Cerro Aconcagua: 22,841 ft.

Truly the “Roof of the Americas,” Cerro Aconcagua, at 22,841 ft. (6,962 meters) is not only the highest mountain in South America, but also the highest peak outside of Asia. The name Aconcagua is most likely a derivative of the Incan words Akon Cahuak, meaning Stone Sentinel. Located on the Chilean – Argentine border, it is easily accessed through the Argentine city of Mendoza.

The Mountain Trip Difference

Mountain Trip brings our high level of personal service to South America. In the age of big box commercial groups, our small team, personally tailored expeditions really stand out. We completely restructured our Aconcagua program in 2009 and have evolved it in subsequent years with the goal to provide our climbers with an unparalleled level of service, aimed at giving you the best chance for success.

We have chosen to only offer expeditions via the Ameghino Valley Route, which we feel is the best non-technical route on the mountain for numerous reasons.

Extra planned contingency days and included support for our upper camps give our climbers a better opportunity to acclimatize and prepare for the rigors of summit day. Our program also lessens the workload of the expedition, and increases your enjoyment of the dramatic landscape through which you are climbing.

Why is our Ameghino Valley Route THE best choice?

Acclimatization. We plan extra days into our itinerary to acclimatize at Base Camp, and make three higher camps instead of the traditional two camps on the Polish Traverse route. By spending extra time in the relative comfort of the Plaza Argentina Base Camp, we help develop a solid foundation of acclimatization. Acclimatization is of utmost importance to succeed at high altitude and we feel that one of the keys to our success has been our acclimatization schedule.

Supported Upper Camps. We stock our upper camps with food, fuel and equipment, so that our climbers are carrying much less weight on their backs than unsupported climbers. Our goal is for our climbers to carry no more than 35 lbs (16Kg) as they ascend and descend the mountain. This lessens the physical stress which could help you acclimatize better, and definitely makes for a more enjoyable experience.

Three Camps. The Ameghino Valley route enables us to utilize three camps on the upper mountain, which lessens the workload of each day, eases the acclimatization strain, and enables us to leave the crowds of climbers headed to the traditional Polish Glacier High Camp.

The Benefits of Traversing. Literally all of our climbers have expressed how much they really enjoyed traversing the mountain. The juxtaposition of the Vacas and Horcones Valleys made for a very special conclusion of a true circuit hike, instead of just walking out the valley you had seen on your approach. There are tangible benefits as well. After summiting from our White Rocks High Camp, it is much shorter to descend the Normal Route to the tent city at the Plaza de Mulas Base Camp than to retrace our route. We spend the night in Plaza de Mulas following our descent and have our expedition gear ferried out on mules the next day, allowing us to enjoy the walk out with only light daypacks.

DAY 1: MEET IN MENDOZA.  Our group will meet in the small, lively city of Mendoza, Argentina, capital of the world-renowned Argentine wine country. The guides will check everyone’s gear and you can pick up any last minute necessities. We’ll all go out for a sumptuous Welcome Dinner. Bring your appetite and be prepared to eat some of the best steaks you’ve ever tasted!

Aconcagua muleDAY 2: DRIVE TO PENITENTES.  We’ll pick up our climbing permits in the morning and then drive 2.5 hours to the ski resort of Penitentes where we will organize our gear for the “arrieros” (mule drivers) to carry in on our three day approach to Base Camp. High Season permit cost was increased to roughly $900 in 2013, for non-Argentine residents. We’ll eat and sleep one last night in a hotel at 9,000 ft (2750 m) before hitting the trail in the morning.

DAY 3: HIKE TO PAMPAS DE LENAS.  After a short drive to the trail head, we set out from the mouth of the Vacas Valley. About six hours of hiking through a desert valley (reminiscent of parts of the Grand Canyon) will get us to “Pampas de Lenas,” the first camp on our approach, located at about 9,000 ft (2750 m). We will dine in true gaucho style, with food prepared over an open fire by our arrieros.

Aconcagua campDAY 4: HIKE TO CASA DE PIEDRA.  A similar day of hiking with light day packs rewards us with a fantastic view of Aconcagua! We’ll make camp at 10,000 ft (3050 m), at the junction of the Relinchos and Vacas Valleys. An old smuggler’s hut was erected here decades ago, and gives the spot its name, Casa de Piedra (House of Stone). Again, we’ll grill dinner over a fire and enjoy the congeniality of our arriero hosts.

DAY 5: HIKE TO BASE CAMP.  An early morning crossing of the Rio Vacas on horseback will deposit us at the mouth of the Relinchos Valley. The trail rises steeply from the mouth of the relatively narrow valley and involves some mildly exposed side-hilling as it climbs up into the broader upper stretches of the Relinchos. We’ll probably need to cross the river at some point, so be prepared for some chilly feet. The 6-7 hour hike culminates at the Plaza Argentina base camp, where we can relax with cold beverages and warm hospitality. This is a tougher day than the previous two and as base camp is located at 13,800’ (4200 m), it also involves a lot of elevation gain.

DAY 6: REST / ACCLIMATIZATION DAY. After the altitude gains of the previous day, we will give our bodies a chance to adjust to these new heights. We will use this day to sort gear and supplies for our push to the upper mountain.

base campDAY 7: LOAD CARRYING DAY TO CAMP 1. We’ll load up our personal kits with everything we won’t need for the next couple of days at base camp and carry it all up to Camp 1 at 16,300 (4970 m). Group gear, food and fuel will already be stocked at Camp 1, so your load should not be in excess of 35 lbs (16 Kg), and might be considerably less. The trail ascends along the side of a steep gully, next to a dead glacier covered in rocks. Fields of penitents (tall fins of snow formed by wind and solar radiation) line the gully and a 500’ (160 m) high field guards the access to Camp 1. Winding our way through this is a fun, memorable stretch of climbing. Have your camera ready!

DAY 8: REST/ACCLIMATIZATION DAY AT PLAZA ARGENTINA. We’ve just climbed to 16,300 feet in only five days, so we are going to slow things down a bit and allow our bodies to more fully develop a solid foundation of acclimatization.

DAY 9: MOVE UP TO CAMP 1. We’ll pack up the remainder of our personal kits, sleeping bags and tents and head up to Camp 1. This only takes a few hours so we’ll have plenty of time to fortify our camp sites against the ever-possible “viento blanco” or white wind that can plague camps at any elevation from this point upwards.

DAY 10: LOAD CARRYING TO CAMP 2. Again, our food and supplies will mostly be stocked at Camp 2, but we will carry up our extra personal kits and gain some acclimatization in the process. Packs should weigh less than 30 lbs (14 Kg). The initial hour of hiking is visible from Camp 1 and ascends the broad bowl of scree that comprises the uppermost portion of the Relinchos Valley, and was once buried under the now mostly dead Relinchos Glacier. Above this point, most climbers will bear west toward their high camp at the base of the Polish Glacier at 19,200 feet. Opting for the path less traveled, we will cut north and follow the beautiful Ameghino Valley, that separates the stunning 19,616 foot Cerro Ameghino (5978 m) from its taller counterpart, Aconcagua. Easy hiking and one “glacier” crossing will quickly put us at our Camp 2 at just shy of 18,000’ (5480 m).

AconcaguaDAY 11: MOVE UP TO CAMP 2 (HELICOPTER CAMP). The views here are staggering! The summit of Cerro Ameghino is just to our east, to the north we can see the 22,000 ft. (6700 m) Cerro Mercedario dominating the horizon and the array of peaks above the Gussfeldt Glacier to our north are pretty inspiring. This move only takes a few hours, so we can take our time and make certain that our camp is fully fortified and still enjoy the evening light, when Ameghino is bathed in alpenglow. The name Helicopter Camp comes from the bits and pieces of a crashed helicopter, which still adorn the camp, more than a dozen years after the crash.

DAY 12: REST/ACCLIMATIZATION DAY AT CAMP 2. We might make a carry to High Camp, which is an easy, quick (2.5 hour) hike with light packs.

DAY 13: MOVE TO HIGH CAMP AT PIEDRAS BLANCAS (WHITE ROCKS). We climb steeply out of Camp 2 and then ascend gradually up to a shallow basin, filled with bizarre purple and white rocks. Weaving through the rocks makes for some surreal hiking. At the top of the basin, perched on the north ridge of Aconcagua, is our High Camp.

DAY 14: SUMMIT DAY! A pre-dawn start is necessary for this, the longest day of our trip. We’ll work out way up toward the summit, past the wreckage of the old “Independencia Hut” to a rising traverse that leads into the broad gully known as the “Canaleta.” Depending on conditions, ice axes, crampons and ropes might be necessary along the traverse. Above the Canaleta, we’ll skirt along the south ridge, with views down the tremendous South Face of the mountain, to the final rocky steps up to the summit! Save some energy for the descent, keeping in mind that the summit is only halfway today. Round trip time can take anywhere from 7-12 hours, depending on conditions. This is a tough, long day.

DAY 15-17: CONTINGENCY DAYS. These are extra days built into the schedule for weather or other delays. You have come a long way and put a lot of energy toward a summit attempt. This extra time is designed to set yourself up for success.

DAY 18: DESCEND TO PLAZA DE MULAS.  After a well deserved night’s sleep, we’ll break camp, load up, and drop down the Normal Route to the Plaza de Mulas Base Camp. The typically huge loads will be minimized by our employment of porters to help carry our kit down to Plaza de Mulas. With 30 lb packs, the descent only takes a few hours. Plaza de Mulas is a veritable tent city with restaurants, taverns and satellite phone and internet service. There’s even a hotel on the far side of the valley! We’ll have a celebratory meal in a kitchen tent, seated at tables, and sleep deeply in the relatively thick air of 14,000 feet (4260 m).

descentDAY 19: HIKE OUT THE HORCONES VALLEY.  The hike out the Horcones Valley goes relatively quickly as it’s mostly a gradual descent and we only have our daypacks to carry. Mules will carry out the majority of our kit. The valley is huge and fascinating, both aesthetically as well as geologically. About 5 hours into our hike, we will stop at the Confluencia Camp for a nice lunch break (pizzas!). At the mouth we’ll check out with the park rangers and be driven back to the hotel at Penitentes for showers and a celebratory meal!

Day 20: BACK TO MENDOZA. Though it is sometimes possible to change flights in order to fly out this day, it is worth taking some time to explore the area. Touring some of the local vineyards gives an insight into the passion with which Mendocinos apply to their wine making. There is also some good whitewater to raft or just take in the sights and sounds of this beautiful city.

**** As with any itinerary for an expedition in the mountains, there are many, many factors which could cause us to stray from this schedule. Flexibility is a crucial character trait in a good mountaineer!

The following is a general list of required gear for climbing Aconcagua. Climbers joining Mountain Trip on an expedition will receive an updated, comprehensive equipment list that may supersede this list.

Many of the items on the list need to fit you well in order for you to fully enjoy your experience on the mountain. Please plan ahead with equipment purchased for your trip so you can be certain that your gear fits you well. 16,000 feet on Aconcagua is not the place to discover that your pack is too small for your torso, or that your boots give you blisters. Recommended items reflect the opinions of our guides. We have used and have faith in all of our recommendations, but they may not necessarily fit or work for you.

Call or email us with any gear questions. We want you to be as prepared as possible for your expedition.

Please follow this list closely and do not hesitate to call us for clarifications or to solicit an opinion about anything you are considering. There is a limited selection of gear available in Mendoza but please do not plan on picking anything up down there. Only bring quality gear that is in very good condition on your expedition.

Footwear

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Trekking Shoes or Boots for the ApproachComfortable, well broken in trekking shoes or light weight boots are critical, as we will hike a lot of miles in them before we start climbing. It can be very hot on the approach, so look for breathable shoes. The trail is quite rocky so consider a pair with a dense (plastic or similar) midsole for extra protection. As we will carry these to 20,000', you might not want heavy, leather hiking boots. Trail runners or light hikers are adequate for most climbers.
  • Whatever fits well!
Trekking SocksTrekking socks do not need to be as thick or warm as mountaineering socks. Most trekkers prefer a light to medium weight, wool or wool/synthetic blend sock for use with trekking shoes. Some trekkers are fans of using a sock system of a very light synthetic sock with their light socks. Make certain that your socks do not make your trekking shoes too tight, as this will result in cold toes. Aconcagua climbers should bring 2 - 3 pair for the trekking portion of the climb. Nepal trekkers should bring 4 - 5 pair.
Mountaineering Socks for AconcaguaModern mountaineering boots do not require multiple socks as did boots some years ago. Most climbers prefer a medium to heavy weight, wool or wool/synthetic blend sock for use with mountaineering boots. Some climbers are fans of using a sock system of a very light synthetic sock with their heavier wool socks. Make certain that your socks fit well with your boots and do not make them too tight. Aconcagua climbers should bring 3+ pairs of socks for your mountain boots in addition to your trekking socks.
Mountaineering BootsModern Mountaineering Boots fall into two categories, traditional double boots and the newer triple boot systems with integrated gaiters. Either variety works well, however the “triple boots” are lighter and arguably simpler. Whichever you decide to use, the goal is to have warm, comfortable feet! Try on a variety of boots as they all fit differently and get the one that fits well. Consider your future mountaineering objectives when purchasing boots as well.

Recommended Triple Boots: La Sportiva OLYMPUS MONS EVO, Boreal G1 Expedition, Scarpa PHANTOM 8000 or Lowa 8000 GTX

Recommended Double Boots: La Sportiva BARUNTSE, or SPANTIK, Boreal G1 Lite or the Scarpa “INVERNO” with High Altitude Liners or aftermarket liners.

Guides' Tip: A great upgrade to any plastic boot are the Denali Liners by Intuition. These are lighter and warmer than almost any stock liners. They are heat molded to fit your feet and are worth every penny.
GaitersAny height gaiters will work for most trips, but tall versions like Black Diamond’s “Frontpoint Gore-tex” are better for snow and for protecting your pants while ice climbing.

Torso Layers

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
VestA lightweight down or synthetic filled vest can be a nice addition for colder climbs or for those bringing a lighter weight expedition parka. We are fans of the ultralight down vests or the lightweight Nano vests from Patagonia. This is an optional layer for most climbers.
Wind ShirtMany high alpine peaks are cold and dry. If you are not getting rained on or experiencing wet snow, perhaps you do not need a waterproof jacket? We are huge fans of very lightweight windshirts for peaks like Denali and Aconcagua. Weighing just a few ounces, these can be carried in your pocket or in the lid of your pack for rapid deployment. They can replace your hard shell on many mountains, saving you a half a pound or more.
“T” or Sun ShirtSynthetic or synthetic/cotton blend shirts are nice for hiding from the sun. Long sleeve "sun hoodies" are becoming increasingly popular, as they provide a high level of sun protection. Other people favor ventilated, button up shirts- either long or short-sleeved. Whatever you choose, consider it as part of your system, and try it out before your trip.
Soft Shell JacketMany big, cold mountains do not require a fully waterproof jacket. Soft shell jackets are much more breathable and comfortable than Gore-tex, and we are fans whenever they are appropriate. Soft shell is a general term for highly breathable layers that still cut most, if not all of the wind. Some trips require a hard shell down low, but can be climbed using soft shells higher up on the mountain.
Hard Shell JacketThis jacket should be large enough to go over your fleece clothing layer. You do not need the burliest Gore-Tex jacket you can find, and we prefer the lightest weight versions. Many people are climbing peaks such as Denali, Aconcagua and Everest using very lightweight, windproof, water resistant shells, rather than fully waterproof jackets. Other trips, such as Carstensz Pyramid and Ecuador, are notoriously wet and absolutely need waterproof layers. Long expeditions like Everest also need this layer. Contact us to see if your particular trip needs this layer for your trip.
“Puffy,” Synthetic JacketSize this layer to fit over your light fleece and wind shell. We are fans of the puffy, Primaloft jackets because they are lighter and warmer than thick fleece and compress down much smaller. A hood is a recommended feature in this layer, but is not necessary.
Light Fleece TopYou'll want a light fleece top in a weight similar to Capilene 4 from Patagonia, or Powerstretch from Polartec. A rather deep zip t-neck really helps with ventilating and we are fans of a hooded version for this layer.
Base Layer Top(1 or 2 sets) Synthetic layers work well, such as Capilene 2 or 3 from Patagonia. There are some really nice Merino wool options on the market as well. One set it sufficient for most expeditions and for overnight trips, however; the choice as to whether to bring a second set is a personal one, based on your level of comfort with wearing the same clothes for days or weeks at a time.
Expedition ParkaPatagonia, Feathered Friends, Mountain Hardwear, Marmot, and The North Face all make good parkas. There are some synthetic options; however, down is recommended as it is lighter and less bulky. You do not need a full-on 8000meter parka for peaks like Denali and Aconcagua, but you should have a warm one with a hood. A suitable parka will be built with "box baffled construction."

Leg Layers

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Hard Shell, Waterproof PantsIf there is a probability or good possibility of getting wet, you will need to have waterproof breathable pants. Also known as Hard Shell Pants, these should be as light weight as possible, and should have fully separating side zippers, so you can put them on and remove them over your boots. Gore Tex is commonly used, but there are a number of other materials that work fine. On some peaks, you might carry hard shell pants for the lower mountain, but switch to soft shell pants for the colder and drier upper mountain.
UnderwearConsider synthetic or Merino wool for your underwear. Most longer trips, such as Aconcagua or Denali, typically require 3-4 pair, but choose your quantity based on your personal level of comfort. Ladies might consider bringing additional pairs.
Down or Puffy Expedition PantsOn summit day or on a cold morning, having a warm layer to pull on over all your other leg layers is important. This layer should be down or synthetic (ie. Primaloft) filled and must have fully separating side zippers. Practice putting them on and taking them off while wearing your boots before you leave for your expedition.
Soft Shell PantsWe are fans of soft shell pants for use in the mountains. Also known as stretch-woven pants, these are breathable and comfortable enough to wear day in and day out on most expeditions. They cut most of the wind and are water resistant, meaning you can often use them in place of waterproof (not very breathable) hard shell pants on many climbs. On peaks like Denali and Aconcagua, you can wear them in lieu of your hard shell pants for much of the expedition.
Light Fleece BottomsAs the air thins and the wind picks up, you'll want a bit more insulation on your legs. Light fleece bottoms, such as the Capilene 4 bottoms from Patagonia are breathable and have a broad comfort range, so you can wear them all day long, even if the sun pokes out from the clouds. If you tend to run cold, consider thicker fleece, such as Powerstretch from Polartec, which most outdoor clothing manufacturers also use.
Base Layer BottomsLightweight synthetic or Merino wool bottoms are a good choice for this layer. Synthetic seems to wick a bit better and is the choice of most of our guides, but Merino tends to be more fragrance-free, and many people appreciate that quality. One pair is sufficient for overnight climbs and most expeditions, even longer climbs such as Denali and Aconcagua. Everest climbers should bring two pair.

Head and Hands

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Ski GogglesThese are necessary for use while traveling during storms or during really cold spells. These must have double lenses and provide full UV protection. Fogging is a real challenge, so the “Turbo Fan” goggles are worth the investment! Select a general purpose lens that will provide some protection in bright light, but not be so dark as to make them useless on a cloudy or flat-light day.
Hand WarmersBring 4 -6+ sets of these disposable insurance policies, depending on where you are climbing. Make certain that your hand warmers are relatively new, as they do go bad over time.
Glacier GlassesGlacier glasses are most commonly used on big mountains, but some wrap around, sport-style glasses also work well. Whichever you bring, they must have side protection and filter 100% UVA and UVB rays. Increasingly, sun glasses are divided into categories of light transmission, and for snowy or glaciated climbs, you will want glasses rated to Category 3 or higher.
Face MaskCheeks and the tip of your nose are notoriously difficult to keep warm, especially in a biting wind. Neoprene face masks do a great job of protecting those exposed surfaces.
Sun HatBaseball type or wide brimmed sun hats are required for protection against the intense sunshine found on many peaks. You can combine a baseball hat with a bandana for good sun protection or go for a wide brimmed version to protect your face, ears and neck.
Warm HatBring one warm hat or two hats of different weights. Wool or fleece are fine, but your hat must provide ear protection from the cold. Windstopper fabric over your ears can greatly reduce your ability to hear things like rockfall or your rope mate calling to you.
Buff Neck GaiterBuff is a brand of light weight neck gaiters that have grown to become a staple of every guide's kit. These are amazingly versatile, and can be worn as a hat, a neck gaiter or pulled over your face for protection from the wind or sun. They come in many thicknesses nowadays, but we prefer the original weight for its versatility.
Summit MittensThick, warm mittens made from down, synthetic fill, or a combination of insulation are crucial for summit morning on many big, cold mountains. Most come with some form of retention straps, which can help reduce the chance of losing them to a gust of wind or in the event of a fall. Select a pair that fit well, with enough room to wiggle your fingers, but not so big that you cannot perform basic tasks while wearing them. Good mittens are expensive, but how much is one finger worth?
Light Weight GlovesWhen the sun comes out on a glacier, the temperature can soar. Light weight, soft shell gloves are great for keeping the sun off your hands, while still giving you a bit of protection from the wind and cold.
Medium Weight GlovesMid-weight gloves have become increasingly popular in recent years, gaining traction on the traditional heavyweight gloves as the go-to hand protection on many trips. Appropriate gloves will have light synthetic fill and are often waterproof.

Sleeping Gear

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Foam Sleeping PadBringing two sleeping pads, one closed cell foam and the other an inflatable pad, will provide additional comfort and insulation, as well as a bit of insurance in case you have a catastrophic failure of your inflatable pad.
Inflatable Sleeping PadInflatable pads have improved tremendously in recent years. Whether you choose a self inflating pad or one that requires some pumping to inflate, select a pad that is warm and comfortable.
Aconcagua Sleeping BagSuitable bags for Aconcagua should range from -15 F (-29C) to -25 F (-40C). If you sleep cold, consider a warmer bag. Down bags are preferable, and should be your choice unless you have a compelling reason to bring a synthetic bag. Sleeping bag systems or over bags are generally a compromise and not usually recommended.

Packs and Duffels

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Summit PackLightweight packs are nice for the summit push, as they can save significant weight over many expedition packs, even after stripping the latter down to their bare bones. Look for one that is at least 20L in size, and make certain it will fit all of your warm layers, 2 liters of water, and that it has the means to attach your ice axe and crampons.
Large Zippered DuffelYou'll want an XL sized (90 – 120L) duffel for your expedition. Lightweight and inexpensive bags work fine, although water resistant bags like the Patagonia Black Hole Bag 120L are nice for their toughness to weight ratio. A quality bag can work for a sled bag on Denali, a mule bag on Aconcagua and an all around travel bag.
Backpack for AconcaguaLook for a pack that has a capacity of around 85 liters. There are some really nice, lightweight packs on the market that have sufficient capacity, but won't add much weight to your load. Light weight packs can be used in lieu of an approach and summit pack in some cases, saving you even more weight overall.

Climbing Gear

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Ice AxeA general use, mountaineering axe is sufficient for this climb. Some axes are much lighter than others, so select for weight as well as a size for your height. Most climbers do well with a 60 - 75 cm axe. On less technical routes, a longer axe can act like a walking stick on flatter terrain.

Other

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Several Good Jokes!"A Moose walks into a bar..."
GPS Tracking DeviceSpot GPS devices have been the standard, but the DeLorme inReach has been increasingly popular, as you can send and receive text messages with it. We carry a tracking device on every trip, but you might consider bringing one as well. Again- consider how you will keep it powered over the course of your expedition.
Personal Music PlayeriPods and the like are really nice on a long trip. At altitude, hard drive based devices stop working, so make certain that you bring a flash drive (solid state) music player. Also consider how you will keep it charged, and bring whatever is necessary to keep you in time to the beat.
Small KnifeA small knife or small multi-tool is also handy to have. One per tent is sufficient. There is emphasis on the word small when it comes to multi-tools!
LighterYour guides will have plenty of lighters, but it is nice to have one lighter per tent, as cord always needs to be cut and melted.
Altimeter WatchAn altimeter watch can be fun to have on an expedition to keep track of your ascent and to watch for changes in barometric pressure.
Journal (and pencil)Expeditions can be a great time for reflection and a journal can be a nice way to wax poetic or just keep track of what you did each day. Keep it small and leave the leather bound version at home.
Book(s) or E-ReaderThere is a lot of "down time" on an expedition, even when you have good weather. A book or two can help pass the time. E-Readers have gained popularity in recent years, as they enable you to have dozens (or hundreds) of books at your disposal. E-Readers present certain challenges, but can be a great way to keep your sanity during a long storm. Consider how you will recharge your e-Reader.
CameraSmall, light weight point and shoot cameras are most popular among climbers. Be sure to bring extra memory and batteries!
Personal Medical KitMountain Trip's guides will have fairly comprehensive medical kits developed by our Medical Director, but we encourage each climber to bring a small, personal kit. Items to consider bringing include: blister treatment and prevention, pain relievers, and antacids. Presctiption medications should be based on consultation with your personal physician. Suggested drugs for altitude expeditions include: Diamox (acetazolomide) 125 mg, Decadron (dexamthazone) 4 mg, Nifedipine XR 30 mg, and a couple of antibiotics for respiratory and gastrointestinal issues.

Refunds and Cancellations

Mountain Trip recognizes how difficult and disappointing it can be for climbers who must cancel expeditions which they have planned for a long time. Team members must also recognize that, due to the nature of planning expeditions and dealing with governmental permits and regulations, Mountain Trip also accrues significant expenses in the months prior to expedition departure dates. We must therefore adhere to a strict refund policy for all climbers. Trip cancellation and travel insurance is generally available for all expeditions. U.S. and Canadian residents should contact us for more information regarding travel insurance. Our refund and cancellation policy is outlined below.

• All expeditions require a deposit to secure a spot on the team. Your submission of a deposit constitutes your acceptance of this Fee Schedule, Refund and Cancellation Policy.

• All deposits for Aconcagua expeditions include a non-refundable $750 administration fee (we highly recommend that you consider Trip Cancellation Insurance to protect the administration fee, if not the entire cost of your climb).

• Final payments for expeditions must be received 120 days prior to the Team Meeting Day.

• Failure to pay expedition fees by the date they are due constitutes cancellation of your spot on the team and forfeiture of your deposit.

• Any cancellation 120+ days before your Meeting Day will be refunded in full, less the administration fee.

• If you cancel 120-90 days before your Meeting Day, you are eligible for a refund of 50% of any monies paid, less the deposit.

• No refunds will be provided for cancellations occurring within the last 89 days prior to an expedition.

• All requests for refunds must be made in writing and received in our Colorado office.

• If you register for a climb within 90 days of the Team Meeting Date, expedition fees will be due in full to secure your spot on the team.

• Mountain Trip reserves the right to cancel an expedition prior to the departure date for any reason. In such an event, all monies collected by Mountain Trip from team members for that expedition shall be promptly refunded. This is the extent of our financial liability.

 

Inclusions and Exclusions

Included in the Trip Fee:

• Unlimited pre-trip access to our office resources

• US trained, Mountain Trip guide(s)

• Airport transfers

• Up to two nights accommodation in Mendoza (shared room)

• Welcome dinner in Mendoza

• Up to two nights accommodation and all meals in Penitentes (shared room)

• Scheduled mule services for the team

• Trailhead transfers

• All food for the approach and climb, including grilled dinners on the approach, full Base Camp meal services, and delicious on-mountain meals

• Porter services for all on-mountain camps, sufficient to limit your load to 35 pounds or less

• All group equipment (tents, kitchen, ropes, med kit, satellite phone)

• Custom expedition dispatch blog for your climb, complete with podcasts from the mountain

• Assistance arranging for post-climb activities such as wine tours, rafting, etc.

 

Not Included in the Trip Fee:

• Flights to and from Argentina

• Personal clothing and equipment

• Meals beyond the welcome dinner in Mendoza

• Additional nights’ accommodation in Argentina

• Mountaineering fee ($400- $650, subject to change) paid to the Argentine Park Service

• Base Camp showers and beverages beyond those provided in our meal program

• Additional porter services

• Travel and/or rescue insurance

• Costs incurred due to evacuation or unplanned departure from the mountain due to illness or other problems

• Costs incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of Mountain Trip

• Customary gratuities for guides and local staff

• Costs as a result of force majeure

 

General Agreement Concerning Services to be Provided And Responsibilities of Team Members

When registering for an expedition with Mountain Trip we want to help make sure you understand the services we are providing and the services you are responsible for.

Transportation is incidental

The main purpose of becoming a team member is to join us on an expedition in the mountains. As such any transportation we provide or that you may contract for on your own is incidental to the trip. We suggest that you make sure you have time built into your itinerary for delays.

Transportation to and from your destination

We will designate a specific Team Meeting Day for your expedition. Transportation to the meeting point on your Team Meeting Day is to be provided by you. You must arrive in time to be ready to participate in a team meeting at the appointed time on the Team Meeting Day for your expedition. Expedition climbing is very dynamic and we will provide you with a recommendation as to when you should book your flights to and from your destination. We suggest you book a ticket that allows you to change your flight with little effort or cost.

Lodging off the mountain

Mountain Trip will provide lodging per the Inclusions and Exclusions section above. Any additional lodging is your responsibility. Don’t worry about booking a room after your expedition. We generally don’t know how long we’ll be in the mountains, and we can help arrange lodging when we return to “civilization.”

Responsibilities of Team Members

You are ultimately responsible for your own well-being, including making all necessary preparations to ensure good health and physical conditioning. You are responsible for understanding the conditions that may exist on the climb and choosing a climb that is appropriate for your abilities and interests. You are responsible for having knowledge of all pre-departure information and for assembling the appropriate clothing and equipment for your climb.

While on the expedition, team members are responsible to maintain basic levels of hygiene and to conduct themselves respectfully with other team members and members of the local population. If a guide feels that a team member is putting other members’ health or safety at risk, the guide has the discretion to remove a team member from an expedition.

Use our office staff and your lead guide as pre-trip resources to ensure that all your questions are answered. Travel insurance may help recoup expenses if you need to leave an expedition due to an illness.

Airline Responsibility Passenger/Airline contracts are in effect while team members are on board any aircraft contracted for use in the expedition.

This information is extremely important for anyone considering climbing Aconcagua with Mountain Trip or any guide service.

Partnership

When you engage a guide service to help you have a great experience on a mountain like Aconcagua, you are entering into a partnership with that company and its staff.

Climbing Aconcagua requires everyone associated with the expedition to commit to significant preparation before the climb. It also requires a high level of cooperation amongst team members during the climb. Every participant has a job to do, at each step of the journey (literally!). The actions of each member can directly affect the other members of the team. If each participant does his or her job in a satisfactory manner, then the entire team will have a good experience, regardless of whether or not the team has an opportunity to stand on the summit.

The Role of the Mountain Trip Office

At Mountain Trip, we are tasked with providing the logistics, support and experienced staff to help each of our climbers have a great experience on Aconcagua. We achieve those goals through a combination of our 40 years of institutional knowledge, a commitment to supporting our staff through good wages, educational and equipment assistance, and a never-ending process of reflection and self-evaluation.

Some of the first steps we take as a company to set our teams up for having great experiences, are to help manage everyone’s expectations of what climbing Aconcagua is like and to help ensure that a climb of Aconcagua is an appropriate choice for each of our climbers. To that end we strive to:

  • Provide helpful and realistic information on our website and in our marketing.
  • Try not to “sugar coat” the experience, because it is important that every prospective climber understand that the mountain can have many moods, including some that are unforgiving.
  • Provide a realistic expectation of what workload is required to have a successful ascent of the peak.
  • Explain what skills are required to climb the mountain, and which of those skills are ones that we can generally teach and refine while on the expedition.
  • Engage each participant (climbers and guides) in a high level of clear, open and honest communication.
  • Provide our guides with tools (education, training, equipment, etc) to perform at the highest levels of the industry, including helping them have a clear understanding of both Mountain Trip and the Provincial Park Service’s protocols and requirements.

The Role of our Guides

Our guides are tasked with numerous responsibilities, including:

  • Facilitating good communication amongst your team.
  • Possessing and maintaining requisite mountaineering skills.
  • Maintaining current medical certifications.
  • Preparing the food and equipment for your climb.
  • Making objective hazard assessments and strategic decision-making.
  • Observing and evaluating team members throughout the expedition.
  • Treating each climber in a respectful and supportive manner.
  • Helping each climber with technical skills that they need to learn or need to refine while on the climb.
The Role of our Climbers
  • Our climbers are similarly tasked with responsibilities, including:
  • Being willing to participate in open, honest communication from the initial contact with our office.
  • Fulfilling the requisite paperwork and financial obligations necessary to join an expedition in a timely manner.
  • Assembling the appropriate clothing and equipment for the expedition.
  • Arriving in Mendoza in sufficiently good physical condition to fully participate in the expedition.
  • Dedicating the time to develop a base of skills sufficient for participating in the expedition.
  • Advocating for themselves regarding skills that they need to, or would like to, work on during the expedition.
  • Conducting themselves respectfully with all other team members and with other climbers.
  • Communicating with guides and team members while on the expedition.

When is it time to say, “No?”

Each year, we advise prospective climbers that Aconcagua might not be a good choice for them at the time after discussing their previous experience and/or level of fitness. We do this because we want each climber who joins us to have a great experience, and it does not serve anyone to bring a climber on an expedition for which he or she is not sufficiently prepared.

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts to help our climbers choose appropriate trips, we occasionally find climbers who arrive at Plaza Argentina lacking some degree of preparation. We have opportunities to teach skills on the approach and at the lower camps on the mountain and we conduct a variety of skill reviews and help climbers brush up before heading higher on the mountain, because as we get higher on Aconcagua, everything becomes harder and more serious. The vast majority of the time, we can help them or support them sufficiently so that they end up having a great experience in a manner that does not negatively impact other climbers on the team.

Looking back over the past decades of trip reports and feedback from guides and clients, we see that perhaps 2% of the time, we find that we have someone on a team who cannot, for one reason or another, participate sufficiently to safely climb the mountain. Please note that we use the word “safely” very carefully, because ultimately, climbing a big, cold mountain like Aconcagua is not inherently “safe.” As guides, and the administrators of a guide service, we do our best to mitigate risk, but if a team member does not demonstrate sufficient skills, fitness or ability to climb higher, he or she might create an unacceptable risk to the guides and to the team.

Therefore, we have decided to attempt to be as clear and transparent as possible about our expectations of our climbers. In the rare instance that a climber is just simply unprepared for the rigors and risks of the upper mountain, we want everyone to have some clear benchmarks to refer to in our decision making about whether or not to let that climber continue up the mountain.

Basic Benchmarks for Having a Successful Ascent

The first three days of the climb are essentially the approach.  This is a great opportunity to see how we function as a team and to get a sense of each climber’s physical conditioning.  We will also generally carry loads up to Camp 1 before launching above Base Camp, and this is a rigorous day that involves some loose, terrain and often some snow.  The guides will assess each climber and help him or her with any areas of potential problems, but prior to departing for Camp 1, each team member must demonstrate the following:

  • The physical conditioning necessary to move appropriately up the mountain
  • The ability to perform basic personal maintenance (clothing selection, application of sunscreen/lip balm, hydration, eating, hygiene), with guide input and guidance
  • A familiarity with the appropriate use and function of your clothing and equipment, also with guide assistance
  • Demonstrate familiarity with basic mountaineering techniques such as the rest step
  • Exhibit a willingness and ability to be a team member, meaning that each climber must help establish camps, and carry a fair share of the group loads
  • The ability to move between camps at a reasonable pace. This is, of course, highly subjective, but 30 years of institutional knowledge on Aconcagua has shown us that there are some average times that it takes to move between camps. For example:
    • From the trailhead at Punte de Vacas to the first camp at Pampas de Lenas, it should take about 5-6 hours.
    • From Pampas de Lenas to Casa de Piedra, it should also take about 5-6 hours.
    • The day moving up to Base Camp should take less than 7 hours.
    • It should take no more than 5 hours to carry loads up to Camp 1, with porter support.

At Plaza Argentina, each climber must check in with the Argentine BC doctor before continuing up the mountain.  This is a fairly routine medical check up, but on rare occasions, the doctor will recommend that a climber not continue his or her ascent.  Assuming each climber is allowed to ascend, the following skills are ones we want to see demonstrated before summit day:

  • The ability to efficiently employ the rest step on steeper terrain
  • The ability to comfortably use crampons, if conditions require them
  • The capacity to maintain an average time (in good conditions) of carrying loads up to Camp 2 (about 4 hours is average)

After arriving at high camp, we will have a lot of hard work to establish our camp before retiring to our tents.  We almost never take a rest day after moving to the 20,000’ level, as that altitude is a difficult one to keep up with motivation and acclimatization.  Before attempting the summit, climbers must demonstrate everything listed above, plus:

  • The physical capacity to maintain an average pace of 4-5 hours en route to High Camp, because summit day could easily take 12+ hours round trip.

What if…?

If a climber decides not to continue up the mountain, or if it is determined that continuing higher is not an appropriate choice, we will do our best to accommodate the climber. Sometimes a climber will choose to wait for his or her team to descend, while other times a climber might want to descend immediately. Any decisions made at the time will be in the best interest of both the team and the climber. We cannot promise that we can descend at a given point in time or that we will have an option available that will allow you to remain on the mountain as the team climbs higher. Our options will be driven by numerous factors that are present at the time, and we will endeavor to communicate the decision making process with you.

On Aconcagua, we have the ability to hire local guides to assist with the descent of a climber who elects not to continue.  This is an option that is not covered by the cost of the expedition, but might be a good choice for some climbers.  There are also other services such as helicopter flights from Base Camp or horseback options for the descent that are also available for additional costs.

The intent of this information is not to stress anyone out, but rather to help every team member have a clear understanding of what it takes to successfully climb to the top of South America. The information above is intended to give each participant the tools necessary to assess how you are doing, relative to where you are on the mountain. We want every climber to succeed and to have a great experience on the mountain, and we are really good at helping achieve those goals, but we need each climber to do his or her part.

We encourage any prospective Aconcagua climber to contact us with any and all questions and to do your best to prepare yourself for your adventure.

Have fun out there!!

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