How much does it cost to climb Aconcagua? How much time do you need to climb? It depends on a whole bunch of factors.
Although I'm very happy with how I climbed, while on the mountain I learned a lot that that didn't explicitely appear, or maybe wasn't simply stated, in all the research that I did beforehand. Therefore, I'm going to share information about different services that you have available to you, so that you can customize your Aconcagua climb to your budget, time constraints, and physical capabilities.
In this article I'll highlight the 3 ways you can climb 1) with a guide 2) all by yourself and 3) combination, without a guide but with other services (mules, food, porters).
About 3000 people a year attempt the summit, with only a 30-35% success rate. Why? Underestimating Aconcagua's challenges, since it is a non-technical climb. The best way to get to the summit is by being realistic on your own personal style and limitations.
Some significant challenges of Aconcagua are:
All these factors combined, this non tecnical route provides an important physical and mental challenge! That said, here's some information on services, some of which you can plan ahead of time, and others you can keep as "handy info" if you're route takes an unexpected turn and more help is needed.
Obviously the safest bet and best scenario for getting to the summit. Here's some of my Aconcagua Guide Recommendations
Sending your equipment straight to Base Camp, round trip, costs around $500/$600USD total (2018 prices). You can send 60kgs per mule. This is a great service to consider because the route into Base Camp is around 33km / 20miles and it's not worth tiring your body on the way in. Additionally, using this service adds in many other benefits such as paying a lower ascent permit fee, as well as being able to store your equipment in Base Camp while you're in high camps and using the portapotty bathrooms of your respective mule company agency.
If you choose this option, you still can stop at Confluencia the first night, and therefore head to Plaza Francia to see Aconcagua's beautiful southern face on your second day. If you do this, then you need to
In Confluencia and Base Camp (Plaza de Mulas) you can have full meal plans or buy one off meals as long as you advise ahead of time. This could save signifiant backpack weight in terms of food, as well as give you more variety/quality in food options. You can buy food at any of the agency tents, as well as a "restaurant" or two that are in Base Camp. I didn't use food services during, but on my last night I gave myself a "summit gift" and had a pizza at Geo-Trek which was literally, kind of like heaven on earth. Also, surprisingly affordable, around $25USD for 2 pizzas. Here's some ideas of 2018 prices, although it's important to always check for updates.
If there's heavy snowfall or you're just plain tired and don't want to carry your backpack/equipment, you can hire porters to carry it. This also includes setting up your tent, so you can just arrive and worry about resting/eating. Typically, you can hire the porter from Base Camp to straight to C2 or C3, and then just carry what you need between. There is a tent which is an association of porters, who work there all season. You can go to that tent in Base Camp and ask directly for info. Porters carry 20kgs and prices vary but an average from Base Camp is
If you go totally alone with no service at all, just be aware that you will be a higher ascent permit price. In 2018, prices during were $400 vs $570USD for people residing in Latin America and $800 vs $950USD for those outside Latin America (during high season).
As you can see, you can adjust your climb to your budget, needs, style and capabilities... in order to help you increase your odds of summiting this beautiful mountain. On the mountain, I met people using all the options, the one that worked best for them. And, I saw many, many people who didn't summit and commented they would have used some of the "pick and choose" assistance. I hope this article can help you choose the best way for you to climb Aconcagua, the Roof of the Americas!!
I went up using option 2 - Mixed service with just mule assistance to Base Camp - and it was perfect. However, I feel that it is relevant that I had certain benefits. I arrived from Chile, which made things easier because I was able to do acclimatization routes over 18000ft, have a shorter arrival which helped with rest, and I have easier access to infomation which helped me prepare. If interested, here's a recap of my experience via the Normal Route.
Don't hesitate to comment with any questions!!