Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere at an impressive 6,963m, and our most popular mountaineering destination. Our normal ascent route is an excellent introduction to altitude expedition climbing with minimal technical challenges. Therefore, if you are just beginning to explore the world of high altitude mountaineering expeditions, look no further than this adventure! Our 25 years of experience on Aconcagua are at your disposal, and base camp at Plaza de Mulas (4,267m) is always a welcome sight for our guides and guests as we begin our journey to the ‘Roof of the Americas’.
As we mentioned earlier, The Aconcagua Northwest Ridge (Normal Route) is our easiest route that follows what may seem like endless scree fields. But don’t be fooled! The behemoth size of the mountain combined with extremely high altitudes and quick changing weather make this a very physical and challenging expedition. While most of our ascent will be following trails on loose talus fields, you can expect to use an ice-axe and crampons on your summit day! But the reward? You’ll be standing on the highest point in the entire Western Hemisphere!
Travel to Mendoza, Argentina (MDZ) typically takes 18 – 27 hours from the U.S. depending on your departure city, available connections, and flight times. Flights arriving in Mendoza should arrive on Day 1 of the itinerary in the afternoon. Departing flights may be booked for any time on the final day of the program.
A valid passport is required when traveling to Argentina. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the expected return date. U.S. passport holders may stay up to 90 days without a visa. We suggest making a copy of the first two pages of your passport and keeping them in a separate bag as a backup. A copy should also be left with your emergency contact.
Please confirm any current travel advisories/warnings as well as passport and visa requirements with the U.S. Department of State
Information about Argentina’s Reciprocity Fee
If you are a Canadian, or Australian citizen traveling to Argentina, you are required to pay a “Reciprocity Fee” ($140). This fee is required by the Government of Argentina and is not included in your airfare. This imposed fee must be prepaid online (https://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes/) prior to travel. Please check the Embassy of Argentina’s web site if you have any questions. The fee is no longer applicable to US citizens as of 2017.
If arriving to Mendoza via Buenos Aires
Once you receive your bags from Baggage Claim, you will proceed to Customs. There will be a random selection of bags for inspection. Be sure to keep all your bags together.
Please be aware that depending on your airline carrier you may be required to transfer to Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) for domestic flights from Buenos Aires to Mendoza and make your travel arrangements accordingly. Transfer time vary between 30 min to 1 hr + depending on time of day and traffic conditions. Several transfer options exist, taxis are the quickest method while some buses require stops in the city center before reaching the airport. Transfer to Aeroparque by Manuel Tienda de Leon. www.tiendaleon.com.ar Upon reaching Mendoza proceed to the Baggage Claim to retrieve your bags.
If arriving to Mendoza via Santiago, Chile:
Upon arrival at the Mendoza airport (MDZ), proceed to the Immigrations Desk for foreign travelers. They will provide you with an entrance permit adequate for your stay. Please check the date to ensure it covers your complete stay in Argentina.
Once you receive your bags from Baggage Claim, you will proceed to Customs. There will be a random selection of bags for inspection. Be sure to keep all your bags together. A private shuttle will take you to our hotel.
Travel Insurance & Rescue Insurance
We require the purchase of insurance plans to protect you from the unexpected. Please consult with your insurance company with any specific questions, regarding coverage, and policy details, and if you have any questions contact our offices.
BBE recommends RipCord. provides coverage to protect against trip cancellation, interruption, or delay due to unforeseeable sickness, injury or death of you or a family member. Coverage also includes trip cost default protection; stolen or damaged luggage; and trip or baggage delay protection.
Coverage should include lost or damaged baggage, BBE is not responsible for the personal items or baggage of its members at any time.
All of the meals served on Benegas Brothers Expeditions trips are a combination of the best local and regional fares along with occasional specialty items brought from the US. We are happy to accommodate your dietary restrictions and/or allergies. We practice an expedition motto of “happiness through eating!”
We recommend that you bring snacks to supplement the mountain lunches for 14 days. We may have a chance to purchase additional food in Mendoza, but we recommend you take what you need and like, and only supplement with local food if necessary.
Take snacks that you genuinely enjoy. Eating well is the key to maintaining your strength while in the mountains. And in order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude, it is best to have a variety of foods from which to choose, from sweet to sour to salty.
Lunch snacks are eaten during short breaks throughout the day while in the mountains. Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.
Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, Toffees, Life Savers), Gummy Bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).
Breakfast and Dinners
The breakfast menu includes items such as instant oatmeal, cold cereals (granola), breakfast bars, hot drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa, cider) and local fresh fruit.
Dinner usually begins with soup and ends with dessert, followed by a round of hot drinks. Healthy one-pot meals, incorporating fresh local food whenever practical, are served as the main course. There are limitations, but the menu is planned to offer good variety and ample portions.
Our international trips feature local standard four-five star accommodations in the larger cities and towns. These hotels offer all of the amenities you would expect; room service, laundry, wireless internet…etc. They are often close to the local points of interest, unique shops and colorful markets, and offer guests a comfortable place to relax between the trip activities.
During our treks and climbs we will be camping with Style. You might find yourself waking up to a hot tea delivered with a smile right to the foot of your tent each morning, or playing cards in the dining tent during afternoon tea with new acquaintances, or enjoying a fine meal prepared by our cook staff that is present on each trip. Camping will take on a new meaning for you!
Porters are available to help carry gear above Base Camp. They can be arranged at your request through your guide. Porters carry loads of 20 kg and prices depend on where on the mountain they are needed, varying from $180 to $350 dollars for a one-way trip. Prices in the 2016/17 season were up to $1300 total for carries to each camp, and return to Base Camp. This is a very individual decision, but there is no doubt that having a porter makes the climb somewhat less strenuous, but it is no substitute for being in very good physical condition. Payment is due in cash at the time of service. Porter fees are not included in the trip or permit fees and are in addition to the amount we suggest you bring as spending money.
The current currency of Argentina is the Peso. Check a financial newspaper or www.xe.com for the current exchange rate prior to departure.
You should find that $950-$1,300 for spending money is adequate for your permit, restaurant meals, drinks, tips and pocket money. You may choose to bring more depending on your shopping plans and length of stay.
Cash machines are readily available in Mendoza, but become increasingly difficult to find outside of the main urban areas.
Credit cards are accepted in most, but not all, areas.
Everyone has a preferred way to carry money. Some use money belts, others have hidden pockets. Whatever you do, be aware of pickpockets and thieves in any area which caters to tourists.
Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize. The key to climbing high is proper acclimatization. Our program follows a calculated ascent profile which allows time for your body to adjust to the altitude. In addition to a proper rate of ascent, your performance is often related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days and weeks prior to summit day. Proper hydration, nutrition, and warmth must be maintained on a daily basis throughout the expedition
Aconcagua, like all big mountains, generates and attracts its own weather, making it impossible to predict. Be prepared for a wide range of temperatures, from freezing nights, to snowy and windy conditions, to bright sunshine intensified by the high altitude. This wide fluctuation in temperatures makes it important to bring everything on the equipment list. Climbers early in the season, on our December and January climbs, should expect to find large snowfields high on the mountain, while climbers later in the season, on our February trips, will encounter less snow and more dry, rocky trail – there may, of course, be some variation to this from one season to the next. Aconcagua is located at 32 degrees 39 minutes south, the same distance from the equator as San Diego, California. The best time to climb Aconcagua is from December to early March, during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer. Days of clear sunny skies are the norm on Aconcagua, but the mountain does receive storms during the summer months due to the moist, humid winds blowing west from the Pacific Ocean. As this air rises over the slopes of the Andes, its speed increases and it condenses to form lenticular clouds on the summit, also known as viento blanco, or white wind. In general, winds from the south are usually a sign of good weather and enable us to go for a successful summit bid.
People climb Aconcagua for many reasons. Some just love being in a wild places, while others want to challenge themselves physically and mentally, and for some it is to fulfill a lifelong dream. Climbing Aconcagua is serious business and a summit attempt requires a very deep sense of commitment and dedication. So please ask yourself, what are you goals on Aconcagua? Try to take an introspective look at the risk vs. reward as you make your decision. Any ascent at this altitude involves a certain amount of risk. Our use of conservative, experience-based, decision making will help minimize those risks and increase your chances for success, but ultimately, big mountains can be unforgiving and require serious commitment and reflection.
Team members are ultimately responsible for their own well being. This includes making all the necessary preparations to ensure good health and excellent physical conditioning both before and during an expedition. Our guides will oversee and discuss important issues along the way, but you should arrive in Mendoza very well prepared.
At BBE, safety is paramount, and our proven success rate reflects our decades of experience. In addition to our exceptional knowledge of the routes we climb, backed up by a phenomenal support staff in base camps and weather forecasting via satellite, we are prepared for every outcome, with rescue, medical equipment, and support always standing by. Our climbs and acclimatization programs are meticulously planned for the most enjoyable ascents possible, focussing on our teams’ safely to give you the experience of a lifetime.
Day 1: Arrivals in Mendoza
Arrivals in Mendoza. We are met at the airport by a private van to transfer to our hotel. Overnight in hotel. Altitude sleeping: 2428′ / 740m. Max Elevation: 2428′ / 740m.
Day 2: Mendoza to BBE mountain hut 2,850m
Meet at hotel at 9.00am. During the morning we will go and get our Aconcagua permits and perform an equipment check before heading to the hills. In the afternoon we drive for 2 hours to Vallecitos Valley, located about 50 miles – 80 km from Mendoza City. We will stay at a typical Andean mountain hut for the next two nights. In the late afternoon we make a short acclimatization hike around the area reaching the area of Las Veguitas (10,498′ / 3,200m), which gives us a panoramic view of the El Plata Valley. Return to the refuge. Overnight in Hut. Altitude sleeping: 9,350′ / 2,850m. Max Elevation: 10,498′ / 3,200m. Elevation gain driving: 6.922′ / 2,109m. Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: 1,148′ / 350m.
Day 3: Acclimatization day dedicated to the ascent of four summits up to 4,050m
This day is dedicated to try and ascent at least three if not four of the summits belonging to the small mountain range called “La Cadenita”. The summits are: Lomas Blancas (12,631′ / 3850m), El Estudiante (12,795′ / 3,900m), and Caucaso (13,287′ / 4050m). From the top of we enjoy amazing views of the entire region. Back to hut for dinner: a typical Argentinian “asado” (BBQ). Altitude sleeping: 9,350′ / 2,850m. Max Elevation: 13,287ft. 4,050m. Elevation Ascent / Descent hiking: 3,937′ / 1,200m.
Day 4: Hut to High Camp at 3,500m
Today we ascend to 3,500m to camp at Piedra Grande, giving us great views of the valley. After setting up camp we rest and hydrate. Overnight in tents. Altitude sleeping: 11,482′ / 3,500m. Max Elevation: 11,482′ / 3,500m. Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: 2,132′ / 650m.
Day 5: Ascent of 4,300m Peak
Today we enjoy an ascent of Cerro San Bernardo (14,107′ / 4,300m). After an early breakfast, we head for a place called Las Veguitas to then ascend through stone and snow corridors to the summit. This will be a long day, but invaluable for our acclimatization. Overnight in tents back at our high camp. Altitude sleeping: 11,482′ / 3,500m. Max Elevation: 14,107′ / 4,300m. Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: 2,624′ / 800m.
Day 6: Our pre-acclimatization program completed, we descend to transfer to Penitentes Town
Overnight at Hotel in Penitentes (8,497′ / 2,590m), in winter a ski town. Max Elevation: 11,482′ / 3,500m. Elevation gain/ loss driving: (-853′ /260m). Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: -2,132′ / 650m.
Day 7: Penitentes to Confluencia, Aconcagua Provincial Park
Today we leave our city clothes in Penitentes and enter the Aconcagua Provincial Park. After loading our equipment onto mules, a pick up truck will drive us as far along the Horcones jeep road as possible. We then trek up the Horcones Valley following the Hormones River to our Camp at Confluencia (11,200′ / 3,414m). This is a short day, helping us recover from Cerro San Barnardo. Altitude sleeping: 11,200′ / 3,414m. Max Elevation: 11,200′ / 3,414m. Elevation gain driving: 1.197′ / 365m. Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: 1,505′ / 450m.
Day 8: Confluencia to Base Camp Plaza de Mulas
Continuing our trek today, we follow a broad, stone covered valley floor from Confluencia to a steep trail that leads to a glacial moraine. Base Camp Plaza de Mulas (14,300′ / 4,350m) is situated on top of this moraine just off the Horcones Glacier and beneath the vast west face of Aconcagua. Base Camp Plaza de Mulas is very comfortable, with a huge mess tent and a full staff of cooks and porters. We provide world-class mountain cuisine that includes vegetarian meals, free-range Argentinean steak, delicious soups, and fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Altitude sleeping: 14,300′ / 4,350m. Max Elevation: 14,300′ / 4,350m. Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: 3,100′ / 936m.
Day 9: Acclimatization and Rest at Base Camp
Acclimatization at Base Camp. Most people begin to feel the altitude at this point. Here we will rest, hydrate, acclimatize, enjoy the stunning views and base camp culture. Altitude sleeping: 14,300′ / 4,350m. Max Elevation: 14,300′ / 4,350m.
Day 10: Transport supplies to Camp I
Camp I, or Plaza Don Fernando, rests at 16,200′ / 4,938m. Throughout our climb of Aconcagua we follow the philosophy of climb high-sleep low as we ascend the mountain. From our base camp at Plaza de Mulas we follow the trail as it gradually switchbacks up steep scree slopes to the rock spires that mark Plaza Don Fernando. Here we cache food and gear before returning to base camp. This usually takes 4 to 6 hours round trip. Altitude sleeping: 14,300′ / 4,350m. Max Elevation: 16,200′ /4938m. Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: 1,900′ / 588m up/down.
Day 11: Rest and acclimatize at base camp
Another day of rest and acclimatization at base camp, before we return to Plaza Don Fernando tomorrow. This dramatically improves our acclimatization for a successful upcoming summit push. Altitude sleeping: 14,300′ / 4,350m. Max Elevation: 14,300′ / 4,350m.
Day 12: Move to Camp I
Today we return to Plaza Don Fernando to sleep. This time we must each carry all our personal equipment and will not return to Base Camp until after our summit push, unless forced to by bad weather. Local guides who serve as seasonal porters help us by carrying tents, stoves, cooking equipment and fuel. Expect to be carrying about 15 to 20 kilos. Altitude sleeping: 16,200′ / 4,938m. Max Elevation: 16,200′ / 4,938m. Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: 1,900′ / 588m.
Day 13: Move to Plaza Don Benegas
Today we make our next move up to Plaza Don Benegas (18,400′ / 5,608m.) in about 3 – 5 hours. We will set up our camp and look forward to resting for the remainder of the day as well as a rest day tomorrow. Altitude sleeping: 18,400′ / 5,608m. Max Elevation: 18,400′ / 5,608m. Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: 2,200′ / 670m.
Day 14: Rest day
A full rest day will provide us with more invaluable time to acclimatize. We will focus on sleep, hydration, and eating well. On a clear day, the views from Plaza Don Benegas are truly unforgettable. Weather permitting we will enjoy pleasant camp time outside in sunshine, however, winds and cold weather may confine us to our tents for most of the day. It is useful to pack reading material, cards, or music. Altitude sleeping: 18,400′ / 5,608m. Max Elevation: 18,400′ / 5,608m. Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: 0’/m.
Day 15: Move to Camp Plaza Caluba
Today we move on up for approximately 3 – 5 hours to reach our next Camp Plaza Caluba at 19,600′ / 5,974m. This may be an altitude record for some, and we are now less than 1000m below the summit! We will be carrying three days of food, fuel, personal equipment, and tents, and moving steadily but surely up the mountain. Altitude sleeping: 19,600′ / 5974m. Max Elevation: 19,600′ / 5974ft. Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: 1,200′ / 366m.
Day 16: Summit Day
The Aconcagua summit day is very long yet satisfying. We normally begin with a wake up call at first light, and depart between 6 and 8am depending on the wind. We will be ending in the late afternoon. The summit day involves nothing more than mountain walking, albeit at high altitude. In good conditions the base of the Central Canaleta to the summit is reached in just 4 to 5 hours. The Central Canaleta then involves about 300 meters in vertical elevation gain. At this point, due to the gradient and altitude we calculate approximately one hour per 100 meters of elevation gain. The Canaleta sometimes requires a little scrambling to the final summit ridge, which provides outstanding views down the South Face. Finally, a metal cross adorns the true summit and is accompanied by a summit register. The views from the summit on a clear day are superb, and can stretch as far as the Pacific Ocean. From the summit we return the same way to Camp Plaza Caluba. Altitude sleeping: 19,600′ / 5974m. Max Elevation: 22,841′ / 6962m. Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: 3,241ft. 988m up/down.
Day 17: Descent to Base Camp
Today we descend from Plaza Caluba to the comforts of Base Camp, feeling oxygen return the lower we go. We will probably have some equipment and snacks to pick up at the Camp I, which will be shared between hungry team members. Altitude sleeping: 14,300′ / 4,350m. Max Elevation: 19,600′ / 5974m. Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: 5,300′ / 1,674m.
Day 18 and 19: Standby Days.
We allow for flexibility in our mountain itinerary for considerations such as weather, route conditions, acclimatization and the strength and health of the climbing team. Our experienced guides closely monitor climbers’ performance and acclimatization throughout the team’s ascent and may make day-to-day variations in order to better your chances of reaching the summit. We have time!
Day 20: Trek out from Base Camp
Today, we walk out from Base Camp to the trailhead at Puente Del Inca. The walk, which took two days to accomplish on the way in, will take only 6 or 7 hours. This is a long challenging day, but you will be rewarded with a hot shower, clean clothes, drinks and a delicious celebratory meal at the hotel in Penitentes. Altitude sleeping: 8,497′ / 2,590m. Max Elevation: 14,300′ / 4,350m. Elevation Ascent / Descent driving: 1,197′ / 365m down. Elevation Ascent/ Descent hiking: 2,132′ / 650m down.
Day 21: Travel to Mendoza, end of our services
Our services end with transport back to Mendoza to the hotel of your choice or a late flight home. You may prefer to fly the next day and stay the night in Mendoza to relax or head out to wineries and buy some souvenirs from the region. Altitude sleeping: 2428′ / 740m. Hotel / meals not included