1. Group meets in Mendoza, Argentina (2,428 ft.). Evening dinner in this charming city that features excellent inexpensive restaurants with delicious Argentine beef and fine, excellently priced wines. Night at an excellent 3-4 star hotel.
2. We obtain our climbing permits, which must be done in person in downtown Mendoza, after which we drive to Puente Del Inca (8,924 ft.) and we spend the night at a very nice hostel with hot showers and a great restaurant.
3. We load up our mules and drive 3.6 miles to our trailhead. Carrying only daypacks, we hike 4.5 miles to Confluencia camp (10,892 ft). It's important to spend two nights here to acclimatize gradually and avoid altitude problems at base camp (14,300') or higher in the mountain. Our mules meet us at Confluencia camp with our gear.
4. Acclimatization hike. Today we hike up the lower Horcones Valley, alongside the glacier to the base of the impressive south face of Aconcagua. This 10,000 ft. vertical wall of rock and hanging glaciers is truly spectacular. Our hike today takes us up to approximately 13,800 ft., then we descend to spend our second night at Confluencia.
5. Hike to base camp. This is our first hard day on the mountain. While the mules carry our gear, we hike 9.8 miles and 3500 vertical feet to base camp (14,300 ft.).
6. Rest / Acclimatization day at base camp
7. Carry food, fuel and hardware to Nido de Condores (Camp 2 - 18,200 ft.).
8. Easy acclimatization day. We visit the hotel Refugio, which is located less than a mile from Base Camp. For those interested, this is a chance to have a nice hot shower.
9. Carry food and fuel to camp Canada (Camp 1 - 16, 108 ft.).
10. Rest Day.
11. We pack our tents, stoves and personal gear and move up to Camp 1.
12. Move to Camp 2.
13. Rest day or carry to Berlin.
14. Today we pack our camp and do a single carry to our high camp, Camp Berlin, at 19,600’.
15. Summit Day. Our summit push is most likely the hardest day on the mountain. We climb almost 4000 vertical feet. The final 1300 vertical feet are negotiated by climbing the infamous 33º chute called the Canaleta. If covered in snow, it presents a steep snow climb, but without snow it is a physically, more than technically, challenging scree and loose rock ascent. Once we reach the Cresta del Guanaco, we follow the ridge to the higher north summit of Aconcagua. At 22,841 ft., it is the highest point in the western hemisphere and outside of Asia. The views are incredible! We descend to Berlin Camp and if possible, to Nido de Condores for a better night's sleep.
16. Descend to Base Camp.
17. Hike out to the trailhead. Being acclimatized, it is now much easier to hike down 14 miles and 4700 vertical feet in 1 day. This can also be done after a rest day at Base camp.
18. Drive to Mendoza and celebrate with a wonderful dinner downtown.
19. Extra days in case of bad weather, or more time needed to acclimatize on the mountain.
20. Fly back to the U.S.