Aconcagua, the “Stone Sentinel”, is located in Argentina near the border of Chile, and is the highest mountain outside of Asia. We climb a less traveled route that allows for more acclimatization, and while we may use our ice axe and crampons occasionally, this climb does not require ‘roping up.’ Climbers have the option to hire porters to assist with load carrying, as Aconcagua can be a very demanding high altitude climb.
Madison Mountaineering offers the highest standard in climbing Aconcagua by combining expert guides, a well thought out strategy, and excellent support throughout the expedition. Our guides are very experienced leading expeditions on Aconcagua, and spend days before hand organizing the food and equipment for the climb. Although we do not rope up, Aconcagua is a very serious undertaking. Our approach is to properly acclimatize and then attempt the summit with enough extra days built in for bad weather, whereas many climbers try to rush the ascent and are turned around by altitude illness or high winds that prevent reaching the summit when time is limited. We have a very close relationship and daily communication with our Argentine outfitter who provides services such as the mules that transport our gear to base camp, our own private dining tent in base camp, and the porters who are available to assist us transporting gear to our high camps. We keep our teams small, and ensure that climbers have the best chance to reach the summit while remaining safe. Garrett Madison has reached the summit of Aconcagua on nearly each of his 11 expeditions, and has perfected what he believes is the optimum strategy for leading a team to reach the summit.
We begin on the eastern side of the mountain, by trekking along the Vacas River to Plaza Argentina base camp. From here we ascend the non technical false polish and then upper Guanacos route to our high camp. On summit day we climb to Independencia refuge, then traverse the western slope, ascend the Canaleta, and reach the summit ridge leading to the highest point in the Americas. We descend into the Horcones valley and exit out of the western side of Aconcagua, nearly circumnavigating the entire peak.
Prerequisites: Climbers should have trekking or back packing experience. Technical training in how to use ice axe and crampons is a plus, but not necessary as we will review these skills once on the mountain. Top physical conditioning is important as this is a strenuous climb at high altitude.
Photo Credit: Wenny Sánchez
We regularly organize custom programs for private groups. We are happy to accommodate your program dates, as well as other specific requests related to the itinerary, amenities, and group size. Please contact us if you would like to know more about custom programs.
Day 1: Depart country of residence
Day 2: Arrive in Mendoza, transfer to Park Hyatt Hotel. Your guide will meet with you and conduct an orientation, equipment check, then gather the group for a welcome dinner in a nearby restaurant.
Day 3: After breakfast we visit the Aconcagua Park office and obtain our climbing permits, then drive to Penitentes, usually having lunch along the way. Upon arriving the Ayelen hotel we discuss the strategy for the climb before relaxing and enjoying another Argentine style dinner.
Day 4: We begin our trek not far from the hotel at Punta de Vaca, the entrance to the Vacas Valley (8,000’) and trek along the river stopping to enjoy a picnic style lunch. We arrive at Pampa de Lena camp (9,200′). Here we have a traditional open fire barbeque under the stars near the riverside.
Day 5: We awake early and continue the trek, marveling at the scenic landscape of the far away valley walls. After another picnic style lunch we finally have our first view of the summit, then arrive Casa de Piedra Camp (10,560′), another scenic riverside camp.
Day 6: After an early morning river crossing (with river shoes or by mule) we leave the Vacas Valley and begin the steep trek up the Relinchos Valley to Plaza Argentina base camp (13,900’). Upon arriving in base camp we are greeted by our friendly outfitter and a warm meal! The mules will deposit our gear and head out. We spend the first of our 3 nights at base camp.
Day 7: We rest in base camp and organize our loads for the higher camps. A short acclimatization hike up a nearby peak is optional.
Day 8: After breakfast we carry a load of equipment up to Camp 1 (16,100’) to deposit and then we return to base camp to spend the night.
Day 9: After breakfast we say good bye to our Argentine friends at base camp and climb up to Camp 1 (16,100’) to spend the night.
Day 10: We carry a load of gear, food, and clothing to our Camp 2 (18,000’), then return to Camp 1 to spend the night.
Day 11: Today we normally rest in Camp 1 to recover from the previous day’s climb and allow our bodies to generate more red blood cells.
Day 12: Move to Camp 2 (18,000’). From here we can see many snow capped peaks of the Andes.
Day 13: Rest in Camp 2, organize loads for carry to Camp 3.
Day 14: Carry to Camp 3 (19,600′) and return to Camp 2 to spend the night.
Day 15: Move to Camp 3 (19,600′). Upon reaching high camp we enjoy spectacular sunsets to the west over Chile.
Day 16: Rest in Camp 3.
Day 17: Summit day! We awake early and set off for the summit, usually arriving at the top around 2 PM. We savor the view from the highest peak in the Americas, then descend back to our high camp and spend the night.
Day 18: Extra day in case of bad weather, acclimatization, etc.
Day 19: Descend from our Camp 3 to Plaza de Mulas base camp (13,800′).
Day 20: Trek to Horcones trail head, transfer to the Ayelen hotel in Penitentes. Here we have a much deserved shower and celebration dinner!
Day 21: Transfer to Mendoza, check into park Hyatt hotel, and enjoy a fancy Argentine style meal. If we do not use our extra days we can relax in Mendoza or choose a day activity such as a wine tour, rafting trip, horseback ride, fly fishing, etc.
Day 22: Transfer to Mendoza airport, depart for country of residence.
Day 23: Arrive home.
December 12-January 3
December 19-January 10
December 28-January 19
January 17-February 8
January 30-February 21
February 7-March 1
• Mountain guides
• All shared expedition gear (VHF radios, satellite phone, personal tents, large private dining tent in base camp, cooking equipment, etc.)
• Airport pick up upon arrival and transport to hotel
• Two nights accommodations with breakfast at the Park Hyatt Mendoza hotel (double occupancy)
• Two nights accommodation with breakfast at the Ayelen hotel in Penitentes
• Welcome dinner
• Celebration dinner
• All food during the expedition
• All ground transport during the program
• Mules to transport gear and food
Costs Do Not Include:
• Airfare to Mendoza
• Aconcagua climbing permit fee
• Option to upgrade to single room
• Argentina reciprocity fee
• Porter fees
• Fees for early departure from program
• Personal items
• Medical and Evacuation insurance
• Trip cancellation insurance
• Wire transfer fees
Please inquire for our cancellation and refund guidelines.
Ice Axe: A general mountaineering ice axe 60-75 cm.
Crampons: General mountaineering crampons.
Trekking Poles: Adjustable poles for the trek to base camp.
Light hiking boots or trekking shoes: For the trek to base camp, these can be worn at base camp and higher on the mountain depending on route conditions.
Mountaineering Boots: Either a double plastic boot, insulated boot, or a boot with a built in gaiter.
Water shoes or sandals: For the stream and river crossings.
Socks: Minimum 3 pair thick mountaineering socks and 3 pair liner socks
Short Underwear: 2-3 pair of synthetic short underwear
Long Underwear: 1-2 pair lightweight long underwear pants and shirts. 1 pair of heavy expedition weight long underwear.
Lightweight trekking pants: for the trek to base camp.
Soft Shell Jacket: A hooded jacket
Soft Shell pants: For trekking and climbing
Insulated Jacket: Primaloft or Down
Expedition Down Parka: A hooded down jacket with 800 minimum down fill.
Insulated Pants: Primaloft or Down, these should have full side zippers.
Hard Shell Jacket: To be worn in wet conditions
Hard Shell Pants: To be worn in wet conditions, these pants should have full side zippers.
Gaiters: To keep snow, rocks, and dust out of your boots. Gaiters also help keep your lower leg warm. Please make sure your gaiters fit over your boots.
Warm Hat: A warm fleece or wool hat.
Balaclava: to cover your face and neck on windy days.
Sun hat: A baseball style sun camp.
Buff: 1-2 of these to wear around your neck & face to block the wind, UV rays, dust.
Glacier Glasses: wrap around style sunglasses with dark lenses
Goggles: With dark lenses.
Soft Shell Gloves: 1 pair
Shell gloves with insulated liner: 1 pair
Shell mittens with insulated liner: 1 pair
Expedition Backpack: A 70-80 liter internal frame back pack.
Trekking Backpack: Optional. A small pack for the trek in.
Sleeping Bag: Rated to at least -20 °F. Down is preferable over synthetic.
Compression stuff sacks: for reducing volume for your sleeping bag and down jacket.
Self Inflating pad: A full length air mattress
Closed Cell foam pad: Full length is best
Headlamp: Bring a spare set of batteries
Cup: 16oz. minimum
Bowl: ½ liter minimum capacity
Spoon: Plastic (lexan)
Sunscreen: SPF 50 or stronger
Lipscreen: SPF 30 or stronger
Water bottles: 2 bottles with 1 liter capacity each
Water Purification System: Tablets or Steripen
Water Bottle Parkas: To keep your water from freezing
Pee Bottle: 1 liter capacity minimum
Pee Funnel: For Women
Toiletry Bag: Toothpaste, Toothbrush, baby wipes, etc.
Hand Sanitizer: 2 small bottles
Hand warmers / Toe warmers: 3 sets of each
Trash Compactor bags (3): To line stuff sacks and separate gear
Camera: lightweight with extra batteries
Travel Clothes: For days in Mendoza.
Large Duffel Bag with lock: for transporting all personal gear to base camp on the mules.
Small duffel bag: to store items in the hotel in Mendoza or Penitentes.
Small Personal First Aid Kit: Athletic tape, band aids, Ibuprofen, Moleskin, blister care products, personal medications, cough drops.
• Acetazolamide (Diamox) for altitude illness
• Antibiotics such as Ciprofloxin or Azithromycin for gastro intestinal or respiratory illness
• Ibuprofen for muscle soreness
• Pepto Bismol for loose stool
• Excedrin for headaches
• Anti-nausea medications.
• Electrolyte Replacement Drink Mix: Bring a supply for 12 days such as Nuun.
• Energy Gel: Single serving gel packs such as GU, Clifshot, Powergel, etc.)
• Energy Bars: Power bar, Cliff bar, etc.
• Candy Bars: Snickers, Mars, Twix, Milkey Way, etc.
• Hard Candy: 1 cup
• Crackers: 1 box