Cerro Aconcagua: 22,841′ (6,961 m)

Truly the “Roof of the Americas,” Cerro Aconcagua, at 22,841 feet (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.

Cerro Aconcagua Expedition - Register

The Mountain Trip Difference

Mountain Trip brings our high level of personal service to South America. Our small-team, personally tailored guided Aconcagua expeditions really stand out from other teams on the mountain, and are built with the goal of providing climbers with an unparalleled level of service aimed at giving you the best chance for success. Expeditions include porter support so you’ll only be carrying your personal clothing and equipment.

On our Aconcagua expeditions we take the Ameghino Valley Route, traversing the mountain and descending the Horcones Valley (the Normal Route), which we feel is the best non-technical route on the mountain, and sees far less traffic!

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.

Read an essay by Todd Rutledge, Mountain Trip Director, reflecting on 20 years of climbing Aconcagua.

Follow along our Aconcagua Expedition Teams on our Trip Reports page, and see the Current Weather Forecast for Aconcagua!

If you have questions, please contact the Mountain Trip office at [email protected] or (970) 369-1153.

Why is our Ameghino Valley route the best choice?

Acclimatization. We plan extra days into our Aconcagua mountain climbing expedition 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 for 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.

Porter Support! We will enlist the help of local porters to stock our upper camps with food, fuel and equipment, so that our guided climbers are carrying much less weight on their backs than unsupported climbers. You will only need to carry your personal equipment and clothing, meaning if you follow our equipment list, you will be carrying 35 pounds (16 kg) or less on the climb. This lessens the physical stress which could help you acclimatize better, and definitely makes for a more enjoyable experience. Additional porter support is available by request to carry your personal gear as well.

Three Camps. The Ameghino Valley ascent 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 up the Normal Route.

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 make 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’s 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!

seven summits, aconcagua mountaineering, climb mount aconcaguaDAY 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’ll 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′ (2,750 m) before hitting the trail in the morning.

DAY 3: HIKE TO PAMPAS DE LENAS.  After a short drive to the trailhead, we’ll 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′ (2,750 m). We will dine in true gaucho style, with food prepared over an open fire by our arrieros.

Aconcagua base camp, aconcagua climb cost, mount aconcagua summitDAY 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′ (3,050 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’ (4,200 m), it also involves a lot of elevation gain.

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

aconcagua mountain argentina, aconcagua summit, aconcagua mountaineeringDAY 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′ (4,970 m). Group gear, food and fuel will already be stocked at Camp 1, so your load should not be in excess of 35 pounds (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′ 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’ll carry up our extra personal kits and gain some acclimatization in the process. Packs should weigh less than 30 pounds (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′. Opting for the path less traveled, we’ll cut north and follow the beautiful Ameghino Valley, which separates the stunning 19,616′ Cerro Ameghino (5,978 m) from its taller counterpart, Aconcagua. Easy hiking and one “glacier” crossing will quickly put us at Camp 2 just shy of 18,000’ (5,480 m).

seven summits, aconcagua mountain, mountaineering argentina

DAY 11: MOVE UP TO CAMP 2 (HELICOPTER CAMP). The views here are staggering! The summit of Cerro Ameghino is just to our east, and to the north we can see the 22,000′ (6,700 m) Cerro Mercedario dominating the horizon. The array of peaks above the Gussfeldt Glacier are pretty inspiring. This move only takes a few hours, so we can take our time and make certain that camp is fully fortified and still enjoy the evening light, when Ameghino is bathed in alpenglow. The camp name 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 load carry to High Camp, which is an easy and 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 our 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 additional acclimatization, 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-pound 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′ (4,260 m).

climb mount aconcagua, climbing aconcagua, aconcagua summitDAY 19: HIKE OUT THE HORCONES VALLEY/BACK TO MENDOZA. 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’ll stop at the Confluencia Camp for a nice lunch break (pizzas!). At the mouth of the valley we’ll check out with the park rangers and the team can choose to either stay in Penitentes or return to Mendoza.

Day 20: FLY HOME. It’s worth taking some time to explore the area, but if you need to get home, today is your fly home day. If you have a bit of time, 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 rafting, or just take in the sights and sounds of this beautiful city.

Please note: 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!


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


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 an experienced staff to help each of our climbers have a great experience on Aconcagua. We achieve those goals through a combination of our 40-plus 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 1) help manage everyone’s expectations of what climbing Aconcagua is like, and 2) 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” Aconcagua, 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.
  • Develop and maintain a Risk Management Plan to support the decision making of our guides in the field.
  • 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 Provincial Park Service 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 they need to learn or refine while on the climb.

The Role of our Climbers

Our climbers are similarly tasked with responsibilities, including:

  • Being willing to participate in open and 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 they need 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 on the Plaza Argentina lacking some degree of preparation. We have opportunities to teach some skills 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, but this is not always possible. It is ultimately the responsibility of each climber to arrive with the appropriate level of skills, experience and fitness.

Looking back over the past decade of trip reports and feedback from guides and clients, we see that less than 2% of the time, we find that we have someone on an Aconcagua 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,” and our use of the term is limited to the assessment our guides make in judging how that climber might fare on the upper mountain, based on the climber’s demonstration of those skills. 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, resulting in the team member being turned around and not attempting the summit.

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 Base Camp 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. 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!

Inclusions and Exclusions for Aconcagua

Included in the Trip Fee:

• Unlimited pre-trip access to our office resources.

• The guidance of our experienced Mountain Trip guide(s).

• Airport transfers.

• Up to two nights accommodation in Mendoza (shared room). Inquire about single room options.

• Welcome dinner in Mendoza.

• Up to two nights accommodation and all meals in Penitentes (shared room). Inquire about single room options.

• 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 group gear for all on-mountain camps.

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

• 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.

• Any additional lodging including post-expedition lodging in Argentina.

• Mountaineering fee (2024/2025 season TBD; high season likely $950+ for U.S. citizens) 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. ***Rescue/evacuation insurance is required to obtain a climbing permit.

• 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 local staff.

• Costs as a result of force majeure.

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 $1500 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 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 Team Meeting Day will be refunded in full, less the administration fee.

• If you cancel 120-90 days before your Team 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 Day, expedition fees will be due in full to secure your spot on the team.

• No refunds will be given for unused hotel bookings due to schedule changes, late arrivals, etc.

• Mountain Trip reserves the right to cancel an expedition prior to the departure date for any reason. In the event that the expedition is cancelled based solely on an internal administrative decision by Mountain Trip (Internal Cancellation), all monies, except for nonrefundable administrative fees, collected by Mountain Trip from team members for the canceled expedition shall be refunded within 30 days. That is the extent of our financial liability for such cancellations. This Internal Cancellation provision shall not apply when external factors that force Mountain Trip to cancel an expedition against its will, including, but not limited to international political upheaval, terrorism, drought/famine, epidemics/pandemics, and/or cancellations imposed by foreign or domestic governments or permitting agencies (External Cancellation). All External Cancellations shall not be subject to a refund unless such cancellation occurs prior to the deadlines set forth in the Refund and Cancellation policies stated above.

The following applies only if all expedition fees are paid by the date they are due:

If Mountain Trip cancels your expedition due to External Cancellation factors resulting from coronavirus more than 90 days prior to the Team Meeting Day, Mountain Trip will credit 100% of your paid expedition fees toward a future program with Mountain Trip or refund all monies paid except for the non-refundable administrative fee.

If Mountain Trip cancels your expedition due to External Cancellation factors resulting from coronavirus 90 days or less prior to the Team Meeting Day, Mountain Trip will credit 75% of your paid expedition fees toward a future program with Mountain Trip or refund 50% of your expedition fee.

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.

No Guaranteed Outcomes

While it is one of our goals to help every climber on every Mountain Trip expedition reach the summit, Mountain Trip cannot guarantee you will reach the summit. Any number of factors, including weather, conditions encountered on the route, your personal level of fitness or ability, the abilities of your teammate(s) or any number of other circumstances, might result in you and/or your team turning around before reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to any reason associated with mountaineering, such as weather, team dynamics, route conditions, avalanche and rockfall hazard, or due to your lack of fitness or preparation, are not the responsibility of Mountain Trip, and will not result in a refund or a rescheduling of your expedition.

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′ 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.

Please follow this list closely and don’t hesitate to call or email us for clarifications, or to solicit an opinion about anything you are considering. There is a limited selection of gear available in Mendoza, so please do not plan on picking anything up down there. Lastly, only bring quality gear that is in very good condition; we want you to be as prepared as possible for your Aconcagua expedition.

Print Equipment


GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Mountaineering SocksA medium to heavy weight, wool or wool/synthetic blend sock for use with mountaineering boots. Aconcagua climbers should bring 3+ pairs of socks for your mountain boots in addition to your trekking socks.
Trekking SocksMost trekkers prefer a light to medium weight, wool or wool/synthetic blend sock for use with trekking shoes. For longer treks bring a pair to change into every 2-3 days.
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 will not want heavy, leather hiking boots. Trail runners or light hikers are perfect for most climbers.
6000 meter Mountain BootsModern expedition mountaineering boots fall into two categories, traditional double boots, and triple boot systems with integrated gaiters. Both versions are plenty warm; however, triple boots are warmer for the weight, and arguably simpler than dealing with gaiters and/or overboots.For Aconcagua and mountaineering courses, you do not need the warmth of a triple boot unless you have particularly cold feet. Also, the rocks and scree on Aconcagua can wear through the soles on some of these high altitude boots due to the materials used to make the soles more insulating.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 pair that fits best. You might want to consider your future mountaineering objectives when purchasing boots as well. If you are taking a mountaineering course and looking at a Denali climb, triple boots might be a good choice.
Custom InsoleA custom insole can help fine tune the fit of your boot, support your feet. A good fitting boot will be warmer and prevent blisters.
GaitersIf your pants fit tightly around your boot you do not need gaiters. Many modern boots have built in gaiters. They do help keep out water, and can prevent crampons from catching your pant legs.

Torso Layers

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Expedition Down ParkaThis is an important layer so don't skimp! You do not need the heaviest 8000meter parka for peaks like Denali and Aconcagua, but you should have a warm, baffled parka with a hood.
Base Layer Top(1 or 2 sets) of Wool or Capilene light weight base layers. Long sleeve or short sleeve base layers work well.
Light Fleece HoodyLight/mid weight fleece (or wool) top with a hood. You will wear this over your light weight base layer.
Puffy Light Insulated JacketSize this layer to fit over your light fleece hoody and wind shell, and it is often layered underneath your expedition parka. Synthetic is easier to deal with and not worry about getting compared to a down filled layer. A hood on this layer in mandatory!*** Guides Tip! Use TWO lightweight puffy layers in the early season or if you are worried about being cold. A Micro or Nano Puff jacket with a Ultra Light Down Jacket or Vest allows versatile layering options.
Hard Shell JacketThis jacket should be large enough to go over your light puffy jacket layer. You do not need the burliest/heaviest Gore-Tex jacket you can find, and we prefer the lightest weight versions.
Soft Shell Wind JacketMany high alpine peaks are cold and dry. We are huge fans of very lightweight softshell wind jackets for high, dry, cold peaks. Weighing just a few ounces, these can be carried in your pocket or in the lid of your pack for rapid deployment. This layer is used in addition to your more waterproof hard shell jacket.
“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.
Vest (optional)A lightweight down or synthetic filled vest can be a nice addition and add some warmth with little weight. **This is an optional layer**
Sun HoodyA Sun Hoody is a great lightweight layer to help protect you from the intense UV at high altitude. It's a go-to layer for our guides, as it both keeps the sun off your skin and helps keeps you cool.

Leg Layers

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Base Layer Bottoms(1 or 2 sets) of Wool or Capilene light weight base layers.
Light Fleece BottomsAs the air thins and the wind picks up, you'll want a bit more insulation on your legs. This should be a slightly warmer layer that can go over your base layer bottoms when it gets cold.
Soft Shell PantsSoft Shell pants are the workhorse in the mountains and you'll be wearing these day in and day out on most expeditions. On peaks like Denali and Aconcagua, you can wear them in lieu of your hard shell pants for much of the expedition.
Hard Shell, Waterproof PantsWhen it's raining a soft shell pant just isn't enough and you'll need a waterproof "hard shell" pant, meaning Gore-Tex or equivalent. These should be as light weight as possible. Fully separating side zippers will help you get them on without taking off your boots. 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.
Puffy Insulated Expedition PantsOn summit day or on a cold morning, you will need a warm layer that can go over your baselayers and softshell pants. This layer should be down or synthetic (ie. Primaloft) filled and must have fully separating side zippers. Practice putting these puffy pants on and taking them off while wearing your boots before you leave for your expedition.
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.
ShortsHave we mentioned that it is HOT on the approach? We recommend two pairs of lightweight running or trekking shorts. Pockets are nice for lip balm and sundries. Wear one pair until you move up to Camp 1 and then send them out with the mules, leaving you with a fresh pair for the mountain and trek out.

Head and Hands

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Heavyweight GlovesWarm, insulated gloves are the day-to-day workhorses on cold peaks or for cold days of ice climbing. We prefer gloves with removable liners for ease of drying.
Medium Weight GlovesA mid-weight glove will generally be a softshell type glove with some light synthetic insulation.
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.
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. Good mittens are expensive, but how much is one finger worth?
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.
Face CoveringCheeks and the tip of your nose are always exposed and easily freeze in a biting wind. Neoprene face masks do a great job of protecting those exposed surfaces. The Outer U FaceGlove can also be used for sun protection!
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 BUFF for good sun protection or go for a wide brimmed version to protect your face, ears and neck.
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 GlassesGood, dark (Category 4) glacier glasses are a must for high altitude climbs. They must have side protection and filter 100% UVA and UVB rays.
Expedition Ski GogglesThese are necessary for use while traveling during storms or during really cold and windy weather. These must have double lenses and provide full UV protection. Fogging is a real challenge, so goggles that actively vent are worth the investment. Julbo's Aerospace or Airflux have a slick venting system or Smith makes battery-powered "Turbo Fan" models. 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.

Sleeping Gear

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Sleeping BagSuitable bags 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. A compression stuff sack is essential for packing your sleeping bag.
Inflatable Sleeping PadInflatable pads have improved tremendously in recent years, they are the foundation of a warm and comfortable night!
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.

Packs and Duffels

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
BackpackLook for a pack that has a capacity of around 70+ 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.
Large Zippered DuffelYou'll want an XL sized (90 – 100L) duffel for your expedition. Lightweight and inexpensive bags work fine, although water resistant bags like the Patagonia Black Hole Bag 100L are nice for their toughness to weight ratio. A quality duffel bag can work for a sled bag on Denali, a mule bag on Aconcagua and a great all around travel bag.
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.

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.
Alpine Climbing HarnessYour harness should be adjustable enough to accommodate several layers of clothing. As with most items on this list, choose a light weight harness.
Climbing HelmetMake certain it fits over your warmest hat and under the hood of your shell. The super-lightweight foam helmets are great, but can get crushed in your duffel bags during travel, so protect your lid!
Primary Attachment Locking CarabinerFor your primary attachment to the rope, we will us a "triple action" locking carabiner. Triple Action (TriAct) carabiners will not come unlocked while you are traveling on the glacier. You only need one of these carabiners.
Trekking Poles(Lightweight)Trekking poles can be helpful for long days on the trail and help take some strain off of aching joints going downhill! These are typically lighter weight than a ski pole, and have a smaller basket as you don't use them in deep snow.
Lightweight CramponsFor Aconcagua a lightweight aluminum crampon can work great. (Not for technical climbs like the Polish Glacier) Make sure these fit your boots!


GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Stuff SacksWe are fans of the very light stiff sacks made from Sil Nylon fabric. Bring enough for your clothes and personal items. Light, zippered stuff bags are really nice for toiletries.
Two (2) One-Liter Water BottlesYou will need two, 1-liter plastic water bottles. Please bring wide-mouth bottles, such as those from Nalgene, as these are much easier to fill than bottles with small openings.
Insulated Bottle Cover(s)Water bottles freeze when it gets cold. Crazy, but true! Extra clothing can help insulate bottles, but dedicated water bottle insulators do a much better job. Bring at least one.
Large Plastic BowlBowls are much easier to use and are much more versatile than are plates. Bring a 2-4 cup camping bowl or a plastic "Rubbermaid" style container for your mountain dining.
Insulated Cup or MugA 12 - 16 ounce (350-500 Ml) mug with an attached lid will help keep you hydrated. The Kleen Kanteen Insulated Bottle with the "Cafe Cap" is pretty nifty, as it is a mug and a thermos all in one!
Lexan SpoonA soup spoon made from Lexan will survive most trips and is more useful and versatile than a fork or even a "spork." Mark your spoon with your initials to keep spoon rustlers at bay.
Lip Balm (2 tubes)Protect your lips! Bring two tubes of high quality lip balm with SPF.
Sun Screen for AconcaguaWe'll use a lot of sunscreen on the approach, so bring a large tube or a bottle of spray-on sunscreen, plus a small 2-3 ounce tube for carrying up the mountain.
P-BottleWide-mouth, collapsible Nalgene Cantenes work great- they make a 96 ounce version, which will come in handy during long storms or if you take Diamox. Ladies- look for an appropriate adapter available at your local outdoors store. These items can both be tough to find in Anchorage so plan ahead!
Toiletry KitTooth brush & paste, dental floss, Handi-wipes (1 per day on average), a small bottle of hand sanitizer, perhaps some foot powder… keep it small!!!
Toilet PaperDepending on your technique, you'll want 1-2 rolls, each packed in a quality zip-lock bag.
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.
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. An expedition can be a good time to catch up on reading!
CameraMost climbers these days use their phone as a camera, but if you plan to bring a dedicated camera, consider a small, light weight point and shoot camera. If you are a photography buff and really want to bring a DSLR, plan for that extra weight with your training!
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.
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.
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!
Satellite Tracking/Texting DeviceSatellite linked devices such as the Garmin inReach have been increasingly popular, as you can send and receive text messages with it. Again- consider how you will keep it powered over the course of your expedition. These new devices will allow you to send and receive text messages nearly anywhere in the world! It is a fun way to keep in touch with the family and let them follow along on your journey. They are not required, and Mountain Trip guides carry several forms of communication devices including satellite based communications that we can use in case of an emergency situation.
Several Good Jokes!"A Moose walks into a bar..."
Water Purification SystemThere are many good options, and they get better every year. Pumps work well, but can be heavy. Our favorite is the relatively easy to use and lightweight water treatment drops by Aquamira. The SteriPen style water treatment is not recommended. Be certain to have enough to treat 3-5 liters per day for the duration of your trip.
HeadlampBring an extra set of batteries, as well. Lithium batteries work the best in cold weather!! For some trips (Carstensz, Everest, Cho Oyu) where we will be frequently climbing at night a second headlamp is a good idea, and always bring extra batteries!
SnacksThink about bringing 10 of your favorite energy bars, or candy bars, and some energy drink. These are optional, but it's nice to have some of your favorites that are not available elsewhere. Don't over do it as this stuff gets heavy and we will provide plenty of food.
CamelBakOptional, but well worth the weight for the approach.
Solar Panel/Battery *optionalIf you are planning to charge your iPhone, inReach, or other electronics on the expedition you will need a good, small solar panel. We recommend using the panel to charge a battery and then charging your devices from the battery. This is definitely some extra weight, so keep it light and maybe share a panel and battery with your tentmate!
Pee FunnelThis is a women's specific tool for expeditions and winter trips that gives women the ability to pee standing up like men. This also creates a little more privacy and protection from the elements when on a rope team. We prefer this hard-sided version.
Camp TowelA small microfiber, quick dry, hand towel to use in camp.
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