Cerro Rico is located just South of the Plaza Argentina base camp for Aconcagua. Rico, together with its lower neighbor Cerro Colorado, make for excellent acclimitization climbs during your rest days from the base camp. The ascent of Cerro Rico is fairly straightforward, especially if you are not interested in reaching the summit proper but just trying to get some altitude under your belt for the upcoming climb of Aconcagua. The usual route heads south from the Plaza Argentina base camp along a steep gulley to the col between Cerro Colorado and Cerro Rico. From there, it follows the broad and fairly gentle east slopes of the mountain, from which one can easily get within 100 meters of the summit. If you are interested in reaching the summit proper, you either need to climb crumbly 5th class rock from the top of the scree slope, or traverse around to the other side of the mountain and climb the steeply dipping strata. Because of these difficulties and the fact that most people are not here to climb Rico but rather its much higher neighbor, not many people end up reaching the true summit of the mountain. From Cerro Rico you are rewarded with truely spectacular views of Aconcagua and nearby Ameghino.
The approach for Cerro Rico is the same as would be used for the Polish Glacier side of Aconcagua. It takes most groups three days to reach the base of the mountain (Plaza Argentina) from the trailhead at Punta de Vacas. From Punta de Vacas, follow the Vacas River valley to the North. The first camp is generally placed at Las Lenas, where you need to check in with the rangers. The second day's hike (approximately 8 hours) continues up the Vacas Valley to Casa de Piedra, where the next camp is generally placed. On the final day of the approach to base camp, you will need to first cross over the Vacas River before ascending a small side valley to a large hanging valley above. Plaza Argentina will be reached a couple of hours later.
Cerro Rico lies within the boundaries of Aconcagua National Park. You will need to obtain a climbing permit in person from the Park Office in Mendoza, Argentina before the climb. The following information is taken from the Aconcagua page (courtesy of William Marler): Permits are sold EXCLUSIVELY in the “General San Martín” Park (approximately 20 blocks from downtown Mendoza), in “Los Robles” Avenue, between “Las Tipas” and “El Rosedal” Avenue (opposite “Independiente Rivadavia” Football Stadium) very close to the entrance gates to the park. Most cabs know where this is. HIGH SEASON: From 15th December of year 2004 to 31st January 2005, 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, 2004, and from February 1st to February 20th, 2005 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: 2004 - 2005 Climbing USD$ 110 20 days Long Trekking USD$ 30 7 days Short Trekking USD$ 20 3 days Validity of the permits (as from the date of access to the Park) Validity of the permits Climbing 20 days. Long Trekking 7 days Short Trekking 3 days. Proceeds from the duties are alloted (supposed to be) to the maintenance and protection of the ACONCAGUA PROVINCIAL PARK. Off –season (from March 16 to November 14) access to the Aconcagua Park is no longer free. A permit must be purchased in Mendoza or at the Park Rangers’ Shelter in Horcones Valley. The price of admittance is the price charged during the high season even if the rescuing service is not provided. Neither doctors nor park rangers are available during this period. However, for a “special” price, there is an exception between March 16 and April 1st., of each season. To access the Aconcagua Park within these periods, for trekkings or to climb, we suggest contacting the Aconcagua Park’s authorities. There are restrictions regarding the access of MINORS to the Park: they will have to exhibit pertinent authorization signed by both parents and certified by Public Notary or their respective Consulate or Embassy. For further information, please, contact the RENOVABLE NATURAL RESOURCES BUREAU (Dirección de Recursos Naturales Renovables) located in General San Martín Park, phone + 54 261 425 5090 or + 54 261 425 7065 (from 08:00 AM to 01:00 PM) e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org CLIMBING AND TREKKINGS PERMITS The permits must be given in person to each visitor and only in Mendoza. Trekking and tourism agencies are not authorized anymore to get the climbing permits for visitors as it was in the past. Each climber must come in person to Mendoza city to get it. The permits can not be bought either at Puente de Inca or Punta de Vacas. The control of permisses is done in laguna Horcones (normal and south face), the same as in the Rio Vacas (Polish and Polish traverse routes) by the park-rangers. Anywhere inside the park, the permit or the receipt may be required to be shown. (Passport or Identity Card required). Neither medical certificate or evidences of insurance are necessary. Payment may be either in Argentine Pesos or in U.S. Dollars. No credits cards or checks are accepted. This should not take to long as the staff are normally pretty used to their jobs and are usually pleasent. Permits are valid from the date of entry to the Park Argentine citizens are entitled to a 50% discount on the above prices. Permit / garbage information from: Corax Date: Feb 05, 2005 11:26 PM 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). Note: * 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.
The usual season is the same as for Aconcagua, generally from December to February.
Camping is allowed within the Aconcagua National Park. In general, for an ascent of Cerro Rico, most people will use the following camps: (1) Approach camp 1 is at Las Lenas, which is approximately a 6 hour hike from the Punta de Vacas trailhead. Here, you will need to check in with Park personnel and show your valid permit. (2) Approach camp 2, at Casa de Piedra. Approximately an 8 hour hike from Las Lenas. (3) Base Camp, Plaza Argentina. This is the normal base camp for the Polish Glacier and False Polish Traverse routes on Aconcagua. This camp is reached by first crossing the Vacas near the Casa de Piedra camp, then following a small side valley up to the hanging valley above.
As with any mountain, it is difficult to predict the weather from one day to the next. Be prepared for winter conditions any time of the year. The weather forecast and current conditions for Mendoza, the nearest major city, can be found at the following link: Mendoza Weather Additional information can also be found at the following links: aconcagua.org aconcagua.com
If anyone has a GPS derived elevation for this peak I would be most interested.