Aconcagua summit at 6962m high is the highest mountain in the Western hemisphere and the highest mountain in the world outside the Himalayas. Mount Aconcagua, the Stone Sentinel, is most worthy of your attention, being the second highest of the Seven Summits.
About the expedition
This is a Personally lead 19 day expedition by Jason Black on the Vacas Valley route. The route is non-technical, there is no need for years of experience of climbing on rocks or ice. Despite its lack of technical challenge, there is still a high level of fitness required. The altitude and the weather and the high level of self-sufficiency required pose the biggest challenges, so this is not a climb for the uninitiated.
This expedition is more physically and mentally demanding than mountains like Mount Elbrus or Mount Kilimanjaro, requiring a good working knowledge of camping, cooking and cold weather survival skills. Fitness is important there is more self-carrying of loads up to around 15 kilos at altitude. The trip is expedition style and the route involves a 3 or 4-day walk-in to base camp followed by two or three high camps before the Aconcagua summit day. We recommend a good period of preparation for Aconcagua and i will help with as much advice as possible.
Book Aconcagua Expedition
- Hotel in Mendoza for 3 nights (bed and breakfast) and a hostel in Puente del Inca (bed and breakfast)
- Transport to the National Park gate and mules for carrying gear to base camp.
- Tents and cooking equipment and any group equipment
- Meals at Base Camp provided with group tents, toilets, showers and tent space
- Dried food for the high camps
- Professional expedition leader Jason Black and assistant mountain guides – on a ratio of 1:5
- Porters for some group equipment – tents, stoves, fuel and food
Costs Do Not Include:
- International airfare to Mendoza
- Climbing permit for Aconcagua.
- Meals in Mendoza and in Puente del Inca – estimate USD$20 for a dinner with drinks
- Personal equipment and expenses
- Medical/Evacuation insurance
Stand on the highest point of South America
This is a great expedition for aspiring mountaineers looking to really stretch themselves and tackle some higher altitudes. The mountain itself is challenging and should not be underestimated but with sufficient preparation and training will be a significant achievement to stand on the highest point of South America. It can be dangerous but there is a procedure for rescues off the mountain and the Rangers are very helpful, plus there is a helicopter service that will take people down to the gate.
Mount Aconcagua has two summits, north and south, joined by a ridge called the Cresta del Guanaco which is nearly one kilometre long. Other ridges radiate from each Aconcagua summit, and the whole massif is isolated from other peaks. Shaped like a giant wedge, it has a very steep and massive face to the South and a gentler slope to the North. The huge Polish glacier flows to the East and a series of arêtes and couloirs flank it on the West. The view from the top and from the Cresta is particularly dramatic and well worth the effort of
Vacas Valley Itinerary
The expedition is 19 days in-country, but this does not include flight times or extra days in-country. Many people choose to arrive a day or so early to acclimatise to the climate and overcome the long flight, and of course some people stay on afterwards to visit the vineyards and enjoy the area round Mendoza.
Team arrive, Hotel. Meal - dinner in Mendoza
Get permits am, rest. Meal - Mendoza
Transfer to Mountain. Meal - Depart midday, camp near park gate
Pampa de Lenas. Meals - Breakfast, Pack lunch, Camping dinner
Case de Piedra - Meals - Breakfast, Pack lunch, Camping dinner
Plaza Argentina. Meals - Pack lunch, BC dinner
Day 7- 16
Walk to Pampa de Lenas
Walk to gate, bus to Mendoza. Celebration team meal.
Vacas Valley suggested climbing plan
Day 7 - Casa Piedra to Pl Argentina
Day 8 - Carry to C1, back to BC
Day 9 - Rest day
Day 10 - Carry to C2, back to BC
Day 11 - Rest day
Day 12 - C1, overnight
Day 13 - C2, overnight
Day 14 - Camp Colera or possible summit from C2
Day 15 - 1st summit day
Day 16 - 2nd summit day
Day 17 - Base Camp
Day 18 - Base Camp to Pampa de Lenas
Our expedition teams are normally between 5 and 10 people. Jason Black is the expedition leader and is currently the world record holder on Aconcagua setting the fastest traverse in history, 18 hrs from Argentina base camp to summit to playa de mulas base camp.
The guide to member ratio is never more than 1:5 on Aconcagua.
We do expect that our teams show involvement in the jobs of cooking and camping above base camp, so experience of camping and cooking in a tent is important. The success of the trip is partly in providing good personal preparation for every member, and developing the camaraderie and team effort that is the hallmark of any safe trip in the mountains.
The carries are done by the team, with everyone helping to move supplies to the high camps, but there are Aconcagua porters at base camp who can be hired.
In the event of a rescue on Aconcagua, the national park rangers are very well experienced in how to extract members and a helicopter on standby 27/7.
Climbing in Mount Aconcagua
Much of the Climbing is on scree and rock. Although there are no permanent snow fields (not including the glaciers, which are technical routes), crampons and a walking axe are still required for the higher sections. Sometimes the final thousand metres of elevation is covered with snowfall which can be consolidated into hardpack or ice, and any person contemplating Aconcagua should be prepared for extremely cold conditions and the need for using equipment competently. This means walking safely on crampons and knowing how to use an axe to arrest a slip, and using poles efficiently.
Summit day is a big mountaineering day, but the terrain never requires highly technical skills. It is a long hard ascent, and there is considerable exposure to the elements and of course to the altitude. The weather patterns will determine if you spend the day mostly on snow, ice or rock, but expect everything and be prepared with correct warm clothing and good double boots.
The most infamous feature to overcome is the Canaleta, which is a gully choked with boulders that is quite unremitting and hard work. Sometimes you will be on rock, other times it will be covered in snow and often is it hardpack and ice, but either way it is important to watch your feet and be able to move safely on crampons. Coming out of the gully, the route traverses the top of a large amphitheatre and ends up on the final ridge to the summit, with classic views over the south face. There is a bit of scrambling to the summit, but it is not difficult
Most frequent questions
- Synthetic Short Underwear (2-3 pair): non-cotton style underwear
- Lightweight Long Underwear (1-2 pair): long sleeve shirt and long pants
- Heavyweight Long Underwear (1 pair)
- Short Sleeve Synthetic Shirt (1-2)
- Soft Shell Jacket: to be worn over other layers
- Soft Shell Pants: very breathable and water repellant
- Lightweight Nylon Pants (optional)
- Hard Shell Jacket with hood: waterproof and breathable shell jacket
- Hard Shell Pants: waterproof and breathable shell pants
- Insulated Down or Synthetic Jacket with hood
- Insulated Pants (optional)
- Warm Hat: synthetic or wool hat (ski hat)
- Balaclava: to protect your neck and face in high winds
- Baseball Cap or other sun hat: to shade your face/neck from the sun on a hot day
- Bandana or Buff: to protect your neck/face from the sun
- Glacier Glasses: full protection with side covers or wrap around
- Ski Goggles: to be worn in the event of high winds
- Lightweight Synthetic Liner Gloves: for wearing on warm days
- Soft Shell Gloves: to wear for moderate cold/wind
- Shell Glove with Insulated Liner: to wear for severe cold/strong wind
- Expedition Mitts: large enough to fit a liner glove inside
- Liner Socks (3 pairs)
- Wool or Synthetic Socks (3 pairs)
- Mountaineering Boots
- Hiking Shoes/Boots: comfortable hiking boots
- Water Shoes or Sandals: for stream and river crossings
- Booties (optional): for wearing around camp
- Sleeping Bag: rated to at least -20°F
- Self-inflating Sleeping Pad: full length is preferred
- Closed-cell Foam Pad: to be used in conjunction with the inflating pad for warmth and comfort when sleeping
- Expedition Backpack: approximately 105L
- Compression Stuff Sacks: for reducing the volume of the sleeping bag, down parka, etc. in your pack
- Trash Compactor Bags: to line backpack and stuff sacks as well as for separating gear
- Backpack Rain Cover (optional)
- Trekking Backpack: to carry on the trek to base camp. Simple and light.
- Trekking Poles with Optional Snow Baskets: adjustable
- Ice Axe: general mountaineering tool (~60cm)
- Crampons: general mountaineering crampons
- Climbing Helmet (optional): must be able to fit over your warm hat
- Headlamp: with 2 extra sets of new batteries
- Large Duffel Bag with Lock: for transporting gear to base camp on the mules, no hard sides or wheels
- Small Duffel Bag with Lock: to store items in the hotel(s) while on the climb
- Travel Clothes: for days in cities and towns
- Lightweight journal, sketchbook, pencils, pen
- Currency to exchange to purchase SIM cards or merchandise in cities and villages
Additional Food Items
- Snack Food: bring a few days’ supply of your favorite climbing snack food such as bars, gels, nuts, beef jerky, etc. variety of salty and sweet is good
- Cup: plastic 16 oz. minimum cup or mug
- Bowl: large plastic bowl for eating dinner or breakfast
- Spoon: plastic spoon (Lexan)
- Water Bottles (2): wide mouth bottles with 1-liter capacity
- Water Bottle Parkas (2): fully insulated with zip opening
- Thermos (optional): 1-liter
- Water Treatment
- Sunscreen: SPF 40 or better
- Lip Screen (2 sticks): SPF 30 or better
- Toiletry Bag: include toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper, baby wipes and hand sanitizer (2 small bottles)
- Pee Bottle: 1-liter minimum bottle for convenience at night in the tent
- Female Urination Device (FUD)
- Knife or Multi-tool (optional)
- Small Personal First-aid Kit: include athletic tape, band-aids, Ibuprofen, blister care, etc.
- Medications and Prescriptions: bring antibiotics (Azithromycin, etc.), and altitude medicine such as Diamox, etc.
- Handkerchiefs/Bandanas (optional)
- Country-appropriate power plug adapters and power transformers
- Adventure Sports Watch: such as Garmin fēnix 6
- GPS/Personal Satellite Communicator: such as Garmin inReach Mini
- Personal Power System: such as Goal Zero Nomad 28 Plus Solar Panel and Sherpa 100AC Power Bank
- Digital Entertainment: movies, tv shows, music, books loaded on to smartphone, iPad, Kindle
- Camera: bring extra batteries, charger, and memory cards
Yes. The permit costs vary depending on season and covers a consultation with the Base Camp doctor and, should you require it, helicopter evacuation. The permit is obtained at the office of tourism in the centre of Mendoza. You must be present in person. Bring your passport.
Around 3,500 people attempt to reach the summit every year, with about 40 percent succeeding. It is a much greater undertaking than other mountains such as Kilimanjaro. You will require crampons, an ice axe and good backpacking skills, but not rope.
The climbing season is from mid-November to mid-March. 80 percent of trekkers go in December or January.
Park entrance fees which must be paid for in person in Mendoza. Entrance fees for the coming year are yet to be confirmed but will be approximately USD$900-$1000 per person.
Personal travel insurance.
Tourist visas to enter country.
Personal spending and tips.
We can arrange extra hotel nights for you if you want to arrive early or stay on for some extra days. Please let us know so we can make the arrangements as required.
Only 40% of climbers who attempt the mountain reach the summit! Climbing Aconcagua is no easy thing and only experienced hikers who have been to high altitude should attempt the climb. You will need a high level of fitness and endurance.
Your expedition leader is world renowned mountaineer and high altitude specialises Jason Black with success on the likes of K2 and all the world seven summits he is highly experienced and has 100% success rate on Aconcagua.
Yes, you can leave any luggage at the hotel during the trek.
Jason Black will personally meet you at the airport. Please look for our Black Mountaineering signboard.
Most guests are eligible to get a visa on arrival at the airport and it takes between 30 minutes to an hour depending on the rush. Guests are responsible to check and verify all visa requirements and vistas before arriving, and that includes your current Covid vaccine card. (you will not get in if not vaccinated). Your passport needs to have at least 6 months validity on the date you are entering South America. Check this as soon as you book your climb.
We have solar electricity at Basecamp
Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in the Americas and should not be taken lightly. Hundreds of people each year have to turn back due to altitude sickness. Therefore, it is important to have a detailed understanding of the risks associated with high altitude trekking and how the body deals with high altitude.
Climbing insurance is vital for Aconcagua. If an accident or incident should occur that requires immediate medical assistance and evacuation you will most definitely want adequate trekking insurance that can cover the costs of air ambulance and treatment. Make sure you have insurance that covers you for any travel related risks, like lost, stolen, damaged or delayed baggage; interruptions and flight delays and tour operators default.
Jason Black is a certified Wilderness Advanced First Aid and is remote professional and wilderness leader highly experienced in remote and challenging environments. We are equipped with pulse oximeters and in addition to keeping a close watch of your condition they will take daily readings of your blood oxygen saturation levels. In addition our guides carry a basic first aid kit and have a mobile phone. In an emergency situation the guide will coordinate rescue efforts with the park rangers office where a support team is available 24/7.
Jason Black Mountaineering runs small number unique groups. He never shares personal data but we can give you a general idea on nationalities, sex and approximate age ranges, if you contact us directly.
Your smile and an open mind and an open heart.
Insurance – Visas – Flights
Do i need Travel Insurance
On any trip its advised to take out travel insurance appropriate to the countries you are visiting and what you will be doing when you get there. It is important to take out your policy as soon after booking your trip as possible. If you need to cancel for a legitimate reason then your trip costs and flight costs will be covered.
Our recomended Insurance provider is
Irvine Cambell travel insurance policies are sold for an individual trips or as annual cover if a frequent climber.
Some companies sell an annual travel insurance policy as part of a package which might include house and car insurance, but in our experience those travel polices may not cover the sorts of activities that we provide like trekking at altitude and mountain climbing, but they will cover holidays like wildlife safaris. Do always check that what you buy covers what you are planning to do.
Areas to be aware of.
Coronavirus update: since the global pandemic and the introduction of travel corridors and advisories against travel by the FCO in Ireland and other Governments, insurance companies have adjusted their policies and some are offering cover for travel to countries which are on the FCO list for ‘all but essential travel’ and there are some offering cover for cancellations due to covid-19.
Proof of travel insurance is mandatory before starting the trek. Standard policies often only cover medical evacuation to 4000m so make sure the policy you get covers trekking as an activity up to the trek max altitude. Some policies require that you pay for evacuationup front and will reimburse you when you get home and submit the documents. Evacuation can cost up to €5000 so make sure that your policy will actually pay for any expenses while you are travelling. You only need to be covered on the policy for the days you will actually be trekking.
It does not happen often but if you are evacuated and want to make an insurance claim its mandatory to get a hospital report in the country as soon you get off the mountain. Often, trekkers with altitude sickness feel better once they get to a lower elevation, but it’s important to get the proper medical documentation for claims. The hospital will charge you a fee of $150 for the medical report required by your insurance. You are responsible for any evacuation or medical bills that are incurred. Most insurance companies will cover these costs for you before you leave the country, but some will want you to pay all costs out of pocket and then reimburse you. We suggest that you check your insurance policy and ensure that they will cover all costs upfront in the event of an evacuation.
We allways encourage you to know what your insured for and check specifics before you arrive.
Measure twice cut one.
Do i need a visa
You will need to check if you require a Visa to enter the country of the trip. Please ensure you do this immediatley as it generally can be a lenthly process.
Google the visa requirements required on the internet. If you have any diffictult reach out to Jason for advice.
When do i book my flights
Once you have booked your trip you can book your flights to coinside with the arrival and departure date’s required for the expedition.
Check in with Jason on exact arrival and departure dates.