13 Top Tips for Climbing Mount Aconcagua, Argentina

Aconcagua is a mountain located in the Andes mountain range in the province of Mendoza, Argentina. It's the highest mountain in the Americas and also the highest in the Southern and Western Hemispheres. It’s understandable why thousands of tourists troop to this mountain every year to experience its magic with all these attributes.

Mount Aconcagua is one of the seven tallest peaks globally and is regarded as the second most climbed mountain after Everest. This Andean giant peak is the South American answer to Mount Everest. It is known as one of the most traveled or climbed mountain peaks due to the climb's relatively easy terrain. This is also why this mountain is regarded as a favorable destination for all climbers and trekkers irrespective of their experience level.

Try the wine from wineries in Mendoza, while you watch Aconcagua, the highest mountain in all of South America. Being the highest mountain in the southern and western hemisphere, Aconcagua is popularly known among climbers, trekkers, and hikers but, climbing the mountain is not just about getting to the top and enjoy the victory, instead it's all about patience, persistence, strength, and challenges.

How hard is it to climb Mount Aconcagua? Though the mountain is easy enough to climb, the entire expedition's difficulty arises from the altitude. The altitude of the mountain is such that it requires intensive physical strength, especially in the legs. Due to the physically demanding nature of the climb, only about 40% of the climbers can attempt it.

But like all towering mountains, ascending Mount Aconcagua is not exactly a walk in the park. At the very least, you need to be prepared physically, mentally, and even financially for this arduous yet thrill-inspiring trip.

Aconcagua is the highest peak outside of the HimalayaAconcagua is the highest peak outside of the Himalaya.

How do you climb Aconcagua? Although there are innumerable ways and techniques of mountain climbing that you need to understand, the basic understanding can be developed through these steps. Read on as we unpack the top things to know before climbing Aconcagua.

1. Understand the Weather and Terrain

The first thing to know before climbing Mount Aconcagua is the general climatic conditions and how the landscape looks. This is especially important for foreign tourists planning a trip to this iconic mountain. Aconcagua is located in a desert area with minimal vegetation and water, which means that the conditions at the mountain can be quite unbearable during hot weather.

Also, temperatures vary significantly from day and night, and the weather can be somewhat unpredictable. What appears to be constant all-year-round is the windy conditions around the mountain.

2. How to Get to Aconcagua?

Once you know where Aconcagua is located, the next thing is to figure out how to get there. The good news is that there are numerous ways to get to the mountain, depending on where you’re coming from. You can fly directly to Aconcagua via a domestic flight from Buenos Aires in Argentina or Santiago in Chile. You can also drive to the mountain from the city of Mendoza. The driving distance is an estimated 70 miles (112 kilometers).

If you’re a local living within the San Juan Province, you might even consider cycling to the mountain, a distance of about 3 miles (5 kilometers).

3. Arrive Early

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the climatic conditions at Aconcagua before embarking on any climbing expedition. Therefore, be sure to arrive early enough. The thumb rule is to arrive at the local camps at least two to three weeks in advance. That way, you’ll have ample time to experience the mountain’s terrain and local attractions, as well as understand some expected challenges. Some of the camping facilities near the mountain include Puente del Inca, Plaza de Mulas, Camp Canad√°, Camp Alaska, Confluencia, and Nido de C√≥ndores.

Also, note that climbing the mountain itself takes at least four days. Some people may take as much as 20 days to reach the peaks, which underscores the importance of arriving early.

4. Getting Acclimatized

Acclimatization to the terrain and environment is essential because it is physically very demanding and because of the low oxygen level. Acclimatization helps climbers to move with ease and confidence swiftly.

Getting acclimatized to preserve the trip's safety and success is vital, especially where the altitude is exceptionally high and severe. It will also result in the climber's optimum performance, given the trek's severity to continue to survive its entire duration.

5. Can you climb aconcagua without a Guide?

Altitude plays an imperative role in mountain climbing. Most mountain guides of Aconcagua can help in climbing well and give the entire expeditions price because they have a different and complete understanding of the altitude's geographical factors. Irregular or incomplete analysis can lead to potentially dangerous consequences such as altitude sickness and can even be potentially fatal or life-threatening.

6. Training for the Expedition

The challenges posed by the mountain and its challenging terrain are one of the primary research points. Once you have understood just how physically strenuous the entire journey will be, it is essential to build the physicality to cope with the journey's ardors. Proper diet and hydration are the keys to build energy levels.

Apart from this, climbers will require excessive strength, stamina, and endurance-based training and must focus on practical parts. These include weight and leg strength training.

7. Getting the Right Equipment

While trekking, you must select the right equipment. The equipment you carry must be following the nature of terrain and topography. Adherence to the right equipment can help to thwart any unnecessary troubles that may occur on your route.

Selecting equipment that is lightweight and easy to carry is the need for safe climbing. Lightweight or easy to carry pieces of equipment make it easier for you to climb longer trails quickly and efficiently. Carry all these pieces of equipment and be mentally ready. The lighter the equipment, the easier it will be to wield it.

Some of the essentials include:

• Clothing, such as fleece jackets, waterproof jackets, and wind pants

• Head protection gear, including sun hat, goggles, and safety helmet

• Hand protection gear, such as gloves

• Footwear, including trekking shoes, mountaineering boots, and wool socks

• Climbing equipment, such as ski poles, ice ax, and crampons

• Safety equipment like a pocket knife

• Hydration equipment like plastic water bottles and lip screen

• Camping equipment like a sleeping bag

8. Understanding Your Previous Medical History

It is essential to get a thorough physical examination done before undertaking such an adventure. Mountain climbing has its shares of positive and negative effects. Understanding your medical condition primarily tells you whether you and your body have the tolerance or have the stamina to undertake a climb.

It is also a useful tool to know what level of physical fitness will be expected from the climber and whether the climber can meet such demands or not. For this, the climber also has to be completely honest about medical issues or conditions. This is because even the slightest mistakes can be catastrophic.

9. Importance of Hydration

Ensuring proper hydration while climbing is mandatory. Primarily the geographical location of the mountain is such that the terrain is arid. Since the trek itself is very physically demanding and arduous, adequate hydration levels are significant. Ideally, a trekker consumes around 5-7 liters of water for the day. It is noteworthy that you do not have to force water in your bladder. Forcing water will lead to a loss of the same water through urination.

Therefore, techniques such as the camel bak bladder pack are vital. Additionally, trekkers need hyperhydration sachets, multi-vitamins, and electrolytes during the trip.

10. Controlling the Pace of the Trip

Controlling the pace of the trip is essential for recovery. Moving quickly can result in altitude sickness and does not aid in healing. On a long trekking expedition, fatigue can be your worst enemy, and therefore good recovery is significant.

Another reason to control the trekking pace is that the oxygen concentration is low at high altitudes. Hence, trekking must be done at such a pace where oxygen is not burnt out quickly, giving your body ample time to heal and recover.

11. Previous Altitude Experience

Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Americas, with an altitude of 6,961 meters (22.840 ft.) above sea level. That makes it one of the most interesting mountains to want to climb. Unfortunately, you require previous altitude experience to conquer this mountain. If you’re an aspiring mountaineer, you should probably stay away from Aconcagua for now and hone your climbing skills with other low-altitude mountains.

Why should altitude be a serious concern? Well, it will interest you to know that temperatures at the summit of Mount Aconcagua can plummet to minus 30 degrees centigrade. That’s enough to induce hypothermia, especially for mountaineers without adequate climbing experience. The fact that the mountain sits on a desert doesn’t make the experience any better for novice climbers.

12. When to Visit Aconcagua

The best time to visit Aconcagua is during the Austral summer, which lasts from mid-December to late March. Temperatures tend to be more favorable around these times. Another benefit of visiting Aconcagua during peak seasons is that you’ll always have company. More mountaineers mean there’s always someone watching your back. A higher number of people ascending the mountain at the same time can also be a source of motivation.

In the same breath, you should avoid the busiest climbing periods if you’re averse to crowds. Anywhere between mid-December and mid-January is unideal for solitary adventurers. During these times, there can be up to 1,000 mountain climbers at the same time.

13. Know the Costs

Aconcagua climb cost ranges between USD 290 and USD 800 for normal route ascents. The price range generally depends on the season you choose to go climbing and your nationality. Perhaps the most important thing to know is that climbing permits are only sold in the Aconcagua Provincial Park and are generally available until 11:30 am. So, you’ll need to process the permits in person. Also, note that foreign tourists must pay in hard currency.

The Bottom Line

You must follow these tips if you are planning to climb Mount Aconcagua. Besides them, considering the oxygen level and other difficulties are imperative too. Always remember that the slow pace and movement are integral to sustaining the trek. Do not rush into things; take your time, and be safe while climbing.

Regardless of your best efforts, your Aconcagua climbing may not always go as planned. There are always risks to watch out for, including falls, dehydration, and health hazards occasioned by improper disposal of waste products. So, always follow your gut and know when to call off your expedition.

Kalyan Panja