six hours per day and be capable of carrying a 15-20 kg pack.

The altitude and weather combine to make this an adventure that tests even the toughest. In good conditions it is hard but not technically difficult. In bad conditions it is virtually unclimbable.

As a result of this we build plenty of rest and contingency days into the itinerary. This gives you the best chance of summiting and seeing the great views of the Andes from the top. Our highly experienced local guides have a great record of getting climbers to the summit safely.

If you have already climbed Kilimanjaro, or summited one of the trekking peaks in Nepal, then this is a great next step. However, make sure you turn up the fittest you have ever been and ready for an endurance marathon. The reward for those summiting are amazing - stunning views across the Andes!

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Climb Aconcagua summit - One of the seven summits

When is the best time to climb Aconcagua?

You can climb Mt Aconcagua from November 15th to February 20th, with the peak season running from the middle of December to the end of January. While we would expect the best trekking conditions to be in the peak season, as with any mountain environment the climate can vary considerably from the norm.

There are three contingency days in our itinerary to allow for unpredictable weather and the best summit window opportunity. The chart below summarises the weather conditions by climbing season.

Off Season
Off and low season for climbing Aconcagua
the mountain can be climbed during the off-season, however it is not recommended as climbing conditions are not favourable and support services limited From 21st February- 15th November
Low Season
Off and low season for climbing Aconcagua
The low season covers a two week period in November (15th to 30th). Weather conditions during these periods are relatively stable, but you can expect colder conditions than the mid or high season. The mountain is considerably quieter. From November 15th – 30th November
Mid Season
Mid and high season for Aconcagua mountaineering
The mid season sits on the shoulder of weeks wither side of the high season. It is a good time to tackle Aconcagua as conditions are nearly as good as the high season, but the trails are still quiet, particularly in February. From December 1-14 and February 1-20
High Season
Mid and high season for Aconcagua mountaineering
The high season consistently provides the most stable weather on the mountain and hence 80% of climbers undertake their Aconcagua climb during this window. From December 15 to January 31

How hard is it to climb Aconcagua?

There is no technical climbing on the "Normal Route" up Aconcagua. You need experience walking in crampons and with the use of an ice axe but nothing more. However, the sheer height of Aconcagua, along with extremely cold temperatures on the mountain, make it a challenging ascent, even for accomplished mountaineers.

Since the summit is close to 7,000m, climbers have to spend sustained periods camping in tough conditions at high altitude - this can be mentally and physically draining. Climbers also have to help take kit to the high base camp which involves carrying more than your day pack.

Moreover, weather conditions high up on the mountain can change rapidly, with extremely cold temperatures as low as -30°C not uncommon.

Aconcagua is a big step up from Kilimanjaro. That being said, summiting Aconcagua via the Normal Route is very attainable for those with the right attitude, who have trained well and are mentally prepared for the rigours of high altitude trekking.

How much does it cost to climb Aconcagua?

In addition to the cost of your gear and the cost to travel to Aconcagua from wherever you are, you will also need to pay to actually climb the mountain. This is done through the purchase of a permit in Mendoza to enter the national park. The price can vary depending on when you choose to go, but it averages between $800 and $1000.

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How long to climb Aconcagua

The amount of time it takes to make it to the peak of the mountain very much depends on the amount of training you have done and how physically ready you are. On average, for someone who has trained for the trek, it will take roughly 15-18 days.

Trip dossier, route maps and video

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Detailed itinerary

Day 1Arrive in Mendoza

Arrival in Mendoza, transfer from the airport to your hotel for the night. Enjoy the rest of the day exploring the bustling city of Mendoza, the centre of wine-making in Argentina. With wide tree lined streets and plazas, the city is easily explored on foot with plenty of shops and restaurants. Beware 2.00pm – 5.00pm is siesta time!

Day 2Mendoza to Penitentes

Transfer in private vehicles from Mendoza to Los Penitentes, where the group will spend the night prior to starting the climb.

  • Elevation: 760 metres to 2580 metres
  • Drive time: 3 hours
  • Overnight: Hotel
Day 3Los Penitentes via the Horcones Valley to Confluencia

From Los Penitentes, we make our way to the Horcones Valley (2950m) where the trek begins, and we start our trek to Confluencia where we spend the night. At Penitentes we divide our gear into 2 loads: 1 high altitude and 1 to remain with you on to Confluencia. The high altitude gear is transported by mules to base camp and will comprise of your crampons, ice axe and high altitude boots, amongst others.

  • Elevation: 2580 metres to 3390 metres
  • Time: 4-5 hours
Day 4Confluencia - Plaza de Francia - Confluencia

Our main objective today is one of acclimatization. We get our first clear view of the imposing south face of Aconcagua as we trek to Plaza de Francia (4050m), before returning to Confluencia for the night

  • Elevation: 3390 metres to 4050 metres to 3390 metres
  • Time: 7-8 hours
Day 5Confluencia - Plaza de Mulas

Today we trek to our base camp at Plaza de Mulas. This is the toughest day so far and climbs 1000m from the start point. You will be glad to hit the camp where the additional ascent team will meet you and be your ascent team. A mess tent will be set up for all meals, briefings and general use

  • Elevation: from 3390 metres to 4350 metres
  • Time: 7-9 hours
Day 6Rest and acclimatise day at Plaza de Mulas

Today we rest! Make sure you take plenty of water on board and eat well. This is an acclimatisation day and an opportunity to rest after the prior days’ exertions. Showers are available, as is the opportunity to phone home from the hotel nearby.

  • Elevation: 4350 metres
Day 7Plaza de Mulas - Cerro Bonete - Plaza de Mulas

This is a second day of acclimatisation. From Plaza de Mulas we leave to climb Bonete Peak (5004m) which affords you a clear view of the route almost all the way to Aconcagua before descending. You will remain overnight at Plaza de Mulas base camp.

  • Elevation: 4350 metres to 5004 metres to 4350 metres
  • Time: 5-6 hours
Day 8Equipment carry to Plaza Canadá returning to Plaza de Mulas

Our first serious outing on the flanks of the mountain where we make our way to camp 1, Plaza Canada (5050m). We will carry some of the expedition gear and food required up to the site and cache them before returning to the Plaza de Mulas

  • Elevation: 4350 metres to 5050 metres to 4350 metres
  • Time: 5-6 hours
Day 9Rest day in Plaza Mulas

This is your last day of rest and acclimatisation at base camp before we ascend Aconcagua. This is the day to finalise your gear and make preparations for the climb

  • Elevation: 4350 metres
Day 10Plaza de Mulas - Plaza Canadá

Moving up to Camp 1 allows us to spend our first night on the mountain. This should feel a lot easier than the first outing and the benefits of steady acclimatisation become real

  • Elevation: 4350 metres to 5050 metres
  • Time: 2-3 hours
Day 11Plaza Canadá - Nido de Condores

Assisted by our porters, who will carry the tents and most of our gear, we set off for 'Nido de Condores'(5560m), the condors nest, to set up Camp 2. From here we can see Aconcagua and the canaleta that leads to the col between the twin peaks

  • Elevation: 5050 metres to 5400 metres
  • Time: 3-4 hours
Day 12Nido de Cóndores - Colera

Today we climb to our highest point on the mountain yet to Camp 3, the Colera camp (5970m). It is exposed and can be cold and windswept at times. There are some wonderful views of the high Andean peaks which warrant more than a second glance. This is our final camp prior to making the summit push

  • Elevation: 5400 metres to 5970 metres
  • Time: 3-4 hours
Day 13Summit day (6962m)

Today's the day! An early starts underpins the summit attempt and the most arduous day of the expedition. Climbing the North ridge to the Independencia Refuge (6250m) to meet the sunrise, we follow the route to the base of the canaleta, a 300m scree climb leading to the summit ridge where you will appreciate the early start if it’s still frozen. Often windy and cold, this is where your gear earns its value. Taking about an hour of hugely demanding effort, we reach the Cresta del Guanaco, the ridge joining the South Summit (6930m) to the North Summit (6960m), before we push for the aluminium cross that marks the peak's high point. From here we descend back to Camp 3 for a celebration, or as is more likely, a well deserved sleep!

  • Elevation: 5970 metres to 6960 metres to 5970 metres
  • Time: 10-12 hours
Day 14Contingency day

One of two spare days. The lead guide will use these days to the best effect in securing summit success for the team.

Day 15Contingency day

One of two spare days. The lead guide will use these days to the best effect in securing summit success for the team.

Day 16Colera - Plaza de Mulas

We make our return from Camp 3 all the way down to base camp. Taking anything from 3 to 7 hours for the walk down to Plaza de Mulas, the crew will welcome you back for a celebration dinner.

  • Elevation: 5870 metres to 4350 metres
  • Time: 3-7 hours
Day 17Plaza de Mulas – Mendoza

Today we make our way downhill to the ranger station where we will be met for the final drive back to Mendoza, after collecting our gear from Penitentes. Once in Mendoza we will check in at our hotel and look for a suitable venue to celebrate our success

  • Elevation: 4350 metres to 2580 metres to 760 metres
  • Trek time: 7 hours
  • Drive time: 3 hours
Day 18Departure day

Transfer to the airport is included for your return or onward journey with happy memories of your expedition.

About Aconcagua

Aconcagua - history of Argentina's highest mountain

While there is no hard evidence of native Incas having summited the mountain, there is reason to believe they ventured far up the slopes of Aconcagua. Mummified bodies and the remains of a guanaco, a type of humpless camel, have been found as high up as 17,000 feet, with the latter lending its name to the ridge between the two peaks, now called the Cresto del Guanaco.

The first documented attempt on Aconcagua was by Paul Güssfeldt, a German mountaineer. Legend has it that he bribed some local men to be his porters by promising them that there was treasure on the mountain. He was forced to descend only 1,000 feet below the summit due to dangerously high winds.

Several years later, in 1897, a team lead by British explorer Edward Fitzgerald attempted to reach the peak by using a different route to that used by Güssfeldt. This became the Normal Route. It was only the team’s guide, a Swiss man named Mathias Zurbriggen, who reached the summit, as other team members experienced altitude sickness just below the summit.

In more recent times, Aconcagua has been the target of many aptly named ‘mountain runners’. World renowned endurance athlete Kilian Jornet completed the ascent and descent of Aconcagua in 12 hours 49 minutes in 2014, setting the record only for it to be broken two months later by a Swiss-Ecuadorean individual named Paul Egloff. He completed the round trip in 11 hours 52 minutes, which is the current record for the fastest ascent-descent.

With 3,500 people attempting the climb each year, there are sure to be more interesting facts and figures coming out of the Aconcagua area in the future. Until then, why not make your own history by climbing the magnificent Aconcagua?

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Frequently asked questions

Q1HOW FIT DO I NEED TO BE TO CLIMB ACONCAGUA? WHAT TRAINING SHOULD I DO?

To give yourself the best shot at summiting Aconcagua we recommend being in the best physical shape that you can possibly be. This means having a strong cardiovascular system and aerobic fitness level. If you live in an area that is blessed with mountainous terrain, then the best training you can do is to take frequent hiking excursions. However, for the majority of folk who don't live near mountains, then we recommend a strict gym training regime for 3-5 months before taking on Aconcagua. Your training regime should consist of aerobic activities like running, spinning or spending time on the rowing machine. You should couple aerobic exercises with weight training to strengthen your legs and core. We recommend squats, lunges, kettle bell swings and sit ups.

Q2WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO CLIMB ACONCAGUA?

To stay safe and avoid taking unnecessary risks, you should only ever climb when it is deemed safe. This is why many areas have climbing seasons designated to when conditions will be ideal and the climb poses the least risk of harm.

For Aconcagua, the climbing season runs from 15th November to 20th February, with the high season running from mid December to the end of January. This period generally offers the most stable weather on the mountain and lots of summit window opportunities. If your schedule doesn't allow for a high season climb, then we recommend looking at the shoulder weeks of the mid-season from either early December or early February.

Q3IS THE ACONCAGUA CLIMBING PERMIT INCLUDED IN YOUR PRICE?

Yes, unlike many operators who do not include the Aconcagua permit in their tour cost, all Kandoo Aconcagua climbs include your park permit. The fees for permits vary by season (low, mid and high season), route and by nationality (Argentinians and Latin American's get a discount). Prices for permits are released a few weeks before the climbing season and can be accessed here: www.aconcagua.mendoza.gov.ar

Q4WHAT ARE YOUR GUIDE-TO-CLIENT RATIOS AND GUIDE QUALIFICATIONS?

For the summit attempt, our guide-to-client ratios are 1/3 - 2/7 - 3/11. You may have fewer guides as you move up the mountain from base camp to the higher camps, but additional guides will be ready to assist with the push to the summit. We like to keep our groups relatively small to give everyone a good chance of summiting. In our experience an optimum group number is 6 climbers.

If we reach 9 climbers in a group we split the group. Our highly experienced local guides have qualifications from the High Mountain and Trekking Guides School in Mendoza (EPGAMT) an Argentinian (AAGM) Mountain Guides associations. Our staff are carefully selected and trained, and all of our guides are active year round. With such a short climbing season on Aconcagua, it is important that out guides maintain their skill levels so they will travel the world to provide high altitude guide services for the remainder of the year.

Our camps are coordinated by a Head of Camp and attended by a specialist (and assistant) chef trained to satisfy your needs. At base camp we have dining tents with electricity, tables, chairs and crockery. Rooms with beds set up in large tents. Kitchen, bathroom and a tent luggage deposit.

Q5WHAT ARE YOUR SUMMIT SUCCESS RATES ON ACONCAGUA?

Summit success varies and is often highly dependent on weather. If conditions are favourable we generally achieve a 50% summit success rate.

Q6WHAT INSURANCE DO I NEED?

It is a condition of joining an Aconcagua climb that you have insurance that covers you up to 7000m and that cover extends to the full cost of evacuation if needed. Policy providers we recommend are Dog Tag and World Nomads, both of whom sell specialist climbing insurance.

Q7HOW MUCH WEIGHT WILL I NEED TO CARRY ON THE MOUNTAIN? ARE THERE PERSONAL PORTERS?

We recommend bringing three types of bags for your Aconcagua expedition: a large duffle bag (80-90L), an expedition rucksack (70L-90L) and a light daypack (30-35L).

For the hike into Base Camp we use mules to carry most gear and supplies. As a climber you will only carry your daypack (water, snacks, camera, jacket, sunscreen, etc.).

From Base Camp to High Camps you can expect to carry all of your personal gear plus a share of the common gear (although we provide porters for group equipment). On average, a fully-loaded Aconcagua backpack weighs 18-22 kg.

We offer our own reliable team of porters to carry gear up and down the mountain. Each porter carries up to 20 kg from Base Camp to any given camp and down from high camp or other camps to Base Camp. On our trips we include one porter for every four climbers, to carry common gear only when the group moves from one camp to the next. Porters don't assist in the cache and carry trips (i.e. not when the group carries gear to a cache and comes back to camp). Climbers who don’t want to carry weight can hire a personal porter, on a daily basis or for the whole trip. Please contact us for personal porter rates.

Q8HOW WILL THE "COMMON GEAR" BE TRANSPORTED?

Common gear, such as tents, stoves, garbage, first aid kit is carried up to Base Camp by mules.

From Base Camp up to the first High Camp we do not use mules as they cannot work at these higher altitudes. One porter for every 4 climbers will take over carrying some of the "common gear", plus the clients will also be expected to carry a share of common gear. You will need to be able to carry a load of between 18-24kg (personal gear + share of common gear) and ensure that your rucksack is large enough to accommodate the extra load you will need to carry from Base Camp up to the first High Camp.

Q9WHAT IS THE SUCCESS RATE ON ACONCAGUA?

The success rate fluctuates around 50-70% each year, with failed summits largely due to altitude related issues and poor weather conditions

Speak with an expert Start planning your next adventure by contacting one of our team.
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Sarah Orson

Adventure Travel Consultant

Phone: +44 1283 499980

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Rachael Bode

Adventure Travel Consultant

Phone: + 44 1283 499982

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Sharon King

Adventure Travel Consultant

Phone: +44 1283 499981

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Victoria Hoddy

Adventure Travel Consultant

Phone: +44 (0)1283 205478

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