– South America 6,961m / 22,837ft.
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 beforehand 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 backpacking 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.
Day 1: 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 2: 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 3: 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: We rest in base camp and organize our loads for the higher camps. A short acclimatization hike up a nearby peak is optional.
Day 7: 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 8: 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 9: 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 10: 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 11: Move to Camp 2 (18,000’). From here we can see many snow capped peaks of the Andes.
Day 12: Rest in Camp 2, organize loads for carry to Camp 3.
Day 13: Carry to Camp 3 (19,600′) and return to Camp 2 to spend the night.
Day 14: Move to Camp 3 (19,600′). Upon reaching high camp we enjoy spectacular sunsets to the west over Chile.
Day 15: Rest in Camp 3.
Day 16: 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 17: Extra day in case of bad weather, acclimatization, etc.
Day 18: Descend from our Camp 3 to Plaza de Mulas base camp (13,800′).
Day 19: Trek to Horcones trail head, transfer to the Ayelen hotel in Penitentes. Here we have a much deserved shower and celebration dinner!
Day 20: 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 21: Transfer to Mendoza airport, depart for country of residence.
- December 5 - 27, 2021
- December 12, 2021 - January 1, 2022
- December 19, 2021 - January 8, 2022
- December 28, 2021 - January 17, 2022
- February 1 - 21, 2022 with co-guide Ed Viesturs*
Deposit: USD 2,000
- 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
- There are no refunds for the deposit or balance payments for this expedition. This includes but is not limited to, expeditions that conclude without reaching or making progress towards expedition objective(s) (for example, the summit) due to route conditions, weather, insufficient manpower, or any other factor outside the control of Madison Mountaineering.
- Expedition leader has the final say on the expedition conclusion and will make all best efforts towards reaching expedition objective(s) within our margin of safety.
- Participants that choose to leave an active expedition for any reason are not entitled to any refunds
- Madison Mountaineering, LLC highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions
- Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits, Madison Mountaineering must adhere to a stringent refund policy
- Deposit due with registration materials
- All balances are due 120 days prior to departure date unless otherwise specified
- Participants whose balances are not received by the 120-day deadline as stated above, risk forfeiture of their funds and their place on the expedition
Note: Madison Mountaineering, LLC reserves the right to waive any fees. As we offer personalized service, we will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations when necessary, waiving certain fees when feasible. Deposits paid by participants acknowledge the above cancellation terms.
- Synthetic Short Underwear (2-3 pair): non-cotton style underwear
- Lightweight Long Underwear (1-2 pair): long sleeve shirt and long pants
- Heavyweight Long Underwear (1 pair)
- Short Sleeve Synthetic Shirt (1-2)
- Soft Shell Jacket: to be worn over other layers
- Soft Shell Pants: very breathable and water repellant
- Lightweight Nylon Pants (optional)
- Hard Shell Jacket with hood: waterproof and breathable shell jacket
- Hard Shell Pants: waterproof and breathable shell pants
- Insulated Down or Synthetic Jacket with hood
- Insulated Pants (optional)
- Warm Hat: synthetic or wool hat (ski hat)
- Balaclava: to protect your neck and face in high winds
- Baseball Cap or other sun hat: to shade your face/neck from the sun on a hot day
- Bandana or Buff: to protect your neck/face from the sun
- Glacier Glasses: full protection with side covers or wrap around
- Ski Goggles: to be worn in the event of high winds
- Lightweight Synthetic Liner Gloves: for wearing on warm days
- Soft Shell Gloves: to wear for moderate cold/wind
- Shell Glove with Insulated Liner: to wear for severe cold/strong wind
- Expedition Mitts: large enough to fit a liner glove inside
- Liner Socks (3 pairs)
- Wool or Synthetic Socks (3 pairs)
- Mountaineering Boots
- Hiking Shoes/Boots: comfortable hiking boots
- Water Shoes or Sandals: for stream and river crossings
- Booties (optional): for wearing around camp
- Sleeping Bag: rated to at least -20°F
- Self-inflating Sleeping Pad: full length is preferred
- Closed-cell Foam Pad: to be used in conjunction with the inflating pad for warmth and comfort when sleeping
- Expedition Backpack: approximately 65L
- Compression Stuff Sacks: for reducing the volume of the sleeping bag, down parka, etc. in your pack
- Trash Compactor Bags: to line backpack and stuff sacks as well as for separating gear
- Backpack Rain Cover (optional)
- Trekking Backpack: to carry on the trek to base camp. Simple and light.
- Trekking Poles with Optional Snow Baskets: adjustable
- Ice Axe: general mountaineering tool (~60cm)
- Crampons: general mountaineering crampons
- Climbing Helmet (optional): must be able to fit over your warm hat
- Headlamp: with 2 extra sets of new batteries
- Large Duffel Bag with Lock: for transporting gear to base camp on the mules, no hard sides or wheels
- Small Duffel Bag with Lock: to store items in the hotel(s) while on the climb
- Travel Clothes: for days in cities and towns
- Lightweight journal, sketchbook, pencils, pen
- U.S. cash: for currency exchange to purchase SIM cards or merchandise in cities and villages
Additional Food Items
- Snack Food: bring a few days’ supply of your favorite climbing snack food such as bars, gels, nuts, beef jerky, etc. variety of salty and sweet is good
- Cup: plastic 16 oz. minimum cup or mug
- Bowl: large plastic bowl for eating dinner or breakfast
- Spoon: plastic spoon (Lexan)
- Water Bottles (2): wide mouth bottles with 1-liter capacity
- Water Bottle Parkas (2): fully insulated with zip opening
- Thermos (optional): 1-liter
- Water Treatment
- Sunscreen: SPF 40 or better
- Lip Screen (2 sticks): SPF 30 or better
- Toiletry Bag: include toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper, baby wipes and hand sanitizer (2 small bottles)
- Pee Bottle: 1-liter minimum bottle for convenience at night in the tent
- Female Urination Device (FUD)
- Knife or Multi-tool (optional)
- Small Personal First-aid Kit: include athletic tape, band-aids, Ibuprofen, blister care, etc.
- Medications and Prescriptions: bring antibiotics (Azithromycin, etc.), and altitude medicine such as Diamox, etc.
- Handkerchiefs/Bandanas (optional)
- Country-appropriate power plug adapters and power transformers
- Adventure Sports Watch: such as Garmin fēnix 6
- GPS/Personal Satellite Communicator: such as Garmin inReach Mini
- Personal Power System: such as Goal Zero Nomad 28 Plus Solar Panel and Sherpa 100AC Power Bank
- Digital Entertainment: movies, tv shows, music, books loaded on to smartphone, iPad, Kindle
- Camera: bring extra batteries, charger, and memory cards
Madison Mountaineering is recognized for well thought out strategy in leading high altitude climbing expeditions, as well as high-quality service throughout. We have two decades of experience in the planning and coordination of mountaineering expeditions, our reputation is excellent. We strive to make each expedition the best possible experience for our climbers and focus on our 3 primary goals of success in reaching the summit, returning safely, and having fun! Safety is always our number one priority.
Our guides are some of the best and most experienced in the industry, having a strong grasp of technical climbing, expedition, and high altitude experience, along with strong interpersonal skills. Our teams are small and equipped with the best support available to ensure the highest chance of success. We are renowned for our comfortable base camps, high-quality food, first-rate communications, and medical support services, all of which are overseen by a professional member of our team.
Most of our climbers have either climbed with us before, been referred by a friend who has climbed with us, or met one of our teams while attempting another peak and decided to join us for their next expedition. We work hard to facilitate safe, successful, and enjoyable expeditions for all of our climbers. Our track record and past climber testimonials prove we are highly competent experts in our field and love what we do!