- Duration: 20 days.
- Difficulty: Excellent physical shape
- Space Available / Trip: 6 climbers
- Expedition Cost: US $6,990 per person
- Other Costs: Private Porter: US $2,000 per person, Hotel single supplement: US $1,100, Reservation cost: US $900
- Payment Balance Due: 120 days prior departure
An expedition to the Aconcagua (6,959m / 22,831 ft), the highest point on the American continent, is made easier and more enjoyable following an acclimatization climb on Cerro El Plomo (5,430m / 17,814 ft), the tallest mountain visible from Santiago. Presenting no technical difficulties, El Plomo offers similar elevation, wind, and temperature conditions to the Aconcagua, but on a smaller scale, and is easily accessed from Chile’s national capital. Known by the Incas as Apu–guardian of the valley– the three-day climb passes an Inca shrine at 5,140m /16,863 ft where the mummy of a young boy was found in 1954. Stunning views from the summit take in the highest peaks of the main range of the Chilean Andes.
Following a short flight to Mendoza, on the Argentinean side of the Andes, we obtain our mandatory Aconcagua permits and travel 160 km west to the village of Penitentes. The Aconcagua’s Normal route ascends by way of the Horcones Valley–with views of the mountain’s awesome south face–to Confluencia, our first mid-mountain camp. Continuing on through Plaza Francia we’ll reach the busy Plaza de Mulas base camp (4,300m / 14,107 ft). Having attained an elevation of 5,430m / 17,814 ft on El Plomo, our bodies process of acclimatization has been accelerated. As a result, our ascent through the high camps will be faster and our final push to the summit will be less arduous, allowing expedition members to focus on the magnificent experience of reaching the roof of America.
2020/21 Trip Dates
- AEE3-02 – Sat. Dec. 5 – Dec. Thu 24, 2020
- AEE3-03 – Sat. Dec. 12 – Dec. 31, 2020
- AEE3-04 – Sun. Dec. 20, 2020 – Jan. 8, 2021
Day 1 Santiago. You will be picked up at Arturo Merino Benitez Airport in Santiago and transferred to our Hotel. Coming in from the airport, the first objective of our expedition, Cerro El Plomo, will be visible as the highest peak on the skyline above Santiago, with its distinctive, helmet-shaped glacier. After settling into our hotel, we’ll meet the guides and other members of the group, make an equipment and gear check, and have a presentation of the expedition.
Hotel / Elevation – 543m / 1,781 ft
Day 2 Santiago – Farellones. In the morning we’ll drive up a spectacular mountain road with views down to Santiago and up into the high Andes, a trip of approximately an hour and a half. Farrellones (2,340m / 7,677 ft) is a picturesque mountain village, from where we’re likely to see Andean condors soaring on thermal updrafts. Farellones’s elevation will allow our bodies to begin the process of acclimatization. We’ll stay overnight at the Hotel La Cornisa or Posada Farellones.
Transfer distance 36k / 22 miles / Transfer time 1 1/2 hours / Hotel La Cornisa / Elevation Min 543m / 1,781 ft – Max 2,340m / 7,677 ft
Day 3 Farellones – Piedra Numerada. A vehicle will leave us at the Portazuelo del Franciscano (3,500 mts / 11,482 ft), the highest point of the La Parva or Valle Nevado ski area. From here, we’ll descend into the Cepo Valley, hiking about 3 hours to reach our base camp at Piedra Numerada (3,300 mts / 10,826 ft). Trekking Time – 3 hours / Tent / Elevation – Min 3,300 mts / 10,826 ft – Max 3,500 mts / 11,482 ft
Day 4 Piedra Numerada – La Olla – Piedra Numerada. Today we hike approximately 4 hours to reach La Olla camp (4.000 mt / 13,123 ft), where we’ll enjoy spectacular views of El Plomo’s Iver glacier. We return to Piedra Numerada base camp for the night. Trekking Time – 6 hours / Tent / Elevation – Min 3,500 mts / 11,482 ft – Max 4,000m / 13,123 ft
Day 5 Piedra Numerada – La Olla. Today we return to La Olla camp where we’ll spend the night. Trekking Time – 4 hours / Tent / Elevation – Min 3,500 mts / 11,482 ft – Max 4,000m / 13,123 ft
Day 6 La Olla – El Plomo summit – La Olla. Leaving our camp very early in the morning, we’ll take the standard route up El Plomo, following the south-west ridge to the right of the Iver glaciar. We’ll pass the site where in 1954 local arrilleros (animal herders) came across the mummified body of a young boy, left as a ritual offering by early Inca peoples. The mummy is kept at the Museum of Natural History, in Santiago. We’ll cross an icefield to reach the summit ridge. From the summit we’ll have outstanding views of the highest peaks in the central Andes: La Falsa Parva (3,888m / 12 755 ft), La Parva, (4,047m / 13 277 ft), El Pintor, (4,180m / 13 713 ft), and La Leonera (4,954m / 16 253 ft). As we have been gaining altitude slowly, allowing our bodies to acclimatize, our summit day will be very comfortable and easy to achieve in about 8 hours. We’ll return to La Olla camp for the night. Trekking Time – 12 hours / Tent / Elevation – Min 4,000m / 13,123 ft – Max 5,430m / 17,814 ft
Day 7 La Olla – El Pintor – Santiago. On our return to our starting point at La Parva, along the long plateau of Cancha Carrera, we’ll hike up El Pintor (4,000 mt / 13,123), an attractive peak of multicoloured rock which gives the mountain its name: The Painter. We’ll return to Santiago in the evening for dinner and a good rest at Hotel Kennedy. Trekking Time – 5 hours / Hotel / Transfer distance 36k / 22 miles / Transfer time 1 1/2 hours / Elevation – Min 543m / 1,781 ft – Max 4,000m/ 13,123 ft
Day 8 Santiago – Mendoza – Penitentes. We’ll make an early transfer to Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benitez Airport, taking the 50-minute flight over the main chain of the Andes Mountain Range to Mendoza, Argentina. Before leaving Mendoza, we’ll visit the Aconcagua Provincial Park’s permit office to obtain our mandatory, individual climbing permits. Then we’ll drive towards the Park, stopping for lunch in Uspallata. We’ll continue our journey east to the ski village of Penitentes, (2,580m / 8,464 ft), situated at the entrance to the Vacas Valley, which gives access to our route. We’ll stay overnight at the Hotel Ayelen in Penitentes. Transfer distance 190 km – 118 miles / Flight 50 minutes / Transfer time 2 1/4 hours / Hotel Penitentes / elevation – Min 761 m (2,497 ft) – Max 2,580m – (8,464 ft)
Day 9 Penitentes – Confluencia. After officially entering the Park, we make a three-hour hike up the Horcones Valley, crossing the Horcones River on a bridge built during the making of the film ‘Seven Years in Tibet’. We climb a gentle, steady slope to Confluencia Camp (3,300m / 10,826 ft). Trekking Time – 3 hours / Tent / Elevation – Min 2,580m (8,464 ft) – Max 3,385m (11,103 ft)
Day 10 Confluencia – Plaza de Mulas. We make a seven- to eight-hour hike to Plaza de Mulas base camp (4,300m / 14,107 ft) Our chef will be waiting for us with hot drinks and a delicious dinner. This base camp has showers, satellite telephone, and an exquisite menu especially prepared for our Expedition. Trekking Time – 7 to 8 hours / Tent / Elevation – Min 3,300m (10,826 ft) – Max 4,300m (14,107 ft)
Day 11 Plaza de Mulas. Today we’ll have a rest day relaxing around camp drinking plenty of fluids. Rest and good hydration are the essentials for an optimal acclimatization before continuing on to the rigors of the High Camps and the demands of summit day. Tent / Elevation – 4,300m (14,107 ft)
Day 12 Plaza de Mulas – Nido de Cóndores – Plaza de Mulas. Leaving our arrieros (mule drivers) and the mules in base camp, we’ll make our first day of portage, carrying light loads of personal and common gear up to Nido de Condores Camp (5,550m / 18,208 ft). Today’s portage—and other days of portage during the expedition—are essential to achieving an optimal acclimatization. Climbing up to higher altitudes and descending to lower ones to sleep will be our strategy from now on. If this ascent plan is carried out gradually, it increases the possibility of reaching the summit successfully and in a safe and comfortable manner. We’ll spend the night at Plaza de Mulas base camp. Trekking Time – 7 to 8 hours / Tent / Elevation Min 4,300m / 14,107 ft – Max 5,550m / 18,208 ft
Day 13 Plaza de Mulas. A second rest day in our base camp will allow us to drink plenty of fluids, rest, and eat, to enhance our acclimatization and store up energy for summit day. Tent / Elevation – 4,300m / 14,107 ft.
Day 14 Plaza de Mulas – Nido de Cóndores. We leave base camp behind us today and move to the first of our high camps, Nido de Condores camp. This is a high traffic route, so we’ll meet a lot of people along the trail. Trekking Time – 7 to 8 hours / Tent / Elevation – Min 4,300m / 14,107 ft – Max 5,550m / 18,208 ft.
Day 15 Nido de Condores Camp – Piedras Blancas Camp. Today we’ll move to Berlín or Piedras Blancas or Piedras Negras, depending on the weather and the guide’s criteria. This will be our last camp before the summit. Trekking Time – 3 to 4 hours / Tent / Elevation Min – 5,550m (18,208 ft) – 6,000m / 19,600 ft (Piedras Blancas) – 6,250m / 20,500ft (Piedras Negras).
Day 16, 17, 18 Piedras Blancas Camp – Summit – Piedras Blancas Camp. With several days in reserve, we’ll wait for the best climatic conditions for summit day. While we wait, we’ll enjoy superb views of the highest section of the Aconcagua south face wall, a truly impressive sight. Following our summit push, we’ll step onto the ‘roof of America’ with great emotion, take photos beside Aconcagua’s emblematic summit cross, admire panoramic views of the central Andes, and descend tired but satisfied to our last high camp. Trekking Time – 12 to 14 hours / Tent / Elevation – Min – 6,000m / 19,600 ft (Piedras Blancas) – 6,250m / 20,500ft (Piedras Negras) – Max 6,962m (22,835 ft)
Day 19 Piedras Blancas Camp – Plaza de Mulas. We’ll descend from Piedras Blancas to the Plaza de Mulas Camp (4,200m / 13,779 ft), where our Aconcagua Express chef will be waiting with a delicious dinner to help restore our energy. Trekking Time – 4 to 5 hours / Tent / Elevation – Min 4,300m (14,107 ft) – Max 6,000m / 19,600 ft (Piedras Blancas) – 6,250m / 20,500ft (Piedras Negras)
Day 20 Plaza de Mulas – Santiago. From Plaza de Mulas, our arrieros (mule drivers) and the mules will help us carry out our gear and equipment. Our hike out through Playa Ancha and down the Horcones Valley to the village of Penitentes will take six to seven hours. At the Park Ranger’s Station our Aconcagua Express vehicles will be waiting to take us back to Santiago. Following a good night’s rest, the Aconcagua & El Plomo route with Porters expedition comes to an end! Some members may wish to spend some time on their own in Santiago, where you can discover the city’s wide range of culinary and cultural options and its exciting night life. Transfer distance 190 km – 118 miles / Transfer time 4 hours / Hotel / Elevation – Min 567 m (1,860 ft) – Max 4,300m (13,779 ft)
- Professional Bilingual Mountain Guide.
- Ratio, Guide to Clients 1-3.
- All local organization & supervision by AE Expeditions Staff.
- Porter for community gear (tents, stove, gas) during the entire expedition.
- Mules for individual and community gear to base camp and return.
- High quality expedition common gear: The North Face, Mountain Hardware & Marmot tents, stoves and fuel.
- Private tent at El Plomo and until Aconcagua base camp.
- Private tents until base camp.
- Full dining room set up at base camp, with tables, chairs, etc.
- All meals during the expedition.
- Permanently available hot drinks and biscuits at base camp tent.
- Two hotel nights in Santiago, double occupancy with breakfast, at Kennedy Hotel or equivalent.
- Two hotel nights in Mendoza, double occupancy with breakfast, at Hyatt Park Plaza, Sheraton or Diplomat hotel.
- One hotel accommodation in Penitentes, double occupancy with half pension.
- Private transportation, including airport pick-up and drop-off in Santiago airport.
- Assistance in Santiago and Mendoza airports.
- Satellite phone during the entire expedition on a per minute payment basis.
- VHF 2 mt radio communication equipment.
- The Aconcagua, “Summit of America” book, by Mauricio Fernandez.
- The Aconcagua topographic map.
Services not included
- Mandatory Rescue Insurance.
- All personal climbing equipment and gear.
- International round-trip airfare to Santiago & Mendoza.
- Aconcagua climbing permit fee $850 – $1100, depending on climbing season
- Single room supplement at hotels in Santiago, Mendoza & Penitentes.
- Meals in Mendoza.
- Porter for personal gear.
- Drinks (soda, beer, or wine) in
- Guides and mountain staff tips.
- Cancellation, accident, and rescue insurance.
- Cash for extra expenses.
- Airport drop-off.
- Any costs involved in an early or late departure.
- Any other service not mentioned above.
- All itineraries are subject to change due to changes in the weather, individual’s acclimatization rates and the guide’s preferences.
- Private Porter can carry 20 kg maximum.
- With good weather and good acclimatization the trip may return to Santiago or Mendoza earlier.
- Any departure dates can be re-scheduled with a minimum of 6 persons.