* Does not include climbing permit
"RMI was hands down the safest and smartest team on the mountain. The care and passion for the team and environment surpasses any other experience I've had through a guided trip."
— David K. | Read More Testimonials
Piercing the austral winds with its rocky 22,841’ summit, Aconcagua is the highest mountain in both the Western and Southern Hemispheres, the tallest peak on earth outside of the Himalayas, and one of the fabled Seven Summits. Expedition highlights include:
- Trek up the winding Vacas Valley to Aconcagua’s secluded eastern side, avoiding the crowds of the Ruta Normal.
- Climb Aconcagua with an experienced RMI Guide, benefiting from the background, training, and expertise of our guides as you venture to higher altitudes.
- Enjoy the comforts of excellent Base Camp facilities, great food, and a well outfitted expedition: all the small advantages that add up to a more enjoyable experience.
- Improve your chances of reaching the summit with an itinerary that includes training and proper acclimatization and has the flexibility to accommodate for the uncertainties of Aconcagua’s weather.
- Take part in an RMI adventure and see why we continue to set the standard in guiding excellence.
Standing in the heart of the Andes, wedged between Chile and Argentina, Aconcagua’s lofty heights make it the ideal introduction to high altitude mountaineering. Beginning our expedition in the tree lined streets of Mendoza, home of Argentina’s famed Malbec grapes, we head into the heart of the Andes on our way to the foot of Aconcagua. We avoid the busy Ruta Normal and instead follow the Vacas Valley on our approach to the mountain, gradually introducing ourselves to the thin mountain air along the way. Three days of trekking, fording rivers, and navigating twisting valleys brings us to the base of Aconcagua’s hidden east side where the climbing begins.
From our Base Camp at Plaza Argentina we follow the Guanacos Variation to the False Polish Route. We establish three successive camps on the mountain, navigating the mountain’s sprawling rock moraines and towering snow penitentes as we climb to our high camp at 19,600’ on the mountain’s northeastern side. Once properly acclimatized we set out on our summit bid, climbing past the looming rock gendarmes, beneath the cliffs guarding its summit, and up the narrow Canaleta couloir to Aconcagua’s summit.
While the ascent is a relatively straightforward technical endeavor, the mountain’s sheer height and unpredictable weather makes any attempt to scale it a true challenge. This is the ideal expedition for climbers looking to break new height records, gain valuable experience on long climbing expeditions to high altitudes, and challenge themselves on one of the world’s great peaks.
THE RMI DIFFERENCE
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. was established in 1969 and is one of America’s oldest and most-trusted guide services. We are the largest guide service on Mt. Rainier and Mt. McKinley and leaders in guiding climbs and treks around the globe. Our years of leading mountain adventures give us the experience and knowledge to create the best possible trips and we work hard to live up to our reputation as an industry leader. Our trip preparation before departure takes care of the details for you, from hotels to airport transfers, so that you can focus on preparing for the climb of Aconcagua instead of the distraction that comes with coordinating logistics.
Our Aconcagua climbs are led by RMI’s foremost U.S. guides, who bring years of climbing experience on not only Aconcagua but on mountains all over the world, from the Andes to the Alaska Range to the Himalayas. As you reach higher elevations and test the limits of your experience, the value of an accomplished, highly trained RMI Guide held to our standards cannot be understated. We are also fortunate to have Grajales Expeditions as our partners in Argentina. Our close relationship with Grajales offers our expeditions the support needed to ensure a seamless experience and is a major factor behind our trips’ successes.
With fresh food and dining tents at Base Camp, our expeditions are carefully planned to give our climbers the greatest level of safety, comfort and chances of success on Aconcagua. We use RMI's own climbing equipment brought from the U.S., ensuring that our expedition standards of safety, quality, and reliability are met. Our exceptional focus on detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine excitement for these adventures are what make our Aconcagua guided climbs truly memorable.
Safety has always been RMI’s top priority and we strive to create the safest mountain experience possible. RMI’s experienced team of guides focus on leading a fun and successful climb without compromising safety. We apply the same standards of safety we bring to Alaska and the Himalayas to our climbs of Aconcagua. Careful planning, precise ascent profiles, flexibility in our itinerary, daily weather forecasts via satellite, and diligent attention are taken as we venture to high altitudes. Medical facilities and doctors are stationed at Base Camp and comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio and satellite communication equipment are carried with the team throughout the climb.
As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or email@example.com.
Day 1: Depart U.S.A. Travel to Mendoza, Argentina (MDZ) typically takes 18 - 27 hours from the U.S. depending on your departure city, available connections, and flight times.
Day 2: Upon arrival in Mendoza, we are picked up at the airport and transferred to our hotel. After checking into your room, time is available to explore the city and its many beautiful parks, or simply relax by the pool. At 5:00 pm in the hotel lobby we gather for our first team meeting. Overnight in Mendoza.
Views of Aconcagua from the airplane
Day 3: We depart from the hotel and head to the permit office to obtain the climbing permits for our expedition. With our climbing permits secured, we depart Mendoza and head west towards Aconcagua. We drive out of the fertile wine country and into the mountains, reaching Los Penitentes at 9,000'. Los Penitentes is the center of activity for climbers heading up the mountain and it is here that we finalize our preparations for the expedition. Overnight in Los Penitentes. (B, D)
Mendoza and the road past Los Penitentes
Day 4: We begin the approach to Base Camp at Plaza Argentina. We make our way into the heart of the Andes as we ascend the gentle, winding trail of the Vacas Valley. Team members carry 20 to 25 pounds in their packs; mules carry the remaining personal and group gear. Our first camp is at Pampa de Las Leñas (9,000'). (B, D)
The trail of the Vacas Valley
Day 5: We continue towards Base Camp as the Vacas Valley opens up and the surrounding mountains grow taller. We are greeted by impressive views of the Eastern Face of Aconcagua as we reach our second night's camp at Casa de Piedra (10,550'). (B, D)
Camp at Casa de Piedra
Day 6: We complete the approach to Base Camp by following the Relinchos Valley to Plaza Argentina. Base Camp (13,800') is on a glacial moraine overlooking the river valleys of our approach. We unpack our climbing gear carried by the mules and establish camp. (B, D)
The approach to Aconcagua Base Camp
Day 7: Rest and acclimatization at Base Camp. We relax and adjust to the new altitudes while we focus on packing and organizing our gear for the mountain. (B, D)
Images from Base Camp
Day 8: Carry to Camp 1 (16,200’). Our trek ends and the climb begins with our first carry of the expedition. We climb to Camp 1, caching a portion of our supplies and equipment. We descend to Base Camp to sleep. (B, D)
Carry to Camp 1
Day 9: Rest and acclimatization at Base Camp. We continue to build upon our acclimatization today with a hike outside of camp. We rest in the afternoon and make the final preparations for our move to Camp 1. (B, D)
Hiking Above Base Camp
Day 10: Move to Camp 1. We leave Base Camp and climb back to Camp 1 with our remaining gear. (B, D)
Day 11: Carry to Camp 2 (Guanacos Camp at 18,000’). Today we get our first view to the north across the expansive scree fields above the Guanacos Valley. The snow covered peaks of the central Andes spread out in the distance. (B, D)
Carry to Camp 2
Day 12: Rest and acclimatization at Camp 1. We rest in camp for the day as we prepare for higher altitudes. (B, D)
Resting at Camp 1
Day 13: Move to Camp 2. Shouldering the rest of our gear we climb to Camp 2. (B, D)
Moving to Camp 2
Day 14: Carry to Camp 3 (Piedras Blancas at 19,600'). We continue traversing high above the Guanacos Valley to our High Camp and leave a cache of gear before returning to Camp 2. (B, D)
Carry to Camp 3
Day 15: Rest and acclimatization at Camp 2. In anticipation of our summit bid, we stay at Camp 2 resting and acclimatizing before moving higher. (B, D)
Rest day at Camp 2
Day 16: Move to Camp 3. We climb to our High Camp, setting up camp and preparing for our push to the summit. (B, D)
Moving to Camp 3
Day 17: Summit Day on Aconcagua! Making an early alpine start, we climb out of camp to join the Ruta Normal. A gradual traverse along the mountain's northwest flank takes us past the abandoned Refugio Independencia and to the base of the Canaleta, a 1,000' high couloir leading to the summit ridge. Upon reaching the top of the Canaleta, a straightforward traverse leads to the summit. After celebrating on the summit, we descend to High Camp for the night. (B, D)
Climbing to the SummitSummit!
Day 18: Weather Day. This extra day is scheduled into the itinerary in case we encounter poor weather or need additional time for acclimatization. Having this extra day has proven to dramatically improve the team's success. (B, D)
Descending from the Summit
Day 19: Weather Day. Another extra day. (B, D)
Day 20: Descend to Base Camp. We leave High Camp and descend to our Base Camp at Plaza Argentina. (B, D)
Descending to Base Camp
Day 21: After we pack up Base Camp and prepare our loads for the mules, we begin our trek out. We descend the Relinchos Valley and continue down the Vacas Valley to Pampa de Las Leñas. We celebrate our last night in the mountains with a traditional Argentine-style BBQ. (B, D)
Day 22: We finish the trek, reaching Los Penitentes early in the afternoon. After packing our gear, we leave Los Penitentes and return to Mendoza. Our final evening in this beautiful city is the perfect place for our team celebration. Overnight in Mendoza. (B)
Trekking out of the Vacas Valley
Day 23: Depart Mendoza for scheduled flights back to the U.S. (B)
Day 24: Arrive home.
Aconcagua Equipment List
The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.
Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering. This offer excludes sale items. For internet orders, please use the discount code RMI2015.
Pack & Bag Guides' Pick
2 DUFFEL BAG(S): A 120+ liter bag made of tough material with rugged zippers.
BACKPACK: A 90+ liter pack is the recommended size for this climb. Your pack must be large enough for your layers, climbing gear, and food, as well as a portion of your tent and group load (kitchen equipment). A separate summit pack isn't necessary.
DAY PACK: A 25+ liter day pack to use as carry-on, while traveling or sightseeing.
A bag rated to 0° to -20° F. Either goose down or synthetic, with ample room for movement. Most guides prefer down, because it is lightweight and compactable. A waterproof bag is preferred, but not mandatory.
The temperature rating system for sleeping bags is arbitrary and is not a guarantee of warmth. Base your selection on how well you do in the cold. If you tend to sleep on the cold side, choose a bag rated on the lower end of the temperature range. Using two sleeping bags together is not recommended.
SLEEPING PAD - INFLATABLE: A full-length inflatable pad.
SLEEPING PAD - CLOSED FOAM: A second full-length or 3/4 length closed cell foam pad. This pad is used in combination with the first sleeping pad.
Technical Gear Guides' Pick
ICE AXE: The length of your axe depends on your height. Use the following general mountaineering formula: up to 5'8", use a 65 cm axe; 5'8" to 6'2", use a 70 cm axe; and taller, use a 75 cm axe. If you hold the axe so that it hangs comfortably at your side, the spike of the axe should still be a few inches above the ground.
CLIMBING HARNESS: HARNESS IS NOT REQUIRED FOR THIS TRIP
HELMET: A UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme) or CE (European Committee for Standardization) certified climbing helmet. Bicycle or ski helmets are designed for a different type of impact and will not substitute as a climbing helmet.
CRAMPONS: The 10 to 12 point adjustable crampons designed for general mountaineering are ideal. We highly recommend anti-bot plates to prevent snow from balling up underfoot. Rigid frame crampons designed for technical ice climbing are not recommended.
AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVER: A digital transceiver is preferred; analog will work as well. If you rent a transceiver, one set of new batteries will be provided.
TREKKING POLES: Lightweight and collapsible poles are preferred. Larger baskets work well with deep snow. Ski poles will also work.
Head Guides' Pick
WARM HAT: Wool or synthetic. It should provide warmth but also be thin enough to fit underneath a climbing helmet.
BUFF / NECK GAITER / BALACLAVA: One item for face protection is required. Our primary recommendation is the Buff. A neck gaiter or balaclava is also acceptable.
GLACIER GLASSES: You will need protective sunglasses, either dark-lensed with side shields or full wrap-around frames. Almost all sunglasses block UV-A, UV-B and infrared rays adequately. Pay attention to the visible light transmission. The darkest lenses (glacier glasses) only allow approx. 6% visible light to get through, while lighter lenses (driving glasses) let in as much as 20+ %. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see the wearer’s pupils through the lenses, they are too light for sun protection at altitude.
GOGGLES: Amber or rose-tinted goggles for adverse weather. On windy days, climbers, especially contact lens wearers, may find photochromatic lenses the most versatile in a variety of light conditions.
Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.
LIGHT WEIGHT GLOVE: One pair of fleece, soft-shell or wind-stopper gloves.
MEDIUM WEIGHT GLOVE: Wind/water resistant, insulated mountain gloves.
HEAVY WEIGHT INSULATED GLOVE OR MITTEN: Wind/water resistant, insulated gloves or mittens. These also serve as emergency back-ups if you drop or lose a glove.
We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.
2 LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top. Quarter zip styles will allow for better temperature regulation. We recommend light colors, which best reflect the intense sun on hot days.
RAIN JACKET (HARD SHELL): A jacket made of rain-proof material with an attached hood. We recommend a thinner lightweight jacket rather than a heavier insulated jacket.
INSULATED PARKA with HOOD: This expedition-style heavy parka should extend below the waist and must have an insulated hood. While the parka is worn primarily at rest breaks on summit day, it serves as an emergency garment if needed. We recommend down rather than synthetic fill as down weighs less. The parka does not have to be waterproof, though that is a nice feature.
HIKING SHIRT (OPTIONAL): For hot days in mid-summer, we recommend a lightweight, synthetic shirt, either long or short sleeves. Long sleeves are preferred for sun protection.
We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.
2 - 3 UNDERWEAR: Non-cotton briefs or boxers.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Synthetic or wool.
CLIMBING PANT: Soft-shell climbing pants offer a wide range of versatility. You can wear them in combination with the base layer on colder days, or alone on warmer days.
RAIN PANT (HARD SHELL): A waterproof pant with 3/4 side zippers (sometimes called 7/8 or full side zips) are required for facilitating quick clothing adjustments over boots and crampons.
SYNTHETIC INSULATED PANT: A synthetic primaloft pant.
LIGHT WEIGHT TREKKING PANT: A lightweight, synthetic pair of pants is a good option for the approach trek when hiking at lower altitudes and in warm conditions. These pants have no insulation, are typically made of thin nylon, and commonly feature zippers to convert between pants and shorts.
Feet Guides' Pick
MOUNTAINEERING BOOTS: Hybrid boots are the preferred choice on Aconcagua. They provide the best insulation as well as a more rigid sole for kicking steps and holding crampons. Leather-only mountaineering boots are not recommended.
HIKING BOOTS: A pair of lightweight boots for approaches and hiking on rugged terrain.
LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING SHOES: Great for travel, day hikes, and camp.
RIVER SHOE: Lightweight water shoe with covered toe for river crossings. Chaco, Teva, All Sport, Champion, and Speedo all have popular models.
2 PAIR OF TREKKING SOCKS: Lightweight hiking socks for the trek to Basecamp.
3 PAIR OF CLIMBING SOCKS: Either wool or synthetic. Some people find liner socks useful for reducing friction.
GAITERS: We recommend a knee-length pair of gaiters, large enough to fit over your mountaineering boots. This will protect you from catching your crampon spikes on loose clothing.
Miscellaneous Items Guides' Pick
SUNSCREEN: We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.
MEALS: See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.
2 - 3 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required.
INSULATED WATER BOTTLE COVERS: These help prevent freezing. It should completely cover the bottle.
AQUAMIRA: Chlorine Dioxide water purification drops.
GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE): We recommend lining your backpack with garbage bags to keep items in your backpack completely dry.
2 SETS ALKALINE BATTERIES: For avalanche transceiver.
2 LUGGAGE LOCKS: For your duffel bags. Must be TSA approved.
THERMOS: High quality, lightweight, unbreakable 1/2 to 1 quart.
DUCT TAPE: A small roll of duct tape always comes in handy for repairs.
2 PAIR SHORTS
2 PAIR CASUAL PANTS
4 SHIRTS: For hotel dinners and while traveling.
PEE BOTTLE (PEE FUNNEL FOR WOMEN)
Personal First Aid Kit
ASPRIN / IBUPROFEN / TYLENOL
PEPTO-BISMOL (STOMACH RELIEF)
SMALL ROLL OF ADHESIVE TAPE
ANTIBIOTICS: Broad spectrum antibiotics for Traveler's Diarrhea.
TYLENOL #3: Tylenol 3 for pain
ACETAZOLAMIDE: For Altitude Illness
DEXAMETHAZONE: For HACE.
Utensils Guides' Pick
HIKING SHORTS: Good for lower elevations and warm, sunny days.
READING MATERIAL / JOURNAL
PASSPORT: Valid for six months beyond your return date.
COPY OF PASSPORT: The first two pages of your passport.
COPY OF FLIGHT ITINERARY
EXTRA PASSPORT PHOTOS
Purchase travel insurance.
Return the Registration Packet to the RMI Office.
Purchase airplane tickets.
Reserve rental equipment.
Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!
RMI provides the following equipment for your program: tents, group cooking equipment, climbing ropes, avalanche probes and shovels, and blue bags (for solid waste disposal).
Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a satellite phone for emergency contact.
Breakfast and dinner meals on the mountain are included as indicated in our Trip Itinerary. With the exception of hotel breakfasts, most restaurant meals are on your own. Your trip fee does not included bottled water and drinks.
Please list any special dietary needs on the Participant Information Form. The form must be returned to the RMI Office 90 days prior to the program departure date.
You are responsible for your own mountain lunches for 19 days. Lunch items should weigh about 12 - 13 lbs. We will have an opportunity to purchase additional food in Mendoza, but we recommend you take what you need and only supplement with local food as necessary.
Take lunch foods that you genuinely enjoy. Eating well is the key to maintaining your strength while in the mountains. And in order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude, it is best to have a variety of foods from which to choose, from sweet to sour to salty.
Lunch snacks are eaten during short breaks throughout the day while in the mountains. Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.
Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, Toffees, Life Savers), Gummy Bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, trail mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid). All items should be commercially packaged.
Be aware that Argentina disallows certain food items to pass through Customs.
You may not bring the following items into Argentina: cheeses, fresh meats, dried meats, fresh fruits and vegetables. Other food items may pass inspection, but that decision is at the discretion of the customs inspector. Items which are generally okay include jerky and dried fruits as long as they are in their original packaging.
Mountain Breakfasts and Dinners
The breakfast menu includes items such as instant oatmeal, cold cereals (granola), breakfast / granola bars, hot drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa, cider) and local fresh fruit.
Dinner usually begins with soup and ends with dessert, followed by a round of hot drinks. Healthy one-pot meals, incorporating fresh local food whenever practical, are served as the main course. One typical main course dinner might be spaghetti with sausage and fresh vegetables. Another meal might be chicken fajitas with cheese, tortillas, onions, and peppers. There are limitations, but the menu is planned to offer good variety and ample portions.
This trip is open to all individuals who possess:
- Excellent physical fitness
- Comfort with cramponing. While the technical climbing prerequisites to join this expedition are minimal, some previous experience with crampons is necessary.
- Experience at altitude, preferably above 14,000'
Additionally, we recommend some previous experience on higher mountains. Simply put, climbers will usually perform better, be more prepared, and able to enjoy the experience more, if one has climbed other mountains before attempting Aconcagua. The altitude, length of trip (14 days on the mountain), the remoteness of the area, and the heavy backpacks, all contribute to make this a demanding trip.
Recommended climbing experiences prior to Aconcagua include climbs which allow climbers to experience moderate altitude with minimal technical difficulty:
Physical Fitness Training
Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.
- Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
- Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
- Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.
For Aconcagua, you are preparing for:
- Steep climbing with a 50-60 lb load
- Strenuous physical activity for multiple hours a day for multiple consecutive days
- A 12-14+ hour summit day
- Mountaineering techniques which require core strength and flexibility
Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!
Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.
The key to climbing high is proper acclimatization. Our program follows a calculated ascent profile which allows time for your body to adjust to the altitude.
Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize as you ascend. Climbers in excellent physical condition simply have more energy to commit to the acclimatization process throughout the days and nights of the ascent, allowing their bodies to adjust to the altitude more easily.
Finally, physical performance and acclimatization are also related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days and weeks prior to summit day. Arriving healthy and well-rested, maintaining proper hydration and caloric intake, and protecting against unnecessary heat loss (staying warm) are all key factors in an individual’s success on an expedition such as this.
RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide comprehensive travel support. We have been working with Erin for many years. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe and is extremely knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. In addition to travel arrangements, Erin can also provide information and coverage for evacuation policies and insurance options. Please call (208) 788-2870 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cancellation Insurance, Medical Evacuation & Security Evacuation
We strongly encourage participants to consider travel insurance, a medical evacuation policy, and a security evacuation policy. Travel insurance which can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, repatriation and more. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Note that many of the insurance options can be purchased under one policy but some coverage may only be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit or if purchased as an upgrade to an existing policy rather than as a stand-alone option.
Cancellation Insurance: Cancellation insurance offers protection of deposit and registration funds should you need to cancel from a program. This might be due to an injury during training, a personal illness, or it might be due to extenuating circumstances, such as family emergencies. Policies are determined based upon your home state, check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including adventure/sports coverage*.
*Adventure/Sports Coverage: Most standard policies do not cover climbing or mountaineering. You can purchase Adventure/Sports Coverage as an upgrade to a standard policy. Please be sure to check with your provider and their description of coverage to make sure the policy you are purchasing provides you with adequate protection.
Medical Evacuation: An illness or injury in a remote area could require a medical evacuation costing well over $100,000. Travel insurance providers (such as AIG Travel Guard and Travelex Insurance) typically offer reimbursement for medical evacuations. Additionally, crisis response companies (such as Global Rescue) can orchestrate an actual field rescue as necessary in medical, security or other evacuation situations, even from extremely remote areas. Check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including details of what constitutes a medical vs. a non-medical emergency.
Security Evacuation: This policy offers crisis evacuation services in non-medical situations. Examples include evacuations from areas affected by natural disasters, war or conflict zones, terrorism, and other areas in which participant security is threatened.
For more information please visit one of the websites below, or contact your local travel agent.
|AIG Travel Guard||Erin Rountree|
|Travelex Insurance||Global Rescue|
Travel Advisories / Warnings
Please confirm any current travel advisories/warnings as well as entry requirements with the U.S. Department of State.
Travel to Mendoza, Argentina (MDZ) typically takes 18 - 27 hours from the U.S. depending on your departure city, available connections, and flight times. Flights generally arrive in the afternoon on Day 2 of the itinerary.
Departing flights may be booked for any time on Day 23 of the program.
A valid passport is required when traveling to Argentina. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the expected return date. U.S. passport holders may stay up to 90 days without a visa.
We suggest making a copy of the first two pages of your passport and keeping them in a separate bag as a backup. A copy should also be left with your emergency contact.
The Argentinean Government requires that Americans, Canadians and Australians visiting the country for tourism or business pay a “Reciprocity fee”. This is a requirement for admission to visit the country and the cost is $160. This reciprocity fee is valid for 10 years.
We recommend you register and pay the fee online as closely as possible to the date of your trip. The payment can be made at the following website: www.migraciones.gov.ar.
Upon arrival at the Mendoza airport, proceed to the Immigrations desk for foreign travelers. They will provide you with an entrance permit adequate for your stay. Please check the date to ensure it covers your complete stay in Argentina.
Once you receive your bags from Baggage Claim, you will proceed to Customs. There will be a random selection of bags for inspection. Be sure to keep all your bags together.
A private shuttle will take you to our hotel.
The provided transportation as stated in the itinerary is via private vehicle.
Immunizations & Travel Medicine
For the most current information on inoculation requirements and recommendations, please refer to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.
Travelers may suffer from upset stomachs when in foreign countries. There are some basic rules, however, that can help keep you healthy.
Hygiene - It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly before meals and after using the restroom. If water is not available for washing, we recommend using a hand sanitizer.
Water - The number one rule is: don't drink the water, and that includes shower water and ice! Brush your teeth with purified water rather than tap water. You should check bottled water for a good seal and use a napkin to wipe excess moisture in drinking glasses. Take care with fruit juice, particularly if it has been diluted with water. Carefully clean the tops of bottled beverages before opening.
Food - If it is cooked, boiled, or can be peeled, you can usually eat it. Salads and fruits should be washed with purified water or peeled where possible. Be wary of ice cream and shellfish. Always avoid any undercooked meat.
Aconcagua is a remote mountain without easy access to definitive medical care. We are our own rescue team. A rescue team headed by the Mendoza Police operates on the Ruta Normal, which joins our route above 20,500'.
The medical facilities in Buenos Aires and other urban areas in Argentina are very professional. We will work with our tour operator to access an appropriate level of care should the need arise.
Argentina Country Facts
Argentina is a country of high Andean peaks and salt flats, massive ice fields, a vast thorny wilderness known as the Impenetrable, a spectacular Lake District, penguins, flamingos, caimans, and capybaras.
The country's economy is focused around food processing, motor vehicles, textiles, chemicals and petrochemicals, printing, metallurgy, steel and agribusiness. This is a new Argentina, one emerging from a severe economic crisis with a renewed sense of identity and purpose.
Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, has become one of the most talked-about travel destinations in South America. It's not just a cliche that their steaks are highly acclaimed and their wines are delicious and affordable. And if you have the opportunity to experience a soccer match during your time there, you will find them full of passion and intensity.
Mendoza is at the center of the Argentinian wine industry. Though surrounded by hot, dry desert, Mendoza’s extensive irrigation system both beautifies the city with greenery and allows for grape production. Summers, January in particular, can be very hot and dry in the city, with temperatures often above 100°F.
The practical climbing season on Aconcagua is January and February. We will certainly share the mountain with other climbers during these months, but the better weather and higher likelihood of reaching the summit are well worth it.
Many organizations advertise "less crowded" expeditions in November and March. Be aware that November is early spring and sees substantial snowfall and poor weather, and extreme winds and colder temperatures may be common. March is known for notoriously high winds (the Vienta Blanco or "white wind") and most tour operators have ceased operations at that time.
While there can be no guarantees of perfect weather in the mountains, our expeditions take full advantage of both the weather and route conditions for this expedition, and utilize prime months for optimal climbing experiences.
The people of Argentina are generally very warm and friendly to tourists. Although it is not expected that we dress formally, we should dress modestly. Casual and comfortable clothing is suggested along with comfortable shoes. Showing expensive cameras, watches, jewelry, etc. is considered unseemly and may attract unwanted attention.
A handshake and nod show respect when greeting someone. When entering a shop or home, politely use a greeting such as buenos días (good day), buenas tardes (good afternoon), buenas noches (good night). Similarly, upon leaving, even if you've had only minimal contact, say adios (goodbye) or hasta luego (see you later).
Argentines are typically proud of their country and culture. They are well-educated and tend to be cosmopolitan and progressive. Because a majority of Argentina’s population originated from Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, travelers typically have little trouble fitting in.
One interesting area of etiquette is the very Argentine custom of drinking mate, a South American infused drink, which comes with its own set of rules. Foreigners will be given lots of leeway here and breaches are likely to cause amusement rather than offence.
Porters are available to help carry gear above Base Camp. They can be arranged at your request through your guide. Porters carry loads of 20 kg and prices depend on where on the mountain they are needed, varying from $180 to $350 dollars for a one-way trip. Payment is due in cash at the time of service. Porter fees are not included in the trip or permit fees and are in addition to the amount we suggest you bring as spending money.
Electricity in Argentina is different than in the United States. Argentina has standardized type I sockets and plugs. Type C plugs and power points are still commonly found in older buildings. Both are used for 220-240 volt, 50 hertz appliances. U.S. appliances will require plug adaptors, convertors or transformers. Please visit http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity for more detailed information.
The current currency of Argentina is the Peso. Check a financial newspaper or www.xe.com for the current exchange rate prior to departure.
You should find that $950-$1,300 for spending money is adequate for your permit, restaurant meals, drinks, tips and pocket money. You may choose to bring more depending on your shopping plans and length of stay.
Cash machines are readily available in Mendoza, but become increasingly difficult to find outside of the main urban areas.
Credit cards are accepted in most, but not all, areas.
Everyone has a preferred way to carry money. Some use money belts, others have hidden pockets. Whatever you do, be aware of pickpockets and thieves in any area which caters to tourists.
Local waiters, drivers, and other service personnel expect to be tipped. Ten to fifteen percent is standard.
Our guides work hard to ensure your well being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program.
Jim Ryan, Aconcagua: Highest Trek in the World (A Cicerone Guide). Cicerone Press, 2004.
This is a beautifully illustrated, useful and packable guide.
Argentina Reference and Travel Guide is a thorough orientation to Argentina, with links to various travel pages such as Frommers and Lonely Planet.
A deposit of $1,500 per person secures your reservation. Final payment is due 90 days prior to the start of your program. Final payment may be made via check or wire transfer only. Trips departing within 90 days from the reservation date must be paid in full at the time of reservation.
We will send you a payment reminder approximately three weeks before your payment is due. If your final payment is not received within 90 days of the program your reservation will be cancelled and all fees forfeited.
Once we receive written notification (mail, e-mail, or fax) that you are canceling an individual participant or your entire reservation the following fees will apply. A fee of $750 per person will be charged for cancellations made more than 90 days before departure. There will be no refunds for cancellations made less than 90 days before your program.
Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.
Included are the following:
- RMI Leadership
- Hotel accommodations as indicated in the itinerary, based on double occupancy*
- Support animals to base camp
- All group transportation in country as stated in the itinerary
- All group cooking, climbing and camping equipment
Not included are the following:
- International airfare
- Travel insurance, medical evacuation insurance and security evacuation insurance
- Excess baggage fees and departure taxes
- Argentina Reciprocity Fee
- Climbing permit fees
- Personal Porters
- Meals not included in the itinerary
- Bottled water and personal drinks
- Customary guide gratuities
- Additional room charges including laundry service and other personal expenses
- Hotel accommodations not indicated in the itinerary
- Transfer from Mendoza Hotel to Airport for outbound flight
- Medical, hospitalization and evacuation costs (by any means)
* Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those occupying single accommodations by choice or circumstance. The single supplement is not available in huts, tents, or in all hotels.
Safety is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them. RMI guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that improve your chance of reaching the summit without compromising the necessary margin of safety.
Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:
- is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber's own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
- honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.
Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions
In the interest of the safety and well-being of all participants, RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines and restrictions on all climbing programs, domestic and international.
- Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
- Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
- Ages 18 & above: No restrictions
An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.
Accompaniment by parent or legal guardian is required for the program or climb.
Under-aged participants on Private Climb or Group Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.
RMI's program plans and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.
We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person's own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.'s responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.
If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.
RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.
How long is the trek to Base Camp?
The trek to Plaza Argentina, our Base Camp on Aconcagua, is a three-day walk up the Vacas and Relinchos valleys. The trek ascends from 8,800' to 13,800' and is approximately 23 miles long.
Are porters available to help carry my gear?
Yes. Porters are available to help carry gear above Base Camp. They can be arranged at your request through your guide. Porters carry loads of 20 kg and prices depend on where on the mountain they are needed, varying from $180 to $350 dollars for a one-way trip. Payment is due in cash at the time of service. Porter fees are not included in the trip or permit fees and are in addition to the amount we suggest you bring as spending money.
How much is the Climbing Permit?
Every foreigner climbing Aconcagua must obtain a Climbing Permit from the National Park. The price is dependent on the time of year and not finalized by the Park until the beginning of the climbing season. Note that the permit date is based on the date of entry into the Park (Day 4 on our itinerary). Approximate prices based on 2013 - 2014 season rates are:
- High Season (Dec. 15-Jan. 31): $945 USD
- Mid Season (Dec. 1-14, Feb. 1-20): $727 USD
- Low Season (Nov. 15-30, Feb. 21-28): $727 USD
Why does RMI use a high camp at 19,600'?
RMI's 19,600-foot high camp is at an altitude that has allowed our team members the greatest chance of making the summit. Climbers who use higher camps often have difficulty adjusting to that altitude. RMI's camp is situated at an elevation at which most climbers can sleep comfortably after acclimatizing lower on the mountain.
Why doesn't RMI traverse Aconcagua?
RMI strives to offer the best experience and chances of success for our climbers and due to these constraints we opt not to traverse the mountain. A traverse of Aconcagua requires climbers to carry all of their gear and waste to high camp in order to traverse down the other side of the mountain. This eliminates the ability of teams to cache unneeded gear and used supplies lower on the mountain and carry only what they need. The traverse also permanently separates the group in the event that a climber needs to descend early.
Do I really need crampons on Aconcagua?
Yes. Depending on the season's snow and ice conditions, crampons may or may not be needed to ascend certain parts of the route. It is far preferable to bring your crampons just in case than to be forced to turn back on the summit bid because of unanticipated icy conditions.
Do I really need my avalanche transceiver on Aconcagua?
Safety is RMI's number one priority and we will not compromise this precedent. Although uncommon, Aconcagua does see large amounts of snowfall and we have had past expeditions turn back because of avalanche hazard. We carry avalanche transceivers and avalanche rescue gear on Aconcagua so that our teams are prepared in the event that they encounter such conditions.
What is the food like on the mountain?
Please see our Food details for an example of meals while on the mountain.
How much weight am I carrying in my pack?
Mules help us on the approach to Base Camp, so backpacks should be approximately 15 to 20 lbs. Once we begin making carries or moving camps above Base Camp, pack weights increase significantly. It would not be uncommon for a pack to weigh 50 to 60 pounds (depending on the climber's size). Summit day packs are again 15 to 20 pounds, carrying only clothing, food, water, and other essentials for the summit attempt.
What is the pace like?
We use an easy to moderate pace throughout the entire trip. The adventure as a whole, and certainly the days when we are carrying heavy loads, is generally characterized as strenuous. While the distances we cover on a daily basis are relatively short, the altitudes to which we travel are very high and the days of hiking and climbing can be very challenging. Overall, our guides set a reasonable pace - at the appropriate speed to cover the distance we need that day without going too quickly or too slowly. This is true of summit day as well.
What tents do we use?
We provide three-person, 4-season tents for every two climbers.
What are the toilets like?
Basic pit-toilets are available near Base Camp. En route, where no toilets exist, we use bio-bags to collect our solid waste so that it may be transported off of the mountain. We recommend that you bring hand sanitizer for use after visiting the toilets.
How will I be able to stay connected with those at home?
We suggest bringing a smart phone or a WIFI-enabled device and using it where WIFI and internet services are available, as in Mendoza. Outside of Mendoza, however, and on the mountain, WIFI access is not available. Cell service is widely available across most of Argentina, see below.
Should I bring a cell phone or a satellite phone?
Cell phone coverage is generally available in and around towns, but not on the mountain. If you’d like to make phone calls from the mountain, you will need a sat phone. Phone rental is available through Remote Satellite Systems International.
Check with your cell phone carrier to see if they offer international coverage in Argentina and make sure you have the appropriate international plans and understand the associated rates.
RMI carries a satellite phone with the group through the entire trip for emergency use.
Do iPhones function well at high altitude?
Yes. However, the cold can impact the battery life making it necessary for it to be charged a few times on the trip.
Is a Kindle or Nook practical on this trip?
Yes, but if you wish to take it up on the mountain you will certainly need to recharge it once in a while using a personal solar charger. We recommend downloading all of your desired books before arriving in Argentina.