All you Need to Know About Climbing Aconcagua

After years of climbing Aconcagua we have written about the key elements you need to be successful climbing Aconcagua. We have added all the most important links and pages below.  I have climbed Mount Everest and Aconcagua 7 times so happy to chat with you directly as you start to prepare for this adventure. We are big fans of the Vacas valley traverse route for an Aconcagua climb.

Aconcagua Requires Previous Altitude Experience

Aconcagua is the highest mountain in South America at 6,962m/ 22,841 feet and one of the coveted 7 Summits. The journey to Aconcagua starts in Mendoza, Argentina and we can guide you through the best preparation and how to get started. If Aconcagua is on your bucket list, there are some other mountains you need to consider first. Learn more. If you are thinking of signing up to Aconcagua we need to see you in action on one of our trips. Safety is our number one concern.  If you sign up to one of our trips we send you our 40 page dossier along with being available 5 days a week in support of your trip. Follow us on Instagram.

Diplomat Hotel in Mendoza

Important Aconcagua Pages

1). Pick the best acclimatization and itinerary for your Aconcagua trip

2). How you should be training to best physically prepare for your trip to Aconcagua

3). Get FREE constant advice from our professional team

4). Have the right clothing and gear for your Aconcagua expedition

5). Pacing each day on the trail is critical to success

6). Why hydration is critical at high altitude and in low oxygen environments

7). Elevation gains on our Aconcagua climbs. This will help you formulate a better training plan

8). What sort of food will I get on Aconcagua trip

9). Read our TOP 20 TIPS for a successful Aconcagua Climb

10). What are the best months to Climb Aconcagua

11). What type of trekking boots should you have for your trek to Aconcagua

12). What Mountaineering boots should you consider for Aconcagua

13). What Helicopter evacuation cover you need for an Aconcagua climb

14). What additional expenses will you incur on your Aconcagua trip

15). You need to know how hard is it to climb Mount Aconcagua

16). Here are 10 reasons to pick us for your Aconcagua climb

Penitentes hotel stay

Is Aconcagua a Trekking Peak

Technically, Aconcagua is a trekking mountain.  The reality is you will be exposed to some big mountain conditions which you need to be aware of.  Aconcagua is a serious high altitude expedition with no technical mountaineering on the routes we use. Depending on the month you may use crampons. The big challenges are in the high and extreme altitude, frigid temperatures and high winds.

Hiking up to 9,000 feet

Is Aconcagua a Difficult Climb

In terms of trekking and movement at high and extreme altitude, Aconcagua is pretty straight forward. The steepest section of the trip is up and down the Canaleta the last 800 feet to the summit. The challenges are in the low oxygen and load carry’s above Plaza Argentina Base Camp. Certainly the normal route is easier than the Vacas Valley traverse route. The Vacas valley route is totally doable for strong climbers and worth it to have less people around you on the mountain. The Vacas route is more interesting and better way to get the most out of your Aconcagua experience.

Firstly, going to extreme altitude above 5,500m/ 18,044 feet is potentially life threatening and needs previous experience and excellent conditioning. Secondly, The success rate on Aconcagua is approximately 30%. Yes, weather is a key factor in people not making it to the summit. Other factors are lack of acclimatization, lack of physical preparation and lack of spare days for summit attempts.

Hiking into the Vacas valley

Hydration is Important on Aconcagua

Next to oxygen, water is the most important substance that our body needs to survive. Water makes up 60% of our body weight, and blood is normally about 94 percent water when the body is fully hydrated. Now, I am pretty sure that this is no surprise to any of you out there.  However, I can’t tell you how many times I have been out backpacking, hiking or mountaineering with folks that just don’t give proper hydration the attention that it deserves. Learn more.

Aconcagua sits in a high desert and is extremely dry and cold, especially at an altitude above 6,000m/ 19,685 feet. You will dehydrate faster at altitude and when the air is dry and your respiration is higher, hydration becomes critical. You should be drinking 4 to 5 liters daily on Aconcagua.

The Vacas Valley Traverse Route

Do Not Get Sunburnt

The sun is extremely powerful on Aconcagua and not your friend. The sun, combined with the cold wind will deplete fluid in your body. Your skin will be dryer along with the mucous membranes of your nose and throat. The sun can be punching on the trek into Plaza Argentina so make sure you are fully covered each day and do not get sun burned.

Hiking to Casa de Piedra

Be Ready for High Winds

From a mental perspective you need to be ready for high winds continually above Base Camp. Having the right clothing and gear is essential on Aconcagua. Check out our Aconcagua packing video. We also send you an itemized kit list on signing up. The weather can change multiple times a day, so understanding and having access to the right layers with you is really important.

It can be up to 80 Fahrenheit / 25 Celsius during the day and drop down to 30 Fahrenheit at night on the way into Aconcagua Base Camp.  In camp 3,  the temperature can drop down to -5 Fahrenheit/ – 20 Celsius so a wide range of gear will be needed for this expedition. We can help you pick out the correct clothing and equipment needed.

The trail on the Vacas valley

What Prior Experience you Need to be Successful

Firstly, we highly recommend taking a scientific approach to your training. This starts with do a fitness test or even better a VO2 max test. Understanding the heart rate zones you should be training in, help you develop the correct training program. Secondly, you will need prior altitude experience. We recommend you have been to 6,000m/ 19,685 feet. You should consider Kilimanjaro  and Mount Elbrus. Mount Elbrus helps you test out your gear, clothing and mountaineering boots.  It would be best to have climbed Island Peak 6,189m/ 20,305 feet or Mera Peak 6,476m/ 21,246 feet before thinking about joining an Aconcagua Expedition. It would be best to have a number of high altitude trekking and mountaineering trips under your belt. Understanding how your body performs in low oxygen environments is important.

Vacas Valley

Why Choose Ian Taylor Trekking

Aconcagua has a lot of operators but we use the best facilities and offer the highest quality service for our Aconcagua trips. Here are 10 reasons to pick us for your Aconcagua expedition. We work with a highly qualified local team with major logistics in place so we can offer you the best possible service. Aconcagua can be a harsh and challenging environment so we designed an itinerary and service for maximum comfort, safety and success. Read some REVIEWS from our trips.

Our team are available 5 days a week support for your Aconcagua Climb prior to arriving in Mendoza. On signing up we also send you our 40 page dossier with all the information you need for your trip. You will have access to a shower in both Base Camps, Wi-fi and professional food service in both Base Camps.

Mount Aconcagua

How Many Days are Needed to be Safe and Successful

The standard duration of the expedition for climbing the Vacas valley traverse route from Mendoza to Mendoza is 17-18 days. Our itinerary is 21 days  with four potential days for a summit attempt to maximize safety and success. It is important to have three nights below 3,250 before moving to higher altitude. When we move to Base Camp we like to have 4 or 5 nights before staying higher on the mountain. However, this adds to the acclimatization in moving higher on the mountain. Not all expeditions have this acclimatization built into the trip. Additionally, spare days are key to options and safety.

We have 4 or 5 days when we can reach the summit of Aconcagua. We never relay on good weather, there can be heavy snowfall or strong wind in any months during the climbing season.  Strong winds can blow for days on end.  There are many trips when our teams only get to the the top on the fourth or fifth potential summit attempt. High winds can last for a week on this mountain.

Casa de Piedra Campsite

Additional Advice

1). Consider Additional Acclimatization

We are lucky enough to live at 2,438m/ 8,000 feet in Colorado. This helps before arriving on the slopes of Aconcagua. If you have time we do advice having some additional acclimatization and you can go to altitude sleep near 8,000 feet and get in some hiking up to 10,000 feet or 11,000 feet. This would need to be done directly before arriving in Mendoza. You could also consider doing some Hypoxic training. There are a range of options out there. You might find more options in a city near you.

River cross on Aconcagua

2). Pacing in Important Throughout the Trip

The pace of a trip at high altitude is a critical factor in you safely and successfully reaching your goal.  You might consider pacing irrelevant or something that is not important on a long distance high altitude trip. However, we can assure you that the correct pace and heart rates can make all the difference between success and failure. Managing your heart rate through the trip is why we keep a very slow pace throughout the whole journey. Learn more.

The trail as we hike towards Aconcagua

3). Bring Lightweight Clothing and Gear

As important is the pace we hike at, just as important is keeping your backpack as light as possible. Keep your backpack as light as possible for the hike into Aconcagua Base Camp. Let the mules do the heavy work, your time will come. Check out our packing video. We will send you an itemized kit list on signing up. The lighter your gear the easier the journey from Plaza Argentina to Camp 3 high on Aconcagua.

Unique Aconcagua scenery

4). Balanced Meals

6. It is recommended to avoid the consumption of too heavy food (meat) during the rest days and altitude acclimatization. Learn more about the food we serve on Aconcagua. We have planned out the meals to be as effective as possible. We do not recommend alcohol after leaving Mendoza.

Plaza Argentina

5). Art Tent in Plaza de Mulas

Depending on the month you arrive in Plaza de Mulas Base Camp, make sure you visit the painter Miguel, living in a light large tent in the center of the upper part of the Base Camp. His art gallery is the highest of the world. Even if you won’t be interested in his art, it is worth a visit.

Plaza Argentina

 

6). Schedule a Call With Ian

Ian has led over 150 expeditions above 17,000 feet and climbed Mount Everest and Aconcagua 7 times. He is always happy to impart information and help you gather as much information as possible.  Contact us today and learn from our experience.

 

Top 20 Tips for Climbing Aconcagua
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What Should you be Packing for your Aconcagua Expedition