FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are there regulations that I must consider?
Doctors and rangers have the authority to stop your ascent or request your immediate evacuation when they consider that your safety is compromised.
For additional information about park regulations click here: www.aconcagua.mendoza.gov.ar.

What permits do I need to enter the Park?
The permit to enter the Park is carried out by the government of Mendoza. The transaction is done once, personally and not transferable, meaning everybody must present themselves at the Natural Resources Board with their passport and sign the permit there, in presence of a government public official.
The permit fee depends on the date one enters the Park.

When do I obtain this permit?
The permit is obtained the first day of arrival. We transport you to the Park office and assist you in the procedures.

How is the climate in Aconcagua?
Aconcagua is usually a mountain with a good climate. However, snow storms and strong winds can show up at any time. The official ascension season starts on November 15th to March 15th. Our expeditions start in December and last until February. Towards the end of November and the first days of December, it is usually colder, the days are shorter and the winds are stronger towards the end of February. But you must be prepared for a storm.

How would you compare Aconcagua/Kilimanjaro? Is it harder? Do you need more strength?
Aconcagua is higher, farther, stronger, longer and colder than the Kilimanjaro. It is not necessary to be experimented in ascension or mountaineering to form a part of our guided expeditions through the normal Route of the Aconcagua. However, we recommend you carry out some kind of conditioning. Anyone who is healthy and mentally prepared, can participate in our expeditions. A good physical preparation and training increase the possibilities of reaching the summit.
The participants must endure low temperatures from -25° to -30°C. This is a positive experience, a good starting point and training. Many that have climbed the Kilimanjaro have been successful at the Aconcagua.

How would you describe the Normal Route?
The Normal route is technically easy. The difficulty is the height, many times you can feel headaches and lack of hunger. Besides, your body must work with less oxygen than normal. This is why we are so careful during acclimatization. The approaching towards Plaza de Mulas is a long path of approximately 40 km. We are also used to acclimatization trekking to Plaza Francia, Base Camp of the Southern Wall. It takes us three days to reach Plaza de Mulas. After that, there are three other camps, before reaching the summit. Our suggested program is of double equipment carrying days and safety days. Once the last stage begins, we ascend camp to camp and finally to the top. The Aconcagua presents the famous white wind that, sometimes, difficult the ascension and this is why we have these safety days, increasing our chances of making it to the peak.

What is the expedition's technique?
The normal route to the Aconcagua is not a technical climb. You generally do not require the use of ropes. However, sometimes and depending on the snow conditions, we use crampons. You do not need rock or ice climbing abilities. The expedition guide will give you some instructions on how to use the crampons, at Base Camp. On summit day, the hardest section is the ascent. There is a path of snow of approximately 300 m, before reaching the base of the Canaleta. Sometimes the snow is frozen (ice) and the crampons are crucial for crossing. The walk in snow must be very cautious, but is not a reason not to join the expedition.
The guides evaluate the group abilities and the snow conditions and, if necessary, will use ropes, only for safety. Only 1 or 2 of 10 expeditions need the assistance of ropes.

How would you describe the Polish routes?
The Polish Glacier has two routes: the Polish route and the other one that is more technical, but through both it is advisable to take ice tools.
The Polish route has an inclination of 45° and the exit, a bottle neck of 60 to 65°. There is a distance of approximately 1500 m and does not admit errors or drops, the conditions on a good year are of hard snow and crystal ice.

What is the difference between the Normal Route and Valle de Vacas?
If you want to know the difference between the two routes, there are not very many. Both are non-technical, they are high altitude trekking routes. On some stretches you might have to cross over snow and ice, this is why we recommend ice axes and crampons.
The approach to Valle de Vacas (three days to arrive and two to return) is the longest approach to Horcones. The Valle de Vacas program is 19 days long, while the Normal Route is of 17 days long.
The Normal Route is the most common and frequented of all the routes. During the in-season, you might see more than 500 people at Base Camp. The Valle de Vacas is the less frequented by climbers.

Will you provide us water on the mountain?
On the approaching phases and at Base Camp we drink water from streams, at high altitude camps, the guides melt snow for the group.

Are there restrooms?
We have restrooms at each base camp.

How does the carrier service work on the Aconcagua?
Our guided expedition packages include mules that transport your equipment to Base Camp (30 kg maximum, per person). During the approach, you must transport your daily backpack. We also provide carriers that transport the tents from Base Camp to High Altitude Camps, on our open expeditions through the Normal Route. The climbers are supposed to transport their own personal equipment and part of the group food (approximately 15 to 20 kg). Besides, you can rent carrier services to transport your personal equipment. We dispose this service at Base Camp.

What are the prices?
In case you need a personal carrier, it is necessary to reserve in advance. The prices are the following (approximate prices):
From Plaza de Mulas to Camp Canada: U$S 100
From Plaza de Mulas to Nido de Cóndores: U$S 150
From Plaza de Mulas to Berlin / MDQ : U$S 200 / U$S 220
Complete Service: Plaza de Mulas-Canada-Nido de Condores-Berlin-Plaza de Mulas: U$S 600.
The prices are per carrier for equipment transportation. The prices are the same for the descent. The carriers load up to 20 kg each. All of them return to Base Camp. The payment is after each stretch. The fees are cumulative.

How much money do you estimate we must leave for tips?
Tips are not obligatory in Argentina. They are just signs of approval for our staff and the work they carry out, a compliment for the service. All of the INKA staff are well payed. As a reference you can estimate that an expedition leaves from U$S 30 to U$S 50 a day each carrier or cook and from U$S 70 to U$S 150 each guide or guide assistant.

What safety measures are implemented? What are the evacuation procedures if someone gets hurt?
We dispose oxygen for emergencies and a complete first aid kit. All our guides are well trained for treating mountain sicknesses and medicine for inhospitable areas. They take Diamox, Hydrocortisone, Nifedipine, Glucose, Lactose, hydration salts, pain killers, paracetamol. They are all equipped with oxymeters, to daily read the oxygen saturation in blood, for each client. We use pulse oxymeters to daily monitor your acclimatization, checking your oxygen saturation level in your blood. The procedure is harmless and is done in seconds. This process offers and enormous amount of information on your acclimatization. We consider this essential for the client’s safety. Besides this, our guides are equipped with 2 m transistor radios, through which they can communicate from any part of the mountain. Our HF radios at Base Camp communicate 24 hours a day with other Base Camps, with the Regional Center in Penitentes, with the Central Offices in Mendoza, with the Park Rangers and the Rescue Patrol. We also have satellite telephones and an e-mail service at the Plaza de Mulas Base Camp.

At the Plaza de Mulas and Plaza Argentina BC there is a medical service doctor available if you need one. All this is complemented with a standard evacuation process on both routes, Horcones and Vacas, to one of the best hospitals in Mendoza. The action course involves the use of the Park helicopter to Penitentes, where the patients are transported by vehicle, to Mendoza. We are in permanent contact with the hospital to assure the patient is well attended by the medical group.

Do you recommend the use of DIAMOX to prevent high altitude sickness?
We do not recommend this. If you climb slowly, taking your time on the approaching, going to the higher camps and then going back down to sleep, you should not have any problems. We do not recommend taking any unnecessary medications.

How many of the participants in your treks make it to the summit?
Due to our guides experience, the service coordination and the effective programs we have designed, we have the highest percentages registered at the Aconcagua.

Can we reach the summit with trekking boots instead of double plastic mountain boots?
We strongly recommend the double mountain plastic boots. You can rent them in Mendoza. This is a safety issue, because it is usual to find a temperature of -25°C on summit day. It is not a good idea to risk your feet and your safety. With leather or trekking boots, you can suffer freezing and loose all chances to make it to the top.

Are ice axes and crampons necessary?
This depends on the climatic conditions the week before ascension. You can reach the summit only using ski poles, but sometimes there are stretches of hard ice on summit day, impossible to cross without ice axes and crampons. You can rent either in Mendoza.

What temperature must the sleeping bag endure?
The sleeping bag must have an expedition quality of at least -30°C (-22°F). A 1 kg down good quality sleeping bag is the best.

What meals are served at the camps?
During the expedition we offer a full pension diet that include breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Tea, coffee, milk, chocolate milk, juices, toast, butter, marmalade, cereal, oatmeal, eggs, cakes and cookies.
Pasta, grains, meats, vegetables, fresh fruits and salads.
Soups, broth, grains, cereal, vegetables and fresh fruits, desserts.
Walking meals:
Sandwiches, sweets, chocolates, and nougats, fresh and dry fruits.
High altitude meals:
Dehydrated meals, pastas, mashed potatoes, fish, canned meats and vegetables, cheese, cold cuts, noodles, dehydrated soups.
Water, fruit juices, tea, wine.

If one of our climbers needs a special diet, can you arrange for it?
We always ask if you require a special diet. Our expert cooks prepare almost all special meals.

Who cooks at the High Altitude Camps?
At high altitude camps the guide cooks for the clients, this is why we only offer meals at high altitude camps.

When do I leave my equipment for mule transportation to Base Camp?
A van drives you to Penitentes, with the help of our guides and load staff to divide the loads in two groups:
Group 1 - High altitude equipment: this is the equipment we use from Plaza de Mulas to the Summit. For example: ice axes and crampons.
Group 2 - Approaching equipment: this equipment is used at nights with the expeditionary. For example: sleeping bags, double plastic boots, etc..

Am I going to have a chance to meet up with my equipment at Confluence?
At Confluence you meet up with your marching equipment, but not with your high altitude equipment. This goes straight from Penitentes to Plaza de Mulas, meaning you meet up with your high altitude equipment once you arrive to Plaza de Mulas.

Who will be our guides?
We have not decided yet who will guide your expedition but you do not have to worry about it. All our guides are highly experimented professionals. All of them are licensed at the Argentina Mountain Guide School. We decide who will guide your expedition 30 days before departure.