Glad to hear you're saving up money and common sense for a trip. They will both come in handy. Vegetarian eh? I wouldn't mention that down there or someone will slap you upside the head with a steak. You can't walk downtown in Mendoza without smelling meat on the BBQ. All I wanted to do was eat and drink. Good thing there's a place to sit and grab a beer every 50 feet or so. I hope you get to go this upcoming season. It's a fantastic trip and a great adventure. We met a lot of great people like Walt, William Marler, Laurie Skreslet, Jim Nylander and the people in Mendoza are so friendly.
If you haven't been above 18,000 though it would probably be a good idea to hook up with some other people so you can keep an eye on one another and take it really slow. If you're interested in coming with me keep in touch. I can mail you the information if you want.
There is a 35 minute flight as well.... I wont list the reason for choosing this way. See the Aconcagua page getting there and currency issues... ah I will cut and paste ...(•:
Fly to either Santiago (Chile) then Mendoza (Argentina). Or Buenos Aires then Mendoza. Take the bus to Puente del Inca or Penetentes. The entrance to the National Park is either at Puenta del Inca (normal route and south face). Or the through the Vacas Valley near Penetentes (For the Polish Glacier, Polish Traverse and Vacas routes).
You must go to Mendoza Argentina in person to get your climbing permit.
An issue if you go through customs at Santiago airport. There is a good chance that you will have all meat and dairy products from your expedition food confiscated upon entering Chile. Stay in transit and take a short (45 min) flight on Lan Chile or Aerolineas Argentinas to Mendoza, Argentina. This will allow you to keep your food, get your permits, possibly see Aconcagua from the air as they fly close to it at times, and save the 100$ U.S. tax Chile imposes on Americans. 45$ for Canadians and other nationalities.
If you are entering Chile by bus this will not apply.
Possible food issue. Ourclimbers had their bags searched in Mendoza Argentina for certain food items. While normally climbers are treated seperately in this respects, as the foreign currency is valued we are not hassled. They conficated some food items such as peanuts and items that had been repacked not in the original packaging. Among the items taken were believe it or not..gummy bears. We think the staff was hungry. I packed all my food in 3-day packs in seperate stuff sacks labled, base camp, camp one, and camp two. These were packed at the bottom of my bag under everything and looked like a hassle to get to and open. Thus the customs were reluctant to get that deep in the bottom of my bag. The people that were searched had packed their food in clear plastic making the customs agent job too easy. So pack your food accordingly to avoid any unnecessary hassles.