Mount Aconcagua Camps
Plaza de Mulas and Plaza Argentina base Camps Approach Camps – Altitude Camps
These are areas devoted to the settlement of guests to the park. In general they shelter them from the winds and avalanches, are supplied with drinking water and or snow melters for its production. They are also the base for park rangers and medical services.
There are three types of camp:
Approach camp: used as a rest area between points, generally between the route and the base camp.
Base camp: used mainly to acclimate and prepare for starting the ascent.
Altitude camp: located on the mount, these camps are middle points between the base and the summit.
Mt Aconcagua – Approach Camps
Since it is convenient to make a slow approach to facilitate acclimation and to avoid the problems caused by altitude sickness, we recommend using these camps duringthe approach days to the base camps. In general they all present good camping conditions.
On the Normal Route (in Quebrada de Horcones):
Horcones (2850 m.a.s.l): it is only used by foreign visitors who do not spend the night in Puente del Inca or Penitentes, so as not to start the walk the same day they leave Mendoza city. This stop is generally used to get the equipment ready for the expedition. It is not much used since it is necessary to use a tent and nearby there are hotels and shelters.
Confluencia (3200 m.a.s.l): it is used to rest after a long walk and to prepare for the ascent to Mt. Aconcagua. It is advisable to spend a night in Confluencia before reaching Plaza de Mulas. It has drinking water, an area for tents and a park ranger service. This is the most visited camp in the ravine due to its location and services. The name comes from the confluence of the Upper and Lower Horcones River. The walk from Horcones is approximately 4 hours.
Ibañez Shelter (3400 m.a.s.l): is located approximately between Confluencia and Plaza de Mulas. Taking into account that it is a long journey, many visitors prefer to camp in between. Although this place does not feature any kind of services, it does have potable water and comfortable places for camping.
On the Polish Glacier Route (in the Ravine of the Vacas River):
Punta de Vacas (2600 m.a.s.l): it is the starting point to Plaza Argentina mainly and is located on National Road 7, 16 kilometers from Puente del Inca. Few use Punta de Vacas as their first camp due to the proximity of Pampa de Leñas. The park ranger camp checks admission permits here.
Pampa de Leñas (3100 m.a.s.l): to get there it is necessary to follow the Vacas River through the ravine. There is potable water and the route is well marked. Fifteen kilometers away, on the right bank, is the shelter Casa de Leñas (3 to 6 hours). This camp has a park ranger camp.
Casa de Piedra (3800 m.a.s.l): on the left bank, there is a shelter located 32 kilometers from Pampa de Leñas, in front of Quebrada de los Relinchos. This shelter is hard to find since it is sometimes covered with snow and it is also integrated with the environment. Water can be found in its surroundings (5 to 8 hours).
Mt Aconcagua Base Camps
On the Normal Route:
Plaza de Mulas base camp
The base camp (4260 m.a.s.l) of the Normal route and its variants is called Plaza de Mulas and there are two campsites:
Lower Plaza de Mulas: used only by military personnel. It is perfectly marked and has potable water as well as a heliport for two aircraft.
New Plaza de Mulas: Located in the following moraine to the North.
When we talk about Plaza de Mulas we mean this second camp. The area is surrounded by water and large rocks that protect tents. This is the most visited camp in the park and the most popular.
Access to Plaza de Mulas is simple since there is a well-traced route from the constant treading of mountaineers and cattle. The route from Puente del Inca (2700 m.a.s.l) is about 36 kilometers and 1500 meters of difference of level. It is advisable to do the approach in two days, choosing Confluencia as a middle camp.
Plaza de Mulas is an excellent place for the necessary acclimation. From there it is possible to climb in one day (at least two) the nearby gendarmes, all of them over 5000 meters high. The Horcones Superior glacier is also in the area, and it is a magnificent place to visit and to practice climbing its big ice towers.
Puente del Inca – Confluencia (3 to 6 hours)
Confluencia – Plaza de Mulas (7 to 10 hours)
Access routes: Normal – Southeast ridge – West face – Polish Glacier.
Aconcagua Normal Route
Confluencia and Plaza de Mulas Camps
On the Polish Glacier Route:
Plaza Argentina base camp
Situated 4100 m.a.s.l, Plaza Argentina is a very good place to camp. It is used for climbing the Polish Glacier route. There is no infrastructure and is divided into plots among the different service providers. It has good medical service and a permanent park ranger camp. It is a big wind-ridden explanade, but it has plenty of potable water. The approach from Punta de Vacas is about 60 kilometers and slightly over 2000 meters of difference of level. It is advisable to allow three days for this approach. Ascent to the Polish Glacier is only allowed to people over 21.
Punta de Vacas – Leñas shelter (3 to 6 hours)
Leñas shelter – Casa de Piedra shelter (5 to 8 hours)
Casa de Piedra shelter – Plaza Argentina (5 to 8 hours)
On the Polish Glacier Route – Guanacos variantPlaza Guanacos Camp
This camp, which was the last to be set up, is 3650 m.a.s.l. It was established in 1995 due to the increasing demand of alternative routes. It is situated 70 kilometers from Punta de Vacas (9 hours from Casa de Piedra), at the bottom of the Río Vacas valley.
Even though it has drinking water, the camp does not feature any other services. There are no service providers in the area, nor are there park rangers or medical service. Inspection is carried out periodically, mainly by the park rangers from Pampa de Leñas.
Both the camp and the routes from there are little visited, and due to its far-off location, the expeditions and or service providers who want to visit it must comply with a series of regulations (for more information visit …).
Aconcagua Polish Glacier Route
Pampa de Leñas, Casa de Piedra and Plaza Argentina Camps
On the South Wall Route:Plaza Francia Camp
Located at 4100 m.a.s.l, it is the starting point for the ascent to the South wall. There it is possible to set camp easily near streams that come down the spurs. It is a bare region where winds are not usually a problem. What might pose some difficulty is not knowing where to set the tents to avoid rocks falling from nearby spurs. It would be fatal to underestimate rock falls. Starting from Puente del Inca, there are 26 kilometers and approximately 1400 meters difference of level. The route is perfectly traced by the long walks of past climbers and by the tread of animals of burden. It is possible to arrive at Confluencia in just one day (7 to 13 hours). To achieve better adaptation and acclimation, it is possible to practice climbing and to become familiar with the rock of the area by climbing the walls of the large nearby gendarmes. In this camp there is no park ranger and control takes place periodically depending on the number of visitors. There is no shelter infrastructure either. To get to Plaza Francia it is not necessary to cross the river like to get to Plaza de Mulas (see map). It is necessary to walk up the left path of the ravine.Timing:
Puente del Inca – Confluencia (3 to 6 hours)
Confluencia – Plaza Francia (3 to 5 hours).
Aconcagua South Wall Route
Confluencia and Plaza Francia Camps
Mt Aconcagua – Altitude Camps
These are sites used during the ascent to Mt Aconcagua, which usually feature places sheltered from the wind or with snow melters for water supply.
On the Normal Route:
There are several possible itineraries for the ascent. The choice and length of stay in each camp usually depends on the weather conditions, physical and psychological state of the group, tastes, etc.
The first camp is usually set up at Plaza Canada (4930 m.a.s.l) or Cambio de Pendiente (5200 m.a.s.l). The second camp is mounted in Nido de Cóndores (5350 m.a.s.l). The third camp is usually done in the area called Berlín, there are three small shelters: Plantamura, Libertad and Berlín (5770 m.a.s.l) , or at Cólera (5950 m.a.s.l), or at Piedras Blancas (6050 m.a.s.l) and Piedras Negras (6250 m.a.s.l), and rarely Independence (6500 m.a.s.l). Generally the choice of this third camp is made according to the last camp used.
It is important to point out that it is not always possible to have shelters available due to their bad conditions and the large number of climbers who use them. In addition, some camps only have room for a few tents; this is why climbers are advised to consult with the park rangers before beginning the ascent.
On the Polish Glacier Route:
On this route there are basically two itineraries: by Plaza Argentina or by Plaza de Mulas. Even though the second is shorter and has better services, the second one is less used and more beautiful.
If the route that leaves from Plaza Argentina is chosen, the first camp is usually set up at nearly 5000 m.a.s.l (Camp 1) in the first rock spur, and the second at 5600 m.a.s.l (Camp 2) among large rocks situated to the right (orographic left) of the inferior tongue of the glacier.
On the East Ridge:
Leaving from Plaza Argentina and heading East, climbers reach the base of East Glacier 4900 m.a.s.l, where the first camp can be set up. Then, according to the training and preparation of climbers, they could proceed to the summit in one or two days. If necessary, one or two bivouacs may be set up along the route. Like on the South wall, camps are variable and cannot be pre-established.
On the South Wall:
Due to the technical difficulty of this route, it is better to spend the night in places sheltered from rock falls and avalanches. That is why there are no regular camps.