Aconcagua by the Normal Route

17 Days

Price from: £3029.00

Ice Climbing
Winter Activity

A demanding summit trek to the highest point in the Americas...

An expedition to the summit of Aconcagua is an amazing journey to high altitude in a harsh but beautiful environment.

  • Aconcagua by the Normal Route image
  • Highlights
  • Highest peak outside Asia
  • Dramatic ice glaciers
  • Panoramic summit views
  • Experienced local guides
At 6962m Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Americas, second only to Everest on the Seven Summits list and it is also the world's highest mountain outside the Himalayas. Despite these impressive statistics it can be climbed by the fit trekker with limited experience of mountaineering.

Aconcagua is located in the Andes mountain range which is within the Aconcagua Provincial Park. Its name has several possible origins: from the Aymara language, Kon-Kawa "Snowy Peak"; the Chilean Araucano language, may have named it after one of their rivers, Aconca-Hue "That Which Comes From the Other Side"; or from the Quechua language, Akon-Kahuak "Sentinel of Stone".

Aconcagua has two summit peaks which are connected by a 1 kilometre ridge known as the Cresta del Guanaco. The whole massif is shaped like a huge wedge - it has a very steep southern side and a gentle slope on the northern edge. The huge Polish glacier expands out eastwards and numerous arêtes and couloirs flank it on the west. Aconcagua offers a variety of interesting routes for climbers of all levels but in this package, our ascent/descent is from the north via the Normal Route; the least technically challenging path, thus giving us the highest chance of success.

Aconcagua - Normal Route

The route starts from the Horcones Valley, a long path leading all the way to Plaza del Mulas. At base camp there is little or no vegetation, it is dry and cold with temperatures ranging from -15C to +15C. We use mules to take most of the gear to this point. From base camp there are three high camps we use on the Normal Route:
  • Base Camp to Camp Canada (5 hours) to 5000m on a long scree slope with winding path
  • Camp Canada to Nido de Condores (5 hours) to 5350m on a path of scree & snow
  • Nido de Condores to Berlin Camp (4 hours) to 5800m on a rocky & snowy path
  • Berlin Camp to summit (8-10 hours) to 6962m on rock, snow & ice
The extreme cold, strong winds and demands of operating at altitude make climbing Aconcagua a very tough proposition. But with good preparation, a specialised programme of acclimatisation and a positive attitude the summit is within reach.

Participation Statement
Mountaineering and trekking can be dangerous and carries an inherent risk of injury or death. Our professional leaders will continually undertake dynamic risk assessments to minimise the level of risk but it is impossible to reduce the risk entirely, nor is it desirable to. Objective dangers such as avalanches, rock fall and altitude illness will occur in the mountains. Participants must understand and accept these risks and take responsibility for their own involvement.

Activity Information

Training Information
We can help you prepare with training programmes and recommendations to help you get into the best shape for this demanding excursion. We would like to stress that although being fit is a great advantage in high altitudes, it does not guarantee that you will reach the summit. Each individual adapts differently to the low oxygen pressure at high altitude, whether they are in good shape or not, and your acclimatisation will depend on your own ability to adjust.

We highly recommend that you follow the itinerary that we offer which is designed to include an adequate amount of time for proper acclimatisation and consequently a better likelihood of reaching the peak. The most popular routes on Aconcagua may not be 'technical' climbs, however, the high altitude, extreme weather and the conditions at the high altitude camps all make for a climb that should not be underestimated.

The Six-Month Training Programme

This programme should be implemented a minimum six months prior to your climb. The programme has already proven effective for many of our clients who have reached Aconcagua's summit. By adjusting the intensities and weights accordingly, the training schedule can also be used as a basis for preparing for other, higher peaks. If you're not in the habit of working out regularly, this is the place to start.

Sticking to a daily workout regimen will not only get you in the physical condition necessary for the rigors of a big mountain, but it will also build the tenacity and dedication that will keep you going at 21,220 feet (6962m) on Aconcagua. Combine this programme with a healthy diet and plenty of sleep, and you'll be ready to test yourself at high altitude.

Prior to Expedition
Weekly Schedule
Six Months Workout 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
a) Aerobic - 4 days/week Aerobic X X   X X    
b) Strength - 3 days/week Strength X   X   X    
c) Recreation - 1 day/week Recreation           X  
d) Rest - 1/2 days/week Rest             X

Workout Details

a. Aerobic training can include running, biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, for a minimum of 30 minutes per session.
b. Focus strength training on arms, shoulders, back and abdominals (e.g, sit-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, push-ups, dips). Each exercise should include three sets with as many reps as necessary to cause muscle failure on the last set. If weights or machines are available, include bent rowing, military presses and especially squats.
c. Recreational exercise is anything you enjoy, including climbing, hiking, biking, kayaking, etc.

NOTE - You will need to drink a lot of liquid on Aconcagua (a minimum of 4 litres/day). Drink two to three litres of water daily now so your body becomes accustomed. Additional training information for the remaining 5 months of our Training Plan will be forwarded on confirmation of your booking.


Day 1

Arrive in Argentina and Mendoza City. Private shuttle from the airport to the hotel. Purchase permits. Rent or buy any last minute necessary equipment. Welcome dinner in evening.

Day 2

Travel from hotel in Mendoza to hotel in Penitentes. Lunch at Uspallata Valley (en route to Penitentes) or Penitentes restaurant (2750m).

Day 3

Shuttle from Penitentes to Aconcagua Provincial Park Trail Head (Laguna Horcones). Hike to Confluencia Camp (3300m).

Day 4

Hike from Confluencia Camp to Plaza Francia, Aconcagua's South Face Base Camp (4200m).

Day 5

Hike from Confluencia Camp to Plaza de Mulas Base Camp (4250m).

Day 6

Acclimatisation and rest day at Plaza de Mulas.

Day 7

Practice load carrying and acclimatization from Plaza de Mulas to Plaza Canadá and Nido de Cóndores. Return to Plaza de Mulas.

Day 8

Acclimatization and rest day at Plaza de Mulas.

Day 9

Climb from Plaza de Mulas to Plaza Canadá (4800m).

Day 10

Climb from Plaza Canadá to Nido de Cóndores (5350m).

Day 11

First day summit attempt - climb from Nido de Cóndores to Berlin or Colera.

Day 12

Second day summit attempt - climb from Nido de Cóndores to Berlin or Colera (6962m).

Day 13

Extra day in case of bad weather.

Day 14

Extra day in case of bad weather.

Day 15

Descent to Plaza de Mulas Base Camp (4250m).

Day 16

Hike back from base camp to Horcones. Shuttle to Penitentes, equipment gathering. Travel to Mendoza for final night's stay in Sheraton 5 Star Hotel. Farewell dinner and certificates handed out.

Day 17

Private shuttle from the hotel to the airport and departure for the UK.


  • This itinerary is only a guide. Adventure travel can be affected by a huge variety of factors including adverse weather, landslides, strikes, breakdowns and the need to spend time acclimatising is crucial to the overall success of the expedition. Our staff will work hard to give you the best possible experience but please be aware that there are some things outside of our control.

What's Included?

  • Private return shuttle from airport to Mendoza hotel
  • 2 nights hotel double occupancy rooms with breakfast included
  • Welcome and Farewell dinner-lunch in Mendoza (Drinks include only one bottled water per person)
  • Assistance obtaining the necessary climbing permits
  • Return transportation in private vehicles from hotel in Mendoza to Penitentes
  • Lunch at Uspallata Valley in route to Penitentes (Drinks include one bottled water per person)
  • 1 night lodging in Hotel Penitentes includes dinner and breakfast (Drinks include only one bottled water per person)
  • Transportation from Penitentes to the Laguna de Horcones trailhead
  • Mules for equipment transportation from our Base at Puente del Inca (Los Puquios) to Plaza de Mulas. 30 Kg per person
  • Transportation of personal equipment to the intermediate Confluencia Camp if necessary
  • Food and drinks in Confluencia Camp, 2 nights in total; including Geodesic Domes with real beds, hot shower, and a toilet seat bathroom. Our camps also have solar energy system, VHF and BLU communications, and our meals are prepared following strict standards of hygiene and contain high nutritional value
  • Food, drinks and base camp services in Plaza de Mulas, with a limit of up to 5 nights. Includes: private mess tent with tables and seats, all necessary dishes, served meals, cook, equipment storage tent, electric lights, permanent radio communication, toilet tent. Includes high quality four season tents (North Face, Mountain Hard Wear, Ferrino), stoves, cookware and dishes
  • All necessary meals for the altitude camps
  • Bilingual high altitude mountain guide and assistants (depending on the size of the group, Ratio 1:3)
  • Porters for tent and group equipment transportation from Base Camp to the High Altitude Camps
  • Medical Kits during expedition
  • Radio for permanent communication between base camp, Mendoza and Puente del Inca to be able to coordinate different logistical issues, reservations and when necessary, rescues or evacuations
  • Satellite Pay Phone and Internet Service at Plaza de Mulas BC
  • Discount outdoor clothing voucher for Cotswold and Montane

Not Included

  • International flights
  • Aconcagua Provincial Park permit (approximately US$760)
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal porter
  • Tips for local staff
  • Costs incurred if the expedition finishes early or late
  • Costs incurred if you leave the expedition early


Q. How fit do I need to be?

A. Although technically easy, Aconcagua is physically very demanding. The extreme altitude, heavy rucksacks and harsh environment mean most people will have to do some training prior to their expedition. Long days in the hills with a 15kg rucksack is the best training supplemented by aerobic training (running or cycling) and some lower body strength training. As a guideline you should be fit enough to manage three long days backpacking in the UK hills covering approximately 40-50 miles.

Q. I am a vegetarian. Will this be a problem?

A. No. The Argentinean diet is very meat based but Mendoza is a very modern city and there are plenty of options. However you should be aware there will be plenty of meat on display in restaurant and butchers. At base camp our expert cooks are very used to providing vegetarian meals and you should at very well.

Q. I would like a single room and tent. Is this possible?

A. Accommodation in Mendoza is on a twin room basis with a member of the same sex or a double room where requested. During our climb we can offer the option of a single tent (approximately £15 supplement per night) although higher on the mountain this will increase the weight of the loads.

Q. Is Argentina safe?

A. Argentina is one of the friendliest countries in which to travel but you should always exercise due care and be aware of the risks. We support the British governments Know Before You Go campaign, which provides invaluable information on any potential risks as well as lots of other useful details.

Q. What equipment will I need?

A. 1) Double mountaineering boots (B3) 2) Crampons 3) Ice axe 4) Four season sleeping bag If you are looking to purchase new equipment team members receive a discount at Cotswold Outdoors and Montane

Q. What happens if I get ill?

A. When travelling in developing countries there is always a risk of illness or accident. Our staff will work hard to reduce this risk to an acceptable level. Our itineraries include extra acclimatisation and spare days in case of inclement weather or illness. This gives us plenty of flexibility to deal with any unexpected occurrences. All our leaders have a current mountain first aid qualification and they will carry an extensive first aid kit. The following websites all provide useful information on staying healthy while travelling: MedEx Book , BMC Medical Information, UIAA Fact Sheets, NHS Choices, Fit for Travel, Travel Health.

Q. What insurance do I require?

A. It is a requirement of your booking with Activus Outdoors that you have adequate travel insurance for the planned activities which covers you for emergency medical, repatriation and rescue expenses, including the use of helicopters, up to the maximum altitude of your trip. We also recommend you have cancellation cover as your deposit is non-refundable. Some good insurers for high altitude trips are Snowcard and BMC.

Q. What is the weather like on Aconcagua?

A. Aconcagua's weather is very unpredictable! The peak itself has its own microclimate. The weather can be pleasant in the central Andes whilst a storm is raging up on Aconcagua summit. During the summer months it can be windy all of the time. In the valleys it can be 27C and as low as 3C at night. At the highest camp during the night it can be -15C to -30C. In the middle of the day on the summit the temperature could range from -25C to +15C. The daily pattern tends to be that clouds clear up early during the morning leaving clear skies by midday. In the early afternoon clouds usually appear again, engulfing the summit by mid to late afternoon, then clearing again as night falls.

Q. What previous experience do I need?

A. This expedition is ideally suited to strong walkers and backpackers with basic experience of using crampons and ice axe. If you need training in these skills then our Winter Mountain Skills course based in the Lake District or Scotland will give you a solid foundation. You will need some experience of have being to altitude, ideally to 6000m, e.g. Island or Mera Peak. See the Useful Links section on our home page for more information about travelling to altitude. Many people attempt Aconcagua after a successful attempt of Kilimanjaro but it is physically a much tougher proposition and we do not recommend it without plenty of training. The environment is a lot harsher, colder and higher and the rucksacks a lot heavier. The support infrastructure is not nearly as developed and you will be involved in cooking and pitching the tents on the mountain.

Q. What visas do I require?

A. The following is the latest information we have on file. However it is your responsibility to check with the relevant authorities and ensure you have the correct visa or the means to get one on arrival if required. British passport holders are issued with a free 90 day tourist visa on entry into Argentina.

Q. Who will be leading my expedition?

A. One of the most important factors affecting the enjoyment and success of your expedition is the quality of your leader. Activus leaders have successfully led expeditions to all seven continents, they have climbed 8000m peaks, they are active in mountain rescue, they train and assess mountaineering instructors and are out walking and climbing in all conditions across the UK everyday of the year. As soon as your trip is confirmed we will look to appoint a suitably experienced leader who will be in contact with you prior to the trip departing. They are selected on their communication & group management skills as well as their experience and qualifications. Many of our leaders are members of the Association of Mountaineering Instructors or British Mountain Guides. For trekking holidays they may also be a member of the British Association of International Mountain Leaders. All leaders will also hold a Mountain First Aid Certificate. Smaller groups may use one of our regular local leaders. This will be discussed with you prior to any decision being taken.

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If you have any questions about this activity please do not hesitate to ask.

Feature Video

Grade: Challenging

Suitable for...

Aconcagua is the highest trekking peak in the world and is a strenuous summit excursion, ideally suited to those with previous trekking experience above 5000m. It offers a logical progression from Kilimanjaro and is a more demanding challenge that requires thorough preparation to maximise your chances of success. Although experience in the use of crampons is not essential, it is beneficial if you have some previous experience of backpacking and camping in winter conditions.

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