Day 1 – 2: Fly London to MendozaMeet the expedition leader and other team members in London. Flying to Buenos Aires (occasionally we fly via Santiago, Chile) to Mendoza. Overnight in hotel, bed and breakfast.
Day 3: Drive Los Penitentes and the Horcones ValleyVisit the Aconcagua Provincial Park office in Mendoza to collect permits. You drive to Penitentes, a small ski resort near to the entrance of the Horcones Valley. Overnight, dinner, bed and breakfast in local ski lodge/ hotel.
Day 4: Trek to Confluencia (3,395m/11,140ft) and first Aconcagua viewsAfter a good breakfast, you drive to the Provincial Park entrance, just a kilometre or so up the road. A 4 hour walk to the campsite at Confluencia follows with first views of Aconcagua. This is the first night under canvas, and the start of your acclimatisation proper. You spend 3 nights here (most people on spend 2).
Day 5: Acclimatisation Hike to Plaza Francia (4,000m)Today, you hike to Plaza Francia, from where you can see Aconcagua’s huge South Face, rising 3,000m above. Picnic lunch then return to Confluencia for the night and the regime of “Climbing High, Sleeping Low” has begun!
Day 6: Acclimatisation around ConfluenciaThere’s no pressure to do much of anything today – you’ll acclimatise just fine by resting – basting in the juices of altitude like a slow-roasting chicken! Take a good book, listen to music or if you want to take a walk, the leader will organise it.
Day 7: Trek to Plaza de Mulas (4,365m)A tough 8-hour trek and 1000m of “up” leads to base camp – the 3rd hardest day of the expedition. In base camp, you meet the local staff, extra guides, cooks and camp assistants, who support your climb from now on. A mess tent caters for meals, meetings and socialising.
Day 8: Acclimatisation and rest day at Base Camp (4,365m)Today you rest and acclimatise further. Some may still be feeling the strain of altitude after the previous hard day. We have breakfast, lunch and dinner in base camp, as well as hot drinks and water to keep hydration levels up to help you acclimatise (showers are available).
Day 9: Camp 1, Climb to Canada Place (c5,000m), return to base campToday, you climb to Canada Place, Camp 1. The team leaves soon after breakfast. It will be a flog to start off with, but you arrive by mid-afternoon, drop off a small stash of food and fuel for your future use and descend very quickly to base camp.
Day 10: Climb Bonete Peak (5,004m) and view the route up AconcaguaBonete is a great (optional) day out and for added acclimatisation. Also, your first summit. From its top, you see most of the route to the summit of Aconcagua. You’ll be there soon enough – in 7 days’ time!
Day 11: Camp 2, Nido de Condores (5,559m), return to base campAfter an early breakfast, you head out on to the slopes to regain a point just short of Canada Place. By-passing Camp 1, you head up to the “change of slope”, above which the huge scree field, that descends from where the Canaleta, opens out. Now, on a rising traverse, you plod incessantly onwards to Camp 2, Nido de Condores.
Day 12: Rest day at Base Camp (4,365m)Rest and acclimatise. You may practise using crampons on the nearby glacier.
Day 13: Climb to Camp 1 (c5,000m)This time you leave base camp with your heart and mind focussed on the summit. Taking with you stuff for 6 nights on the mountain, you head up to Canada Camp to spend the night. Having been here and higher already, you should awake ready for a determined push to the higher camps. Great sunsets here.
Day 14: Climb to Camp 2 (5,559m)Trek over to Camp 2, Nido de Condores. The angle relents after a couple of hours, at the aptly named “Change of Slope”, when the upper scree field comes into view as does the Canaleta above. Above base camp, the local guides do the cooking and provide hot drinks. In the afternoon, you can walk around the campsite area, getting good views of the upper sections of the mountain.
Day 15: Acclimatisation day at Camp 2 (5,559m)Rest and acclimatisation in Camp 2.
Day 16: Climb to Camp 3 ‘Colera Camp’, near Berlin Huts (5,993m)Today you climb new ground to Berlin Huts. It takes about 3 hours, so there’s no need to rush. The Berlin Huts themselves are derelict; you camp on a plateau at ‘Colera Camp’ just 300m away. From here, you have an excellent view of the mountain, although the top still looks far above.
Day 17-19: Summit Bid – 3 Day Window (6,959m)You have 3 days for the summit bid. When you go, it will be the hardest day of all with as much as 10 hours to reach the top. You leave at 6am. A path through rock, scree and over occasional snow patches leads to the Independencia Hut at 6,377m. Then it is up and across the grand traverse at the head of the scree field to the bottom of the Canaleta. Strenuous walking up this leads to the summit ridge. A small mound of boulders and a cross marks the summit. After celebrating, you go down to Colera Camp, to sleep and to dream of the great day done.
Day 20: Last night on the mountainYou make a rapid descent down scree slopes to base camp, by early-afternoon. The final night’s dinner on the mountain is accompanied by beer, wine and tales of the adventure. This is you last night in a tent.
Day 21: Return to Mendoza and celebration dinnerTrek all the way back to the road at the park entrance, where the transport meets you. Then it’s by road back to Mendoza and your hotel. Dinner with your team mates and guides to celebrate the expedition. Overnight hotel, bed and breakfast.
Day 22 – 23: Fly Mendoza to London
PLEASE NOTE: Please note that the above itinerary is intended as a guideline only. Although every effort will be made to adhere to it, changes may be forced on it by weather conditions, transport failure or other unforeseen events. Please be prepared to be flexible if necessary.