Aconcagua Fun FactsThis is my first trip report. Given that all the basics have already been covered, Im going to report on the random stuff. I hiked the normal route from Horcones. I used a private guide (former porter) that was not affiliated with an agency, who was referred by a Bolivian company Ive used for years. The bridge at the beginning was built for Brad Pitt when filming 7 Years in Tibet, pretty cool. I brought a water filter because the water in Confuencia and Plaza de Mulas (PDM) is crap, even when boiled! I always thought that water was pure if you boiled it, but not the case. There are minerals in the water that remain even after boiling that gave everyone in my camp the runs. We filtered it and that helped a lot. My guide told me that it is pretty common for people to get sick even from drinking boiled water! craziness. I bought Cokes in Horcones and PDM and that helped a lot. There are bathrooms in Horcones and PDM, but after that, you're hiking it all out. From PDM, you have to carry your own stuff. However, there are porters that will carry your gear. The rules and prices are universal between the agencies. Maximum, 20kg for your bag. $250 from PDM to the next camp up, Canada. $175 from Canada to the next camp, Nido de Condor. $125 from Nido to the final camp, Berlin/Colera, and $250 to take the bag back down from Berlin/Colera to PDM. All in, about $800ish. They use their bag to carry the stuff, which sucks, because you have to carry your bag empty. They will trade gear, but the "exchange rate" is not good. A gortext jacket = $250. Down jacket = $200, etc. etc. BRING DOLLARS!!!! They only want dollars and will give you 13:1 (as of feb of 2015) which is amazing considering the bank rate is 8.5:1.
On summit day, leave your bag in La Cueva and just take a water bottle and some snacks in your pocket. Be careful coming down!!! There were a lot of people that required assistance because of fatigue and altitude and were stumbling like drunkards. There is internet in PDM! but its expensive. $15 for 30 min or so.