Aconcagua Climb Frequently Asked Questions
This information should answer many of your initial questions and also guide you through the next stages of preparing for the expedition. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us: email@example.com
Why Choose IMG
Why Should I Choose IMG for my Aconcagua Expedition?
Climbing Aconcagua is serious business. We are very proud of the way we conduct ourselves and feel that we provide the best package available. We encourage you to contact us personally to discuss the details of our program. We know we are not the cheapest deal around, and we don't want to be. We spend more providing the best personnel, equipment, logistics and risk mitigation things that many lower-cost programs cannot afford and do not have. We feel we provide the best value on the mountain, without question. We invite you to shop around and compare the quality of service with the price. There is a difference between our expeditions and the expeditions of our competitors and an enormous difference between us and local outfitters. Please consider the following:
- IMG is the longest continuous guide service on Aconcagua.
- Most Experienced Guides. The IMG guides are chosen for their experience, and they are often the same guides leading our Himalayan, Vinson, Alaskan, and Rainier programs. Joining these guides on Aconcagua will allow you to continue a relationship that you have built with them on other programs, or to start building a rapport with guides prior to a Himalayan climb, Vinson expedition, or one of our many other expeditions. Our Local Guides are also incredible, each guide having more than 25 ascents of Aconcagua alone, not to mention they have guided and climbed in other countries around the world.
- Safety and Success: Our goals are to minimize risk while helping as many team members as possible reach their goal. We value our reputation as the premier international climbing company and we only put programs in place that measure up to our own highest standards. Our goal has always been to send our clients away with fond memories of an arduous but enjoyable expedition. The pursuit of these goals has allowed us an impeccable safety record and a success rate that is well above the average of other guided and non-guided mountain groups.
- IMG offers the most personalized service. We pride ourselves on the quality of expedition that we run; we feel it's the best out there, and it's an excellent value. Other guide services boast about running 20 expeditions a year or churning 100+ clients through their program a season, with a factory type approach to guiding. That is not our style. Our focus is on personalized, professional service.
- IMG will report the progress of your expedition through our blog. Friends and family can follow along with the progress of your team.
- IMG guides are medically trained. We require at least a Wilderness First Responder certification (80hr intensive course) of our lead guides. Many of them have higher wilderness medicine certifications as do a lot of our assistant guides.
- We use the best mule and transportation support possible and have had a relationship with our Mule company for more than three decades. In fact, we were one of their first clients in the 80's. We only hire the best outfitters on the mountain to assure us a great expedition.
- IMG complies with all local, state federal and international regulations for the countries in which we climb. This includes climbing permits, full insurance and equipment for employees, and complete adherence to all environmental regulations. Our great safety record allows us to operate with full liability insurance. All client funds are deposited into a regulated trust account.
Who will be guiding the climb?
The IMG guides are chosen for their experience, and they are often the same guides leading our Himalayan, Vinson, Alaskan, and Rainier programs. Joining these guides on Aconcagua will allow you to continue a relationship that you have built with them on other programs, or to start building a rapport with guides prior to a Himalayan climb, Vinson expedition, or one of our many other expeditions. Our Local Guides are also incredible, each guide having more than 25 ascents of Aconcagua alone, not to mention they have guided and climbed in other countries around the world.
Training & Skills
How should I train for Aconcagua?
You cannot over train for high altitude climbing. Concentrate on your heart, legs and lungs. If you are in a position to do any hiking or climbing at higher elevations, do so. An aerobic program of running hills, stair climbing, bicycling, etc. plus a conditioning program for quad, glute, and calf muscles is necessary. You will be better prepared, increase your chances of success and enjoy the trip more if you are properly prepared. Summit day on Aconcagua is just as if not more demanding physically than the summit day on Denali.
What skills do I need?
Prior knowledge of ice axe arrest, cramponing and rope team travel is required. Past experience with cold weather camping, multi-day expeditions and some altitude experience is also quite helpful. This climb is not overly difficult technically but does require excellent physical conditioning and the ability to carry a heavy mountaineering pack.
What is the route like?
For the 2023-24 season, we will be offering scheduled climbs via the False Polish Guanacos Variation Route and also the Horcones Valley Normal Route. The False Polish Route team will climb from one side of the mountain to High Camp and the summit, and then descend the Normal Route. The Normal Route team will ascend and descend from the same side of the mountain. Plan to arrive no later than Day 1 for gear checks and review of the details for the expedition. We spend two days in Mendoza making final preparations and doing our mandatory National Park check in where we will obtain our permits. Our expedition gets underway with a drive to the Park Entrance where we will repack loads for the mules. The rate of ascent will be dictated by the weather, the strength of the group, and our rate of acclimatization. All climbing decisions will be made by the guides, with the best interest of the group in mind. A good weather expedition might take 18 days on the mountain. Average time is 20 days, and 22-23 days is not unusual.
Travel and Insurance
Do I need a passport?
A valid passport with at least 6 months of validity is required. A "well-traveled" passport should have extra blank pages available for visa stamps. We suggest that you make a copy of your passport and keep it with you during your travels.
Is a visa required?
Currently no visa is required to enter Argentina for visits less than 90 days. Familiarize yourself with Travel Advisories and entry requirements available on the U.S. State Department website.
How do I get there?
Plan to arrive on Day 1 of your published itinerary. Our suggestion (this is how we send the guides) is to book via Santiago, Chile and then a quick flight over to Mendoza, Argentina. Please provide your complete flight itinerary to us so we can book your hotel reservation and do keep us informed of any changes to your itinerary.
What kind of insurance do I need?
Travel Insurance is required, minimum evacuation and medical expense coverage. Trip cancellation/interruption coverage is strongly suggested due to our no-refund policy.
How should I pack?
Most of us will pack our gear in two duffle bags. Put your climbing pack in one of these bags. Most airlines limit checked luggage to two pieces each weighing no more than 50 lbs, depending on the airline. Use zip ties or TSA-approved locks to close the zipper tabs on your bags to prevent any pilfering. In addition to these two bags, it's nice to use a small backpack as your carry-on. Try to pick a carry-on that can also be used as your day pack for the 3-day trek into basecamp and the trek out at the end of the trip. Mules will carry all of our equipment to basecamp, so this backpack should be large enough to carry items similar to what you would bring for a day hike.
Although we will be wearing mountain clothing for the bulk of the expedition, bring along some casual clothing and nicer attire for meals out in Mendoza. Mendoza can be VERY warm so plan accordingly for the time spent there before and after our climb. Our accommodations in Mendoza have a pool, so don't forget a swimsuit and flip-flops.
Gear, Food, and Other Questions
What kind of gear do I need?
The Aconcagua Equipment List is for your guidance. Most items are required, a few are optional. Please consider each item carefully and be sure you understand what its function is before you make any substitutions. Keep in mind that this list has been carefully compiled after years of Aconcagua experience. If you have questions, please call.
What will the food be like?
Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided to climbers while on the mountain. While climbing above basecamp, IMG will provide breakfast and dinners and we ask each team member to bring his/her own snack food for in between these meals. The common phrase in the mountains is, "lunch starts after breakfast, and finishes right before dinner." These snacks will be used during the hours on the trail and summit day. You should plan on bringing 8-10 days worth of snacks at about one pound per day. Hot drinks will be offered during group breakfasts and dinners which will include cocoa, tea, cider, coffee etc. Starbucks Via packets have become very popular in the mountains and if you're a big coffee drinker make sure to throw a few in.
How much money should I bring?
Cash should be carried in the form of U.S. dollars. Well-known credit cards are also accepted at better business establishments throughout the world. You will need cash for your Aconcagua National Park Climbing Permit in the amount of ~$900. You will need crisp new US $100 bills to pay for your permit. In addition to cash for your permit, we suggest bringing additional spending money in the amount of $1,200 ($300 of this should be designated to the tip pool). This should be enough for the trip and it is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. You can always bring cash home with you if it does not get used.
What is the weather like on Aconcagua?
Aconcagua is a mountain of extremes. Historically, the best weather windows for an ascent of Aconcagua are December through February. Extremely hot weather can be expected on the approach, in the arid high-desert climate of the Horcones Valley. As the group ascends higher on the mountain, very cold and windy weather should be expected. Chill factors high on the mountain can be as cold as those encountered on Denali. Our required equipment list reflects these extremes which will allow the team to show up prepared and ready for all conditions.
What medications will I need?
Please consult with your physician regarding the required medications in the gear list. It is always nice to have a physician in the group, but we cannot guarantee one's presence. Oxygen will not be available at any time during the expedition. Each team member must bring their own personal first aid kit containing frequently used items (see equipment list) and we will supply a group first aid kit. Each member should also bring a small bottle of iodine crystals or tablets for water purification. Steri-pens can be useful for the trek into basecamp but are not worth the extra weight higher on the mountain and should be left at basecamp.
What immunizations will I need?
Please review the recommendations of the CDC for travelers to Argentina:
In particular we recommend that you update your routine vaccinations, and get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B. IMG requires all team members to have a Covid vaccination.
What's included in the expedition fee?
Costs Included in Trip Fee:
- IMG Leadership & local guides
- Group climbing equipment
- Double occupancy in hotels (2 total nights at Hyatt or similar in Mendoza, 1 night in hotel near trailhead)
- Shared accommodations in tents while climbing
- Group transportation to/from trailhead
- Mule support for Plaza De Mulas/ Plaza Argentina approach and final exit day
- Group porter to carry down group garbage and human waste.
- Meals while climbing except for snack items.
- IMG Buff
Costs Not Included in Trip Fee:
- International airfare/tax/baggage fee
- Transportation to/from airport
- Aconcagua climbing permit (estimated to be $900 USD, paid in Argentina)
- Hotel accommodations after the climb and early arrivals
- Single Supplement accommodations in hotel
- Snacks while climbing; meals while not climbing
- Alcoholic beverages and personal sundries
- Personal gear/climbing equipment
- Travel Insurance; evacuation, hospital, or medical costs
- Individual/personal porter support (contact us for information)
- Covid tests (if required for travel); any Covid-related expense resulting in delays or quarantine
- Optional but customary guide gratuities
- Tip pool for local guides and support staff: $300 USD per person