Aconcagua - The Stone Sentinel


At 22,835 feet, Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the western hemisphere.

Here are photos from a February 2000 expedition.


This photo is more indicative of Aconcagua, it is not an attractive mountain when seen up close.


The Andinista cemetery located on the road to the mountain holds the graves of climbers who did not make the round trip alive.


Before beginning out walk up the Vacas valley, we paused for a group photo.


A rest break on the hike to base camp.


On the 3 day hike to base camp mules carried our bags each day.


The Vacas and upper Vacas valley are mostly barren.


Penitentes are columns of snow found on the mountain.


Climbing toward camp 1 - There is very littele snow on Aconcagua, most of it is crumbling rocks.


On the way back down several of us stayed in this muleteers hut in the Vacas valley when the weather turned bad. A muleteer showed up later but let us stay inside.


The Aconcagua journey starts and ends in Mendoza, Argentina where permits for the mountain are issued. Mendoza has a pedestrian street full of bars and cafes.


Here is the schedule for climbing Aconcagua via the Vacas / Upper Vacas route, which is one of the least climbed routes. Most people take the normal route which uses the Horcones valley. The elevations are approximate.

Day From Elevation To Sleep elevation
1 Mendoza 2,500 Punta de Vacas Hosteria 8,500
2 Vacas Trailhead 8,300 La Lena Camp 9,800
3 La Lena Camp 9,800 Casa de Peidra 11,000
4 Casa de Peidra 11,000 Base Camp 12,300
5 Base Camp 12,300 Carry to Camp 1 at 14,200 12,300
6 Base Camp 12,300 Move to Camp 1 14,200
7 Camp 1 14,200 Carry to Camp 2 at 16,200 14,200
8 Camp 1 14,200 Rest Day 14,200
9 Camp 1 14,200 Move to Camp 2 16,200
10 Camp 2 16,200 Carry to Camp 3 at 18000 16,200
11 Camp 2 16,200 Move to Camp 3 18,000
12 Camp 3 18,000 Carry to Camp 4 18,000
13 Camp 3 18,000 Move to Camp 4 19,900
14 Camp 4 19,900 Summit attempt to 22,385

Return to Camp 4

15 Camp 4 19,900 Descend to Normal Route

Base Camp at 13,900

16 Base Camp 13,900 Descend to Punta de Vacas

Hosteria at 8,300

17 Punta de Vacas 8,300 Return to Mendoza 2,500

Of the 6 clients on this expedition, one made it to the summit at 22,385 feet, one made it to within a few hundred feet of the summit, one made it to camp 4 at 20,000 feet, one made it to camp 3 at 18,000 feet, and 2, including myself, made it to camp 2 at 16,000 feet.

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