It is wise to fly in two or three days before the beginning of your expedition to allow yourself to rest before climbing and take in the beauties of the city of Mendoza. Climbers who rested prior to their expedition have a better chance of making it to Aconcagua’s summit. The Polish Glacier route is technical, so it is highly recommended that you do not acquire equipment in Mendoza – rental is out. This is because you should be familiar with your equipment and comfortable in your boots and know what works for you. Sure, some odds and ends can be obtained here, but the more important items should not. The guides will deal with paperwork, tell you of logistics and safety and check your equipment. For a full Aconcagua gear list click here
You pick up a permit in person – currently, they cannot be obtained by post, but one day it is hoped that it will be possible to do the deed online. Then you are driven to the Penitentes, which takes around three hours, with incredible views along the way. This is the heart of the Andes. After arriving, you prepare the loads that will be transported by mule. The maximum is 66lbs per bag.
You depart Penitentes at 08:30 and are driven to the trail head at Vacas Valley. There follows a seven-mile hike to Pampa de Lenas, 8,858 feet up. Dinner is usually an asado – a barbecue.
You head north along the Rio de las Vacas to Casa de Piedra, 10,662 feet high. This will take five or six hours. If the weather allows, you can see Aconcagua from here.
Today, after six hours of strenuous hiking, you reach Base Camp at Plaza Argentina, 13,780 feet high, which sits at the base of the Relinchos Glacier.
This day is devoted to rest, although you could partake of a short hike.
You deposit supplies and your gear at Camp I (15,400 feet) before returning to Plaza Argentina for dinner and sleep. Around four-and-a-half hours are spent hiking.
This is another rest day.
You return to Camp I.
Your gear and supplies are brought to Camp II (19,300 feet), then it is back to Camp I.
Another rest day.
You come once more to Camp II.
If conditions are none too icy, the senior guide will test trekkers for readiness: fitness, the ability to self-arrest and climb at speed across snow and ice and knowledge of the running belay system, anchors and how to perform a basic crevasse rescue. Those who fall short will be taking the Normal Route
. If you make the grade, you climb to Camp III.
Summit day begins before dawn. There will be 12 to 14 hours of activity. There is a steep elevation gain amidst snow and ice. After negotiating a 55 to 60 degree narrow gully where the entire glacier lies at your feet, you reach the Summit ridge. The final ridge is most lengthy and gentle and utterly awesome. From there, you have a 360 degree view and can gaze directly down Aconcagua’s South Face, which is regarded as one of the best in the world. You then descend to Camp II to slumber. Extra days are allowed for in case of bad weather.
You traverse and descend to Plaza de Mulas (14,009 feet), which takes five or six hours. A porter will be available.
A good breakfast inside you, you descend the Horcones Valley for eight to 10 hours, with gear carried by mule. A van will take you to Usapallata for sleep and dinner.
A two-hour drive moves you to Mendoza. A celebratory dinner will take place at the restaurant, Don Marios.