Welcome to Aconcagua (22,841’/6,961m), the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas, the highest in the Americas, and one of the Seven Summits. Technically easy, Aconcagua is a mountain not to be underestimated. The altitude and the sometimes cold winds (a.k.a. El Viento Blanco) provide a challenge that any mountaineer should respect. Climbing Aconcagua is more than just the climb – the culture of Mendoza, the long, dramatic valleys, the international scene at basecamp, and the remote feel of the mountain provide a full experience that is unforgettable and satisfying on many levels.
What makes CMS different? There are a handful of top-quality Seven Summits companies and a plethora of lower quality Seven Summits companies to choose from, and with many of these companies you will have a good chance of summitting Aconcagua. The weather, your ability to acclimate and function at altitude, the itinerary of your trip, and the attentiveness of your guides are the four main factors in your chances for success. CMS is not a cookie-cutter, mass production company. We don’t send multitudes of people up the same mountain over and over again. Our diversely experienced senior guides are highly skilled and often certified in a variety of disciplines. Because our career guides depend on return clients to maintain a year-round schedule of alpine, rock, ski, and ice guiding, client care is of utmost importance. Our guides are fun, intelligent, worldly, educated, certified, and they provide an unsurpassed level of attention to their clients.
Summit day is a long day, often only requiring crampons, a helmet, and a trekking pole, though you will have an ice axe and harness, and your guides will have ropes in case the conditions require such equipment. After your summit day, you will descend to basecamp and further to the trailhead over a few days. If the weather cooperated and there were no storms to wait out, you may arrive early to Mendoza, where you will have the options of visiting hot springs, joining a wine tour, and exploring the downtown area with nightly outdoor performances in the many city parks.
The Aconcagua Expedition is a mostly-inclusive trip starting in the wine capital of South America - Mendoza, Argentina. After a gear check and acquisition of climbing permits, the team will travel 3 hours to your hotel in Los Penitentes (8,500’/2600m). From there, a short drive takes you to the trail head. After three days of hiking with light packs (mules carry most of the weight), you arrive at basecamp Plaza de Mulas (14,400’/4400m), where you will spend three nights for acclimatization. After a rest, the team begins its ascent of the mountain utilizing 2-3 camps, depending on the team’s needs and the weather. Porters are available to carry your personal equipment to the higher camps and back down. Team members often chip in for a porter together.
Lead Guide: Mike Lewis, AMGA Certified Rock and Alpine Guide
Climbers joining this expedition should have taken a 5-day Mountaineering Course with CMS or an approved comparable course with another company, or have ample personal experience camping, using crampons, ice axe, and climbing peaks. Prior experience above 15,000’ on such trips as the Mexico Volcanoes, Ecuador Volcanoes, Mont Blanc, or similar types of expeditions is highly recommended.
Preparation: Expedition members should have good core strength, excellent hiking and cardio-vascular fitness, and the strong mental and physical stamina to move for 12-15 hours in cold weather with short breaks. Training should include many hours each week of hiking with a pack, stairmaster, running, and a daily regimen of core-strengthening exercises such as push-ups, yoga/stretching, cross-fit, etc.
Price includes & Excludes:
- Meals (beginning 1st night in Mendoza to your return to the trailhead after summit day; exception - you will bring 2 high camp dinners that
you are excited to eat such as Ramen Noodles or Backpacker’s Pantry dehydrated meals)
- Lodging (beginning 1st night in Mendoza to your return to the trailhead after summit day)
- In-country transportation - specifically airport pick-up to Mendoza, Mendoza to the trailhead and back to Mendoza
- Group climbing and camping equipment
- Porters for carrying certain group and individual items
- Airline tickets, baggage fees
- Climbing Permit ($850-$1250 depending on season)
- Argentina Reciprocity Fee (Entrance Fee)
- Porters for carrying personal equipment ($250/load)
- Personal climbing equipment
- Hotels, meals, and adventures upon return to Mendoza from the mountain (the itinerary includes back-up summit days in case of weather, so there is potential to arrive early back to Mendoza if those back-up days are not needed)
- Trip Insurance
- Guide gratuities
- Early Departure expenses including mules, transport, flight change fees, hotel charges, meals, etc.
- Non-meal time food purchases
- Basecamp extra services: showers, internet services, art museum
- Expenses beyond CMS’s control
- Change in prices (the climbing permit fees and porter fees may increase)
Day 1: Fly to Mendoza
Day 2: Arrive in Mendoza. Your guides will pick you up from the airport and take you to the hotel. The team will meet for dinner and an expedition welcome briefing. Your guides will do a gear check with everyone. Internet Access is available.
Day 3: Last minute gear purchases and rentals can be made in Mendoza. The guides will pick up the climbing permits. The team will take a 3 hour transport to your hotel in los Penitentes where you will have dinner and rest. Internet Access is poor and not worth planning on.
Day 4: Gear will be divided into bags for the mules to carry. A short transport takes the team to the trailhead. A 3-4hr hike carrying a 15-20lb pack gets you to Confluencia (11,000’/3350m), where you will camp for two nights. The mules will bring all the camping equipment and your personal gear to camp for you. The sights will look familiar if you have seen Seven Years in Tibet with Brad Pitt.
Day 5: Acclimatization Hike to Mirador de la Pared Sur (13,150’/4010m) where you can see the 8,000ft Glacier Central on the South Face of Aconcagua.
Day 6: Hike 6-9 hours up the breathtaking Horcones Valley to the basecamp at the mini-metropolis of Plaza de Mulas (14,400’/4400m) and stay 3 nights.
Day 7: Rest Day. Plaza de Mulas offers dining tents, hot showers ($15), internet service ($15/30min), and an art gallery.
Day 8: Load carry/Acclimatization hike to Plaza Canada (16,670’/5080m).
Day 9: Climb to Plaza Canada. Porters can be hired to carry your personal equipment.
Day 10: Rest Day.
Day 11: Climb to Nido de Condores(18340’/5590m). Porters can be hired to carry your personal equipment.
Day 12: Rest Day.
Day 13: Climb to Camp Colera (19,586’/5970m). Porters can be hired to carry your personal equipment.
Day 14: Summit Day
Day 15: Back-up summit day.
Day 16: Back-up summit day.
Day 17: Descend from Camp Colera to Basecamp Plaza de Mulas.
Day 18: Hike 6 hours from Plaza de Mulas to Confluencia.
Day 19: Hike from Confluencia to the trailhead. Transfer to your hotel in Penitentes.
Day 20: Return to Mendoza. Celebrate your efforts at one of the many sidewalk fine dining restaurants.
Day 21: Transport to Airport. Begin flight home.
Day 22: Arrive home
· 25% deposit due with an accepted application
· Balance due 90 days before Day 1 of trip
Expedition Cancellation Policy:
· A non-refundable $100 application fee will not be refunded from your initial deposit.
· 100% (minus application fee) will be refunded 120 days prior to trip start.
· 50% (minus application fee) will be refunded 91 to 119 days before trip start.
· 25% (minus application fee) will be refunded 46 to 90 days before trip start.
· 0% will be refunded 0 to 45 days before trip start.