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At an awe inspiring 22,844’, Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere, and you get to climb it! Our most popular mountaineering destination by far, this mountain is a fantastic introduction to high altitude expedition climbing. Benegas Brothers Expeditions has been guiding and climbing on Aconcagua for 20 years, and we strive to provide an exciting experience filled with remarkable views, environmentally safe practices, and small group sizes to help you reach your dreams. Trust us, from the moment we meet at the airport you’re in the capable hands of our BBE guides and friendly base camp staff who are all working to provide you with an unforgettable adventure. Our group’s many years together have created a well-organized family atmosphere on the mountain; and as some of the most experienced guides on Aconcagua, we offer this once in a lifetime opportunity to share our vast local knowledge as we take you to the Roof of the Americas.
With our tried and true acclimatization program you’ll be able to attempt the famous Aconcagua Polish Glacier in tip-top condition for the best chance of a successful summit! We’ll accomplish this by exploring a different area in the Andes prior to moving on to the glacier; giving us improved acclimatization while experiencing scenic Argentina and eliminating the stress that multiple days at Plaza de Mulas Base Camp can cause. For the upcoming 2016-17 season, we will continue to offer our unique acclimatization program, beginning our ascent to high altitude in the beautiful Las Cuevas Refuge, and giving you a chance to see some of real Argentina!
The Polish Glacier is a much more serious undertaking than the Normal Route and only for qualified climbers, given the rigors of climbing ice at 22,000′. Our climb begins from Camp III and entails a 3,500′ elevation gain on steep snow and ice. A demanding and long 12 to 16 hour summit push is very possible while climbing the Polish Glacier. The exact line we choose will depend on conditions (see image below). A long day of climbing will take us to the Summit Ridge at 22,000 feet after the last steep pitch and crux: a 55-60 degree narrow gully with the entire glacier below at our feet. The final ridge is very long and gentle and above all – absolutely 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!
Guides may also decide not to take climbers up the Polish route if their skill level or fitness are deemed inappropriate during the climb, and instead will switch to the Regular Route to the summit. Climbers attempting this route need previous ice climbing experience and must acclimatize well to altitudes over 22,000’. They also must have completed an advanced ice climbing course and have completed multiple ice climbs.
Essential: Excellent physical condition, previous experience at high altitude such as Denali, carrying heavy loads. Able to follow WI 3, and previous glacier travel (a must).
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 – 20: Contingency Days
Spare days are included to accommodate for any bad weather.
Day 21: Trek out
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: 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.
Travel to Mendoza, Argentina (MDZ) typically takes 18-27 hours from the U.S. depending on your departure city, available connections, and flight times. Flights arriving in Mendoza should arrive on Day 1 of the itinerary in the afternoon. Departing flights may be booked for any time on the final day of the program.
A valid passport is required when traveling to Argentina. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the expected return date. U.S. passport holders may stay up to 90 days without a visa. We suggest making a copy of the first two pages of your passport and keeping them in a separate bag as a backup. A copy should also be left with your emergency contact.
Please confirm any current travel advisories/warnings as well as passport and visa requirements with the U.S. Department of State.
Information about Argentina’s Reciprocity Fee
If you are a U.S., Canadian, or Australian citizen traveling to Argentina, you are required to pay a “Reciprocity Fee” ($140). This fee is required by the Government of Argentina and is not included in your airfare. This imposed fee must be prepaid online (https://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes/) prior to travel. Please check the Embassy of Argentina’s web site if you have any questions
Travel and Flight Information
We suggest that you obtain an evening flight to Santiago, Chile, which arrives early in the morning and in time for a connecting flight to Mendoza, Argentina later that day (Day 2 of the itinerary
If arriving to Mendoza via Buenos Aires
Once you receive your bags from Baggage Claim, you will proceed to Customs. There will be a random selection of bags for inspection. Be sure to keep all your bags together.
Please be aware that depending on your airline carrier you may be required to transfer to Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) for domestic flights from Buenos Aires to Mendoza and make your travel arrangements accordingly. Transfer time varies between 30 min to 1 hr + depending on time of day and traffic conditions. Several transfer options exist, taxis are the quickest method while some buses require stops in the city center before reaching the airport. Transfer to Aeroparque by Manuel Tienda de leon. www.tiendaleon.com.ar Upon reaching Mendoza, proceed to the Baggage Claim to retrieve your bags.
If arriving to Mendoza via Santiago, Chile:
Upon arrival at the Mendoza airport (MDZ), proceed to the Immigrations desk for foreign travelers. They will provide you with an entrance permit adequate for your stay. Please check the date to ensure it covers your complete stay in Argentina.
Once you receive your bags from Baggage Claim, you will proceed to Customs. There will be a random selection of bags for inspection. Be sure to keep all your bags together. A private shuttle will take you to our hotel.
Travel Insurance & Rescue Insurance
We require the purchase of insurance plans to protect you from the unexpected. Please consult with your insurance company with any specific questions regarding coverage and policy details. If you have any questions please contact our offices.
General Travel and Trip Coverage: Travel Guard (US Toll Free 800-826-4919) provides coverage to protect against trip cancellation, interruption, or delay due to unforeseeable sickness, injury, or death of you or a family member. Coverage also includes trip cost default protection; stolen or damaged luggage; and trip or baggage delay protection.
Coverage should include lost or damaged baggage, BBE is not responsible for the personal items or baggage of its members at any time.
All of the meals served on Benegas Brothers Expeditions trips are a combination of the best local and regional fares along with occasional specialty items brought from the US. We are happy to accommodate your dietary restrictions and/or allergies. We practice an expedition motto of “happiness through eating!”
We recommend that you bring snacks to supplement the mountain lunches for 5 days. We may have a chance to purchase additional food in Mendoza, but we recommend you take what you need and only supplement with local food if necessary.
Take snacks that you genuinely enjoy. Eating well is the key to maintaining your strength while in the mountains. And in order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude, it is best to have a variety of foods from which to choose, from sweet to sour to salty.
Lunch snacks are eaten during short breaks throughout the day while in the mountains. Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.
Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, Toffees, Life Savers), Gummy Bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).
Breakfast and Dinners
The breakfast menu includes items such as instant oatmeal, cold cereals (granola), breakfast bars, hot drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa, cider) and local fresh fruit.
Dinner usually begins with soup and ends with dessert, followed by a round of hot drinks. Healthy one-pot meals, incorporating fresh local food whenever practical, are served as the main course. There are limitations, but the menu is planned to offer good variety and ample portions.
Our international trips feature local standard four-five star accommodations in the larger cities and towns. These hotels offer all of the amenities you would expect; room service, laundry, wireless internet…etc. They are often near the local points of interest, unique shops and colorful markets, and offer guests a comfortable place to relax between the trip activities.
During our treks and climbs we will be camping with Style. You might find yourself waking up to a hot tea delivered with a smile right to the foot of your tent each morning, or playing cards in the dining tent during afternoon tea with new acquaintances, or enjoying a fine meal prepared by our cook staff that is present on each trip. Camping will take on a new meaning for you!
Porters are available to help carry gear above Base Camp. They can be arranged at your request through your guide. Porters carry loads of 20 kg and prices depend on where on the mountain they are needed, varying from $180 to $350 dollars for a one-way trip. Payment is due in cash at the time of service. Porter fees are not included in the trip or permit fees and are in addition to the amount we suggest you bring as spending money.
The current currency of Argentina is the Peso. Check a financial newspaper or www.xe.com for the current exchange rate prior to departure.
You should find that $950-$1,300 for spending money is adequate for your permit, restaurant meals, drinks, tips and pocket money. You may choose to bring more depending on your shopping plans, length of stay, and need for porters.
Cash machines are readily available in Mendoza, but become increasingly difficult to find outside of the main urban areas.
Credit cards are accepted in most, but not all, areas.
Everyone has a preferred way to carry money. Some use money belts, others have hidden pockets. Whatever you do, be aware of pickpockets and thieves in any area which caters to tourists.
Only for qualified climbers, given the rigors of climbing ice at 22,000′. Guides may also decide not to take climbers up the Polish Glacier Route if their skill level or fitness are deemed inappropriate during the climb, and instead will switch to the Regular Route for the summit. Climbers attempting this route need previous ice climbing experience and must acclimatize well to altitudes over 22,000’. They also must have completed an advanced ice climbing course and have completed multiple ice climbs. Essential: Excellent physical condition, previous experience at high altitude such as Denali, carrying heavy loads. Able to follow WI 3, and previous glacier travel (a must).
Gain Technical High Altitude Experience and Summit The Roof of the Americas
1:1 or 2:1 (matched pair only)
$8,500 per person for two (matched pair only)
Private Guide Cost:
Does not include:
*NB Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those occupying single accommodations by choice or circumstance. The single supplement is not available in huts, tents, or in all hotels.
Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize. The key to climbing high is proper acclimatization. Our program follows a calculated ascent profile which allows time for your body to adjust to the altitude. In addition to a proper rate of ascent, your performance is often related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days, and weeks prior to summit day. Proper hydration, nutrition, and warmth must be maintained on a daily basis throughout the expedition
Aconcagua, like all big mountains, generates and attracts its own weather, making it impossible to predict. Be prepared for a wide range of temperatures, from freezing nights, to snowy and windy conditions, to bright sunshine intensified by the high altitude. This wide fluctuation in temperatures makes it important to bring everything on the equipment list. Climbers early in the season, on our December and January climbs, should expect to find large snowfields high on the mountain, while climbers later in the season, on our February trips, will encounter less snow and more dry, rocky, trail. There may, of course, be some variation to this from one season to the next. Aconcagua is located at 32 degrees 39 minutes south, the same distance from the equator as San Diego, California. The best time to climb Aconcagua is from December to early March, during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer. Days of clear sunny skies are the norm on Aconcagua, but the mountain does receive storms during the summer months due to the moist, humid winds blowing west from the Pacific Ocean. As this air rises over the slopes of the Andes, its speed increases and it condenses to form lenticular clouds on the summit, also known as viento blanco, or white wind. In general, winds from the south are usually a sign of good weather and enable us to go for a successful summit bid.
People climb Aconcagua for many reasons. Some simply love being in a wild places, while others want to challenge themselves physically and mentally, and for some it is to fulfill a lifelong dream. Climbing Aconcagua is a serious business and a summit attempt requires a very deep sense of commitment and dedication. So please ask yourself, what are your goals on Aconcagua? Try to take an introspective look at the risk vs. reward as you make your decision. Any ascent at this altitude involves a certain amount of risk. Our use of conservative, experience-based decision making will help minimize those risks and increase your chances for success, but ultimately, big mountains can be unforgiving require serious commitment and reflection.
Team members are ultimately responsible for their own well being. This includes making all the necessary preparations to ensure good health and excellent physical conditioning both before and during an expedition. Our guides will oversee and discuss important issues along the way, but you should arrive in Mendoza very well prepared.
At BBE safety is paramount, and our proven success rate reflects our decades of experience. In addition to our exceptional knowledge of the routes we climb, we are backed up by a phenomenal support staff in base camps and weather forecasting via satellite. We are prepared for every outcome, with rescue, medical equipment, and support always standing by. Our climbs and acclimatization programs are meticulously planned, for the most enjoyable ascents possible, focussing on our teams’ safely to give you the experience of a lifetime.