P5 - Superlative fitness is called for. Regular, long and intense physical training is required for preparation. Expect long days on the hill of 10-15 hours in testing weather conditions (especially summit day) carrying up to 15-20kg in weight, and or pulling a pulk with exceptional weight.
Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.
T3 - May involve harder scrambling or some trekking and climbing with ropes. If snow is encountered then glacier travel with ropes, ice axes and crampons will be necessary. Basic climbing skills is ideal, but will also be taught and certainly practiced during the expedition and pre-summit phase.
Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.
Date & Prices
Pics & Vids
Aconcagua (6,962m) in the heart of South America is the highest mountain outside the Himalayas, and the second highest of the 7 summits. Its enormous size, extremes of weather and altitude make for a trekking challenge which is a great step up from Kilimanjaro.
Aconcagua is an alien planet. Wildly contorted and coloured rocks stretch out into vast glacial valleys. Towering above the bustling base camp the enormous red coloured west face twists clouds into bizarre shapes as it gets pummelled by passing storms. To acclimatise and to get a condor’s eye view of the route we climb the nearby Bonette Peak then load our rucksacks and begin the challenging work of climbing ‘The Stone Sentinel’. Getting to the summit is never easy but prepare to be overwhelmed when you realise this outstanding achievement. Aconcagua is a great teacher and toughens you up for your next challenge: 8,000 metres.
Stormy and sometimes snow-covered Aconcagua is known for being temperamental but we have overhauled the traditional itinerary and created a programme which gives you the best chance to summit. We alternate rest days between strenuous days of load carrying and have designed a flexible summit time-frame where at least 3 nights can be spent at high camp to wait for good climbing conditions.Find out more
Date & Prices
Departure & Return
Price (excl. flight)
Price (incl. flight)
Start: 26 November 2018
End: 20 December 2018
Price without flights:
Price with flights: £5,595
26 November 2018
20 December 2018
Start: 09 January 2019
End: 02 February 2019
Price without flights:
Price with flights: £5,695
09 January 2019
02 February 2019
Start: 28 November 2019
End: 22 December 2019
Price without flights:
Price with flights: £5,595
28 November 2019
22 December 2019
- International and domestic airfares
- 360 Head Aconcagua guide Gianni and local guides
- All road transfers
- All hotel accommodation as mentioned
- Mules for luggage to Base Camp
- 5 days full base camp services (tents and meals etc)
- 3 nights full camp services at Confluencia
- Emergency and team mountaineering equipment
- Climbing permits
- All accommodation based on two people sharing
- All food whilst on trek and ‘meals’ when city based as described in the itinerary
- Drinks in restaurants
- Personal gear for trekking and climbing
- Tips for local guides
- Visas where applicable
- Porters (these can be hired for individual day stages at a cost of approx. between $120 to $180 for 18kg load)
- Trip insurance
- Items of a personal nature: phone calls, laundry, room service, etc.
- Unscheduled hotel nights
- Lunch and dinner as indicated in the itinerary
- Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early including any airline surcharges as a result of changing return airline tickets
Pics & Vids
DAY 1 : Depart UK
Today we will depart London and fly to Mendoza.
DAY 2 : Arrive Mendoza
Today we will arrive in Mendoza. You will be transferred from the airport to your comfortable hotel accommodation in Mendoza.
Once you have settled in, your 360 guide will brief you over a fantastic steak and wine dinner. Also, time to meet and get to know our extremely experienced Argentinian mountain guides.
DAY 3 : Mendoza
A full day in Mendoza to get permits, have a final equipment check with your 360 guide, recover from your long haul flight, get better acquainted with your team-mates and take advantage of summer in this beautiful Southern Hemisphere city.
DAY 4 : Mendoza - Penitentes - Confluencia (3,400m )
Today we will drive to Penitentes (2,600m) and then trek to Confluencia . Confluencia will be our camp for 3 nights. It is sensationally located below an vast rock face and the camp is staffed by experienced chefs and enjoys modern camp facilities.
DAY 5 : Trek to Plaza Francia
Today we trek to 4,100m to Plaza Francia or the South face look-out, just below the highest vertical wall in all of the Americas’. A 3,000m high wall of ice and rock, equivalent to two north walls of the Eiger stacked on top of each other; this is a very serious climbing objective which attracts the “crème de la crème” of today’s mountaineers.
DAY 6 : Rest Day at Confluencia
We take a rest day at Confluencia and picnic in a picturesque valley with ample bouldering opportunities.
DAY 7 : Confluencia – Plaza de Mulas
Long trek to Plaza de Mulas (4,300m), our Base Camp for the expedition. Today we trek for 8 – 9 hrs through the enormous Horcones Valley. We start by crossing the Playa Ancha (Wide Beach) and along the route we will catch glimpses of the south summit and the beautifully pastel coloured peaks that loom above this broad valley.
DAY 8 : Rest Day at Plaza de Mulas
Rest day at Plaza de Mulas We spend time exploring the area and chilling out.
DAY 9 : Pico Bonette
Today we bag the 5,000m Bonette Peak. An ascent to this altitude aids acclimatisation and affords stunning views of the entire route we have come to climb. From the summit of Bonette we get a true sense of perspective of the adventure which awaits us.
DAY 10 : Rest Day at Plaza de Mulas
A day to check out the amazing paintings at the art gallery, visit the internet café, contact home and meet the other teams.
DAY 11 : Plaza de Mulas – Camp Canada
Climb to Camp Canada (C1). Today we get to grips with the mountain and spend a day doing some light portering of group equipment. (5,000m, 3 – 4 hour ascent.) We spend the night at this sensationally located camp and no doubt will be treated to breathtaking sunsets over the nearby Cuerno peak (5,500m).
DAY 12 : Camp Canada – Camp 2 – Plaza de Mulas
Ascent to Camp 2 (Nido de Condoros 5,500m) and back to Plaza de Mulas Another light portering day of group equipment.
DAY 13 : Rest Day
Rest day at Plaza de Mulas.
DAY 14 : Plaza de Mulas – Camp Canada
Ascent to Camp 1 (5,000m). Today we hoist the anchor from Base Camp and begin our ascent to the summit. Carrying all our camping kit and personal luggage we retrace our steps to Camp Canada.
DAY 15 : Camp Canada – Camp 2
Ascent to Camp 2 (5,500m). We are rewarded for our hard work today with stunning views of the distant Mercedario (6,700m), Plumo (6,400m) and the black mountains of nearby Chile. (4-5 hrs ascent).
DAY 16 : Rest Day
Rest day at Camp 2. Today the guides will keep you busy with water and ice-fetching duties and perhaps you can demonstrate your culinary expertise in the kitchen tent.
DAY 17 : Camp 2 – Camp 3
A short but steep ascent brings us to Camp 3. This can either be Camp Berlin (5,950m) or Camp Colera (6,000m). This is the high camp from which we will make our summit bid.
DAY 18 : Summit Day
We start out in the early hours in the dark after a quick breakfast in our tents. Soon the sun rises as we trek towards the Independencia Hut before tackling the Windy Gap and heading onto the usually snow bound traverse.
The traverse starts flat and gradually ascends to the “La Cueva” our final stop before hitting the Canaleta, a 350m U-shaped couloir which we ascend before arriving at the summit ridge. From here we can see the summit to the east and after a short but hard trek we finally reach our objective, the top of Aconcagua and South America.
We stop for photos and to savour our amazing achievement before retracing our steps to Camp 3.
DAY 19 : Summit Day
Second potential summit day.
DAY 20 : Summit Day
Third potential summit day.
DAY 21 : Descend to Base Camp
We retrace our steps to Base Camp.
DAY 22 : Base Camp – Pentitentes – Mendoza
Retrace our steps to Penitentes getting our last views of the mighty Aconcagua. Transfer back to Mendoza for a well-deserved celebration meal.
DAY 23 : Rest Day Mendoza
A day to relax and recuperate from all your efforts on the mountain.
DAY 24 : Depart Mendoza - Flight to UK
We depart Mendoza for our flight back to the UK which lands the following day.
DAY 25 : Arrive UK
Arrive back to Heathrow.
These are subject to minor changes depending on flight arrival and departure times, weather, group dynamics and fitness and so on, but the itinerary outlined provides an excellent indication of the expedition and what you will experience.
Bags & Packs
A large duffel bag of 140L or more to transport your kit out to Argentina and then up to Plaza de Mulas Base Camp (PdM). Suitacses and wheeled bags are NOT suitable
Approximately 80L to take your kit from PdM to higher camps carrying up to 15kg
30 – 40L for the trek in to Plaza de Mulas. You can use your expedition rucksack instead if you do not want to take this pack. Some do, some don’t, it’s a personal choice
Nylon rolltop bags (or even just large plastic bags) that keep fresh clothing and other important items like passports and iPods dry in the event of a total downpour that seeps into your kitbag. Good for quarantining old socks
Small kit bag or light bag
This is for any kit you intend to leave at the hotel and could even simply be a heavy duty plastic bag
For use on your kit bag for travel and on the expedition plus your hotel bag
5 Season sleeping bag
5-season with a comfort rating to -25C is essential. Down is lighter but more expensive than synthetic and ratings vary between manufacturers
A full length self-inflating rather than ¾ length Thermarest
Sleeping bag liner
Silk is best for keeping the bag clean and you a little warmer
This can be a warm hat, beanie, balaclava, anything to reduce the heat loss from your head
Wide brimmed hat
Keeps the sun off exposed areas like ears and the nape of the neck
Category 4 wrap around style is highly recommended. These sunglasses allow for the highest available protection against harmful UV light found at altitude and from glare from snow and sand surfaces. Worth spending money on good UV filters. Julbo is our preferred supplier
Category 3 for days when it may be snowing and very windy. Very useful on summit day
Buy the highest SPF you can find as UV intensifies with altitude
Essential for protection from the sun and dust
Sun cream will not work on your lips and they are very susceptible to burn without proper protection
This is the layer closest to the skin and its principal function is to draw (wick) moisture and sweat away from the skin. You can also get thermal base layers for use at higher altitudes that provide an additional insulative layer while still drawing sweat during times of high exertion
These are typically lightweight microfleeces or similar technology that provide varying degrees of warmth and insulation without being overly bulky or heavy to pack
Soft Shell (optional)
Optional – These should be windproof (not all are) and insulative. They are mostly made of soft polyester and sometimes resemble a neoprene finish which makes them very mobile and comfortable to wear. While offering a degree of weather repellence, they are not waterproof
Light insulated jacket
A lighter jacket such as a Primaloft or lightweight down which can be worn at lower to mid altitudes is a great addition to your kit offering greater flexibility with layering
Optional – A great low volume additional layer to keep your core warm, whether down, primaloft or fleece
A good Goretex Hardshell jacket with sealed seams provides effective defence against wind and rain as your outermost layer. This should be big enough to fit over your other layers
These provide the best insulation and are worth every penny. They will keep you warm down to around -25C with a couple of layers underneath, the higher the ‘loft’ the better. Our guides usually wear a lighter down or Primaloft jacket under their down jackets for greater layering on summit day
Consider a light polartec pair or better still liner gloves for lower altitudes and evenings, and a thicker pair like ski gloves for higher altitudes that can be worn in combination with liners
High altitude down mitts
Worn over liners for summit days on all 6,000m plus expeditions. Mitts provide more warmth than finger gloves. For extreme cold down or prima loft fill is recommended
A great addition to fit over your down mitts high up or gloves lower down for an added windproof or waterproof layer, especially as down ceases to work when it gets wet and takes a long time to dry. Synthetic fill dries much more quickly
These tend to be polyester so they dry quickly after a shower and weigh little in your pack. Consider perhaps a pair with detachable lower legs as an alternative to shorts
Softshell windproof or thermal lined mid weight trekking trousers. Thermal leggings can still be worn underneath if necessary. Or Primaloft over a pair of thermal leggings. Both good options. All depends on your budget
Like the jacket, an essential piece of kit to stay dry and should also be Goretex
Thermal insulation for the lower body
Merino or wicking material, not cotton. How many pairs you take is entirely up to you
High altitude boots
Essential on all our high altitude expeditions as they are the only way to avoid frostbite. Commonly known as ‘plastics’ these boots are double or triple layered to offer the best insulation and the warmest feet up high. Ranging from Scarpa Vegas to La Sportiva Spantiks to La Sportiva Olympus Mons depending on your budget. Make sure that your boots fit with 2 pairs of socks for added warmth and with room to wiggle your toes. Avoid trying to break in the boots by training in them, they will break you! Wear them around the house to get used to the weight and feel instead
Well worn in 4 season waterproof boots with mid to high ankle support
Single layer or wearing 2 pairs is a personal choice and lighter weight merino wool is a good option
High altitude socks
These are especially thick to provide maximum insulation. Bring three pairs, keep one pair clean for summit day, and wear with a thinner inner
High altitude inner socks
Lighter weight inner socks, Merino wool is advisable
Just in case
To protect the tops of your footwear from harsh conditions and to provide some added insulation
A plastic helmet is more suitable rather than the expanded foam helmets available. Make sure you try it on in a shop with a woolly/fleece hat underneath
12 point mountaineering crampons with anti-balling plates that fit your specific boots (not ice climbing crampons)
A walking ice axe between 55cm and 65cm. Go to an outdoor shop and try different ones for weight and size so that you get one that feels good to you
These tend to be a personal preference but help with your stability and can dampen the pressure on the knees coming down hill
Water bottle and insulated bottle cover
3L equivalent – a good combination is a Platypus/Camelbak plus 2 x 1L Nalgene bottles. Platypus for use before the water starts to freeze at higher camps.
Insulated water bottle covers will come in handy at higher camps to help prevent the water from freezing!
If you’re using tablets, it’s worth taking neutraliser or using Silver Chloride which has little taste
Small thermal flask
May be nice on summit night when it’s cold
Pee bottle (+ optional Shewee for the girls!)
A good idea if you are storm bound at higher camps. A 1ltr Nalgene bottle is a good option but do make sure you label it as your pee bottle!!
Travel towels from the likes of Lifesystems are perfect
These are great for washing when modern shower facilities become a thing of the past
A must have for good camp hygiene
Provided on the mountain but a spare in your daysack may be useful if you need to hide behind a rock between camps
Nappy sacks or dog poo bags
Only needed to bag your toilet paper if you are caught short in between camps and for keeping your rubbish tidy in your tent
For early stages and once back down
Keep it simple on the mountain. Essentials are toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant. Moisturiser is advisable, everything else is a luxury!
Keep this in your daysack
Personal first aid kit
Blister patches, plasters, antiseptic, painkillers; (see FAQ’s)
Bring plenty of spare batteries and memory cards. The mountain is very dusty, so some sort of camera protective bag is advisable
Sewing kit (optional)
Bring spare batteries
For summit day
You will be fed very well and given snacks each day however we advise bringing a small selection as a little bit of comfort. For summit night it’s always good to have a few extra chunky bars for that extra boost. Energy gels and protein bars are not suitable
A great addition for hot drinks at the higher camps
Light weight spoon to use at meal times
Don’t forget this! Your passport should have at least 6 months validity. With your passport expiry date at least six months after the final day of travel.
Copy of passport
Just in case
Passport photos x 4
Dental check up
We recommend you have a dental check-up before your trip. New fillings can be an issue at altitude if there is an air pocket left in the gap
Check with your travel clinic or the nurse at your GP surgery
Useful in emergencies. Check with your card provider that it is accepted in country of expedition.
On the mountain you will need tip money of about $150 and about $100 extra to buy beers or something to take home and cover meals not included in the expedition price
As applicable – UK residents do not need a visa to enter Argentina
Copy of own travel insurance details. And relevant contact numbers.
We have a partnership with True Traveller and would recommend that you contact them when looking for travel insurance for your trip with 360. However, it is vital that you ensure that the insurance cover they offer is suitable for you, taking your personal circumstances (items to be insured, cancellation cover, medical history) into account. Many other insurance providers are available and we do recommend that you shop around to get the best cover for you on the expedition you are undertaking.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip. To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.
Who is the guiding team composed of (How many guides? Climber to guide ratio)?
Our 360 guides are some of the most experienced in the business. They spend many months a year climbing and trekking in not only in South America but other mountain areas also. They have established a close rapport with our ground crew and run a very enjoyable expedition.
Most trips have a 3:1 ratio. Our 6 person teams depart with one 360 expedition guide. This ratio also includes local crew (Argentinian guides). Generally your accompanying 360 leader will be in charge of the expedition and he/she will be assisted by the local guides.
How many climbers are on this expedition?
Never more than 12. Typically a group has between 6 to 8 climbers.
Food and Water
What is the food like on the mountain?
All meals on the mountain are of the highest possible standards. In fact considering that our 360 expedition Guides have to produce the best possible meals in a wilderness setting using only the most basic of facilities (kerosene stoves) the meals they produce are nothing short of miracle. The meals are always fresh, nutritious and varied. We ensure that dietary preferences are always met and that the best local ingredients are used. The underlying aim is to provide balanced nutritional meals packed with carbohydrates to refuel hungry bodies and to replenish stores for the next day of activity. On top of well balanced meals clients are provided with coffee, tea and snacks upon arrival into camp. The morning wake-up call is usually accompanied with a cup of tea or coffee in your tent.
Clients are invited to bring along any of their favourite snacks and goodie bags from home or Mendoza as they are expensive to buy at base camp. Concentrate on high energy food-stuffs such as Jelly Babies or nuts to give you that little boost on an arduous day. Meals at base camp will include fresh fruits and vegetables. Lightweight nutritious foods are prepared higher on the mountain.
I have food allergies, can these be catered for?
Absolutely, please inform the office of any allergies or intolerances and we will ensure that these are taken into account on the trek.
Where does the drinking water come from?
Water comes from ice. Above Base Camp we use local snow drifts and snow fields to collect ice and then melt this to water. This is a labour and fuel intensive job.
We boil this snow/ice immediately to make soups and hot drinks. Another round of ice is boiled to produce water for the next day’s use.
How often is fresh water available for replenishing during the day?
Before leaving camp in the morning you will fill your water bottles or camel bladder. For most walking days water can be replenished at the evening’s campsite. We would advise having sufficient water bottles/camelbaks to carry 3 litres of water. Soft drinks can be bought at base camp although this is quite expensive.
How does tent sharing work? And how big are the tents?
Most altitude related symptoms manifest themselves at night. We therefore recommend tent sharing from the onset of all our Aconcagua expeditions. Tent share is always organised according to same sex and where possible age groups. Obviously if climbing this mountain with a friend or partner then you will be able to share tents and if you’re a group we’ll ask you to make your own arrangements. If you have joined the team by yourself then it is highly likely that you will be sharing a tent with your pre-assigned room buddy unless prior arrangements have been made.
We use high quality 3 man tents to be shared between 2 people to provide extra space for your comfort.
What happens to toilet waste?
There are proper toilets at Confluencia and long drops with seats at Plaza de Mulas. At camps 1, 2 and 3 all toilet waste is bagged and tagged in especially allocated “poo bags” We are required to carry down all toilet waste which is disposed of at Base Camp. Generally we carry the waste down in double plastic bags and early in the morning when it is still frozen.
What if I arrive early or depart late? Can you arrange extra nights’ lodging? Is there a single room option for this expedition?
We are happy to make any arrangements scheduled outside of the trek dates: these may include personalised tours, extra hotel rooms, private airport pick-ups or arranging private rooms. Please indicate that your requirements on your application form and we will contact you for the relevant arrangements.
Is all my accommodation included in the price?
Our itinerary allows for three potential summit days in the in the event of bad weather or other contingency. Should we summit on the first or second day we will arrive back in Mendoza earlier than scheduled. In this event your additional accommodation is not included and you should allow approx. £40 per night (based on two sharing).
Health and Safety
What happens if I get altitude sickness?
There are different types of altitude sickness. Although our acclimatisation regime ensures that everybody enjoys the best possible chance of getting high on the mountain, altitude related problems can happen. The most common of this is high altitude sickness (AMS – Acute Mountain Sickness).
Symptoms for this generally include:
This sounds quite dramatic but generally this is just the process your body naturally goes through to adjust to the higher altitudes and the reduced partial pressure of the atmosphere. For some people the acclimatisation process takes a little longer than others. For our guides this is all part and parcel of ascending a 6,000m peak and although we assess each client’s personal situation carefully we also further consider the compounding affects of dehydration brought on by excessive vomiting and loss of appetite.
AMS might sound frightening but our guides are fully trained (and highly experienced) in helping relieve your personal symptoms and providing advice on how to best proceed.
What can I do to help prevent AMS?
In most cases AMS can be avoided by following guidelines:
- Drink lots of water
- Walk slowly
- Stay warm
- Eat well
We recommend that you familiarise yourself with the various affects that altitude can cause. During your preclimb briefing, we describe altitude sickness to you in detail, and advise you how to cope with it.
The most important thing is not to fear it, but to respect it and to know how to deal with it and more importantly tell your guides how you feel. Our guides have seen every condition that the mountain produces, and they will always know how to deal with problems. Doctors are permanently stationed at both Confluencia and Plaza de Mulas and we visit them every other day to check up on our stats and health in general. They are also there for any emergencies.
Is there a risk of getting HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) and HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) on the mountain?
HACE and HAPE rarely occur on Aconcagua and our guides are fully trained in recognition of the onset of these problems and will deal with them at the first sign of their development.
Are there any inoculation requirements?
Inoculation requirements change quite frequently. Please contact the 360 expedition office for up to date advice or ask your GP.
What happens if I need to leave the expedition early?
All our guides are in communication with each other by radio. In the vast majority of cases of emergency rescue the problems can be attributed to slow acclimatisation or altitude and if so the solution is immediate descent to lower altitudes.
Our 360 guide and local crew are very experienced in dealing with any problems that may arise. Our guides are either doctors or are qualified with the highest standard of wilderness first aid qualifications and can handle any emergency to the highest level of competency without assistance if necessary.
You advocate taking a small first aid kit, what should it have in it?
We advocate a little bit of self-help on the climb. If you have a blister developing for example then please stop take off your boot and treat it before it becomes a problem. Your own first aid kit should contain a basic blister kit, plasters, sun-protection, your own personal medication (sometimes your porter might get to camp after you and if he is carrying your medication you may not be able to take it according to the regime you are used to), antiseptic, basic pain relief (paracetamol and aspirin/ ibuprofen), a personal course of antibiotics if prone to illness. Foot powder in your socks every morning is great for preventing blisters. Generally the best approach to take when packing your first aid kit is to include such basic medications as if you would on any family or personal holiday.
Your 360 expedition guide carries a very comprehensive first aid kit which contains a wide range of supplies and medications. They are fully trained to use whatever is needed for any emergency that may arise. We advocate keeping this in mind when packing your own first aid supplies and keeping your own FA kit as compact and light as possible.
What gear will I need?
Please review the equipment list. While all items are required there may be times when some of the items on the gear list may not be used (such as warm weather or changing conditions). The gear lists are created by the guides to so that climbers are prepared to summit in any conditions.
The equipment list will advise our recommended brands you should consider using, based on our experience. The guides will check your equipment whilst still in Mendoza and will advise as to what is suitable or not. A quick trip to the local gear shops may be needed to buy the last essential items.
What clothing should I wear on Aconcagua?
The cost of equipment is usually a major deterrent for people coming onto trips in the first place. As this is not your first mountain you should have a reasonably of kit off the kit list anyway. Althernatively things you don’t have can be hired cost-effectively from our partners at Outdoor Hire – www.outdoorhire.co.uk
Our guides usually start the trek wearing long, lightweight trekking trousers and wicking (non-cotton) shirts. Long trousers are recommended as a deterrent to insects, stinging plants and to act as sun protection. Shorts can also be worn on the initial few days of the trek as the temperature is usually warm. Ensure that you apply sun protection frequently, or buy a once a day product such as P20 if you’re not very good at remembering to apply it. Sun glasses are worn for most of the trek in as well as suitable sunhats.
The prevailing conditions on the trek will dictate what you will wear: if it is cold when you leave the camp in the morning then wear your fleece. As things warm up take advantage of the zipper system which most trekking clothing have and open and /or close the zips to adjust to your own preferred temperature. If you get too warm then take a layer off.
Over the top of your clothing you will wear a climbing harness and you will be attached to a rope when conditions dictate.
Waterproofs are needed on hand at all times. Aconcagua is a huge mountain that creates its own weather system. It is not unusual to be caught out in an afternoon snowstorm anywhere on the mountain. Waterproofs should be Goretex material or similar.
What clothing should I wear on the mountain during Summit day?
On summit day it gets cold and temperatures of -20C are not unusual.
Typically our guides wear 2 sets of base layers (long Johns), a thick fleece layer (top and bottom) and then on the legs insulated climbing salopettes. Whilst on the upper torso the same layers plus a down jacket is worn.
As the wind picks up near the summit ridge our guides will put on their wind proof layer to ward of the wind-chill. On their hands they’ll wear a thin layer of fleece working gloves over the top of which a thicker set of “ski gloves” or mittens is worn.
On summit day our guides’ heads are covered by a thermal “beanie” hat or a thick balaclava and the hood of their down jackets. On their feet the guides wear one pair of thin socks and one pair of thick. Guides will also wear snow goggles.
On summit day waterproofs are used as an invaluable wind shield to protect you against the effect of wind-chill when a strong wind blows.
What is the best type of footwear to use for the trek to the base camp? And above base camp?
Plastic boots are essential for climbing 6000m peaks. You will be wearing these boots above base camp for the mountain phases of this climb. You will not be wearing them on the trek in to base camp nor for when doing the load carrying as high as C2. Your plastic boots should be the double boot (with a soft inner and hard plastic shell) the basic model would be Scarpa Vega’s or La Sportiva Spantiks. Temperatures high up the mountain are usually well below -20 and only plastic boots can withstand such conditions. Ensure that you have tried the boots on before you leave home and that you can wear a thin and a thick pair of socks in them and still be able to wriggle your toes, (for adequate circulation).
Crampons are worn for when there has been lots of snowfall above C 3 and sometimes even above C 2. Your crampons are preferably of the easy “heel clip” variety (rather than the strap systems which are fiddly). It is not necessary to use specialist technical climbing crampons as standard 12 point all round crampons such as those from Grivel will do the job very well.
Trekking boots should be sturdy, waterproof, insulated against cold temperatures and offer adequate ankle support. In addition it is highly recommended that your boots are well worn in to prevent the formation of blisters. A range of suitable boots are on the market and further advice as to which brand names are available can be found online or at your local gear store.
Are down jackets necessary?
They are essential and are worth their weight in gold on summit day. Our guides wear them on all evenings from the first camp up. We recommend a down jacket with at least 800 grams of down fill.
What will happen to my mountain hardware during the climb?
All the mountain hardware (plastics, crampons, ice axes, ropes and snow stakes etc.) are placed in separate bags when we reach Mendoza and from Penitentes are taken directly to base camp by mule, along with the bulk of your expedition equipment. We will not see this equipment until we reach there. A smaller bag/rucksack carries essentials for the preceding days at Confluencia.
How warm does my sleeping bag need to be?
Sleeping bags should be rated within the -20C comfort zone. From the first camp upwards it is not unusual to experience frosty nights and a good night’s sleep is important to giving you the best chance to climb this mountain. And ensure you get a sleeping bag that has this temperature rating at this comfort zone rather than as its extreme zone.
Our guides take sleeping bags rated to well below -20C to ensure that they are warm at night. A 4 season sleeping bag can be enhanced by using an inner silk or fleece bag (or similar). The idea is to be as comfortable and warm as found a “Bivouac bag” useful to increase the warmth of their bag.
It is important to remember that down sleeping bags work by your own body heating the down that’s inside the bag.
Once you have warmed up the bag its down will retain the heat and ensure that you sleep at a temperature that’s your own body temperature. For best results it is best to wear as little as possible when inside your sleeping bag. Our guides will often only wear a set of thermals in their bag. It is important for the bag to trap the heat. By wearing multiple layers of clothing your clothing will trap this heat and your bag will not function properly.
How much will my pack weigh during the climb?
A rucksack is worn by the climber at all times. During the trek into base camp and for the short climbs around the peak the content of the rucksack should include: a fleece (for when taking breaks or weather changes) a full set ( top and bottom) of waterproofs, sufficient water for the day, snacks, camera equipment, personal medication and a head torch.
Your day to day rucksack should weigh no more than 3 – 4 kg and a rucksack of around 30 – 40 L capacity will more than suffice.
This rucksack can be filled to brim with extra stuff when you check in at the airport. Our guides for example put their down jackets or a thick fleece and a pair of mountain socks in this bag to free up space in their hold luggage.
Once the load carrying between camps starts your load weight will increase to around 18kg. For these carries the focus is on moving up as many supplies to the higher camps as possible and your personal equipment may be reduced to a head torch and Goretex jacket. Once the higher camp has been reached we secure a spot to store our provisions and return virtually weightless back down to sleep at the lower camp.
It is important that your rucksacks have an adjustable waist belt to transfer the weight of your daily load onto your hips and from here onto your legs ( your strongest muscles) to do most of the carrying. Another handy feature would be a compartment in which to fit a Platypus/ Camelbak or water bladder.
Our initial check in luggage should be around 22kg.
Can I hire out equipment when I am out there?
Anyone wishing to hire out equipment whilst on expedition can do so. Please contact the office for more information.
How does this expedition differ from the other expeditions 360 offers?
Aconcagua is a high mountain just shy of 7,000m in altitude. It stands head and shoulders above its neighbouring peaks and as such is exposed to extreme weather conditions. Primarily due to the costs in hiring porters climbers rely on expedition style tactics to climb the mountain. This style of climbing involves a lot more work for the climbers themselves but also adds to climbers feeling that they are climbing the mountain on their own terms and allows for a sensible acclimatisation regime to be established.
Many 360 climbers are interested in climbing the Seven Summits or using Aconcagua as an initiation to get onto the 8,000m peaks. For both these future aims climbing a mountain the size of Aconcagua using expedition style climbing tactics where the focus is on you doing the work, has always proven to be an extremely valuable experience and a real eye-opener as to how a “real” expedition works.
In order to get acclimatised to the level of Base Camp another small Mountain called Pico Bonette (5,100m) is climbed. This allows climbers to see our main objective from a distance and allows us to familiarise ourselves with the area that will be our home for quite some time. The approach to the mountain does not involve a long trek in and we explore the area surrounding base camp thoroughly to get acclimatised before getting stuck into the mountain itself.
How do you climb a mountain without support from Sherpa’s or porters? What is expedition style climbing?
Once base camp is established and climbers have acclimatised to this altitude, work begins to establish the first of the 3 camps that will be used. This involves moving food and camping equipment up the mountain a little at the time. For the first run, climbers will carry around 18kg of supplies to the higher camp and then return to the lower camp to sleep, adhering to the old mountaineering ethos of climbing high and sleeping low.
Once sufficient supplies have been relayed up to the higher camp, the lower camp is taken down and all tents and personal climbing equipment are moved up to the next camp up. The summit is climbed from camp three in a single push.
The entire carrying process is extremely beneficial not only to get acclimatised to the higher altitudes but also proves to be a great team builder and re-enforces the idea that you are climbing this mountain on your own.
Can we get porters to help carry loads if we want them?
Porters are available to carry loads from Base Camp up to Camp three and also to carry stuff down from camps. 360 expedition guides will assist in the negotiations and organise the carry days if you wish to employ a porter. Sometimes climbers chose to employ a porter between two thereby reducing the weight they have to carry by 10kg to make life a little easier. 360 expeditions will sometimes employ porters to assist in carrying loads down the mountain. This is done especially to bring down toilet and camping waste.
Costs of porters: Porters are restricted to only carry 20kg. The carries to the lower camps are cheaper than the higher camps. The porter costs vary each year but are generally between $120-140 USD per 20kg load for the lower camps and around $200 USD for carries to the high camps.
How long is summit day? What is the crux of the route?
Once the high camp (either Berlin camp at 5,960m or Colera at 6,000m) is established, the itinerary allows for three days to climb to the summit. We wait for conditions to become settled and go to the top. Generally there will be strong gust of winds and temperatures as low (and sometimes lower) then -20C. We leave the camp before sunrise and climb the easy slopes to the windy gap. Then we begin the long traverse and move up to the start of the crux of the climb: The Canaletta. This feature is a 200m+ high scree slope pitched back at around 40 degrees. Sometimes it is snowed over which is slightly better because although now we need to use ice axes and crampons at least we won’t need to indulge in the mind numbing pleasures of climbing loose scree at nearly 7,000m. Above the Canaletta we traverse to the summit on the exposed summit ridge. The entire climb to the summit usually takes around 8 hrs from the high camp and usually the same time is taken for the descent.
What is the skill level of this climb?
While technical skills are not necessary, it is strongly recommended that climbers have a basic grounding in the use of crampons and ice axes. Although billed as the world’s highest trekking peak the nature of this expedition is more akin to a mountaineering expedition than a trek. The upper mountain is often covered in snow and quite a lot of time is spent sitting out bad weather.
How fit do I need to be for this expedition?
Climbers are expected to be in good physical condition. The better your physical shape the more you will be able to handle the demands of climbing the peak. This expedition is more arduous and physically demanding then other 360 expeditions as load carrying is done by the climbers themselves. Having a good level of fitness will allow you to enjoy the expedition far more and increase your chances of reaching the summit. Summit day can be up to 16 hours long.
What is the best season to climb / which dates will have the most chance for success?
December through February is when the weather is most stable. High winds and snowstorms can occur at any time of the year, Aconcagua is such a massive mountain that it really has its own weather system.
How cold can it get?
The temperature at the top of the mountain can vary widely. Sometimes it is only a degree or two below freezing, but climbers should be prepared for possible temperatures as low as -35 Celsius, especially in conjunction with windchill.
Low down on the mountain you can expect cold mornings (usually frosty). An afternoon snowstorm is not unusual at the lower altitudes.
Where do I meet my guides?
Your guide will meet you at the airport. Look for someone wearing a 360 logo!
What is the best air route to my destination?
Detailed flight information will be sent to you upon registration. We are ATOL licensed and ensure the most direct route with a reputable airline. Please let us know when booking if you wish to make your own travel arrangements to and from Mendoza or if you wish to travel on different dates.
Do I need special insurance for this expedition?
You must carry individual travel insurance to take part in the expedition. We cannot take you on the mountain without proof of insurance.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip. To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.
Your insurance details are requested on the booking form, however this can be arranged at a later date. 360 Expeditions will be requesting your insurance details 8 weeks before your departure.
Entry into Country
Are there any entry or Visa requirements?
All foreign nationals need a visa or an entry stamp. They are easily obtained at the border (airport) and are free for all nationals except Australians, Canadians and Citizens of the US. These nationalities have to pay $100 USD to obtain their visas, (also at the airport). We recommend that you contact your nearest Argentinean embassy (call 360 for details) to avoid queuing, unnecessary delays and potential clearance problems.
Passports must be valid for 1 year.
Any tips on how a climber can maximize their chances of success?
Use the 360 expedition training program as a guide but also feel free to contact us for individual advice on how to incorporate the best fitness program with your own lifestyle.
High altitude mountaineering is about slack days of low activity followed by long days where every grain of stamina you have is called upon and every ounce of determination you posess is required to reach your goal. The essential idea in order to prepare for Aconcagua is to increase the intensity of the exercise you do by small increments over 4 to 6 months before you leave for the expedition. Concentrate on cardiovascular work-outs during the initial weeks by taking short runs when time allows and try to spend at least 2 weekends a month going on long duration walks ( longer than 6 hrs) increasing the load in your rucksack gradually from 5kg to 18kg. As you get stronger increase this rate of exercise and the duration by walking every weekend and running 5km every second day, for example.A focused regime will not only prepare your body for carrying minor loads but will harden your body against the big days on the mountain itself.
In addition the weekend walks will help break in your boots and get you used to your equipment. In combination this will pay dividends when you reach base camp because even though you can’t train for altitude your body will be ready for arduous days and you will be familiar with how to best use your equipment, both adding to you being able to enjoy and appreciate the mountain all the more.
When is the money due for this expedition? What kind of payment do you accept?
Generally deposits are due when you book as we need in turn to book the international flights well in advance. The full amount should be paid four months prior to departure. However having said that, our aim is to get you to the top of this mountain and we understand that personal financial situations can vary. Please contact our friendly office crew to discuss a suitable payment plan should you find raising the funds to be difficult. We have been in your shoes after all and go by the motto of where there’s a will there’s a way.
What is your cancellation policy? What is your refund policy?
Please read 360 expeditions terms and conditions carefully before you depart.
360 expeditions highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions. Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits 360 expeditions must adhere to a stringent refund policy.
How much do we tip our local crew?
Our local crew work extremely hard to assure that your expedition runs well. Although tipping is not compulsory once someone sees the hard work the crew provides tipping seems the least one can do to say thank you. Tipping recommendations are provided with our joining notes but as a general rule we suggest around $150 per client for the entire local crew, traditionally this is split $100-$120 to the Argentinian guides and $30-$50 between the camp crew at Confluencia and Plaza de Mulas. Tipping the 360 Guide is up to your discretion.
Money - am I correct in thinking we only need to take American Dollars with us?
The local currency is the Argentinean Peso but the rates to the dollar are unstable and in the past have fluctuated widely and is devaluing. American dollars are readily recognised and are easily converted to the local currency. Upon arrival there will always be a bureau de change at the airport. Generally these provide a better rate of exchange than your hotel. For most situations when buying gifts or small goods such as drinks or snacks the use of small denomination US dollars is not a problem, but getting change for a $20USD bill when buying a $1 USD coke will be a challenge. Larger bills are good for tipping your local crew at the end of the expedition and a sufficient amount should be carried with you. Your 360 leader will advise you in the pre-expedition brief as to what is the correct amount to take on the trip with you. We would recommend taking only USD with you. Sterling and Euros can be difficult to exchange in Mendoza.
What additional spending money will we need?
The amount of money you will need depends on how many presents you wish to buy or how much you wish to drink when you come off the hill. As a basic rule of thumb $400 USD should be more than adequate for any post expedition spending. The only cash you’ll need to consider taking with you on the mountain is the local crew tips which are presented to them before we leave Mendoza. (See local tips and tipping.) And for any additional snacks and soft drinks you wish to purchase from the base-camp facilities. Additional supplies can be quite expensive though as all this is brought in by mules. It is also possible that we may come down from the mountain earlier than scheduled if, for example, we summit early. In this situation, your hotel and meals in Mendoza are not covered by 360 Expeditions.
Is there mobile phone reception on the climb?
In Argentina telephones and internet access are readily available in every town. Our guides carry satellite phones in the mountains. The quality of the reception varies from location to location but is generally poor on the mountain. Internet facilities are available at Base Camp.
Can I contact the others on the climb? How about the guide?
You can always call our offices and one of guides will contact you. Generally about one month before your trip departure we mail a list of other team members to you.