The Normal route on Aconcagua is the only pure trekking route to the summit that doesn't require any technical climbing skills. The route follows the gradual north west passage to the summit and offers the highest summit success rates. The Normal route offers a fabulous opportunity for adventure seekers to summit the world's highest trekking peak! But the adventure shouldn't be taken lightly, you will need to be in great physical shape and have experience of sustained high altitude trekking. Aconcagua is a big step up from Kilimanjaro!
Q1How fit do I need to be to climb Aconcagua? What training should I do?
To give yourself the best shot of 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.
Q2How difficult is climbing Aconcagua?
From a technical point of view, climbing Aconcagua via the Normal is not difficult. However, the sheer height of Aconcagua along with extremely cold temperatures on the mountain, make Aconcagua a challenging ascent, even for accomplished mountaineers. Because 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. Moreover, weather conditions high up on the mountain can change rapidly, with extremely cold temperatures as low as -30 degrees Celsius 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.
Q3When 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.
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.
Q5How 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.
Q6What 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.
Q7How do Aconcagua permits work?
Unlike many operators who do not include the Aconcagua permit in their tour cost, all Kandoo Aconcagua treks 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