Day 1: Arrivals in Mendoza (800 m / 2,625’)
A Benegas Brothers Expeditions guide will meet you at the airport, and escort you to the Hotel El Portal Suites. Mendoza’s summer climate is warm and humid; however, the hotel is air-conditioned for your comfort. It is an attractive and prosperous town adorned with European style architecture, lush parks, and street side cafes and bars. This is also the wine-producing center of Argentina, offering winery tours and wine tasting opportunities.
Day 2: Journey to Penitentes (2,580 m / 8,465’)
A relaxed morning after long journeys. After lunch we will take a private bus towards Puente Del Inca. This journey takes approximately three hours to our stop a few miles below Inca: the resort of Penitentes. Although this is a ski resort, the weather will be relatively warm and dry. We will stay at the Ayelen Hotel for the night.
Day 3: Drive to Las Cuevas Refuge (3,200 m / 10,499’)
Today we drive towards the Chilean border to settle in at a small mountain refuge owned by our friend Don Gerardo. His home will serve as our base for our initial acclimatization process. After lunch we will hike up the Tolosa Valley to the base of the of majestic Tolosa Glacier and enjoy the spectacular views.
Day 4: Acclimatization Hike and Overnight 1 (3,900m / 12,795’)
After a lazy morning, we will start a hike to the Cristo Redentor Refuge at the Border of Argentina and Chile. We can either camp out under the stars, or use the Refuge as our base for the evening. Wonderful views of the upper part of Aconcagua will give us a look at what is to come.
Day 5: Acclimatization Hike 2 (4,200m / 13,800’, 3,200 m / 12,795’ sleep)
After a breakfast, we utilize the beautiful Santa Elena Peak (normally attaining around 4,200m) to continue increasing our acclimatization, later returning to our base at Las Cuevas Refuge, where a well deserved shower and dinner will be waiting for us.
Day 6: Parque Nacional Aconcagua, Confluencia (3,200 m / 12,795’)
A lazy morning to recover from Stage 1. After lunch, we will drive to the Aconcagua Park gates, enter the park, and trek up the Horcones valley to the green campsite at Confluencia (3,200m). This is a short day, but the lush camp provides plenty of necessary water.
Day 7: Plaza de Mulas Base Camp (4,200 m / 13800’)
Our trek continues on the next day from Confluencia to the Plaza de Mulas Base Camp following the broad, stone-covered, valley floor to a steep trail that leads to a terminal moraine. The base camp at Plaza de Mulas is situated on top of this moraine just off the Horcones Glacier beneath the vast west face of Aconcagua. Base Camp is very comfortable with a huge mess tent and a full kitchen staff and porters. We provide world-class mountain cuisine that includes vegetarian meals, free-range Argentinean steak, delicious soups, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Day 8: Rest and Acclimatization at Base Camp (4,200 m / 13,800’)
Most people feel the altitude at this point after sleeping so high. Today we will rest, acclimate, enjoy stunning views, and experience base camp culture.
Day 9: Transport supplies to Plaza Don Fernando (4,800 m / 15,748′, 4,200 m/13,800′ sleep)
A load carrying day from base camp to Plaza Don Fernando. Throughout our climb of Aconcagua we follow the philosophy of climb high-sleep low as we ascend the mountain. From our base camp at Plaza de Mulas we follow the trail as it gradually switchbacks up steep scree slopes to the rock spires that mark Plaza Don Fernando. We cache food and gear here and then return to base camp. This usually takes us 4 to 6 hours (round trip).
Day 10: Rest and acclimatization at Base Camp (4,200 m / 13800’)
Day 11: Climb Cerro Cuerno (5,250m / 17,224’, 4,200 m / 13800’ sleep)
An early wake-up call to climb Cerro Cuerno by the right side of the face on a steep 35-55 degree ice/snow face to reach the col between Cuerno and Aconcagua, and then follow the East Ridge to the summit. A beautiful peak that is rarely climbed. This will be a good climb and preparation for the main challenge of this expedition, the climb of the Polish Glacier. We return to Base Camp after this ascent.
Day 12: Rest and acclimatize at Base Camp (4,200 m / 13,800’)
Before returning to Plaza Don Fernando, we will take another rest day at Base Camp, after such a long day on the summit of Mt. Cuerno. This dramatically improves acclimatization and chances of a successful summit.
Day 13: Move to Plaza Don Fernando (4,800 m / 15,748’)
We return to Plaza Don Fernando, this time to sleep. We will carry all of our personal equipment and will not be returning to Base Camp unless forced to by bad weather.
Day 14: Move to Plaza Don Benegas (5,400 m / 17,717’)
After breaking camp, we move up to Plaza Don Benegas. 3 – 5 hours. We will make our camp and look forward to a rest day.
Day 15: Rest day at Plaza Don Benegas (5,400 m / 17,717’)
Day 16: Climb to Camp Plaza Caluba (5,950 m / 19,521’)
Today we move on up for approximately 3 to 5 hours to camp Grand Plaza Caluba Camp. We will carry three days worth of food, fuel, personal equipment, and tents.
Day 17: Summit day, 6963m / 22,844’!
For this day we will need a very early start. At about 1:00AM the stoves from the guide’s tents will be running to prepare water and we will depart for our Polish Glacier climb few hours later. We will have a very demanding and long day ahead. A 12 to 16 hr day is very possible while climbing the Polish Glacier. The line we choose will depend on conditions. If a lot of penitentes (snow pinnacles formed by direct sunlight) are encountered in the lower section of the glacier we will start by climbing through the scree and rock on the right hand side.
A long day of climbing will take us to the Summit Ridge at 22,000′ after the last steep pitch; a 55-60 degree narrow gully with the entire Glacier below our feet. The final ridge is very long and gentle and above all – awesome! From here we will be able to look directly down the 9,000’ South Face of Aconcagua, considered one of the great faces of the world! At the summit we will have a spectacular 360o view. All around we will see the Andes Mountains consisting of several 20,000’ peaks, including another of the highest peaks in South America, Mercedario. To the west lies Chile and the Pacific Ocean; and to the east, the pre-Andes and plains of Argentina.
After summiting, we descend quickly via the Normal Route, where at Independencia (20,790 ) we traverse west back to our High Camp – the Grand Plaza Caluba Camp – for rest and rehydration. (Possible descent to Base Camp.)
Day 18: Descend to Base Camp
Today we descend from Plaza Caluba to Base Camp. We will probably have some equipment and food to pick up along the way.
Days 19 – 21: Contingency Days
Spare days are included to accommodate for any bad weather.
Day 22: Trek out and the end of BBE services
Today we walk out from Base Camp to the trailhead at Horcones. The walk, which took days to accomplish on the way in, will take about 6 to 7 hours. At the trailhead we will travel by private bus back to Mendoza, arriving in time for a late dinner. but you will be rewarded with a hot shower, drinks, delicious meal at the hotel. Time to celebrate!
Day 22 late or 23: Departures from Mendoza Airport
Note: This itinerary is intended to be a guideline only, weather days and necessary extra rest days are always a possibility whilst on a climbing expedition.