Do I need technical knowledge to climb Aconcagua?

If we move from the foothills to the high basin of the Mendoza River, Espizua (1989) describes the Penitentes, Horcones and Almacenes drifts. Subsequently, the Horcones deposits were assigned by Pereyra and González Díaz (1993) to flows originating from rotational landslides. Recently Fauqué et al. (2008a and b) considered the three drift deposits as distal flows of rock avalanches. In this case there is no doubt that the area was glaciated during the Pleistocene, but what is being discussed here is the Aconcagua Mountain Guides validity of the glacial stratigraphy of the Mendoza river basin, based on the mass shear deposits identified .

These antecedents allow us to observe that glacial deposits and mass removal deposits have been confused for more than 60 years. Therefore, the need arises to review and reinterpret the morphology together with the sedimentological characteristics of the high mountain Quaternary deposits. The incorrect identification as moraines made of deposits corresponding to rock avalanches that have survived erosion in previously glazed terrain, has been pointed out by Hewitt (2002) as frequent in many parts of the world. Detailed mapping of Quaternary deposits has been insufficient in many high mountain regions, despite the fact that it is linked to knowledge of geological risks.

It was precisely a study linked to the Aconcagua Ascents geological risks that affect the town of Puente del Inca, the reason for which the issue of the genesis of the deposit located in the Horcones ravine was addressed, in order to discern if it is of glacial origin or associated with mass removal. The resolution of this problem made it necessary to extend the observations to the Cuevas river valley and to the deposit assigned to the Penitentes drift.

The recent reinterpretations of the Horcones, Almacenes and Penitentes drifts were presented in abstracts at the XVII Argentine Geological Congress, therefore we intend here to provide all the information on which the new interpretation of the three deposits is based. We will start with the Horcones deposit and finally we will refer to the one located immediately downstream from the town of Penitentes. In the investigation of the Aconcagua Treks Horcones, Almacenes and Penitentes drifts, special attention was paid to the surface morphology of the deposits, their location and extension in the valleys and their volume. The morphological characteristics of the valleys of Horcones Inferior, Horcones, Tolosa, Cuevas and Mario Ardito were also analyzed, comparing them with other valleys in the area. The southern wall of Cerro Aconcagua was also studied in detail, as some anomalous and/or unusual morphologies were noted in it.

Aconcagua Climbing – The challenge of reaching Colera

Finally we arrived in Berlin, we made the tents since there was no room in the shelters, Esteban, who arrived first with Graciela, had a strong dispute with the guide of another expedition who was reserving places inside the shelter, as you can see the “criolla liveliness” it is immune to high altitudes, we look for snow far from the shelters so that it is not contaminated and we make water. Aconcagua Guided Climb

The fatigue at this height is incredible, to set up the tent, look for snow or simply change clothes. I took photos on the ascent. We are all very tired and the lack of oxygen is very noticeable. Tomorrow we plan to leave for the summit at four in the morning, I hope that the weather will be with us and we will achieve it because the effort is tremendous.

It’s a pity that the photos I don’t think show the imposing mountain landscapes and the precipices on the side of the path in their true dimension, when I look down I feel chills, a fall here must be more than 1000ms and without a doubt it is from the path to eternity, there is no chance of surviving something like that, the other big problem and what I see when looking up in some sections are avalanches, those avalanches of thousands of tons of ice and stones that bury everything in their path. However, at no time did I feel fear, only exhaustion and a tremendous desire to reach the summit. Aconcagua Mountain Guides

Arriving in Berlin we see a large number of lower snow-capped hills that surround us and the summit of Aconcagua covered by rock formations. We set up the tents with great effort and again go looking for snow to make water. Melting snow seems simple, but to make a liter of water from snow takes about forty minutes, the specialist in melting it is Mario and I go looking for it, Eduardo is the taster, he does the quality control… an efficient team .

Meals are quick and basic, based on instant soup, cheese, cold cuts, 4-cheese noodles, sausages, and cookies.

At this altitude, it is necessary to hydrate well, approximately 3 liters per day, to prevent the complications of altitude. In general, one is neither hungry nor thirsty despite great efforts, but eats and drinks liquids even if one does not feel like it, because dehydration and weakening due to lack of calories is fatal. I also take a vitamin pill every day. Aconcagua Ascents

The temperatures in Berlin are 15 degrees below zero, in the tent I estimate 5 degrees below zero.The tent moves a lot but it holds, I don’t know if we can go to the summit tomorrow.

Aconcagua Climbing – Useful data for the Aconcagua

State of Route 40

Check the status of Route 40 on our website: Status of Route 40.

Important Tips

Bring water and food. A map in paper format.

If you are going to visit the mountain range, have warm clothes, a jacket and a warm hat on hand, even in summer. The climate in the high mountains can be variable and the wind chills.

Bring blankets and a heater for any problem that may occur and require you to spend the night on the route.

It can rain torrentially in summer, and summer melting can cause seemingly dry streams to swell. Be careful on speed bumps and water steps.

In winter it can freeze and temperatures in Andean areas drop to -25°C, it can snow and cut off traffic on Route 7.

We suggest reading our tips for driving in snow if you are going to drive in winter as ice in shady areas and snow can be problematic.

Also read our tips for driving safely in the mountains and on gravel roads.

Aconcagua Mountain Guides

Access to Aconcagua from Route 40

This is the access map to Aconcagua from Mendoza.

From the city of Mendoza, take National Route 7, which connects it with Santiago de Chile and drive west towards Puente del Inca. Go past the Argentine Customs (unless you are going to Chile, in which case you must complete the corresponding controls).

Route 40 reaches the city of Mendoza from the South, coming from El Sosneado and Malargüe, and from the North, from San Juan.

We describe the section of the Route in the Uco Valley in our Section from Pareditas to Mendoza (Section 10).

The previous section, towards the South, is the section from Barrancas to Pareditas and the one that follows is the section from Mendoza to Guandacol, passing through the city of San Juan. 

Aconcagua Ascents

Fuel in the Zone

There is fuel in:

Pareditas, San Rafael, San Carlos, Tunuyán, Tupungato, Maipú, Luján de Cuyo, Uspallata, and throughout Greater Mendoza

Location of Service Stations on Route 40

This is the Sigma Project, which seeks to measure the advance of tectonic plates in that massif using GPS. The data you collect is vast. It is in charge of the Ianigla (of the Cricyt), the UNCuyo, the Directorate of Renewable Natural Resources and the University of Hawaii. Through the so-called Acon GPS Permanent Station and the meteorological station, which are already operational, GPS reference patterns will be established in Argentina, and the variations in height and displacement of that hill and other chains will be specified for seismological purposes; It will also provide information on glaciers using a method similar to tomography Aconcagua Treks

Aconcagua Climbing – What to take to Aconcagua

Whether you go on your own or decide to join an excursion to go to Aconcagua, you must bear in mind that it is a high mountain area and that you have to be prepared for everything. For example, the weather can be very changeable or you may notice a lack of oxygen if you are not used to the altitude.

To do the trails of both the Horcones Lagoon and the Confluencia base camp, I recommend you to bring a small backpack with everything you may need: a bottle of water, food to recharge your batteries, an external battery so you don’t run out of mobile, sunscreen. , a small medicine cabinet… If you are affected by soroche, they sell pills to mitigate it or you can buy coca leaves to chew or make an infusion.

As for clothing, try to dress with a windbreaker and in layers. Thus, if the day is sunny you can take off the warmer clothes, and if it changes to cold, put them on again to keep warm. Do not forget the hat and gloves if there is a forecast of cold, nor the cap and sunglasses if there is forecast of sun. For your feet, good socks and used hiking shoes that won’t hurt or chafe.

Aconcagua Mountain Guides

Also, and very important if you travel from abroad, remember to have good travel insurance. The mountain is beautiful, but it can be treacherous, and we never know when we might fall, twist an ankle, or even catch a cold. So, in order not to have to manage the paperwork of medical assistance or have to pay money for it, it is best to be covered by insurance. I recommend Mondo and with them you always have a 5% discount for reading my blog. Where to sleep on Aconcagua ascents

If you are going to visit Aconcagua for a day, it is normal to return to Mendoza. Most people reserve their accommodation in the capital and from there move to other places in the province that they wish to visit. Now, if you want to stay over there, you have some hotels in the surroundings of the Provincial Park along Route 7. You can consult them here.

If you are thinking of camping on Aconcagua, it is only possible if you are going to do a multi-day trek. The base camps are enabled for this, although you will have to take your tent, your sleeping bag and your food. If you are only going to trek to Confluencia, I am sorry to tell you that you cannot spend the night, since the entrance is only during the day.

I hope this post helps you plan your adventure and now you have a clearer idea of ​​how to get to Aconcagua treks. I did the trek to Confluencia on my own by bus from Mendoza and it was a very nice experience (although exhausting due to all the travel time and the high altitude walk). If you like the mountains, I highly recommend it, even if it’s just a day trip from the city. It is very worth it!

Aconcagua Climbing – Some tips to set up the tent on windy days

We set up the tents, I walk around the place that is quite populated, in relation to when I came with my friend José Luis, last year. I take some photos and we have dinner in the dining tent of Confluencia: soup, lasagna and chocolate flan.

Wednesday 04/02/04 Aconcagua Guided Climb

Confluencia is a spectacular place, I take some photos, we have breakfast and we go to Plaza de Mulas, a place I don’t know.

At the exit you have to cross a rudimentary bridge, where Esteban’s solidarity and great physical condition are evident. I have already gone out with him other times and his great physical display is a constant, he knows that he is the strongest and he permanently shows it, but with good vibes.

We leave Plaza de Mulas at 10 am, after a slight climb we enter the valley of the Horcones river, surrounded by imposing hills, and then we enter Playa Ancha, a large plain 10 km long, with small, clear stones. and little slope. At 2:00 p.m. we arrive, eat and begin the ascent to Plaza de Mulas, around 4:00 p.m.

Photo of the whole group: back from left to right: Esteban Zalazar Eduardo Sibulosky, Mario Mónaco, Eric Cruzuar, Leandro Gitelman, Eduardo Morales, forward crouched: Constanza D´Angelo, Graciela Zakalik, Gladys Quiroga Jorge Arroyo and Belem Saua, missing Fernando Santa Maria. Aconcagua Mountain Guides

It is practically a very steep ascent of 1000 meters, which is why it is called the Cuesta Brava. There I realized how well trained I am, I remembered my 10 km jogs with Jack 3 times a week, my faithful and dear companion, the times I went out to train reluctantly and in bad weather, in short, everything What do you do when you want to make a big dream come true?

I arrived first at Plaza de Mulas, taking 5 minutes from the second, Eric, and 30 minutes from the rest of the group. I am happy with how good and strong I feel, considering that the rest of the group is between 15 and 20 years younger than me.

We had an early dinner of pea soup, 4-cheese noodles, me with half a liter of beer, one of the luxuries I give myself. At 10 pm we are sleeping in the dining tent that Tato lent us, a macanudo dentist, who from November to March leaves his office and dedicates himself to providing accommodation and food to groups of climbers for very reasonable prices. He punctured my mat and I couldn’t put the pillow together, so I didn’t get the best sleep. Outside 10 degrees below zero. I took some photos of the beautiful west wall of Aconcagua at sunset.

Thursday 05/02/04 Aconcagua Ascents

I am aware that I am already on Aconcagua at 4,200 meters, more than halfway to the summit. We had spring rice for lunch with a lot of cheese, before lunch I went to the Plaza de Mulas Hotel, it is 2 km from the camp, it is very nice, it costs 60 U$D per person with food per day, obviously built for foreigners. There is the booth, I contacted Lili, mom, Pablo and Debra, telling them how beautiful this is and how good I feel physically and mentally.

Aconcagua Climbing – How to set up my expedition to Aconcagua

In the building you can ask for advice and they will indicate the most advisable route. The usual thing for those who do not intend to make a great physical effort, is to do the Laguna de los Horcones trail.

It’s a few kilometers, which takes about an hour to get there and back. During the tour, you will see the majesty of Aconcagua from different views and you will reach the lagoon, which will have more or less water depending on the time of year.

It is a very quiet walk in which, by the way, you will notice the lack of oxygen. You are almost 3,000 meters above sea level and your body warns you that it will take a few minutes to acclimatize to this new environment.


If you go to do any of the trekking circuits, you should check if you need prior permission. In any case, if they request a registration on the Park’s website.

There are one-day, three-day and seven-day circuits.

Preparations for the excursion Aconcagua Mountain Guides 

The road to Mount Aconcagua is in good condition, but there are many kilometers without any civilization around it. In addition to filling the tank of the car before leaving, it is important to remember:

Bring water and food. Although in the towns you will find places to buy food.

Sunscreen. Here the sun burns even if you are inside a vehicle. Don’t forget sunglasses and a hat either.

An outerwear. Although you travel in summer, it is windy and the breeze is fresh.

Check the weather before starting the trip.

Finally, there are speed cameras. If you see the other cars stop, do the same, since most of them are not marked. Aconcagua Provincial Park is one of the 17 protected areas in the province of Mendoza, created by Provincial Law in 1983. Nearly 1,200,000 people visit our nature reserves each year and Aconcagua Park is one of the most visited. 

Aconcagua Ascents

National and foreign tourists travel each year to the nature reserve to walk its trails and circuits. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic this stopped. From Atardecid@s they spoke with Lucas Aros, Guadaparques del Cerro Aconcagua who provided details of the tasks they carried out during the pandemic and what changes they made to the hill. Aconcagua Park is an icon for Mendoza, for Argentina and for America. It is the highest summit in the Americas and as such is of global importance” commented Lucas Aros- Guadaparques del 

Aconcagua Treks

The Aconcagua Provincial Park depends on the Directorate of Natural Resources of the Ministry of Land, Environment and Natural Resources of the province of Mendoza. The contribution of the public sector is basically provided by the park rangers, the most important presence of the Directorate of Resources with personnel who work in the different camps.

Aconcagua Argentina – Unforgettable mountain experience

Its harsh climatic conditions allow the life of flora and fauna that are adaptable to the cold, such as species of herbs and small vertebrate animals. Its parts of plains present pastures that are called vegas.

Aconcagua Mountain Guides

It is a territory of cultural abundance. Since the times of the Inca Empire, man has modified this land to be able to move. They left an important mark on the Inca Trail, which represents an extensive road network that used to connect our territory with neighboring countries.

Aconcagua Ascents

Depending on the duration of the activities and their complexity, Aconcagua Park has various adventures. And it is always advisable to plan the visit beforehand, since not only specific material things are necessary, but also forms and permits.

Trekking. The most beautiful and refreshing walks find their space in the Laguna de Horcones Circuit.

Aconcagua Treks

trekking. Exciting way to walk in the form of an excursion and recreate the view. There are short, long and full day types and they have different degrees of difficulty. They are only available in summer.

Ascents and mountaineering. It is entered through the valley of the Horcones River or through Punta de Vacas. For the latter and the long trek, it is necessary to take out insurance that covers possible search, rescue and evacuation operations. In addition, a prior medical check-up must be presented.

It is important at this point to abide by the recommendations of the experts. There are some people who can suffer from mountain or altitude sickness, whose symptoms are generally treatable starting with an analgesic, but if the advice and alarms of the body itself are ignored, it can be fatal.

The park and the town of Las Heras in general provide necessary medical services; and if they have social work they can be treated, for example, at the aconcagua clinic. But there is no sanatorium in Aconcagua near the park.

It is a park that has public services such as park rangers, whose tasks are to provide information to visitors and enforce current conservation and operation regulations. In addition, in season it has Medical Assistance in the Confluencia, Plaza de Mulas and Plaza Argentina Camps. Near its entrance, there is a viewpoint to enjoy a perfect landscape.

Visits. Near the Hotel Aconcagua, it is possible to access the Universidad del Aconcagua, which emerged from the merger of two institutes. Today, the higher academic center known as Aconcagua University teaches courses in its faculties and promotes research. Also in that area, you can see the monument to the flag, the theater, different wine bars, the casino, the historical archive of Mendoza and the Museum of the Cuyano Past, among many other places for walks and shopping for wines, sweets, handicrafts and souvenirs. .


Aconcagua Argentina – 6 months of prior preparation

This exit variant simplifies the climb of the last third of the South wall.

From the “Upper Glacier”, instead of going to the right in search of the base of the spur that the French followed in 1954, take a clear left of the visual vertical of the northern peak. In the direction of the “Guanaco” pass that extends between the two peaks of the mountain.

Aconcagua Mountain Guides

Climb the slopes of ice and snow that lead to an obvious rocky fringe. Slopes from 50° to 55°. The rocky strip is climbed in an ascending traverse to the left, 5 or 6 pitches of mixed terrain, (IV) and some passage of (V). Belay possibilities on natural ledges, poor quality rock. The start, depending on the general snow conditions, can be on very dangerous frozen mud.

The beginning of the slope of ice and terminal snow is thus gained. This large, very open terminal channel has an average slope of 50°. It is dominated to the left by a large hanging serac that is threatening and dangerous in the event of landslides.

Go straight up the great channel to a small rocky barrier (6,700 m), go around it to the left and continue until you reach the “guanaco” crest or summit ridge. From the “Upper Glacier” to the crest about 8-12 hours. It is possible to bivouac in the lateral cracks of the hanging serac (6,650 m). From the starting point to the top there are about 2 hours.

Aconcagua Ascents

When the conditions of the wall are unfavorable (excessive accumulation of recent snow or, on the contrary, a winter with few snowfalls), the Messner variant is dangerous; Therefore, the original exit/54 is advisable, technically more difficult, but exposed to fewer objective dangers. If the snow is abundant, the dangers of being swept away by an avalanche in the “Messner Canal” are very great. Likewise, when there is little consistent snow that fixes the rocks of the top edge and other upper areas, the channel collects the constant falls of fast projectiles.

Beyond difficulties and dangers, the Messner/74 route is the most elegant route on the southern wall of Aconcagua, after the Slovenian route/82, direct to the southern peak. Plaza Argentina is located at 4,100 meters and is a good place to camp. To access this place, you start from the town of Punta de Vacas (2,400 m) and go up the “de las Vacas” river to the north. There is water and firewood throughout the creek, the path is well marked.

Aconcagua Treks

On the orographic right bank of the «de las Vacas» river, 15 km away is the «Casa de las Leñas» refuge (2,350 m). At 31 km (from Punta de Vacas) you cross the river of Las Vacas. Finally, and on the orographic left bank of the same river, rises the small shelter «Casa de piedra» (3,060 m), 47 km from the starting point, just in front of the mouth of the «de los Relinchos» ravine. This small shelter blends in with the landscape and is difficult to find, there is water in the area.

Aconcagua Climbing – Information Necessary for Your Expedition

The climate that affects the protected area that we analyze can be classified as a Temperate semi-arid mountain. It is characterized by the irregularity of the rainfall regime that the variations that, in this aspect, suffer from the area due to the climatic influence of the Atlantic domain, with summer rains, and the Pacific domain with its predominantly winter rainfall. Important in the Aconcagua treks.

Despite the great distance that separates it from the Atlantic, this mountainous part receives from that sector the low humidity that generally precipitates in the form of significant snowfalls in the highest positions, during May to August mostly. Its frequency and magnitude decrease towards the east.

From the Pacific, the climate is most influenced by the action of the Pacific anticyclone that generates westerly winds. These winds rise, and when they collide with the hills of the mountain range. The Chilean coast is affected by two well-differentiated currents, the Humbold one, the southern sector. Depending on the origin of the wind, both influence the area, although, to a much greater extent, the winds of the southwestern sector are necessary for the Aconcagua Mountain guides.

In the mountain range, the ascent of the air is made markedly through the hills’ valleys and slopes, and due to the low pressure that exists in the summits, this air generally rises during the afternoons and forms accumulations but is not produced. At night the opposite phenomenon occurs, and the wind blows from the top towards the valleys.

Like all regions with marked altitudinal variations, the temperature is a climatic factor dependent on them.

In the entire Cuyana mountain range, strong cold winds from the west and south-west sector occur in winter, which when they blow together with snowfalls, the dreaded white wind is formed. Under particular atmospheric conditions, these same winds cross the Before undergoing abrupt changes that make them hot and dry when they reach the lowlands, as occurs with the folkloric Zonda wind.

As for the summer temperatures, it must be taken into account that during the nights, over 5,000 m.a.s.l. -20 ° C is a non-exceptional value, and at the top, it reaches -30 ° C. In Plaza de Mulas, in times of bad weather conditions are usually –18 C °. During winter, the area is heavily covered with snow, and the temperature rarely exceeds 0 ° C. the location area of ​​the Aconcagua Ascents Provincial Park allows it to be classified phytogeographically according to Cabrera (1976) .in what he calls the High Andean Province, which encompasses all the high mountains that are located west of Argentina from the Bolivian territory to Tierra del Fuego. According to the latitude, this biome is divided into districts, denominating the High Andean Cuyano District that occupies the Andes of San Juan and Mendoza provinces. The classification made by PRODIA (1999) does not differ too much from the one mentioned above, only that the latter starts at approximately 38º Lat.S. towards the south, it ceases to be called the Eco-region of the High Andes to be called the Patagonian Forests, due to the presence of the Valdivian jungle in this sector.

Aconcagua Climbing – What if I fail in my summit attempt?

By the route, you will arrive at the Berlin camp (a shelter with a capacity for six people), Piedras Blancas, Piedras Negras, Independencia, Portezuelo de Los Vientos. In the latter, the strong currents of the Pacific begin winds that go from 60 to 100 kilometers per hour, which makes it difficult to walk and be able to stay upright. Then it is followed by the Great Crossing and the last one before the summit: La Canaleta at 6700 meters. These previous 300 meters have a significant slope of loose rocks that make the Aconcagua Ascents very difficult.

This last section of the Aconcagua climb is necessary with crampons; it is the most demanding and extremely careful point. The Canaleta must be approached from its left side, climbing through small glaciers like this until the Cuesta del Guanaco, the ridge that separates the two summits (the South 6,950 meters and the North 6,962 meters). In this area, an estimated oxygen deficiency is 30% to 40% of normal. But all the effort will have its great reward when reaching “the roof of the Andes.”

Climbing Aconcagua through the “Normal Route” or North Face of Aconcagua, it must be taken into account that it is a 40-kilometer gravel path (from the Horcones lagoon) takes at least 15 days to climb to the top, including the acclimatization time to the altitude.

Experienced climbers only visit the other route of ascent called “Glaciar de Los Polacos.” The trek this is done is by taking the Valley of the Cows. It crosses to the base of the Polacos Glacier, and from there, it crosses the normal route, but a final climb begins to the summit. This highly technical trail is 76 kilometers long.

The “southern wall” is the most challenging access road to the summit on Aconcagua. They are 78 kilometers, and their maximum difficulty materializes when it ends in one of the most extensive walls in the world (3000 meters of a wall). Getting up this route is something for a select few; it is a very committed and technical climb through rocks, ice, and glaciers.

The first ascent of the South Wall was made on February 25, 1954, by the French Pierre Lesueur, Adrien Dagory, Edmond Denis, Robert Paragot, Lucien Berardini, and Guy Poulet. The head of the expedition was René Ferlet.

For the descent, half the time that has been used in the ascent is usually calculated. However, exhaustion often causes that time to lengthen, so you should anticipate the duration of this while ascending.