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Practical information for climbing Aconcagua on your owncurrent: February 1997; permit information is updated for the 2000/2001 season.
new information from 2003 is added at the end of this page.
GeneralMendoza (170000 inh.) is situated at the east edge of the Andes, easily accessible from Santiago and Buenos Aires by bus or plane. Together with San Juan it's the wine growing area in Argentina. Due to the permit being required (see below), Mendoca necessarily is the starting point for climbing Aconcagua travelers "off one's own bat".
Public TransportationFrom the airport, the city is reached by bus no. 60. For the reverse direction: The bus departs in Calla Salta in front of the hospital. In Mendoza, busses have a large number on top (multiples of 10), and a small number indicated on a sign near the door. Sometimes also the color of the small number is important. Bus 60 63 goes to the airport, but only those that show "Aeropuerto" on the small sign. The trip takes 45 minutes and costs $ 0.80. For other buses, the fare is $ 0.55.
Don't forget to make a sign, otherwise the bus won't stop.
Other Information(Argentinian Pesos are at 1:1 parity to the US$ by law.)
Even in January it was no problem to find a reasonably affordable hotel (double $ 35).
The tourist information is very helpful; address see below.
Post cards to Europe are rather expensive ($1.10) but reliably arrive after about a week.
In Mendoza, you can buy almost every type of food needed for Aconcagua. The only things one should take from home might be freeze-dried high camp food and muesli bars; so the 20 kg baggage allowance for the flight can be observed. The food price level in the supermarket is similar to Germany, as also prices in restaurants are.
Besides the passport, the adress of an insurance company which covers eventual back transportation and medical treatment is required. The 20 days begin with entering the park at Horcones, where the permit is checked and a garbage sack is given, to be handed back when exiting the park (of course, then filled with the own garbage).
Bus to Puente del IncaThe best way to get to Puente del Inca, the starting point for the normal route, is the bus of Uspallata company for $ 9.60 from the bus terminal of Mendoza (about 4 h trip to PdI). The bus terminal is located in the east of the city center; better book the tickets one day in advance. At the terminal, there is also a post office and a supermarket.
Baggage transport and the walk to the base campThe way from Puente del Inca (2716 m) to the base camp Plaza de Mulas (4300 m) is very far, and it is recommended to do it in two steps (also for better acclimatization). In Confluencia (3368 m) good water can be found; there is no drinking water elsewhere on the way. The baggage for the two to three week's time can be transported to the base camp by mules. This can be booked in advance in Mendoza, or look around in Puente del Inca. A mule carries up to 60 kg and costs $100 to $120 (one way transport), two mules $150-$180, three $200-$240. The baggage is brought up in one day and can be picked up in the basecamp at the relevant company or at the hotel (Aymará). Protect your things well, since the mules sometimes have their own ideas what to do with the load on the way. As you will be on the way for one more day, you should have sleeping bag, tent, stove, and food for these two days with you.
Except for mules and permit, a tolerably experienced and trained mountaineer can take charge of anything else. However, those who really need it can get everything possible or impossible, from transfer airport-hotel, individual transport to Puente del Inca to porter services to the high camps or even to the summit, this all easily doubling or tripling the overall price of the expedition.
The base camp plaza de mulas lies on 4300 m altitude; good water can be found 15 min. westwards at the rubble-covered glacier (mostly only afternoon). The hotel built some years ago is found half an hour to the south-west; beverages can be bought there (a 350 ccm can for $ 3). In the high camps, there is no water but usually enough snow somewhere nearby.
The weather at Aconcagua in summer is not as stable as further north; sudden bad weather fronts mostly from the west are frequent. Normally, however, it is more or less sunny and almost always windy. The main season lasts from December to February when 200-400 people inhabit the base camp.
The location of the camps is best seen in the map sketch.
The camp altitudes are (as far as possible) corrected using the altimeter from the summit downwards.
There are no technical difficulties on the normal route; except for the Canaleta (loose scree, go on the very right (W) side) there's always a good trail. The only problem is the height and the very sudden bad weather. On the other hand, in case of bad weather one can get back to the base camp very quickly (1 h from Nido, 2 h from Berlin) .
MapsTurismo Aymará (e.g.) sells a brochure with a satellite image with a sketch of the route for $ 10. The map edited by the American Alpine Club is mainly only a sketch of the mountain ridges, and the position of camp Nido de Cóndores is drawn too far west.
EquipmentWho goes to Aconcagua should roughly know what he needs for a two to three weeks trip of expedition character. Therefore I mention here only the particular specialities. Everything here applies to the normal route.
Links about Aconcagua
What did it cost?This trip was about the cheapest "big" mountaineering trip we ever did. No car rental, a long time in our own tent instead of hotels - that can easily be seen in our expenses. For everybody who would like to get an idea about the price level, you find a detailed overview of our expenses in the following table. Everything is given for two persons. The DM conversion is based on a rate of 1.80 DM per US$, and the trip took place - as already said - in 1997.
Date Expense Where Amount Amount in DM (for 2 pers.) ------------------------------------------------------------------- Flight tickets FRA-MDZ 3436.00 DM 3436.00 19.01.1997 Bus Mdz 1.60 $ 2.88 19.01.1997 Dinner Mdz 14.00 $ 25.20 20.01.1997 Gas (super unleaded) Mdz 5.00 $ 9.00 20.01.1997 Bus tickets to PdI Mdz 19.20 $ 34.56 20.01.1997 Food purchase Mdz 81.42 $ 146.56 20.01.1997 Dinner Mdz 13.00 $ 23.40 20.01.1997 Hotel Mdz 35.00 $ 63.00 20.01.1997 Mules PdI-PdM Mdz 100.00 US$ 180.00 20.01.1997 Permit Mdz 160.00 US$ 288.00 21.01.1997 Hotel Mdz 35.00 $ 63.00 23.01.1997 Drinks PdM 39.00 US$ 70.20 25.01.1997 Drinks PdM 45.00 $ 81.00 01.02.1997 Drinks PdM 21.00 US$ 37.80 03.02.1997 Mules PdM-PdI PdM 120.00 US$ 216.00 03.02.1997 Bus PdI-Mdz PdI 20.00 US$ 36.00 03.02.1997 Food purchase Mdz 9.80 $ 17.64 03.02.1997 Taxi Mdz 3.00 US$ 5.40 03.02.1997 Dinner Mdz 24.00 US$ 43.20 03.02.1997 Bus Mdz 1.10 $ 1.98 03.02.1997 Maps Mdz 17.00 $ 30.60 04.02.1997 Hotel Mdz 36.00 US$ 64.80 04.02.1997 Food purchase Mdz 18.90 $ 34.02 04.02.1997 Tickets to Potrerillos Mdz 9.60 $ 17.28 04.02.1997 Dinner Mdz 14.00 US$ 25.20 05.02.1997 Hotel Mdz 36.00 $ 64.80 05.02.1997 Dinner Mdz 25.00 US$ 45.00 06.02.1997 Hotel Mdz 36.00 $ 64.80 09.02.1997 Tickets to Mdz 6.20 $ 11.16 09.02.1997 Dinner Mdz 16.00 US$ 28.80 10.02.1997 Food purchase Mdz 10.75 $ 19.35 10.02.1997 Dinner Mdz 15.00 US$ 27.00 11.02.1997 Food purchase Mdz 9.95 $ 17.91 11.02.1997 Bus Mdz Mdz 2.20 $ 3.96 11.02.1997 Dinner Mdz 13.00 US$ 23.40 12.02.1997 Hotel (2 N.) Mdz 72.00 $ 129.60 12.02.1997 Taxi Mdz 3.00 $ 5.40 12.02.1997 Bus to airport Mdz 1.60 $ 2.88 12.02.1997 Airport tax Mdz 6.00 US$ 10.80 12.02.1997 Lunch Mdz 7.00 US$ 12.60 Others, e.g. postcards 20.00 $ 36.00 SUM DEM 5456.18 SUM IN EUR EUR 2789.70In summary, the total cost per person adds up to DM 2728 from/to Frankfurt. (This was about US$ 1515 at the time we did the trip.) Of course, those who prefer more comfortable accomodation and organisation have to calculate with correspondingly higher cost.
Thomas Fischer reported from his Aconcagua climb in beginning of 2003:
© Hartmut Bielefeldt 1997, partial update 2003.
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