One of our most challenging (and epic) treks is the expedition to climb Aconcagua in Argentina. The highest mountain in both the Western and Southern hemispheres, Aconcagua is the highest mountain outside of Asia. Our 21-day itinerary takes you through some of the most awe-inspiring scenery on the planet. And while it’s not so much a technical mountaineering climb, it’s a tough enough expedition to take on. If you’re intrigued about what it takes to climb Aconcagua, here is a trip report from a 2018 expedition…
The journey to climb Aconcagua
“It was almost 40 degrees in Mendoza when we arrived, and this was a bit of a shock for some of us. I had snow in my garden when I left the previous day! We had the day in Mendoza but unfortunately not much time for relaxing. We had to sort out permits, equipment and get some food and wine.
The next day we made our way to Penitentes, a small ski resort, which has suffered badly over the last few years due to a lack of snow in the winter. The hotel that we stay in is used a staging post for most of the teams going onto Aconcagua, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet mountaineers from around the world. As always, we were well looked after in the hotel with its excellent food and great bar.”
The trek begins
“The next three days involved walking from Pampa De Lenas to Plaza Argentina Base Camp. This took us up the Vacas Valley with amazing views, flora and fauna. The highlights of these three days were steak cooked on a campfire for us by the muleteers, beautiful night skies combined with lightening storms, seeing amazing wildlife such as condors, guanacos and Andean foxes.
Eventually we had to leave the comfort of base camp and we made the move up to Camp One. That evening we were rewarded with an amazing sunset and lightning storm. The next day took us up to Camp Two, which is probably the most scenic day of the trip. Everyone was blown away by the views to the north.”
The Summit Attempt
“We left for our summit attempt at 5.30am on the 1st February. This day is normally 12 to 15 hours long and involves being tired, energised, too cold, too hot, dismayed and elated. There is a variety of terrain to be crossed during the ascent on summit day. This year much of the route was covered in snow and this certainly helped, especially on the steeper sections.
The final hour of the climb is on steep terrain and you arrive on the summit all of a sudden, without warning. The team were lucky to have good weather on the summit so they could enjoy their few minutes up there. After a couple of pictures it was time to begin the long descent to Camp 3 and more importantly to water and food.”
This is just a snippet of the experience of how it feels to climb Aconcagua. The three-week journey is an incredible expedition from start to finish. While it pushes you to your limits, the rewards are out of this world. For more information about our expedition to Aconcagua, click here.