In the National Park of Aconcagua there are some good acclimatization peaks which are used as a warm-up for the main target - Aconcagua.
On the east side Ameghino, Rico and Ibañez are the best options before attempting the "Polish Side".
On the western side where you find The Normal Route of Aconcagua you find Bonete. The peak, possibly together with Manso, is the most common acclimatization target on this side of the "Big One".
The altitude gain of 650 meters from Plaza de Mulas is perfect for getting ready for higher goals. You reach the peak by walking easy and well-travelled paths from Aconcagua's Base Camp and the peak can easily be summited in a leasurly manner in a day.
The views from Bonete's summit is great in all directions. To the west you look down into the Cuevas Valley and you get a good overview idea of how the normal route on Aconcagua looks like.
Some hikers have described the scree slopes on Bonete as a bit scary and the summit ridge airy and exposed. For any "normal" climber who has Aconcagua in mind, there should be no problems whatsoever and if you only look at gradient and the difficulty of the slopes - Bonete is slightly harder than its 2000m higher neighbor.
See Bonete as a little test.
When you feel fine on its summit, you're ready to move upwards on Aconcagua.
It got its first ascent in 1950.
The peak has sometimes been mixed up with Bonete Chico, the much higher peak on the Puna and the obscure Bonete Grande, also located hundreds of km north of Bonete.
The peak is easy to recognize. Looking past Restaurant 4372 from Plaza de Mulas you see a ridge with sharp tooth of a summit in the end of the valley - Bonete.
To the area
There are two main entry points to the area: Santiago de Chile-Chile and Buenos Aries-Argentina.
Regardless of which of these you choose, you have to go to Mendoza (Argentina) and apply for a permit for Aconcagua National Park where Bonete is situated. A majority of visitors are joining commercial expeditions and if that is your choice, all the travel to the peak will be taken care of.
If you want to take care of the travel arrangements by yourself, here are some alternatives.
If you're on a commercial expedition with a set program, Bonete may not be included in the plan.
To the peak - in civilization
1). Buy all you need for the expedition in Mendoza and pay the permit fee. (See below for details).
2). Go to the main bus station in Mendoza and buy a ticket to Potrerillos if you want to acclimatize in the Cordon del Plata area. See map for an overview.
3). Regardless if you go to Cordon del Plata first, Uspallata is a good place to stay if you want to break up the journey in two parts or rest a bit after your acclimatization trip.
4). Continue by bus to Puente del Inca, from where you start walking towards the peak.
To the peak - the walk in
Walk from Puente del Inca to Horcones, the park gate. This stretch is 4 km and is on very broad walking paths. Most people has transport arranged for this quite boring stretch. Register at the park gate.
An easy walk in a sometimes quite narrow canyon takes you to Confluencia. Walking times varies a lot, but count on anything from two to five hours, depending on how much you carry and how well acclimatized you’re. Confluencia is a good place to spend the night and you have to register at the ranger’s hut here.
The water in Confluencia has a high content of magnesium and minor stomach upsets are common.
The next step of the walk is to Plaza de Mulas, which is a five to ten hours walk away. Down into a river valley to start with. Be sure you walk to the left when you see the river, otherwise you may end up in Plaza Francia, the base camp at Aconcagua’s south face. There's a primitive bridge over the river. After the steep uphill from the river valley, you’ll walk in a wide valley for a couple of hours. Water is accessible most of the way, but it’s smart to fill up when you have the chance. This water can be full of sand and sediment. There are nice views of Piramidal and De Los Dedos on the way.
The last part up to Plaza de Mulas is steeper and you better watch out for arrogant mulateros on their mulas the sometimes narrow paths. Check in at the gate and find yourself a camp spot. On your left, in the end of the valley you'll see Bonete.
A permit for entering the Aconcagua National Park is necessary. The only place to obtain it is in Mendoza. The Permit office is located on one of Mendoza's main streets; San Martin. Ask for: Subsecretaria De Turismo or San Martín 1143. The permit office is not in the park anymore!
The prices for the 2005/2006 season were:
HIGH SEASON:From 15th December of year 2005 to 31st January 2006, a permit costs
• Climbing USD$ 330 20 days
• Long Trekking USD$ 50 7 days
• Short Trekking USD$ 30 3 days
MEDIUM SEASON: From December 1st to December 14th, 2005, and from February 1st to February 20th, 2006 a permit costs:
• Climbing USD$ 220 20 days
• Long Trekking USD$ 40 7 days
• Short Trekking USD$ 20 3 days
LOW SEASON: From November 15th to November 30th and from February 21st to March 15th of each year: 2005 - 2006
• Climbing USD$ 110 20 days
• Long Trekking USD$ 30 7 days
• Short Trekking USD$ 20 3 days
Note that the prices above are for foreigners. Argentinean citizens pay half of what’s stated above.
Validity of the climbing permits is 20 days from the day of entry to the park.
The permit has to be paid in cash over the counter in the permit office and is ready in ten minutes. A thing to think about is to have the whole amount of cash in one currency. I showed up with about 60% in Pesos and the rest in USD. It did not work and I had to rush off and change. There are money exchange bureaus nearby. Casa de Cambio, in Spanish.
The following is to be found on the back of your climbing permit:
You will have to pay a U$S 100 fine if you:
* Do not use the baths provided by the park.
* Throw garbage along the park, leave or do not use the numbered plastic bags provided by the park.
* Pollute rivers, streams or waterfalls.
* Enter either with bicycles or pets.
* Damage wildlife, plants and natural, cultural or archeological features which are protected by the park regulations.
You will have to pay a U$S 200 fine if you:
* Throw garbage, forget or loose the numbered bags in the high camps or during your expedition.
* Gather or burn wood in the park.
* Carve insriptions in the stones.
You will have to pay the equivalent of a 2nd permit or an ascent permit if you:
* Go beyond the limits of the length if the stay allowed in the permit or go higher than 4300 mts with short trekking (3 days), long trekking (7 days).
* Maximum stay is 20 days with ascent permit.
* Horcones ranger station open daily from 8 A.M. - 6 P.M.
* For your safety always check out.