Known to locals as the “Stone Sentinel,” Aconcagua is a majestic, glacially sculpted peak that towers over the heart of the Andes on the border between Argentina and Chile. It is the highest mountain outside of Asia, the highest peak in the Southern and Western hemispheres, and the highest peak in South America, making it one of the world’s famed Seven Summits. The Normal Route offers a truly exciting high altitude climb of moderate difficulty, requiring minimal technical skill but excellent physical conditioning. Solid backpacking skills and proficiency on steep and icy terrain are requisites for this expedition. Prior high altitude experience is beneficial.
Aconcagua • Normal Route • 20 Days
Although the Normal Route is non-technical, it is physically demanding. On our expedition, porters will assist clients in moving most of the shared gear up the mountain, including tents, kitchen equipment and other items. Team members must be able to carry 25-40 lbs. backpacks of their own gear and some group gear or hire personal porters for support. We highly recommend that most expedition members hire personal porters to improve their overall experience on the mountain.
The Normal Route follows the Northwest Ridge to the summit of Aconcagua. Our expedition begins in Mendoza, Argentina, and travels by van to Puente del Inca, the trailhead to the Horcones Valley. The approach trek follows the Horcones River to Confluencia. The 20-day itinerary allows us to spend two nights at Confluencia for acclimatization with a day hike to Plaza Francia, which sits beneath the massive 9,000-foot south face of Aconcagua. The next day we arrive in basecamp, also known as Plaza de Mulas, at 13,976 feet. From Plaza de Mulas our itinerary includes an important acclimatization ascent to the spectacular summit of Mt. Bonete (16,732 feet). Over the next week our expedition establishes a series of three high camps on the upper mountain. We move to Camp Canada (Camp 1), Nido de Condores (Camp 2) and then Camp Colera (Camp 3). From there we make our summit push via the Great Traverse and the Canaleta to the North Summit at 22,840 feet.
Aconcagua is an ideal choice for anyone with a foundation of fundamental climbing skills and high-altitude experience. The peaks of the Pacific Northwest, Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus, and the volcanoes of Ecuador are all excellent preparation for the “Stone Sentinel.”
Shorter Climbs • Normal Route • 15 Days
Climbers with considerable high-altitude experience, or who are otherwise able to climb more quickly, may take advantage of shorter itineraries on Aconcagua available throughout the climbing season. Please contact us for more information.
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Why Mountain Gurus is the best choice for climbing Aconcagua?
At Mountain Gurus, we strive to provide challenging, enjoyable, and safe climbing adventures. We pride ourselves on our high summit success rates and, more importantly, our strong safety record. Our in-depth knowledge of Aconcagua and the surrounding region allows us to give all of our climbers a rich and rewarding experience.
At Mountain Gurus, we plan our expeditions to optimize your climbing experience while respecting the people and environment of our host countries. We adhere to Leave No Trace principles to minimize the impacts of our adventures and ensure that the mountains remain pristine for future generations.
How can I improve my chances of summiting Aconcagua?
Success on Argentina’s “Stone Sentinel” depends on two key factors: Your physical preparation, and the guide company you choose. Mountain Gurus maximizes your potential for a successful summit by ascending the Normal Route, which allows our climbers to rest in a fully equipped basecamp and take advantage of porter support throughout the climb. The Normal Route is non-technical, leaving you free to focus on moving efficiently while at high altitude without the distraction of ropes, harnesses and other equipment. Every route on Aconcagua requires excellent physical conditioning, strong backpacking skills, and the ability to navigate steep and sometimes icy terrain. The Normal Route is no exception. But it is the best option for anyone who is not already an expert mountaineer.
Our 20-day itineraries are designed to give you ample time to acclimatize for your summit bid. On Aconcagua, altitude sickness can be one of the primary obstacles to a successful summit. By ascending gradually up the Horcones Valley, with spectacular acclimatization treks up Cerro Bonete and to the South Face of Aconcagua, we help you experience the full breadth of what this remarkable destination has to offer, and maximize your potential for a safe, successful ascent.
What does an Aconcagua Expedition offer?
A collision of tectonic plates thrust Aconcagua into the sky. Glaciers carved it into a rugged, majestic pyramid. The view from its summit – the highest point in the Andes and all of South America – is unmatched as you stand above the longest mountain range on the planet (more than 4,300 miles from end to end). On your way there, you will experience the rich culture of Argentina.
We begin our journey in Mendoza in the heart of the Argentine wine industry, known for its malbecs, open-air cafes and asados. From there, we travel to our trailhead at Puente del Inca, one of few mountain passes used by the ancient Incan Empire to access this region. Our 16-mile trek up the Horcones Valley allows us to stretch the legs and acclimatize on our way to Plaza de Mulas Basecamp. We then utilize three high camps as we make our way carefully to the summit.
Aconcagua lets you test your strength and endurance at high altitudes without the technical aspects of glacier travel or fixed lines. If you are working your way through the Seven Summits, climbing Aconcagua is excellent preparation for Everest.
What are the costs of climbing Aconcagua?
For a 20-day, high-altitude mountaineering expedition with unique cultural experiences, Aconcagua is relatively affordable. Mountain Gurus’ comprehensive trip fee includes hotel stays before and after the expedition, land transportation to and from the mountain, tented accommodations throughout the expedition, meals, guides, and mules to carry equipment to and from basecamp.
Our fee also includes group gear such as tents, stoves, and climbing equipment, and some group porter services while on the mountain. You will need to arrange your own air travel, climbing permit (price varies by departure date), personal porter service (if desired), medical services (if required), and gratuities to service personnel.
What are the risks of an Aconcagua Expedition?
Every high-altitude adventure involves risk. You can mitigate some of these risks through proper physical and logistical preparation. Our professional guide staff will work diligently to minimize risks you may encounter during the expedition.
Any issues, physical- or altitude-related, are best dealt with early to ensure a safe and successful trip. All Mountain Gurus staff are well-versed in wilderness first aid and have extensive experience working at altitude. Our staff is trained to give you a safe and enjoyable experience.