Aconcagua Expedition: Hiking the NW Route

Aconcagua Expedition: Hiking the NW Route

Join us on an unforgettable journey up Aconcagua! We'll start with a team meeting in Mendoza, then head to Penitentes for acclimatization and gear sorting. Followed by a hike up to base camp, with mules carrying our gear.

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About Aconcagua Expedition: Hiking the NW Route

PowerPoint presentation about 'Aconcagua Expedition: Hiking the NW Route'. This presentation describes the topic on Join us on an unforgettable journey up Aconcagua! We'll start with a team meeting in Mendoza, then head to Penitentes for acclimatization and gear sorting. Followed by a hike up to base camp, with mules carrying our gear.. The key topics included in this slideshow are Aconcagua, Expedition, NW route, Mendoza, Penitentes,. Download this presentation absolutely free.

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2. Arrival at Mendoza airport or bus station from where private transportation will be arranged to take you to your hotel. We will all meet at the hotel so that team members, guides and assistant guides can get to know each other. Dinner on your own. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 01

3. We will meet early to review each team members personal equipment. Should anyone be missing gear they can rent or buy what ever they need from our stock of equipment. Once all the gear is packed we will load it onto the vehicles and head to the Aconcagua Park offices to purchase the necessary climbing permits. From here we begin our trip towards the mountains. First we will stop for lunch in the town of Uspallata, 100 km (62 miles) from Mendoza, and then continue another 65 km (40 miles) to Penitentes located at 2,750 meters (9,030 feet) above sea level, where we will spend the night. Sleeping at this altitude under comfortable conditions will help us acclimatize. Separate the gear we will take with us on our hike to base camp from that which will be taken up by mules. Dinner. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 02

4. Have breakfast and take care of final details before leaving the Hotel. From here a vehicle will take us to the Laguna de Horcones entrance of Aconcagua Provincial Park. At the trailhead there is a rangers station where we will be asked to present our climbing permits before beginning the walk to our first camp, called Confluencia, at 3,300 meters (10,820 feet). Fifteen minutes into our hike we will pass the Laguna de Horcones with its reflection of the stunning South Face of Aconcagua, of course, weather permitting. We hike on a narrow path along the Horcones River at a leisurely pace so as not to tire ourselves out unnecessarily and to arrive at camp as relaxed as possible. A quarter of the way up the trail we will stop for lunch. Then we continue to the confluence of the Horcones River, which flows from the glaciers above the Plaza de Mulas Base Camp (4,250 meters/13,940 feet), and the Lower Horcones River, with its source above the Plaza Francia Base Camp (4,200 meters/ 13,780 feet). Our first camp, Confluencia, gets its name from its location near the junction of these two rivers. In total the hike takes 3 to 4 hours and climbs 600 meters (1,970 feet). Once in Confluencia, well enjoy our famous state-of-the- art base camp. Our camp attendants will be waiting for us with refreshments and a snack. After finding our beds, well get ready for dinner by scouting the surroundings with the Guide (optional), and learning abut the peaks that enclose this narrow valley. This camp has the famous Geodesic Domes, design and build to withstand hurricane winds, heavy snow loads, yet slick, spacious and warm. These Domes were custom ordered to provide special care to our expeditioneers. The metallic frames are very resistant and the covers are made of special new environmentally friendly PVC, treated against UB and IR rays, with a fire retardant coating. Big bay windows provide the enjoyment of the great views. The interiors are carpeted, heated, and comfortably house real beds, dinning tables, chairs, communications room, and other amenities. Also, this camp has an exclusive bathroom with a hot shower, and toilet seat. The meals are superb. No wonder our camp is called theHilton of Aconcagua. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 03


6. Breakfast and then we prepare for a 4 or 5-hour hike to a great viewpoint not far from Plaza Francia. From here, if weather conditions permit, we will be able to take great pictures of the South Face of Aconcagua. This 2,700-meter (8,856-feet) wall is one of the biggest and most challenging in the world. We will have lunch here and then return to camp where we will have time to relax and snack before it is time for dinner. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 04

7. We will have breakfast very early before beginning our hike to Plaza de Mulas. This will be one of the longer days of the whole trip; depending on our pace the hike can take between 8 and 9 hours. From Confluencia we climb a steep hill to the first crossing of the Horcones River. If the river is running high we may have to wet our feet for which sandals are recommended. After this crossing begins a long walk in a wide, open valley called the Playa Ancha during which we will slowly gain in altitude. The river meanders across the Playa Ancha so we may have to cross it a few times before arriving at a small abandoned hut called Teniente Ibez at 3,700 meters (12,140 feet) where we will stop for lunch. From here the trail climbs along a rolling moraine to the remains of an old lodge in Lower Plaza de Mulas that was destroyed by an avalanche years ago. Following this is a steep rise called the "Cuesta Brava" (what may be called Misery Hill in English) its name says it all where we will reduce our pace and slowly but surely climb up to the top of the slope. The segment that follows, and the last before our arrival at base camp, is not as steep as the Cuesta Brava although just as challenging being that by this point we will have reached a height of 4,000 meters (13,120 feet). At Plaza de Mulas we will be greeted by our base camp host who will have prepared juice and tea to quench our thirst and counter the dehydration our body will be experiencing after such a long, tiring day. Once rested we will set up our tents and leisurely enjoy what is left of the day before it is time for dinner. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 05

8. This day will be dedicated to resting. All the same we will take a walk in the surrounding areas of base camp. First we will go as far as the base of the Upper Horcones Glacier, the source of the Horcones River. Then we will go on to visit the hotel of Plaza de Mulas. From the hotel, on a clear day, one has a complete view of the Normal Route including the summit. We return to base camp and organize gear and food for the next day. We divide what has to be ferried up to Plaza Canada (4,850 meters/15,900 feet). This climb with minimal weight and some elevation gain will allow us to see how we are adapting to the altitude and the change in our metabolism as well as the state of our physical fitness. Dinner. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 06

9. Early breakfast and start our climb to Plaza Canada. In addition to the load we will have to carry, food and cooking utensils, we will have to bring along some extra clothes in case of a changes in weather. During the hike we will stop every 45 minutes or 1 hour to rest, drink and eat something. On average the climb takes 3 to 4 hours up a trail with gently inclined switchbacks. At camp we stash the loads in large bags, which we then cover with rocks. The walk down takes 1 to 1 hours. Back |at camp we will have time to relax before it is time for dinner. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 07

10. Another rest day. There are no arranged activities for this day. This is a free day for each member to do as they wish. However, we dont recommend spending too much time inside the tent. It is a good idea to go for a small stroll around camp to get the blood flowing and further the acclimatization process. It is also important to stay well hydrated and fed in preparation for our stay at higher altitudes. We will have dinner early so as to get a good night sleep to be well rested for the following days activities. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 08

11. Early breakfast and preparations for our move up to Plaza Canada for the night. The climb is made at a slow pace set by the guide. After 3 or 4 hours with regular breaks we get to camp and set up the tents. Due to the fact that this area doesnt have running water we have to fill plastic bags with snow that we will later convert into cherished drinking water. The water we drink should always be accompanied by juice, tea or some other infusion. After dinner hot drinks will be offered so that we can get into our sleeping bags with our bodies nice and warm. It is a good idea to melt enough water to have some on hand to quench our thirst at night. The view from camp offers splendid sunsets over the Cordillera del Lmite, which separates Argentina from Chile. If one observes carefully they will see lights at night of small villages embedded in the mountains. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 09

12. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 10 We wake up early to have breakfast and break down camp. Then we pack our backpacks and begin the ascent to Nido de Cndores (5.350 meters/17,550 feet). We start the hike on a trail that steepens considerably after Camp Cambio de Pendiente (5,200 meters/17,060 feet). The last part of the trail is more relaxed and brings us to Nido de Condores where we set up our next camp. Here we will have to melt a substantial amount of snow to stay well hydrated and be able to cook a big dinner.

13. We have breakfast and break down camp before heading up to Camp Berlin. On our climb we will have a terrific view of the Cordillera de la Ramada, in the neighboring province of San Juan, with Mount Mercedario looming in its midst at 6,770 meters (22,200 feet). The path climbs steeply after leaving Nido de Condores making the 450 meters (1,470 feet) up to Berlin a challenging walk. The weather can change quickly during the climb for which it is advisable to have extra layers readily available. It takes between 5 to 6 hours to reach camp depending on each members fitness and acclimatization. When we arrive at camp we set up our tents and once again collect snow to be melted into the drinking water so essential for our bodies during these last difficult stages of our expedition. First we have some hot drinks, then an early dinner to be able to get into our sleeping bags as quickly as possible and rest as much as we can before the summit bid the next day. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 11

14. Summit Day!!! We wake up at 4 a.m. for an early bite to eat and prepare ourselves to face the bitter early morning cold awaiting us, taking care to protect our extremities (hands, feet and face), which are the most exposed to the cold. We will have to use headlamps for the first part of the climb until the sun comes up. As this will be the longest day of the whole expedition we have to pack a lot of liquid. It is a good idea to bring a thermos with some hot tea or coffee. On average it takes 8 to 10 hours to reach the summit and about 4 hours for the descent. The lead guide will set a slow comfortable pace. With the sunrise, conditions become much more comfortable depending also on whether there is wind or not. We pass Piedras Blancas and then zigzag our way up to the remains of the shelter at Independencia (6,200meters/20,340 feet). Here we take a break do drink, eat something sweet and prepare to cross the Portezuelo del Viento (Windy Pass). This is a key point in the climb, for as its name hints; the wind and cold at this point can thwart our progress. Following this pass is the long Travesa that takes us to the base of a wide chute that ends at the summit ridge ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 12


16. This chute of loose rock and snow is the famous Canaleta (6,600metes/21,650 feet) and requires extra concentration and care. By this point we will be feeling the effects of the long climb and the altitude, for which the loose rock up this part of the trail will be of no help. After this strenuous stretch we come out onto the summit ridge at a point called Filo del Guanaco. This ridge divides the Normal Route form the South Face; looking over the edge gives one a dizzy feeling of vertigo from the long vertical drop down the other side. Although by now we are so close to the peak, we much take care to maintain our slow steady pace, as the excitement of almost being on the top of the Western hemispheres tallest mountain can ruin our rhythm and complicate the final part of the climb. Once on the summit we will stay long enough to take some excellent photos and share this singular moment with the other members of the expedition, after the days long struggle and group effort. The length of our stay on the summit will depend on the weather though we will not stay more than 30 to 45 minutes. The descent is made along the same route. Very often this is the most difficult part of the climb since many use up their last supply of energy to get to the peak. We must pay attention to each step we take. It is here that one observes the true work of the guides, especially when we have to put all our trust in their competence and experience to be able to get back down to Berlin and the next day to base camp. Often the group advances very slowly and arrives at camp when it is already dark, in which case the headlamps will have to be taken out again. Once back in Berlin we drink to replenish our dehydrated bodies and try to digest some food. Often the exhaustion one feels impedes proper hydration and food intake, however we must make an effort to at least drink something hot like soup or tea. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 12

17. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 13 This day is reserved as an extra summit day should the weather the previous day have been too bad to make an attempt.

18. After breakfast we break down camp and begin the descent along the same route we came up on. We will surely be feeling our previous days efforts so we will go down at a slow pace. The trip will take about 3 to 4 hours. Once back at Plaza de Mulas we will have our summit celebration. We will take advantage of this day to recuperate calories and liquids for the walk out to Penitentes the next day, for which a nice big dinner will be called for. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 14

19. ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 15 Breakfast and break down camp. We prepare our equipment in loads to be taken back down by mules and set off on our descent. The hike back to the Laguna de Horcones trial head takes 6 to 7 hours where a vehicle will be waiting to take us to Penitentes for a fabulous celebratory feast as well as a hot shower and a nice cozy bed. Breakfast and break down camp. We prepare our equipment in loads to be taken back down by mules and set off on our descent. The hike back to the Laguna de Horcones trial head takes 6 to 7 hours where a vehicle will be waiting to take us to Penitentes for a fabulous celebratory feast as well as a hot shower and a nice cozy bed.

20. We have breakfast and travel from Penitentes to Potrerillos where a fun rafting experience awaits us. We will need clothes that can get wet and something to change into for when we come off the river. Finally, we head back to Mendoza and the hotel. Farwell diner at The Familia Zuccardi Winery. --- : --- Private transport to Airport/Bus Station ACONCAGUA EXPEDITION Day 16 & 17