CLIMB PREPARATION

ACONCAGUA – 22,841’ | 6,962m

CLIMBING PERMITS

From a day hike to climb to the summit, it is essential to acquire a permit to enter the Aconcagua Provincial Park. The permit fee is not included in any of our programs.

We will make things easier for you, buying any of our itineraries we will fill out all the forms required by the Park authorities before your arrival to Mendoza.

Because of this, you have to complete all the information on our Booking and Medical online form carefully.

We will print and sign the Permit form for the Park and the payment receipt.

Once in Mendoza city, with the help of our guides you will pay the corresponding fee according to the activity you will do in the Aconcagua Park and the route you are taking. This payment must be made in cash, and Argentinian pesos are only accepted. We can assist you in changing US Dollars to Pesos in Mendoza.

Finally, with both papers (printed form and receipt) plus your passport, we will go with you to the Permit office to get the permit. This last step is a personal deal in Mendoza city.

Please fill free to contact us any time to assist you with any questions about it.

Permit fee and categories

There are many different categories to take into account to know what fee you have to pay:

  • Are you Argentinian or foreign?

Until last season there were three categories, Argentinian whom pay the lower price. Latin American a little higher and other countries spend the most expensive rate.

  • Activity to do in Park

The permits issued by the Parks authorities have different fees according to the number of days and the altitude you want to reach.

Day Trek: It allows us to enter the park just for one day, and not further than Confluencia camp.

Short Trek: We can stay for three days inside the park. This permit is used to visit Plaza Francia,

three days trekking to the south face of Aconcagua. This permit is only valid on the Horcones Valley.

Long Trek: With this trekking permit we have 7 days inside the Park. We can reach all the

basecamps, and from last season we can climb to Nido de Condores.

Climbing Permit: We have to acquire this if we want to climb the Aconcagua´s summit. It has 20

days duration.

Important: if you are planning to climb Mount Bonete you have to pay for a climbing permit.

  • Which route are you taking?

The price of the Climbing permit changes according to the route we choose. Going through Plaza Argentina, Vacas Valley the rate is higher than the Normal Route.

  • Season

Prices change according to the climbing season. Park authorities established two seasons:

Low Season: From 20th Nov to 14th Dec and from 1st Feb to 15th Mar

High Season: From 15th Dec to 31st Jan

Note: The government can change these rules close to the season without prior advice.

  • Limits Dates admission to the Aconcagua Park:

Vacas Valley: to climb Polish Traverse route, through the Vacas Valley the last date to enter to the Park is 20th Feb 2019.

Horcones Valley: to climb the Normal route, through the Horcones Valley the last date go into the Park is 23rd Feb 2019.

Short Trek Permits: Until the end of March.

Day trekking permits: Until 2nd Feb 2019.

Price Chart Season 2018 to 2019

ARS = ARGENTINIAN PESOS

US$ = AMERICAN DOLLARS

The permits fee must be paid in Argentinian Pesos at the exchange rate of the day.

Low Season - From 20th Nov to 14th Dec and from 1st Feb to 15th Mar

HORCONES VALLEY VACAS VALLEY
CLIMBING 7 DAYS TREK 3 DAYS TREK 1 DAY TREK CLIMBING 7 DAYS TREK
Argentinian ARS 3.100 ARS 1.500 ARS 1.000 ARS 200 ARS 3.600 ARS 1.500
Latin American US$ 290 US$ 200 US$ 100 US$ 500 US$ 370 US$ 200
Other Countries US$ 590 US$ 200 US$ 100 US$ 500 US$ 730 US$ 200

High Season - From 15th Dec to 31st Jan

HORCONES VALLEY VACAS VALLEY
CLIMBING 7 DAYS TREK 3 DAYS TREK 1 DAY TREK CLIMBING 7 DAYS TREK
Argentinian ARS 3.900 ARS 2.550 ARS 1.000 ARS 200 ARS 4.400 ARS 2.000
Latin American US$ 400 US$ 240 US$ 120 US$ 500 US$ 480 US$ 240
Other Countries US$ 800 US$ 240 US$ 120 US$ 500 US$ 250 US$ 240

The most essential requirements to get the permits are to have a legal ID (DNI or Passport) and be older than 16 years old.

Under 18 years old the Park require special authorization from parents. Ask us for more details.

Please make sure before leaving the basecamp your climbing permits have to be sign for the base camp staff. If you are in one of our expeditions, guides will coordinate this.

ACONCAGUA – 22,841’ | 6,962m

ACCLIMATIZATION

The Altitude

Altitude is the most critical and dangerous obstacle in ascending the Aconcagua.

Anyone planning to summit Aconcagua has to know necessary information about the altitude.

The Air and the Atmospheric Pressure

Air is primarily made up of 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen. This percentage keeps invariable at any height.

In normal circumstances, oxygen pressure at sea level is 760 mm x 21% = 160 mm of mercury.

As one ascends through the atmosphere, barometric pressure decreases (though the air still contains 21% oxygen), so oxygen pressure goes down in the same proportion as the atmospheric pressure.

Atmospheric pressure and oxygen proportion

Sea Level     760 mm x 21% = 160 mm of mercury 100%
Mont Blanc´s Summit (4,850 m)     405 mm x 21% = 85 mm of mercury 53%
Aconcagua´s summit (6,962m)     290 mm x 21% = 60 mm of mercury 37%
Everest´s summit (8,848m)     230 mm x 21% = 48 mm of mercury 30%

 

Pressure is the only force, which pushes oxygen from the air to the cells in our body. Low pressure at high altitude causes many problems for climbers

One must work harder to obtain oxygen, by breathing faster and more profound.

Acclimatization

It’s the process of the body adjusting to the decreased availability of oxygen at high altitudes. It is a slow process, taking place over a period of days to weeks, depending on your own physiology and circumstances.

Practically speaking; however, we generally don’t worry much about elevations below about 2,500m (8,000ft) since altitude illness rarely occurs lower than this.

No single factor such as age, sex or fitness will affect your likelihood of being affected.

Specific regular physiologic changes occur in every person who goes to altitude:

  • Hyperventilation (breathing faster, more in-depth, or both)
  • Shortness of breath during exertion
  • Changed-breathing pattern at night
  • Awakening frequently at night
  • Increased urination

Remember this it’s not about your physical shape, it’s about physiology, but a good fitness helps as a good use of your daily energy level according to age and conditions are critical.

It’s about how your body adapts not only to altitude but as well to a set of different conditions such as dry mountain air, daily outdoor exercise routine, variable temperature regime, windy conditions and so on.

The physiology of how humans do adapt to altitude is quite known but the reasons why similar people do react so differently, or the same person react not always the same at different times, places, circumstances still cause of debate and uncertainty.

So, how do you find out if you could do it or not?

The only reasonable, sound answer its begin in lower mountains / shorter expeditions, as a process to know how your body is reacting to altitude.

So, if you do a lower peak, shorter adventure and you feel ok, you may continue with more important objectives.

Aconcagua is a massive mountain; we suggest you get some previous experience on altitude climbs as Ecuador volcanoes, Kilimanjaro or others.

Altitude Sickness

Also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is a pathological effect of high altitude on humans, caused by acute exposure to low partial pressure of oxygen at high altitude.

It presents as a collection of nonspecific symptoms, acquired at high altitude or in low air pressure. Many people will experience mild AMS during the acclimatization process.

Symptoms tend to be worse at night when your breathing rate decreases. As long as symptoms are mild and only a nuisance your ascent can continue at a moderate rate. It is essential that you communicate any signs of illness to the guide of your trip.

AMS can be divided into three categories, MILD, MODERATE & SEVERE.

The following table shows a score that can be assigned to each of the symptoms to detect AMS and determinate its category.

 

Symptoms Points
Mild Headache     1
Insomnia 1
Nausea or loss of appetite     1
Dizziness    1
A persistent headache (after painkillers) 2
Vomiting   2
Dyspnea at rest (shortness of breath) 3
Unusual fatigue 3
Oliguria (diminished formation of urine) 3

  

Score Category Treatment
1 to 3 Mild AMS Painkillers, diuretics
4 to 6 Moderate AMS Painkillers, diuretics, stop the ascent
Over 6 Severe AMS Severe AMS Emergency descent

 

Severe AMS: Is characterized by the presence of high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE), which are potentially fatal.

These should not occur if a sensible acclimatization schedule has been adhered to and usually happens due to people going too high too fast. In both cases, the lack of oxygen results in leakage of fluid through the capillary walls into either the lungs or the brain.

The most essential and unbreakable rule is: IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OF AMS, DO NOT ASCEND ANY HIGHER. Violating this simple rule has resulted in many tragic deaths.

If you ascend with AMS, you will get worse, and you might die. This is extremely important – even a day hike to a higher elevation is a high risk. In many cases of High Altitude Cerebral Edema, this rule was violated. Stay at the same altitude (or descend) until your symptoms completely go away. Once your symptoms are completely gone, you have acclimatized, and then it is ok to continue ascending. It is always ok to descend; you will get better faster.

Altitude Sickness Prevention

First always follow the acclimatization Rules:

  1. Climb High – Sleep Low: Always follow a sawing strategy going up during the day, but coming lower to sleep.
  2. Hydrated, Hydrated, Hydrated: Keep drinking. You lose a lot of humidity just by breathing the mountain’s dry air.
  3. Be honest with yourself: If you are not feeling well, rest, go down, try later.
  4. Keep an eye on yourself: Don’t dismiss those new symptoms as something you should not pay attention. Talk to your guide.

Things to Avoid

Respiratory depression (the slowing down of breathing) can be caused by various medications, and maybe a problem at altitude. The following drugs can do this, and should never be used by someone who has symptoms of altitude illness (these may be safe in persons who are not ill, although this remains controversial):

  • Alcohol and caffeine as they also tend to cause dehydration and exacerbates AMS.
  • Sleeping pills (acetazolamide is the sleeping tablet of choice at altitude)
  • Narcotic pain medications in more than modest doses

AMS Treatment and Medication

The mainstay of treatment of AMS is rest, fluids, and mild analgesics: acetaminophen (paracetamol), aspirin, or ibuprofen. These medications will not cover up worsening symptoms. The natural progression for AMS is to get better, and often merely resting at the altitude at which you became ill is adequate treatment. Improvement usually occurs in one or two days but may take as long as three or four days.

Descent is also an option, and recovery will be quite rapid.

A frequent question is how to tell if a headache is due to altitude. Altitude headaches are usually nasty, persistent, and frequently there are other symptoms of AMS; they tend to be frontal (but maybe anywhere) and may worsen with bending over. However, there are other causes of headaches, and you can try a simple diagnostic/therapeutic test. Dehydration is a common cause of a headache at altitude.

Drink one liter of fluid and take some acetaminophen or one of the other analgesics listed above. If a headache resolves quickly and entirely (and you have no other symptoms of AMS), it is improbable to have been due to AMS.

Acetazolamide (Diamox®)

We do not recommend acetazolamide as a prophylactic medication. Most people who have a reasonable ascent schedule will not need it. Since acetazolamide works by forcing a bicarbonate diuresis, you will urinate more on this medication and in addition to you may experience some common minor but unpleasant side effects include numbness, tingling, or vibrating sensations in hands, feet, and lips. Also, taste alterations, and ringing in the ears. These go away when the medicine is stopped. A few trekkers have had extreme visual blurring after taking only one or two doses of acetazolamide; fortunately, they recovered their normal vision in several days once the medicine was discontinued.

Acetazolamide is a sulfonamide medication, and persons allergic to sulfa medicines should not take it.

Also, acetazolamide will NOT prevent AMS from worsening during ascent, acetazolamide just accelerated the normal process of the body adjusting to the decreased availability of oxygen, but if your body is not reacting, then it’s nothing Acetazolamide could do about it.

So, if for whatever the reason you hit a wall due to the lack of O2, the only proved good strategy goes down and sometimes you need that little extra that a dose of acetazolamide gives you, to be able to walk down that 100-200m that will make all the difference.

Dexamethasone (Decadron®)

A potent steroid used to treat brain edema. Whereas acetazolamide treats the problem (by accelerating acclimatization), dexamethasone treats the symptoms (the distress caused by hypoxia). Dexamethasone can completely remove the symptoms of AMS in a few hours, but it does not help you acclimatize. If you use dexamethasone to treat AMS, you should not go higher until the next day, to be sure the medication has worn off and is not hiding a lack of acclimatization.

Side effects include euphoria in some people, trouble sleeping, and an increased blood sugar level in diabetics.

Oxygen

AMS symptoms resolve very rapidly (minutes) on moderate-flow oxygen (2-4 liters per minute, by nasal cannula). There may be rebound symptoms if the duration of therapy is inadequate – several hours of treatment may be needed. In most high-altitude environments, oxygen is a precious commodity, and as such is usually reserved for more severe cases of HACE and HAPE.

Important rules about altitude

Plan your expedition itinerary very carefully; aiming to give all the expedition members, the maximum chances to acclimatize naturally and safely.

Part of the strategy is based on basic rules, such as:

  • Gain altitude very slowly, moving gradually to higher camps.
  • Plan for moderate exercise at higher altitude every day and keep a lower base camp for the night: “climb high / sleep low.”
  • Keep a slow pace during the acclimatization hikes and climbs.
  • Drink water and different kinds of warm and cold beverages at all times of the day, to ensure hydration.

Nevertheless, acclimatization to the altitude is a personal feature that partially depends on physiology and much depends on you. Here some tips that will make the difference when climbing a 6,000 meters peak in the Andes:

  • Take care of your mind and body before the expedition: Avoid as much as possible the pre-expedition stress.
  • Protect your respiratory tract of the dry air and the possible infections in the airplane. A silk scarf while sleeping would be of great help.
  • Keep yourself hydrated, eat light.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks, drugs/medicines, and smoke.
  • Avoid polluted and noisy cities.
  • Put the rest of your life on hold and focus on your upcoming adventure.
  • Take care of your body and mind along the expedition.
  • Move slowly, always. While setting up your tent, while packing and unpacking, while eating and hiking or climbing.
  • Hydrated, Hydrated, Hydrated.
  • Keep drinking. You lose a lot of humidity just by breathing the mountain’s dry air.
  • Be honest with yourself.
  • If you are not feeling well, rest, go down, try later. Talk to your guide.
  • Keep an eye on yourself.
  • Don’t dismiss any symptoms as something you should not pay attention. Talk to your guide.
  • Eat light, small portions; avoid meat or other sources of protein for dinner.
  • While walking, keep a pace that enables you to breathe almost normally, with your mouth closed.
  • While sleeping, keep your head slightly higher than the rest of the body, using a soft and comfortable pillow.
  • During the night, keep your head out of the sleeping bag, to ensure you are getting enough air.
  • During the night stay partially open the tent’s windows and doors. You want enough air to come in.
  • Make sure you keep your body warm enough at all times. Wear the down jacket as much as you want!
  • Talk to your guide and listen to what he has to say. All our staff has climbed high mountains for most of their lives. They will have tons of useful recommendations to give you.

Additional website resources recommended

ACONCAGUA – 22,841’ | 6,962m

WEATHER IN ACONCAGUA

The weather might be one of the main obstacles for climbers in Aconcagua.

The summit largely depends on weather conditions a factor that is beyond their will.

Weather conditions in the Andes are prone to change. Nowhere are these seen more dramatically than on Aconcagua.

The approach to basecamps is often hot and exposed. Daytime temperatures can exceed 25 degrees C.

At altitude camps during the night, low temperatures (-20 to -30 degrees C or lower) increase the risk of both hypothermia and cold injury. The presence of any wind will make it feel much colder. When the weather is terrible on Aconcagua very little can protect you! Attempting to the summit in adverse conditions can have life-threatening consequences.

ACONCAGUA – 22,841’ | 6,962m

MEDICAL SUPPORT

During your climb, you will have to undergo two medical checks by the doctor service of the park. These take place at Confluencia and Plaza de Mulas and must be completed before you are allowed to proceed.

Arterial oxygen saturation, heart rate, and blood pressure measurements will be taken. Also, you will also be asked questions about long-term medical problems, as well as any altitude related symptoms that you may be suffering from at that time.

For those with a history of high blood pressure, it is essential to have a plan formulated in case your reading is high. This may involve increasing the dose of your current medication or adding an additional drug to your regular regime. Speak to your doctor about this before you leave home.

Bring a spare set of medication with you in case of loss or damage.

ACONCAGUA – 22,841’ | 6,962m

EVACUATIONS & INSURANCE

A client could need an evacuation for any reason.

Also, the park`s medical service has the authority to evacuate out of the park any person whom they evaluate with a risk health condition.

In that case, the park authorities will organize a quick helicopter evacuation if weather conditions are suitable for flying.

The helicopter is based at Horcones Station and can ascend as high as Camp 2 (5,560m); however, weight at this altitude is a real concern and only the pilot, and one passenger can be transported at any one time.

If necessary, the medical staff will arrange an ambulance from Horcones Station to either a local clinic or hospitals in Mendoza.

Some years ago, these costs were included in the climbing permit. But not more, now all these costs must be pay by the client.

Due to this we strongly recommend that you enroll in an insurance company before the departure date. The cost of the helicopter from basecamps to Horcones could reach 2,000 dollars.

Globalrescue.com is one of the most used in the Park.

In the case of minor illnesses or injuries, mules are often used to ferry individuals to Horcones Station. Above Camp 2, any evacuation relies upon the efforts of the climbers, guides, porters and park authorities.

ACONCAGUA – 22,841’ | 6,962m

VISA / PASSPORT

Please check the legal Visa requirements for Argentina.

Visit this website to know more about your needs: www.Argentina.visahq.com

ACONCAGUA – 22,841’ | 6,962m

FOOD & WATER

High altitude nutrition

The strength of a climber is derived from healthy nutrition, and the recommended source of calories comes from sugars, lipids (of animal and vegetable origin) and proteins.

Carbohydrates provide your body with glucose which functions as your body’s fuel, being extracted once the carbohydrates have been broken down. Glucose joins the bloodstream and provides your body with the energy it needs and can also be stored in your muscle tissues and in your liver. Glucose is vitally important as it maintains the body’s endurance and if the body runs out, you will start feeling fatigue. Your muscles could not continue to perform at their optimal level. Since mountaineering consumes a lot of energy, it is advised to load your body with lots of carbohydrates.

Studies have shown that mountaineers tend to be fussier above 3,000m so nutritional value is not the only consideration at altitude. You may not feel like eating a nutritious meal at 4,500m, but it is essential to continue to eat well to keep your body sustained.  

Higher altitudes actually trigger anorexia and loss of appetite. Not only that, the body will go through an overall change in metabolism. Your body may not be able to digest some of the food you eat when you’re at home. These are the reasons why mountaineering contributes to weight loss, on top of the fact that a climber should expect to burn more calories at elevated locations. With about 70% of your mountain diet made up of carbohydrates, the rest should be reserved for fat and protein. Fatty foods require much more oxygen to digest, thus if you overeat high-fat meal, it could slow down your acclimatization.

Remember:

  • Clean hands thoroughly before eating
  • Do not eat any exterior surfaces of tomatoes or fruit
  • Avoid any vegetables that haven’t been boiled

What we provide

We guarantee excellent meal service. Our food is easy to digest, tasty and varied.

Our expeditions to Aconcagua include a well-planned menu, with carbohydrates required, calculating calories per day and a reasonable level of taste and variety.

We know that a good meal helps for better acclimatization and increases the chances to reach the summit. A comfortable ambiance also favors a good rest, so all of our meals at basecamps are served in dining domes with tables and chairs, dishes, electric lights and wooden floors.

At high altitude camps, the guides prepare different meals. This includes local market shopping before each expedition, pre-planned meals, and dining as a group.

Breakfast Usually we have oatmeal, cold cereal with milk, coffee, eggs depending on the day, toast with butter and marmalade. To supplement we have canned fruit, breakfast bars.

For the hiking days to basecamp, we will have picnic lunches comprised of sandwiches (meat, cheese & vegetables) and snacks (candy bars, granola bars), and cookies.

For days climbing to our high camps, we eat at breaks rather than taking a formal lunch. We will provide crackers, cheese, and salami, and some dried fruits/nuts. On rest days at camp, we have a more formal lunch consisting of hot meals such as pasta, rice, or soup.

Dinner: Soup such as chicken or vegetable. The main course usually consists of pasta or rice, sometimes a meat dish.

Dessert: Cookies and candy bars for dessert

What You Need to Bring

We will provide lunches during the trek to Aconcagua base camp and to the summit.

Anyway, you can bring your own, energy bars and gels, Granola bars (20 each).

Vegetarians, Celiac or Special Diets

If you have a special request in your diet because you are vegetarian, celiac, or you suffer from allergies or some other disorder, please do not forget to inform us.

In this way, we will take it into account to provide you with a menu according to your needs during the expedition.

Hydration – Keep Drinking

The key to success at altitude is to hydrate regularly.

Mountaineers know that hydration becomes an even more important aspect than food.

We recommend that you drink a minimum 3 and preferably up to 5 liters of different liquids a day.

Dehydration exacerbates symptoms of altitude sickness and diminishes appetite further, so if you feel the start of a headache, try warding it off with a carb-loaded drink (aim for 3-4 liters a day, containing 100-250g carbs in addition to your food calories. In fact, you’ll notice in the recommendations below that juice mixes, cocoa, tea, lemonade, isotonic drinks and soups all involve plenty of water and carbs; the more per meal, the better.

Always add concentrated juice or rehydration salts to the mountain water, as contains few minerals for your repositioning.

During the walks, you must take your bottle of water or a hydration system in your backpack. Please, remember to check if you have enough water in your pack before starting every trekking.

From the day that you enter the mountain, water will be provided by our guides or by our staff in the basecamps. They collect water from small mountain streams.

The rivers crossing on the road do not carry drinking water due to the high drag of sediments.

In the height camps, our guides will melt snow to fill your water bottles.

You can add purification tablets to your water if you feel uncomfortable drinking the provided water.

What You Need to Bring

Electrolyte replacement cold drink mix. 20 units minimum.

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