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Rapid Ascent of the Aconcagua 360 Route

Aconcagua | Argentina
Trip Highlights

Top three reasons to climb Aconcagua

  • Trip Highlight

    Perfect conditions and terrain to train for climbing Mount Everest

  • Trip Highlight

    The highest mountain outside of Asia and one of the Seven Summits

  • Trip Highlight

    The 22,000-feet-high Summit Ridge offering spectacular views

One of the Seven Summits and the highest peak outside of Himalaya — Aconcagua, “The Sentinel of Stone” — is located at the heart of the Central Andes. The mountain is impressive both in stature and beauty, which explains why it was considered sacred by the Incas who used it as a place of worship and sacrifice, and why so many climbers today find it so alluring.

While it is a very physical climb, it is one of the less technical climbs that you can use as a stepping stone to bigger peaks such as Mount Everest or Cho Oyu. Still, summiting Aconcagua is a massive feat in itself! With a summit elevation of 22,838 ft (6,961 meters), it requires a lot of acclimatization, endurance, and consistency. With spectacular panoramic views, glaciers, snowy slopes, and interesting history, the 360° route combines the best features of the other popular routes such as the Polish Glacier allowing climbers to experience more of the terrain.

Find out more about why climbing Aconcagua is a must-do for advancing mountaineers from Logan Talbott, AMGA / IFMGA mountain guide and co-owner of Alpenglow Expeditions.

Season

November through March

Nearest city

Mendoza, Argentina is just over three hours away

Duration

14 days

Skill level

Advanced

Itineraries

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14-Day Aconcagua Rapid Ascent

14 days

Take part in this unique adventure and ascend a route called the 360° that combines parts of four different and famous routes (the Polish Glacier, Normal, Guanacos, and Ameghino routes) and traverses all the varied elements on Aconcagua! This 14-day itinerary mitigates the issue of crowds encountered on the normal route, while enabling you to summit with almost no technical climbing. As you pre-acclimatize at your home, this rapid ascent takes less time while still maximizing enjoyment and retaining the best part of the usual longer climb. Let your experienced guides take you on this transformative experience and summit the highest peak outside of Asia!

Trip Highlights

Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrival

Your journey begins in Mendoza — you’ll meet your guides and spend the day exploring the town and preparing for the climb. This small city is famous for its wineries and traditional barbeque and steaks, so relax and use the day to mentally prepare for your adventure.

Day 2 : Head to Penitentes

After obtaining permits, leave Mendoza by private van, and head for the town of Penitentes (8,500 feet/2,590 meters). Penitentes sits at the entrance to the valleys that lead into Aconcagua. Spend a couple of hours organizing equipment and checking gear, and prepare food for the climb. Enjoy a helicopter ride to base camp as soon as weather and timing allow, either in the evening or the next day.

Day 3 : Helicopter to Base Camp or Rest Day

In case you couldn’t helicopter into base camp last night, you’ll do it today. Otherwise, simply have a rest day in base camp, getting used to life at this new, high altitude — 13,800 feet (4,206 meters)!

Day 4 : Move to Camp I

Your first day on the mountain proper will truly be unique. Pass the moraine and a field of tall penitentes — fins of ice that can be over three meters tall, formed by the intense sun— as you slowly but surely make your way to the campsite at 16,500 feet (5,030 meters). Your porters will assist in moving all the equipment and you only have to carry your usual daypack. Spend the night in a tent and re-energize with a warm meal.

Day 5, 6 and 7 : Move to Camp II

After approximately four hours of hiking through the Amegheni Col and under the Polish Glacier, you’ll touch the second camp on the Guanacos Route at 18,000 feet (5,487 meters). Move to the camp and spend the rest of the time acclimatizing and preparing for the rest of the ascent.

Day 8 : Move to Camp III

Today you’ll move to the final third camp located at nearly 19,700 feet (6,000 meters). This is where you’ll join the Normal route. The day is not very difficult, and you can enjoy fantastic climbing on 30 degree slopes as you traverse below the Polish Glacier route. As you reach Camp III, begin resting and preparing for your summit bid.

Day 9 : Summit Day

After an early breakfast, you’ll leave camp before dawn and move up past the ruins of Refugio Independencia on the exposed North Ridge. Traverse the West Face to the Canaleta, perhaps the physical and mental crux of the entire route. The Canaleta is 1,000 vertical feet of scree and sand that must be climbed slowly and consistently. Reach the easy Guanacos Ridge, which boasts spectacular views in every direction and leads upward from the lower south summit to the north summit. At 22,841 feet (6,962 meters), the north summit is the highest point in the Western hemisphere! The views of the surrounding Andes, the desert plains, the Pacific, and the 9,000 foot (2,745 meter) South Face are awe-inspiring and almost unbelievable. Enjoy the moment and take some photos before heading back down. After 10 to 12 hours of climbing, you’ll be back at high camp. After rehydrating and resting, descend the normal route easily to Plaza de Mulas base camp at 14,300 feet (4,360 meters).

Day 10, 11 and 12 : Built in Weather Day

These days are extra days to be utilized as needed due to bad weather or altitude issues.

Day 13 : Head Back to Mendoza

As you return to the base camp, leave the mountain in style, with one of the most beautiful helicopter flights in the world! Fly for 15 minutes, directly from base camp to the road. After a quick lunch, jump in the van for the three-hour drive back to your starting point — Mendoza. In the evening, enjoy a celebration dinner of traditional asada (barbecue) at one of Mendoza’s best restaurants and spend the night in a hotel in Mendoza.

Day 14 : Depart Argentina

After an inspiring adventure and a relaxing evening, say goodbye to Aconcagua and Mendoza as you catch your flights home!

Adventure content icon

Rapid Ascent

Rapid Ascent is a unique approach to climbing big mountains such as Aconcagua. This innovative program developed by Adrian Ballinger combines the application of hypoxic training, precise logistics, and small team sizes to reduce the overall time spent on the mountain, while greatly increasing the chance of success on your climbing expedition! On average, Rapid Ascent expeditions reduce the time of traditional expeditions by 30% – 50%.  A traditional expedition such as this one usually takes 3 or 4 weeks. With this program, it can be done in 14 days or less, allowing busy climbers to follow their passion in the mountains, while maintaining the responsibilities of a busy life. 

In the period of 4-8 weeks prior to your climbing, you will spend at least 8 hours in the hypoxic tent each night — at home! With hypoxic training, you will pre-acclimatize to the high altitudes before even reaching Mendoza and without sacrificing your work or time with the family. By removing the time-intensive process of acclimatizing as you climb, you are able to move directly to base camps above 14,000’ (4200m). Anyone with good fitness, some prior experience at altitude and a little discipline at home can reap the benefits of hypoxic training.

Things to know

Things to know

Covid measures in Argentina

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Argentina, please refer to the websites of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Argentina’s Ministry of Health.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

What’s included?

What you get in this adventure:

    • Experienced ACMG/IFMGA certified local rock-climbing guides with extensive knowledge of the area
    • 14 days of alpine rock climbing
    • Double occupancy lodging while in town
    • Group technical gear
    • Group camping equipment
    • Gear and equipment transportation and porters
    • Pre-climb logistics and planning
    • The tent rental fee
    • Meals on the mountain
    • Scheduled transportation to the locations in the itinerary

What’s not included:

    • Accommodations not mentioned in the itinerary
    • In-town meals
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Transportation
    • Insurance
    • The Aconcagua National Park permit fee (about $980 per person)

How fit do I need to be?

This adventure is for qualified advanced climbers. You will need an excellent level of fitness and stamina for big mountain climbing. Climbers should have prior experience at altitudes of roped climbing, cramponing, and ice axe skills at 18,000’/5500 meters and must acclimatize well to altitudes over 18,000’. They also must have completed an advanced ice climbing course and have completed multiple ice climbs. Be prepared for multiple days of strenuous climbing and backpacking.

To develop the necessary level of fitness needed to climb Aconcagua, climbers must adapt a challenging, consistent exercise regime months in advance.

Note: Guides may decide not to take climbers up route if their skill level or fitness are deemed inappropriate during the climb.

What if I’ve never alpine climbed before?

This 14-day expedition is only for qualified climbers. The route is a technical and physically demanding climb that incorporates all the logistics of climbing a big mountain. You will gain experience of technical climbing at high altitudes that will enable you to move on to even bigger objectives, but you must already have completed an advanced ice climbing course and have completed multiple ice climbs.

If you’re new to alpine climbing, there are plenty of options to prepare you for an expedition like this. Mount Superior in the Wasatch Mountains makes for a great training ground to get the experience to move on to an expedition of this level.

What about required equipment?

Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

    • Fleece or wool hat/beanie
    • Neck gaiter or balaclava
    • Face mask
    • Sunglasses or a visor hat
    • Goggles
    • Headlamp
    • Liner gloves
    • Lightweight and midweight gloves
    • Big mountain mittens
    • Hardshell jacket with hood (Gore-Tex or equivalent)
    • Lightweight wind shell
    • Down or synthetic jacket with hood
    • Long-sleeved base layer
    • Hardshell jacket
    • Lightweight top (moisture resistant T-shirt)
    • Long base layer pants (tights work well in the summer)
    • Hardshell pants
    • Softshell pants (wind-proof or wind-resistant)
    • Base layer bottoms (fitted and quick drying)
    • Quick-dry shorts
    • Underwear
    • Mountaineering boots that work with crampons
    • Rock shoes
    • Down booties for the tent
    • Leg gaiters (ankle to mid calf height works best in summer)
    • Liner socks and wool/warm socks
    • 2 Duffle Bags – durable, waterproof, and big (between
    • 90L and 120L)
    • Internal frame pack that is between 50 and 60 liters
    • Daypack – lightweight (10-20 liters)
    • Sleeping bag
    • Foam or inflatable sleeping pad
    • Water bottle or hydration pack
    • 2 wide-mouth Nalgene bottles
    • Bowl, mug, and spork
    • Food you can eat on-the-go
    • Ice axe (can be rented)
    • Crampons (can be rented)
    • Trekking poles
    • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, blister kit, toilet paper, etc.)
    • Pee bottle — optional
    • Camera — optional
    • External battery packs for phones and other electronics — optional
    • Leatherman/ Swiss Army Knife — optional

If you have your own gear, feel free to bring it. If not, your guide can provide a harness, helmet and crampons. Contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

Here’s what you’ll need:

    • Helmet
    • Harness with a locking carabiner, belay device and chalk bag
    • Ropes
    • Climbing hardware (quickdraws, cam devices, stoppers, etc.)

Group sizes and age requirements

Group sizes and prices:

    • For the group alpine climbing adventure, client to guide ratio is 4:1 and cost is per person. Costs per person doesn’t decrease as the group grows.

If you are traveling with a bigger group, let us know and we will make arrangements.

Min. age requirements:

    • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.

If your group has climbers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

Cancellation policy

With 57hours, you benefit from both our own cancellation policy as well as that of the individual guiding service that delivers your adventure. All policies regarding cancellation will be clearly laid out by your guide after booking your adventure, but rest assured that our own cancellation policy will work on top of what is provided by your guide.

For this adventure, 57hours offers an Expedition Cancellation Policy, which states:
If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to one hundred twenty (120) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a full refund. For cancellations ninety (90) to one hundred nineteen(119) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of the total amount paid when Booking. For cancellations seventy five (75) to eighty nine (89) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of twenty-five percent (25%) of the total amount paid when Booking. After that deadline, Client is not entitled to any refund. Any reimbursable expenses arising out of the Booking incurred by Guide prior to the date of cancellation (including but not limited to plane tickets, car rental payments, and lodging or transportation fees) are non refundable as soon as they are incurred by the Guide.

For more information on terms and conditions, please visit our Terms of Service page.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to Aconcagua, Argentina, most people fly into Mendoza International Airport. Flights generally arrive late in the evening. This is where your adventure begins!

Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet — either at the guide’s shop or nearby markets/coffee shops. You’ll spend the day exploring the town, applying for our climbing permits and preparing for the climb!

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Wired for a better world

Outdoor adventuring makes us fall in love with our planet and people, it gets our brains rewired differently and forces us to rethink our life priorities.

For years, we’ve dreamt of building a company that can make an impact on things that we deeply care about. Here are some initiatives we are grateful to be contributing to.

1% of our sales goes to environmental non-profits
We provide work to thousands of local guides worldwide
We operate on carbon neutral and renewable energy
1% for the education and diversity in guiding

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