Grade: Strenuous, basic expedition and glacier skills required
Fitness level: Good
Route: Polish Route
Travel period: December to February
Duration: 22 days
Pat Falvey Irish and Worldwide Adventures limited is bonded and fully licenced by the Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation, TA0791.
At 6,959m, Mount Aconcagua in Argentina is the highest mountain in the Americas and is a continental high point for those undertaking the Seven Summits challenge. The mountain, located 180km west of the city of Mendoza, is part of the Andes Mountains range and is located in Aconcagua Provincial Park, one of the most spectacular protected areas of Argentina. Aconcagua is technically an easy mountain to climb if approached from the north via the Normal Route. It is arguably the highest non-technical mountain in the world when climbed via this route, although the effects of altitude, coupled with the cold weather, are just as dangerous as that found on similar heights in other mountain ranges.
The Polish Route blends high altitude with technical climbing and is often the choice of experienced climbers who prefer to avoid the crowds on the Normal Route. Two routes can be taken here - the Polish Traverse Route or the Direct Polish Glacier Route. The Polish Traverse Route does not require rope skills as the way crosses the base of the glacier. Ice axe and crampons might be needed in parts. Which route is most suitable for a climber depends on their experience, taking into account the technical level and risks involved. Both routes start at Plaza Argentina following on to Camp 1 and Camp 2.
We do a variation of the Polish Glacier called the False Polish Glacier, where we leave the route before the technical climbing starts. We cross the Vacas Valley and, after three days, we arrive at Plaza Argentina. After a period of acclimatisation, we continue to Camp 1 and Camp 2. From here, we traverse the Northwest Face. At the Berlín level, we join the Normal Route and continue to Filo del Guanaco en route to the summit.
This trek is suitable for those moving on from high-altitude trekking peaks to big mountains over 6,000m and can be achieved by an experienced intermediate. A good level of fitness and experience on mountains is recommended before departure. We put a strong emphasis on proper acclimatisation throughout the expedition. In the early days, we encourage a slow pace in order to enhance your chance of reaching the summit. Our expert logistical support and experienced guides all help to increase your chances of a successful summit on Aconcagua.
Day 1: Depart Ireland
Fly from Dublin Airport to Argentina.
Day 2: Arrive in Mendoza, Argentina
Airport pick-up to hotel. Overnight in city hotel.
Day 3: Free day
Collect permit, organise equipment and relax in Mendoza. Gear check and team meeting. Outstanding gear can be rented today.
Day 4: Transfer from Mendoza – Penitentes (2,580m)
We will spend the night in a lodge. This is also where we prepare the mules for the journey ahead.
Day 5: Trek from Penitentes to the entry of Vacas Valley
Here, we will begin the approach. Approximately four hours later, we arrive at Pampa de Lenas (Trekking Camp 1, 2,950m). We get our permits stamped at the ranger’s checkpoint and begin the approach to Base Camp. After a four-hour hike along Río de Las Vacas we arrive at our first camp, Pampa de Lenas, where we enjoy an authentic gaucho barbeque. For the entire four-hour hike into Base Camp, you will be carrying only a day pack with some essentials as the mules take care of the heavy equipment.
Day 6: Trek from Pampa de Lenas to Casa de Piedra (Camp 2, 3,240m)
This is a long day in hot conditions with little or no shade. There is a great view of the Polish Glacier and the Eastern Face of Aconcagua during the six-hour trek.
Day 7: Trek from Casa de Piedre to Plaza Argentina Base Camp (4,190m)
We follow the trail up the Relinchos Vally to Plaza Argentina on a 6-7hrs trek. The Base Camp chef cooks us up some good food after a long day on the trail.
Day 8: Rest day
Sleep, rest, hydrate, relax and acclimatise to the altitude.
Day 9: Gear carry from Plaza Argentina to Camp 1 (4,800m)
After caching equipment, food and gas we return to Plaza Argentina Base Camp. 4-5hrs.
Day 10: Rest day
Day 11: Plaza Argentina – Camp 1 (4,800m)
The team leaves Base Camp behind and moves to Camp 1 with the remaining gear. 4-5hrs.
Day 12: Camp 1 – Camp 2 (5,400m) – Camp 1 (5,350m)
Gear carry to Camp 2. Remarkable view of Mt. Mercedario and other peaks of the Ramada Massif. 4-5hrs.
Day 13: Rest day
Day 14: Camp 1 – Camp 2 (5,486m)
Move to Camp 2. 4-5hrs.
Day 15: Camp 2 – Camp 3 (Cólera) (5,970m)
We move to our High Camp from where we will attempt the summit. 4-5hrs.
Day 16: First summit attempt
We leave early to make the most of the daylight. You will be carrying a very light pack containing water, snacks, some spare clothes and a camera. 8-12hrs.
Day 17: Second summit attempt
To secure the success of the expedition we have added two additional summit days in case of bad weather.
Day 18: Rest/bad weather day
Day 19: Camp 3 – Plaza de Mulas Base Camp (4,350m)
We complete the Aconcagua traverse by descending the North-western Face of Aconcagua (Normal Route) towards the lively Base Camp of the Normal Route.
Day 20: Plaza de Mulas – Horcones – Penitentes
The hike takes approximately 6-7hrs. Most of the gear goes on the mules so the walkout is light. From the trailhead at Horcones our van drives us to our hotel after picking up our gear at Penitentes. Hotel check-in.
Day 21/22: Return to Ireland
Day of return depends on flight times.
We are currently looking at two departure dates:
Early November and late December/early January
We are confident we will be able to make up a team for the 2024/25 season.
Price from: €5,950
Deposit: €1000 due at time of booking
- All transfers at destination
- Hotel accommodation B&B 3 nights (min. 3*). Prices are based on shared rooms/tents. If single accommodation is required, a supplement applies
- Camping and all meals on mountain
- Guides, tents, stoves and communal equipment
- Mule transportation of equipment
- Permanent VHF radio communication
- Visa fees
- Park fees
- Meals en route
- Bar bills, tips, laundry and room service
- Travel and cancellation insurance
- Climbing permit (needs to be paid for on arrival)
- Extra mules/porterage taken on
- Extra baggage costs
- Additional costs incurred if you choose to leave the mountain early or if we summit on the first attempt
- Personal gear
- Ground or air evacuations
- Phone communications and items of personal nature
- Our trips are designed to avoid any extra cost to the client. If you choose to leave the trip early, There will be additional expenses
- Independent flights: Pick up and drop off costs to the airport not included
- Insurance liability and hospital costs
Trips are designed with the idea of avoiding any extra costs to the climbers. However, if you need or choose to leave the trip early, please bear in mind that there will be expenses that will be your responsibility. In the case of medical evacuations or accidents, the Park’s Medical Service and the Rangers can decide that a climber needs to be helicoptered out of the Park at no cost (that coverage is included in your climbing permit). However, the climber will be responsible for any other service, such as a mule to carry her or his gear back to the city, hotels, private transfer to Mendoza, etc. If you depart from the group for any other reason, there might be expenses such as a guide, porters or mules for the gear, transfers and lodging.
If you wish to arrange and pay for your own flight to Argentina we will meet you at the airport in Mendoza. Please contact us for a land-only price. Full refund applies only if cancellation is received and acknowledged 20 weeks or more prior to departure. For bookings where flights have to be paid for in advance, the flight cost is non-refundable once paid.
PREPARATION & TRAINING
Climbing Mount Aconcagua is, among other things, a significant personal and team achievement and should to be enjoyed as much as possible. To do it, it is necessary to bear in mind some recommendations when starting to prepare for your ascent. Your experience will depend on your training. The chances of success and safety margin are highly improved by proper preparation and acclimatisation to have the necessary strength to avoid exhaustion during your journey, to avoid accidents and to decrease the likelihood of mountain sickness.
We recommend that you undertake our Expedition Weekend to refresh your camp craft, check your gear, clothing, use of crampons and ice axes. Ideally, we recommend that you undertake our Alpine Skills Course to increase your understanding of what is required on this expedition. Previous experience at high altitude is a plus. Many people move up to Aconcagua from Mount Elbrus or a similar climb. That is the recommended progression to allow a higher success rate.
Our pre-expedition meetings are part of the preparation process. All team members are invited to partake and it is a good idea to attend sessions once you have made up your mind to take on an expedition. The meetings include a thorough briefing on all aspects of the trip and provide an ideal opportunity to clear up any final questions you may have.
You will need a valid full passport. Please ensure it has six months before expiry prior your departure date. Before applying for your visa, please check dates on your passport. Please bring four passport photos for visas. Visa is acquired upon entry to the country.
It is advisable to bring some money in cash for the trip. ATMs are not always reliable or might have a low daily withdrawal limit. The climbing permit is paid only with cash. There may be occasional personal expenses in Mendoza where cash is needed. Once on the mountain, US Dollars in cash are the best way to pay for services including porters, beer, tips for the muleteers, etc.
The ideal combination for an Aconcagua expedition is a large, robust duffle bag, an expedition backpack (70-90 litres) and a light, small daypack (20-30 litres). While hiking into Base Camp, mules carry most of the gear and supplies. You will be taking only a daypack, with a few items such as water and snacks, a camera, a jacket, sunscreen. From Base Camp to High Camps expect to carry all of your own gear plus a share of the common gear (although we provide porters for group equipment). Typically, a fully loaded backpack will weigh from 18-22kg.
- Lightweight long thermal underwear – tops and bottoms
- Short and long-sleeved t-shirts
- Expedition-weight long underwear – tops and bottoms, cotton blends are not acceptable
- Fleece jacket – mid-weight to heavy-weight; wind stopper an advantage
- Fleece trousers – light-weight/heavy pile recommended with full separating side zippers to allow for easy accessibility and effective ventilation
- Parka jacket – down or synthetic parka with hood; expedition-type, needs to fit over all insulation layers (it can get as cold as -25 degrees Celsius
- Jacket – waterproof and breathable; good storm-proof mountain jacket with attached hood
- Over-trousers, waterproof and breathable
- Sun hat with good visor and white bandana or buff for protecting your neck
- Balaclava/facemask – 1, lightweight
- Wool or pile ski hat
- Head torch (inc. spare bulbs & spare batteries); suggested: Petzl LED
- Glacier glasses and ski goggles – 100% UV Cat. 4 preferred, must have side covers; if you wear contacts or glasses, we recommend packing a spare pair of glasses
- Goggles are very useful in bad weather
- Sunglasses x 2 – specific to high altitude mountaineering, UV & IR protection
- Liner gloves
- Synthetic gloves – 2 pairs, lightweight, pile or polypropylene
- Waterproof mittens – 1 pair, pile or wool
- Gore-Tex over-mitts, possible down also
- Wind-stopper fleece gloves
- Light hiking boots or trekking shoes
- Climbing boots – double plastic or high-altitude/insulated boots required
- Gaiters – O.R. Crocs or similar
- Socks – lightweight (2-3 pairs), sock liners, warm trekking socks (2-3 pairs)
- Foot powder
- Backpack – at least 75+20 litre; must have ice axe haul loops and crampon attachment point
- Daypack – 25-35 litre (optional)
- Waterproof pack cover
- Ice axe – general mountaineering tool; sizing is important: under 57cm to 70cm tool depending on your height, available for hire
- Crampons – step-in Petzl or Grivel; make sure these fit your climbing boots, available for hire
- Ski poles – 1 pair collapsible spring bound ski poles
- Harness – lightweight web waist with all leg loops opening, Alpine Bod or similar
- Carabiners – 2 crabs screw gates, 2 snap gates
- Sleeping bag – expedition quality to at least -25ºC down preferred, must pack small
- Sleeping mat – Ridge Rest or lightweight Thermarest
- Pocket-knife – Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool
- Water bottles – 1 or 2 x 1-litre wide-mouth water bottle, Nalgene
- Pee bottle – 1 x litre-wide mouth water bottle
- Pee funnel – for women (optional)
- Sunscreen – SPF 30-40
- Lipscreen – SPF 20-40, at least 2 sticks
- Personal First Aid kit
- Large duffel bag with lock
- Smaller duffel with lock to store excess gear in hotel
- Plastic bags to line stuff sacks to keep gear dry or a dry bag
- Padlocks for bags while in transport
- Travel clothes
- Travel towel
- Toiletry bag
- Camera gear
- Travel insurance certificate
- Passport, visa and copies of all travel and insurance documents
- Money in Euro or US Dollars
- Ear plugs and nail clippers
- Spare boot laces, bulbs, batteries, memory cards, etc
- Cold water detergent and some toiletries
- Small sewing kit
- Penknife and small scissors
- Diary or notebook and book for down time
- Insect repellent
- Toilet paper – it is good practice to bring your own, but it is provided to anyone if needed
- Baby wipes/hand wipes
- Hand gel
- Water purification tablets
- Personal medication
WHY TRAVEL WITH US?
Our passion for your adventure treks and expedition is one of the defining characteristics of Pat Falvey Irish & Worldwide Adventures. We love what we do, the places we travel to and the people we work with in each destination. After 25 years of worldwide travel, we remain curious about learning more and retain our delight in sharing what we know with you. We are a hands-on company whose staff are available to answer your queries both inside and outside usual office hours.
Our staff and partners in Nepal, Russia, Africa, Argentina, Peru and Antarctica are as close to us as family members and share our enthusiasm for your trips. We see their work as a vital part of each adventure and have always ensured that local staff, most of whom have worked with Pat for many years, are fairly and honourably treated. The experience and expertise of everyone who works with us is guaranteed and makes for adventures that are high on safety, support and good fun.
Our company is one of the world’s leading experts in high-altitude trekking in remote regions and we pride ourselves in putting together trips that give you the best possibility of success on your adventure. To ensure this, we have a comprehensive acclimatisation formula, designed to maximise each person’s chances of completing their trek without falling prey to the effects of high altitude or acute mountain sickness (AMS). Our guides closely monitor the group at all times for symptoms of the effects of high altitude and are always ready to take the necessary precautions when necessary.
We are not only willing to go the extra mile to make your trip our priority, we are happy to do so.