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

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. 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!

Book your adventure now with Kandoo, the specialists in high altitude adventures

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Recommended route

We recommend what is known as the ‘Normal’ route to climb Aconcagua, as this has the best success rate.  A map of this route is below.

aconcagua map

The Normal Route has a high success rate for four reasons.

  • It is the only route that does not require  technical climbing experience 
  • The distance between the high camps is relatively short and the camps are relatively evenly spaced. This makes  the effort over the final summit days more manageable
  • It is much cheaper and easier to hire private porters on this route which can be a huge help
  • The approach from Confluencia is easier, so less energy is used before you really get into the climb

Not only is the success rate highest on the Normal Route, but it is also the safest route. This is because there is a medical service in the Confluencia and Plaza de Mulas base camps, where the level of care is very high. Since it is the busiest route, it is monitored very closely by the Rescue Patrol, which has its operation centre in the Plaza de Mulas base camp. If anything should go wrong, help can be at hand very quickly.

A final attraction of the route is that the descent is the fastest and most direct, taking only two days to the Park exit.

One downside of this route is that the high camps are very exposed to wind storms - our itineraries have contingency days built in to mitigate this. During the high season, it is the busiest, as everyone wants to climb the route with the best chance of success.

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When is the best time to climb Aconcagua?

The best time to climb Aconcagua is during the high season, 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. 

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.

ResizedImage1000545 When to climb Aconcagua 1

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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.

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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 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?

The best time to climb Aconcagua is from mid December to the end of January. This is the high season and is characterised by the most stable and predictable weather on the mountain. The shoulder weeks on either side of the high season (i.e. mid November to mid December and the month of February) are also generally good for climbing Aconcagua.

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 OUR YOUR GUIDE-TO-CLIENT RATIOS AND GUIDE QUALIFICATIONS?

Our guide-to-client ratios are 1/3 - 2/7 - 3/11. 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) and/or from the Bolivian (AGMTB) and Argentinian (AAGM) Mountain Guides associations. Our staff are carefully selected and trained. 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. You can rent a mountain tent in our base camp, although it is recommend that you let us know about it in advance, to ensure stock.  We offer high quality North Face or MSR tents.

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 an 80% 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).

From 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 60% each year, with failed summits largely due to altitude related issues.

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 winemaking 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 (2580 m). Transfer time 3 hours.

Overnight - Hotel

Day 3Los Penitentes via the Horcones Valley to Confluencia (3400m)

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. (3400 m) 4 hours. 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.

Overnight – Camp

Day 4Confluencia - Plaza de Francia - Confluencia

Confluencia – Plaza de Francia (4050m) - Confluencia. Our main objective today is one of acclimatization as we get our first clear view of the imposing south face of Aconcagua before reaching the Plaza de Francia (4050m), before returning to Confluencia for the night. (3400m) 7 hours

Overnight – Camp

Day 5Confluencia - Plaza de Mulas

Confluencia - 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. (4350m). 7 hours

Overnight - Camp.

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.

Overnight - camp

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.

Overnight - Camp

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, Camp 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. 5 hours

Overnight - Camp

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. Overnight - Camp

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. 3 hours Overnight – Camp

Day 11Canadá - Nido de Condores

Assisted by our porters, who will carry the tents and most of our gear, we set off for 'El 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. 4 hours Overnight - Camp

Day 12Nido de Cóndores - Berlín

Today we climb to our highest point on the mountain yet to Camp 3, the Berlin camp (6028m). 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. 3 hours

Overnight - Camp

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 (6962m), before we push for the aluminium cross that marks the peaks highpoint. From here we descend back to Camp 3 for a celebration, or as is more likely, a well deserved sleep!

Overnight - Camp

Day 14Contingency day

One of 2 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 2 spare days. The lead guide will use these days to the best effect in securing summit success for the team.

Day 16Berlín - 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.

Overnight - camp

Day 17Plaza de Mulas – Mendoza

Today we make our way downhill to the ranger station where we will be met for the final 2-3 hour drive back to Mendoza, after collecting our gear from Penitentes. Depending on time and the status of the contingency days, there is an opportunity to split this day in 2 and spend another night at Confluencia. Once in Mendoza we will check in at our hotel and look for a suitable venue to celebrate our success. Trek 7 hours. Car 3 hours

Day 18Departure day

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

Availability and prices

Last Updated October 16 2018
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Arrival: December 17 2018
Days: 18
Price: £4199 $5459 €0
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Arrival: January 21 2019
Days: 18
Price: £4199 $5459 €0
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Arrival: February 4 2019
Days: 18
Price: £3999 $5199 €0
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Arrival: December 16 2019
Days: 18
Price: £4199 $5459 €0
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Arrival: January 20 2020
Days: 18
Price: £4199 $5459 €0
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Arrival: February 3 2020
Days: 18
Price: £3999 $5199 €0
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Arrival: December 21 2020
Days: 18
Price: £4199 $5459 €0
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Arrival: January 18 2021
Days: 18
Price: £4299 $5589 €0
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Arrival: February 1 2021
Days: 18
Price: £4099 $5329 €0
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What's included

Included
  • Hotel accommodation in Mendoza as indicated in the itinerary, based on double occupancy. Climbers descending early will incur extra hotel fees
  • 1 night of lodging in Penitentes (dinner and breakfast included)
  • Full board during the expedition (all the meals while in the Park, meals in Mendoza not included)
  • Services of experienced English speaking guides and high altitude porters for shared equipment carries (Guide-client ratio: 1:3 - 2:7 - 3:11)
  • All shared equipment for the expedition (Tents, stoves, etc.)
  • Complete base camp services (dining tents, bathrooms, meals, storage)
  • All the transfers in licensed, private shuttles
  • Pack mules for common and personal loads, to and from BC
  • Permanent VHF radio communication
  • High altitude porters for common gear carries. One for every four climbers.
  • We provide all our guides with a professional first aid kit and pulse oximeter for daily updates of acclimatization progress
  • Aconcagua climbing permit
Not Included
  • International airfares and taxes
  • Personal porters from base camp to high camp and back. Enquire for prices
  • Meals and drinks in Mendoza. Drinks in Penitentes
  • Personal gear, medications, ground or air evacuations, room services, laundry, beverages, phone communications and items of personal nature, insurance liability, hospitalization or medication of any kind, any other service not mentioned in this condition sheet
  • Any cost incurred by a climber if she or he leaves the trip early (such as mules, transfers, guide, etc). We strongly recommend all participants to buy trip cancellation insurance
  • Internet access - available at Base Camp for an additional charge

About Aconcagua

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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 renownedd 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 record.

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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Recommended kit for climbing Aconcagua

Head

Basic Equipment
Hands and Feet
Upper Body
Legs
Odds and Sods

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