Climbing Mount Aconcagua
Aconcagua, in the Argentinian Andes, is the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas. If you've got 3 weeks, done lots of trekking and ideally have some high altitude experience, then this might be your chance to climb one of the '7 summits'. Find expedition by the 3 main routes up the mountain: the Normal Route, the Traverse and the Glacier route.
Normal Route: Trekking... with altitude
Climb up the Normal route of Aconcagua with a highly experienced local operator. This 20 day trip includes an acclimatisation climb to the summit of El Plomo (at 5,430m).
Climb Aconcagua via the classic 'normal' route with one of the two original operators in Aconcagua. You'll summit Cerro Bonete (5,004m), also in the Aconcagua National Park, as a warm-up.
All Aconcagua operators will use porters and mules to carry group equipment to base camp, but on this trip you'll have the option of porter support from Base Camp up to the higher camps. This way you'll save your all ...
Traverse to summit: 360 degree perspective
Traverse the Polish Glacier, with one of the two original operators to guide climbers up Aconcagua 30 years ago.
Traverse the Polish Glacier to reach the summit, and see all sides of Mount Aconcagua. This operator will not take you unless you have experience of both altitude and ice axe/crampons, so you can expect high standards from the other ...
Climb Aconcagua with a highly experienced Scottish mountaineering and skiing company. Their itinerary allows for either the Traverse or the Polish Glacier depending on the group, and includes a training climb in Cordon del Plata at the start of the ...
Polish Glacier: technical glacier climb to summit
With a summit day that involves an ascent of over 1,000m over the glacier, your guide and the logistics are all important. You'll be supported by an American company that specialises in Mountaineering in the Andes and their guides are ...
Tackle the direct Polish Glacier route with a local specialist that has been supporting climbers up Aconcagua for over 30 years.
Take the more direct and technical approach to the summit of Aconcagua, via the Polish Glacier, with an American Guide/Operator than runs mountaineering expeditions on all 7 Summits.
Aconcagua: Your questions answered
Why do it?
Aconcagua is one of the '7 summits' - the highest peak in each continent. In fact it's the highest mountain in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres. And yet, it is accessible to amateurs - fit, strong and resolute amateurs, but amateurs nevertheless. This is your chance to don the crampons and ice axe, feel the exhilaration of climbing above the clouds, and earn the right to say that you've climbed one of the '7 summits'.
How high is it?
Aconcagua stands at 6,962 metres above sea level. At this height the atmospheric pressure is just 40% of what it is at sea level. There's no doubt that oxygen is scarce, you'll need to acclimatise, and a few people will simply not be physiologically able to handle it.
Who's it for? What experience / fitness do I need?
Aconcagua is described as 'Everyman's Everest' because it is not a highly technical climb (the ‘Normal’ route at least), and most people are able to acclimatise sufficiently over 2 to 3 weeks to make the summit.
Trivia: The youngest person to climb Acocagua was 10 years old. The oldest person to climb Aconcagua was 87 years old.
That may either give you the confidence that you might be able to tackle it, or horrify you as to what some parents, and children, will let their loved ones do!
At a minimum you'll have some experience of multi-day trekking in mountainous terrain, carrying a full pack and have trained to a high level of fitness. And, ideally you'll know how your body responds at altitudes over 4,000 metres. To tackle the Polish Glacier route you’ll have some experience of trekking on ice / with crampons.
Are there different routes up?
Yes, there are at least 36 different identified routes up the mountain, some of which (especially those on the South face) are some of the toughest climbs in South America. However, there are three main routes which are more suitable for the rest of us:
1. the "Normal Route" – technically the least challenging option, you’ll approach via the Horcones valley (in the West), set basecamp at Plaza de Mulas and summit from the North.
2. the “Polish Traverse” – you’ll trek to the base of the Polish Glacier, and traverse around the mountain to join the final stretch of the Normal route, having approached from the Vacas valley to the East. You’ll use Plaza Argentina as your basecamp, and normally descend via the Normal Route, giving you a full 360 degree perspective on the mountain
3. the “Polish Glacier” or “Polish Direct” - as above you’ll approach from the East, then set high camp at the base of the Polish Glacier and climb up the Glacier on summit day. This requires previous experience of high altitude mountaineering.
Where would I start from? Nearest airport?
Mount Aconcagua is in Argentina, so climbers normally fly into Mendoza, which is 70 miles away. From Mendoza you'll drive to a village called Penitentes and the Aconcagua Provincial Park. There are no direct flights from the UK to Mendoza - you'll have to go via Buenos Aires, Santiago or the US. The mountain is very close the Chilean border, and actually only 50 miles from Santiago as the crow flies, however it's normally simpler to arrive and get there through Argentina.
When can I go?
You obviously need all the good weather conditions and daylight you can get, so the window is from late November to early March. The chart below will give you an idea as to when people visited the park in 2009/10.
How long does it take? Do I need to acclimatise?
Most trips run for a minimum of 18 days, from Mendoza.
The UIAA (the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation) recommends, for the "Normal Route", taking 15 days once you arrive at BaseCamp (this is called Plaza de Mulas and sits at 4,350m). This allows 3 days for the right conditions for a summit attempt. Most operators will allow 5 days from landing in Mendoza to getting to base camp.
The more time you take to acclimatise the more likely you are to both succeed, and relish your conquest.
How dangerous is this?
Quoting from the UIAA: High altitude illnesses such as AMS, HAPE and HACE are seen on a daily basis during the busiest times of the season. Given the weather conditions close to the summit, cold injuries are common too. Each year a small number of deaths occur. Many of these are altitude related and can be avoided.
Do I need a climbing permit?
Yes, you do need a permit to climb and use the National park, and most operators do not include this in their fee. We mark out those where it is included.
The cost varies depending on the time in the season.
- To 1st Dec: £100
- To 13th Dec: £200
- To 31st Jan: £300
- To 20th Feb: £200
- After: £100
Estimates based on current exchange rate
Do I need a guide?
Map showing key landmarks for Cimbing Mount Aconcagua
Landmarks visited by Mountaineering trips in Aconcagua
Questions? Need help?
Ask a question on our Adventure Planner
Call us on: 0117 369 0196 (we're open 9am to 6pm, 7 days a week)
Email us at: email@example.com
Contact us on Skype: swoop_in
Guide to Patagonia
Patagonia spans over 1,000 miles north to south and landscapes ranging from forests, to glaciers, to volcanoes and deserts. Read our Patagonia Guide to find out: how to get there, when to go, what to see and how to find the best trip. Or find out about:
We help people organise adventure travel holidays in Patagonia, just Patagonia. Our exclusive focus on this incredible corner of world means that we've got the knowledge and the relationships to find just the right trip for everyone that we speak to. Patagonia is a vast region with all sorts of possibilities and we take real pleasure in helping people find the best adventure for their experience, dates, budget and appetite for adventure.