Mendoza – Los Penitentes (3 hours drive – 2.580 m/8,465 ft)
Pick up at the airport if needed (optional). The guide will check your gear and assist you with the Park’s trekking permit procedures (*). Transfer in private vehicles from Mendoza to Los Penitentes, where the group will spend the night in a lodge. In this small mountain village we have our warehouse, where you can see the logistics of the full Aconcagua expeditions from inside.
Los Penitentes – Punta de Vacas (trailhead) – Pampa de Leñas camp (2.950 m/ 9,678 ft)
After breakfast, we ride in the van the four miles to Punta de Vacas, our trailhead and the Park Rangers checkpoint. The trail gains altitude gradually as it winds along the Vacas stream and valley, on the less visited East side of Mt. Aconcagua. After a 4-hour hike we arrive at our first camp, Pampa de Leñas. Here we enjoy a genuine asado criollo (bbq). It is a good opportunity to spend some time with the arrieros (muleteers) and learn about the Gaucho traditions.
Pampa de Leñas – Casa de Piedra (3.240 m/10,630 ft)
Breakfast and 6-hour hike to Casa de Piedra, our second trekking camp in the Vacas Valley. The trail offers great views of the Polish Glacier and the East Face of Mt. Aconcagua.
Casa de Piedra – Plaza Argentina base camp (4.190 m/13,746 ft)
The trail leaves the main valley. After crossing the stream -with the help of the mules if needed- we hike up the narrower Relinchos Valley, that leads to Plaza Argentina. Our base camp chef greets us with a solid meal in a comfortable dining tent. It is the perfect reward after the hardest day of the trip (6-7 hours).
Rest & Explore
Plaza Argentina is the perfect spot to take a closer look at the cosmopolitan world of mountaineering; the lofty dining tents, the seasoned guides and porters, the climbers from all over the world; the pace of the mules and the rush of the chopper, living together under the same Andean sky.
But a short walk away, you can experience the raw power of the pristine, high altitude environment.
Plaza Argentina – Horcones – Mendoza
Early in the morning, our BC manager will coordinate the helicopter flight (weather permitting). Your guide will assist you getting on the helicopter. Seeing Aconcagua from the Condor’s perspective is a whole different experience! After enjoying one of the world’s most scenic transfers, the helicopter will land in Horcones, the trailhead of the Normal route. A more humble land vehicle (at least it will have cold soda or beer) will drive you to Mendoza, where our program ends.