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Normal Route

Approach to Plaza de Mulas base camp

Those who decide to climb Mount Aconcagua by the Normal Route, should begin the expedition in Horcones trailhead (2950 meters above sea level), where the Park Ranger checkpoint is located. The Rangers will ask each person for their Climbing Permits. At the same time, each member of the group will receive a numbered garbage bag that should be returned to Aconcagua Park Rangers at the end of the expedition.

After passing the Laguna de Horcones the path will continue to the Quebrada de Horcones. The slope is moderate. 

After a 4 to 5 hour hike, Camp Confluencia (3390 m.a.s.l. / 11122 feet) will be reached. 

In order to reach the Plaza de Mulas base camp properly acclimated, we will stay in Camp Confluencia for two days, using one of them for a hike to Plaza Francia (4200 m.a.s.l / 13780 feet)

The trek to Plaza Francia takes 6 to 7 hours (round-trip) and provides a magnificent view of the South Wall of Mount Aconcagua. It is beneficial for the body because it allows you to experience the altitude of Plaza de Mulas for a few hours, then return to spend the night in the lower altitude of Camp Confluencia. This hike will begin your acclimatization gradually adapting your body to the altitude of Mount Aconcagua. 

Leaving Camp Confluencia heading towards Plaza de Mulas, you will begin a long day of hiking with slopes that range in difficulty from moderate to arduous.   

First, you will make your way over a bridge that crosses the Lower Horcones River, later to an area known as Playa Ancha and finally to the Cuesta Brava. This area (Cuesta Brava) is not long but contains various pronounced slopes. 

Finally, after a 7 to 9 hour hike, you will reach the Plaza de Mulas base camp (4370 m.a.s.l / 14337 feet) and will need to present your Climbing Permit once again at the Park Ranger Post. 

We will stay in the Plaza de Mulas for 3 to 5 days, ensuring appropriate acclimatization.

Three days is the recommended minimum stay in Plaza de Mulas for those who have easily adaptation to the height or have pre-acclimatization. This can be due to other ascents before the Aconcagua climb, or a natural inclination towards rapid acclimatization.
For those who wish to climb Mount Aconcagua and arrive without being acclimatized or naturally need more time to adapt their bodies, a minimum stay of 5 days is recommended.

 

Aconcagua

 

Ascent to Mount Aconcagua via the Normal Route

Leaving Plaza de Mulas, with your focus placed on the Aconcagua summit, you will begin a path that makes a continual zigzag, which can be demanding or very demanding, depending on the day. 

We will set up three altitude camps for acclimatization and rest.

To arrive to the first of these upper camps, Plaza Canada, the trail has a moderate slope. After passing through places that serve as references, such as “el Semaforo”, and Conway Rocks, we will get to Plaza Canada (4910 m.a.s.l. / 16108 feet). This hike requires 4 hours on average.

In order to arrive at the second altitude camp, Nido de Condores (5380 m.a.s.l. / 17650 feet), we will need, on average, four hours of hiking.  This camp, located in a flat area, has many rocks which will be useful for protecting the tents from the wind. The views from this altitude are impressive. 

Leaving Nido de Condores for the last upper camp, the altitude can begin affecting your body.  Strong winds and low temperatures are a constant in these heights. Although the journey that separates Camp 2 from Camp 3 is not long, the altitude will force us to adopt a slow hiking pace.  After 4 hours of slow hiking, we will arrive at Plaza Colera (5870 m.a.s.l / 19258 feet). 

Due to the physical wear caused by the altitude, it is advisable to stay in this camp for the least possible time. The longer stay in this altitude, the more wear it will cause to your body, and therefore, lower the chances of reaching the Aconcagua summit.

 

Summit Day via the Normal Route of Aconcagua

This will be the long-awaited day, but it is also important to know ahead of time that this will be the most challenging day as well, both physically and psychologically. One should pay close attention to their physical state and not let the summit's view distract you from your climb.  It is imperative to follow the guides' instructions and recommendations, as they are in charge of the expedition.

 

Aconcagua

 

The day will begin before sunrise. The guides will carry out acclimatization on each of the members of the expedition, and verifying that the personal equipment is adequate and making sure that our customers are not missing any important tools or equipment.

Not long after leaving the last altitude camp and following a path, the group will arrive to a site called Piedras Blancas, gaining access to the northeastern side of Aconcagua.  The trek will later lead to the Refugio Independencia and after to the edge called Portezuelo del Viento, site from where it begins an area known as the travesia.  This area, the travesia, is usually covered by ice and it is of the utmost importance to use crampons and an ice axe to go across it. Finally, this area will lead to a field called La Canaleta (300 meters in length), which also has a steep slope (35º to 40º) and, at times, ice. Later, we will cross the Filo de Guanaco. The summit of Aconcagua will already be visible from this point, located at 6800 meters m.a.s.l / 22309 feet.
 
In spite of the short distance that separates the summit from this area, the altitude will force you to take the walk slowly, with frequent rests. For these final meters, it usually takes a demanding and exhausting walk of an hour or more. 

Finally, a rocky path will bring mountaineers to the long-awaited summit of Aconcagua (6962 m.a.s.l / 22840 feet). 

After a short stay in "the roof of America," the descent to Camp 3 (Plaza Colera) will begin. The descent will be slow, exhausting and will require numerous rests. Upon arriving to Camp Colera, you will have completed a day that depending on numerous factors (the weather, your physical state, etc.) could have lasted anywhere from 8 to 12 hours.

The following days hold a descent to base camp and a return to Mendoza to end the expedition. 

 

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Summary of the expedition via the Normal Route, altitude and approximate hiking times
             
From Elevation (meters) Elevation (feet) to Elevation (meters) Elevation (feet) Hiking Times
Mendoza 760 2493 Penitentes 2725 8940 3 hours (in van)
Horcones 2950 9678 Confluencia 3390 11122 4 to 5 hours approx.
Camp Confluencia 3390 11122 Plaza de Mulas 4370 14337 7 to 9 hours approx.
Plaza de Mulas 4370 14337 Canada 4910 16108 3 to 4 hours approx.
Canada 4910 16108 Nido de Cóndores 5380 17650 4 hours approx.
Nido de Cóndores 5380 17650 Cólera 5870 19258 4 hours approx.
Colera 5870 19258 Summit and back to Colera) 6962 22840 8 to 12 hours approx.
Colera 5870 19258 Plaza de Mulas 4370 14337 8 to 9 hours approx.
Plaza de Mulas 4370 14337 Horcones 2950 9678 6 to 8 hours approx.
Horcones 2950 9678 Mendoza 760 2493 3 hours (in van)
             
Note: This summary only details the places where the group will spend the night and trailhead. 
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