Lessened winds and sunny skies along with good use of contingency days for further accclimatization allowed summiting. Many thanks to the AAI guides Vern Tejas and his wife Carole for making the right calls.
Supported expedition with Inka guides via 360 route, 15 days total. Made it to Plaza Independencia (6,400m) on summit day before turning back. High winds and difficult conditions, but a beautiful experience.
Up and over, 360 degrees, starting and ending at Penitentes, AR. A relaxing 22-mile 3-day trek to Plaza de Argentina with Gaucho steaks and warm breezes. Joining the Ameghino glacier field, substantial elevation changes with cold and windy storms gave the climb a big mountain feel. Camp 3 to summit is a huge 3,000' push but scenic as can be in the thin air! Camp Colera out to Plaza de Mulas is soft snow and dirt and half the distance as the next day out to Confluencia. Strong tradewinds out of the south mean good weather window and so we summited on day 12! A cardinal high altitude climb with stepped progressions at each camp. Bonus: take an unwinding Lujan de Cuyo wine tasting tour on bicycles at the end!
I entered the park from Punta de Vacas. One overnight at Lenas, second overnight at Plaza Argentina. I climbed the Polish Direct turning back near the top because it was late in the day. I down climbed the route. The next day I moved camp to Colera. And the next day, starting at 7am, I went to the summit via normal route. By 1pm, I was on the summit. Most climbers turned around very early in the day due to wind and cold. I was on the summit alone. 3-4 other climbers (Argentines) made the summit about an hour after me. I was back at Colera by 4pm and stayed over. Next day I reached Confluencia and was out of the park the following day.
I was in the park for a total of 10 days. I climbed unguided and without mule support. Hiked in the Valle Vacas and out via Valle Horcones. I carried an axe and a tool, never used the ice tool. I was glad to have the axe on the Polish, though had I stuck to the normal route, even the axe was superfluous. Early season conditions were favorable and trekking poles were sufficient. Still, I wouldn't want to be there without an axe.
The whole family made the summit via an unguided, normal (Horcones) route expedition. Big snow storms and big winds eventually abated, giving us a perfect summit day. Trip Report at 14ers.com:
Climbed this in '05 on a quick push.
A summit for me, in the name of my late great uncle who climbed in 1964 but had to turn around at the Cave due to mountain sickness. An honor and dream come true! We had complicated weather, 6 days of white outs, and 45km/50km winds that pushed back our summit attack a few days. In total 13 days in and out, using mules to Base Camp then all on our own.
Climbed Aconcagua solo unsupported out of season in March / April 2002 by the normal route. High winds during the ascent, Viento Blanco on my summit day, wind reached 100+ km/h, -30°C (-55°C with windchill).
Planned to ascend the PG but the weather had other plans. Summited via the normal route instead.
Wow, this was my summit day 2016-1-13. There was a large group. I think half the hikers turned around at Portozuelo Del Viento. The section to La Cueva was the most wind I've ever experienced. After that the Canaleta wasn't so bad, really high though.
Coming off the summit I came upon a climber in distress. She did not know where her camp was. I guided her to it. I spent 16 hours above 20,000 feet.
Sorry about your luggage..... but with this season´s "El Niño", summit windows were very scarce throughout all December 2015 and first half of January 2016. After that, conditions were much milder. I managed to summit solo on January 17, on my 18th day there (my last chance, since I needed 2 extra days to descend before my park stay expired).
Oh my goodness! We are impressed. We attempted Jan 13 without success and are debating about returning this December. Thank you for the information.
My airline misplaced my bag and I only received it 8 days later. It was packed with all my mountaineering gear and food for the whole trip. I spent part of my lost time in Vallecitos (lovely spot!), but I had to constantly come back down to check if my bag had arrived, so I only bought myself a couple days of acclimatization there.
I set off for Aconcagua with significantly less time to make the summit, but things were looking good. The weather was amazing and there was no snow on the ground when I arrived.
Day 1. I walked to Plaza de Mulas pretty quickly (I hired a mule service to get my stuff there quicker).
Day 2. Rest day.
Day 3. I climbed little Cerro Bonete for acclimatization.
Day 4. I carried my gear to Nido de Condores and came back to sleep in Plaza de Mulas.
Day 5. I went to sleep at Plaza Canada, but I sort of regretted not going straight for Nido de Condores. It's really not that far. I didn't want to risk getting sick.
Day 6. I finally went to sleep at Nido de Condores and reunited with the bag I had stashed there. I was watching the weather predictions closely, asking the park rangers and other climbers, but there's always a bit of a delay in the info and the predictions keep changing from day to day. No groups were planning on attempting the summit the next day because it looked like it was going to be too windy. Most groups were going to make an attempt the day after, when it was going to be less windy.
Day 7. I wanted to use that day to do an acclimatization hike. I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a perfect starry sky looking back at me and felt like the weather wasn't so cold. It crossed my mind that this might be a good day to summit after all. But I didn't want to be the only one attempting the summit, and everyone was sleeping, so I decided to stick to my plan: do an acclimatization hike today and go for the summit tomorrow with the groups and their guides. I left around 6 AM and reached Independencia around 11 AM. There I met the only people I saw all day. They were turning back on their last attempt to reach the summit because they were tired. The path was completely snow-free and thus very easy to follow. It was very windy though and it was starting to snow. Little did I know, the snow was never going to stop and there would be no more occasion to have a clear path or a clear view. By the time I got down to Nido de Condores, there was 10-15 cm of snow accumulated on the ground.
Day 8. I woke up early with the intention of following some of the groups all the way to the summit. There was so much snow on the ground that the guides couldn't find the path. They made several back and forth attempts and eventually a guide from another group found the way. We were knee deep in loose powder, it wasn't hard to walk, but there was no way to see the path. We took a break in Colera hiding in the emergency shelter. The sun rose and it revealed a complete white out. We were in a cloud with strong wind and snow falling horizontally. I couldn't even see the tents that were a couple meters away. Everyone turned around and there was no way I could find the path on my own, so after waiting to make sure no one was going up, I went down too.
Day 9-10-11. The next day, everyone deserted Nido de Condores. Weather prospects were bad. I stayed just in case. The snow storm went on for several days indeed. I had to block all the vents in my tent because it wind was continuously blowing snow inside. I had fun though. It was white all around every day. I was the only tent left in Nido de Condores, but the park rangers were there in their cabin, so I felt safe and got to hang out with them quite a bit. They were extremely nice and I got to practice my Spanish. Eventually I was out of time and there was no news of anyone attempting the summit any time soon.
Day 12. That morning I dug up my tent, packed everything (still in a blowing snow storm). Going down to Plaza de Mulas with my double load full of ice was an interesting experience. There was thigh high snow on an icy ground and wind that occasionally pushed me to the ground. I kept falling down and I exerted myself more than when I was going up. Fortunately, I reached Plaza de Mulas on time to give my load to the mules. I was able to continue to Puente del Inca that same day and even found a transport to go back to Mendoza that night. I went from Nido de Condores to Mendoza in one day and my flight was the next morning, that's how close I was cutting it!
Sorry for the long climber's log. My trip was not as I expected. I had planned for a lofty 20 days after all. The delay with my bag and the snow storm meant I couldn't go to the summit in the end. I still had fun though. It felt good to be in the mountains.
Long summit day but pushed thru mentally reaching the top with extraordinary level of energy starting at 200 feet from the summit. I've always told other it takes 90% mental and 10% physical which held true on this glorious day standing on the highest point in the world outside the Himalayan ranges.
It's a looooong slog. Not the world's prettiest mountain, but well worth the effort. The air is thin up there!
Got super lucky with weather and rapid acclimation. Made it to the summit on our 11th day at a fairly leisurely pace. from the Plaza Argentina side. Came down through Plaza de Mulas...VERY glad we went up the way that we did!
Climbed the False Polish route. Wanted to come down and do the Polish Direct afterwards, but the glacier was solid ice, and we didn't have the gear to do the whole thing in those conditions...a pitch or two, sure...but not the whole thing. Screw it, we were tired anyway!
I think I'll stick to the lower peaks that are more technically challenging where you can make a summit and enjoy a beer on your tailgate at camp that same evening. Much more my style! I already know I can suffer through discomfort, and that was the biggest challenge of this mountain (on this route) for me.
Now I know! Won't do it again, but wouldn't trade it for the world!
Fairly pleasant trek via the Normal route. 12 days alltogether. Great weather and clear skies except at the summit. Sadly.
Left my tent from Nido de Condores at 3 a.m. and reached the summit at 11:30 a.m., my 11th day on the mountain. 14 days total on the mountain including the laid back descent. Climbed solo and unsupported, but used mules to basecamp. Low winds on summit day, the day right after a big storm passed through.
My detailed trip report is here: https://thecloudocean.com/2015/03/08/aconcagua-trip-report/
Photographs are here: https://thecloudocean.com/2015/03/13/aconcagua-photographs-february-2015/
After pre-acclimating on Volcan San Jose in Chile reached the summit in a single push from Plaza Argentina without load yo-yo to use a good weather window. We had the summit for ourselves for 1.5 hours in perfect windless condition. Our plan had been for Polish Glacier but we changed that and stuck to normal trail due to blank ice conditions and turned it into the "360 traverse". Descent via Plaza Mulas. The entire trip took 11 days including a rest day at Plaza Argentina (mandatory for medical check) and one at 5500m (Jan 8 - Jan 18).