Aconcagua – Vacas Valley Route

The best way to climb Aconcagua is via the Vacas route. The Vacas valley Aconcagua trek is our climb of choice. The tallest mountain in the western hemisphere, Aconcagua, is hard to climb, but we have a great team to help you from the beginning to the end.Extreme altitudes above 5,500 m (18,500 ft) will be your three significant obstacles—high winds, severe weather, and carrying all your mountaineering gear up and down the mountain. This Aconcagua circuit trip’s alternative traverse path is more scenic.


DAY 1Get out of your homeland.DAY 2Arrive in Mendoza. Morning flights are best for climbers. After that, a group dinner at one of Mendoza’s top restaurants and an overnight stay at a hotel will follow.DAY 3After getting our permits in the morning, we take a private bus to Penitentes. After arriving in Penitentes, we organize our mule loads and eat dinner in the lodge-style hotel.DAYS 4-6After one night in Penitentes, we drive 15 minutes to Punta de Vacas (8,000 ft.) to start our three-day, 30-mile walk into Plaza Argentina (13,800 ft.), our adventure base camp. We’ll trek without hefty loads, thanks to mules. The guides will make sandwiches, fresh fruit, and veggies for our daily picnic meal. We’ll approach across green desert valleys surrounded by Andes mountains. Condors and guanacos may appear. Mountains will hide our goal for the first half of the approach. The second day will reveal Aconcagua’s majestic east face. On the final day of the Base Camp hike, we’ll cross the Vacas River and climb the Relinchos Valley. We’ll settle into Base Camp and farewell to our gear’s mules and arrieros.DAY 7Rest day for packing up for the climb. We’ll explore the area to acclimatize and enjoy another day of great meals in Base Camp.DAY 8We’ll “double carry” this and most upper mountain moves to save pack weight and improve acclimatization.DAY 9Rest day to finish packing for Base Camp. We’ll hike to acclimatize and enjoy another day of Base Camp meals and luxuries.DAY 10After breakfast, we’ll climb to Camp I slowly. We’ll rise for about an hour, then break for 10–15 minutes to drink, refuel, and tend to climbers. This lets us climb efficiently and reach Camp I with enough energy to set up tents and create a camp.DAY 11We’ll carry to Camp Guanacos at 18,200 ft., cache our packs, and return to Camp I for the night. Depending on the snow level, we may use crampons on the slopes below Ameghino Col. Aconcagua’s “penitentes”—tall snow triangles six feet or more—are often seen. Camp Guanacos offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the natural preserve of the Guanacos Valley.DAY 12Camp I day off. After the previous day’s carry to Camp Guanacos, today is a much-needed rest day. It allows us to recover and acclimatize before sleeping higher. We’ll have imaginative and bountiful meals in camp since we won’t be climbing or lugging today.DAY 13While more potent and better acclimatized, we’ll climb to Camp Guanacos by the same route. After setting up camp, we’ll cook dinner and rest.DAY 14We’ll carry to Camp Colera (19,500 ft.), located at the intersection with the North Ridge near Refugio Berlin. At camp, we’ll cache our loads and rest briefly before returning to Camp Guanacos for dinner and a well-earned night of rest.DAY 15Camp Guanacos acclimatisation. We’ll appreciate Camp Guanacos’ views and more elaborate dinners. We’ll watch the weather two days before our summit and attempt to pick the optimal day.DAY 16Join Camp Colera. We’ll see the Polish Route throughout this brief trip. In case of heavy winds, we’ll erect rock walls around our tents or carefully reinforce any rock-stacked tent anchors. We’ll get a magnificent perspective of the west side of the mountain, the Andes, and our summit path from here.DAY 17After breakfast, we ascend the North Ridge to Refugio Independencia at around 21,400 feet. We’ll tackle the West Face and climb into the Canaleta, an 800-foot couloir that leads to the summit ridge. The Guanaco Ridge makes summiting easier. On top, we’ll get a 360-degree view. In the Andes Mountains, you’ll see over 20,000 ft. Peaks, including Mercedario, South America’s highest peak. In the east are Argentina’s plains and Chile’s Pacific Ocean. You’ll also be able to see Aconcagua’s world-famous 9,000-foot south face.DAY 18From High Camp, we’ll descend to Plaza de Mulas. Today’s descent into Horcones Valley is 6,000 feet. We’ll enjoy dinner and watch the sunset on Aconcagua’s peak at Base Camp.DAY 19Plaza de Mulas to Horcones Visitor Center. We’ll see Aconcagua’s south face from many vantage points along the Horcones River. After refreshments at Confluencia Camp, we’ll hike to the Horcones Visitor Center. Our outfitter will take us to Penitentes for our celebratory dinner and hot hotel showers.DAY 20We’ll celebrate our alpine time in Mendoza and Argentina’s beauty. Our guides may recommend Mendoza’s many vineyards for climbers with extra time.DAYS 21–22These extra days are for acclimation, rest, or severe weather. You’ll get two more days to savor Mendoza’s outstanding restaurants and wine if not used.DAY 23Leave Mendoza.DAY 24Return to your nation.