Cerro Aconcagua – January 2 – 25, 2010 (Argentina Local Time is +5 hours from Pacific Time)
SAT Jan 2: Depart United States.
SUN Jan 3: Arrive Mendoza, Argentina and check into the Sheraton Mendoza Hotel. We will have an orientation for the climb, a Leave No Trace discussion, and equipment check. This will be followed by a group dinner in one of Mendoza's finest restaurants.
MON Jan 4: After completing the permit process, we board our private bus to the town of Penitentes. In Penitentes, we organize mule loads and spend the night.
Punta de Vacas (8,000’), where we will begin our three-day, 30 mile trek into Plaza Argentina (13,800’), base camp for our expedition. Mules will carry all of our gear so we can enjoy the trek without heavy loads. On the approach, we walk through green desert valleys dramatically enclosed between the mountains of the Andes. During the first half of the approach, our objective will remain hidden by the nearby mountains. However, at the end of the second day the stunning east face of Aconcagua will dramatically be revealed.
FRI Jan 8: After our arrival at Plaza Argentina, we set up camp and spend the next day preparing for the climb, exploring the local terrain and acclimatizing to the higher altitude.
SAT Jan 9: Carry to Camp I. Camp I is located behind an old moraine at 15,500’. This camp is very private and only Alpine Ascents uses it. We double carry to keep pack weight down and to help ensure good acclimatization. [NOTE: a "carry" or "double carry" means that we will carry half of our gear up to the next camp, cache it there, and return down to the current camp for the night before we "move" up with the rest of our gear.]
SUN Jan 10: Move to Camp I.
MON Jan 11: This day we carry to Camp II, located on a high pass known as Ameghino Col, at 17,700’. Ameghino Camp provides spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the upper route of the Polish Glacier.
TUE Jan 12: Rest day at Camp I. This gives us further acclimatization time and rest before moving higher to sleep.
WED Jan 13: Move to Camp II.
THU Jan 14: Carry to Camp III (19,200’), located just below the Polish Glacier, then return to Camp II.
FRI Jan 15: Move to Camp III.
SAT Jan 16: Rest and acclimatization at Camp III. This will prepare us for our move to Camp IV (high camp)
SUN Jan 17: Move to high camp, Camp IV (20,600’), located on the North Ridge. On the approach, we enjoy magnificent views of the Polish Glacier. Camp IV offers breathtaking scenes of many of the highest peaks of the Andes.
MON Jan 18: Summit day begins at 5:00 am. We climb the North Ridge to Refugio Independencia at approximately 21,400’. From there, we traverse the West Face and climb up into the Canaleta, an 800’ couloir that leads to the summit ridge. Finally, the Guanaco Ridge poses an easy traverse to the summit. On the top we have a spectacular 360º view. All around you will see the Andes Mountains consisting of several 20,000’ peaks, including another of the highest peaks in South America, Mercedario. To the west lies Chile and the Pacific Ocean, and to the east, the plains of Argentina. Also from the summit you will be able to look directly down the 9,000’ South Face of Aconcagua, considered one of the great faces of the world. Also included are acclimatization, rest and bad weather days. After enjoying the summit, we descend down to Camp IV for the night.
TUE-WED Jan 19 - 20: These extra days are built in to provide the best possible conditions for each participant to summit.
THU Jan 21: We descend from Camp IV to Plaza de Mulas (Base Camp on the west side of the mountain).
FRI Jan 22: Trek out from Plaza de Mulas to Puente del Inca, where we take a car back to Penitentes for the night.
SAT Jan 23: Return to Mendoza to celebrate our time in the mountains and enjoy the comforts of Argentina.
SUN Jan 24: Depart Mendoza.
MON Jan 25: Arrive United States.