/ Aconcagua logistics and tips

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JohnV - on 28 Sep 2011
Hopefully going to give Aconcagua a go 15th-27th November. If anyone has experience of independently attempting the mountain and has any useful advice then please fire away- yes I am using this forum as a researching shortcut!
Specifically I'd like to know about food and water- did you take all your food up to base camp / where did you buy it all / what about gas / what about water / how long will it take to get from base camp back to Santiago?

Cheers in advance!
Damo on 28 Sep 2011
In reply to JohnV:

That is early, so you'll have snow on the rout and few people. 15-27 is only 13 days total which is maybe not enough, esp early season. Both times I've just hired mules at agency in Mendoza and cooked my own food at BC. Paid for food and bed at Confluencia - two nights the first time, one night the second (acclimatised from Cordon del Plata - recommended). You need an agency so you have a toilet to use at BC, rangers will check your permit.

Food bought from large Carrefour supermarket in Mendoza on Las Heras. One mule enough for two people gear and food. White gas or canisters easily bought in gear shops in central Mendoza. Water is in pipes/tanks at BC, not sure about mid-Nov and melt/boil/treat snow up at Nido Condores. BC to road in one long day (6-8hrs?) and bus that afternoon back to Mendoza. Buy tickets at the cafe in Puenta del Inca.
JohnV - on 28 Sep 2011
In reply to Damo: Excellent, thank you Damo! I'm aware that my time is limited- permits are only available from the 15th and I have to fly late evening on the 28th. What do you mean by needing an agency? Thanks again, that is all really useful.
winhill - on 28 Sep 2011
In reply to JohnV:

there is water at base camp, via the toilet people or you could melt frozen water as there is some snow and ice.

you can't take gas on the flight (unless you're sailing?) so you have to buy it from a gas-selling shop there.

you can buy food at BC but it is cooked for you, not ingredients.

i bought my food freeze dried at decathlon.
Damo on 28 Sep 2011
In reply to JohnV:

Most book their whole trip through an agency, guided, and the mules are included in that, but if you're independent you just need an agency as a contact to book the mules and provide tent space/toilet in BC.

I think last time I used Grajales and there was an office right in the middle of town, mostly selling tours but you could just go in and book mules only. You took your bags, on the public bus in our case, to their shed at Puenta del Inca, dropped them off, got them tagged etc and the guy gave us a ride up to the trailhead. Our bags were there at the same place when we got back. Grajales base is in Los Penitentes nearby but they have a shed at Puenta del Inca.

The mules travel (much) faster than you, so on the way back you leave BC at, say, 8am and get into Puenta del Inca at 4pm and your bags have been there a few hours. On the way in, if you stop a night or two at Confluencia you need your sleeping bag, water bottle, snacks, camera etc as your bags will go all the way in to BC in that first day, where you won't get to BC (Plaza de Mulas) until the second day.

I actually carried our tent to Confluencia then intercepted the mules early the next morning and added it to our load to BC, but normally people use agency tents at Confluencia (they were short of such tents when I was there last). We also bought dinner and breakfast at Confluencia, saving carrying food/stove on the walk-in. On that occasion the food was good, but I've seen mixed offerings at other agencies. It might sound a bit complicated but it works out pretty straightforward and is the best mix of being almost totally independent, unguided, cooking for yourself etc, but not crippled by huge loads and being able to enjoy the place. I did carry all my gear out myself once, no mules, 30kg pack for 40km in plastic boots, and that was awful.

The walk in to Confluencia from the road is really easy, about 2.5hrs. But the next day up to Mulas BC is a long one and gains 1000m or so. Start early to make the creek crossings easier, and dress for cold wind and dust. Despite Aconcagua's boring reputation, it's a beautiful valley to walk up, but a long grind.
dreamy on 28 Sep 2011 -
In reply to JohnV:
Hi!. I did it a couple of years back, during the same season. Be prepared to get the permit by the 16th if there is any problem. Go as soon as they open the office with all your gear so you can take the first bus –Expreso Uspallata- to Puente del Inca. Probably the camps at Confluencia and Plaza de Mulas won’t be ready by that time and the doctors and park guards won´t arrive till the 20th (if they haven’t arrived when you are there, go up anyway). Arrange your transport from Puente or Penitentes to the trail head –stupid walk- where you show your permits, night at Confluencia –if Confluencia is not ready, arrange for the “mulero” leave a sack with your tent and sleeping bag there, and take it the next day to “Plaza de Mulas”- and cargo to “Plaza” with one of the good companies (I used Ibarrak they manage the hotel where I stayed –tent for the mountain, bed for base camp- , not the most cheap but really good when going solo and they are usually the first at Confluencia and Plaza; there is also Grajales, etc., or you could try to do it cheaper talking to the muleros at Puente del Inca,). Take enough water from Confluencia to Plaza, it’s a long walk and you might not get much of it. FOOD AND GAS: it’s really hard to get lyophilized food in Santiago, Buenos Aires or Mendoza, so bring from home. Gas, plenty, in Santiago: Andesgear, etc. in Mendoza: Pierobon, etc. From base camp/Plaza de Mulas you can make it to Puente del Inca in 6/9 hours. The problem is that buses to Santiago don’t stop there but only at the customs (except al least one hour there), so you should probably get in touch whit Andesmar buses and call them, or Ibarrak, Grajales etc, who should wait for you at the route and take you to get to the bus. If all works fine you’ll be able to arrive to Santiago the same night (though it could be best to take the bus the next day). Of course you can always try hitch hiking, but there are not so many cars (nor buses by the way). If your arriving from Santiago, it could be a good idea to acclimatize before (example Nov, 12-14) at Puente o Penitentes and do some climbs there, or if you have more time and money go to “Vallecitos”).
Andes - on 29 Sep 2011
In reply to JohnV:
As someone else already said it is a very tight schedule to acclimatise for such a big peak... it might work out OK, but take care, especially if you are climbing on your own with no-one to look out for you.
John Biggar
jobeeclark on 06 Oct 2011 -
In reply to JohnV:
I'm also planning to climb independently in December of this year and this information has been really helpful! Thanks.
Without wanting to hijack your thread, can anyone give me some advice on which are the best boots for this mountain? Are plastics necessary? I seem to be getting conflicting information on this.
AndyC - on 06 Oct 2011
In reply to jobeeclark:
> (In reply to JohnV)
> Without wanting to hijack your thread, can anyone give me some advice on which are the best boots for this mountain? Are plastics necessary? I seem to be getting conflicting information on this.

If you like having toes you should definitely invest in plastics for the Big A. Scarpa Vegas or similar should be OK, make sure you buy big enough to get thick socks and altitude swollen feet into them.

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