Climbing Argentina's Aconcagua

Travel Q&A

September 15, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

I would like to climb the Aconcagua next January. Can you tell me about the hike and hiking outfits in Mendoza, Argentina?

The Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Americas. At22,834 feet, it attracts climbers every Southern Hemisphere summer, Dec. 15 to March 15.

The Aconcagua is in the northwestern province of Mendoza, 684 miles from Buenos Aires. Climbers must register in advance, paying an $80 fee, with the Subsecretaria de Turismo de Mendoza (Mendoza Tourist Board), 1143 San Martin, 5500 Mendoza, Argentina; telephone (54-61) 202-800, fax (54-61) 202-243.

It takes 16 days to make the climb, starting and ending in the town of Mendoza. One sets out by car or bus for Puente del Inca, at an altitude of 9,186 feet. From there, it is a two-day hike to any of three base camps, all above 13,000 feet.

Most tour operators organize the climb to the summit on the northwestern side of the mountain, the easiest and the most popular. A 16-day tour to the summit costs from $1,500 to $1,800 for a single person to $950 a person for a group of four to six.

The northwestern route to the summit usually begins at the Plaza de Mulas (Mules' Plaza) base camp, 13,780 feet high. Of three base camps, this is the only one that has guides, food, drinking water and lodging. So that climbers may adapt, a series of trekking tours to altitudes of 16,400 feet and over is planned during a three- or four-day period.

Overlooking the base camp, the Plaza de Mulas Hotel-Shelter offers rooms with private bathrooms (showers are shared) at $35 for rooms with beds with sheets and blankets, and $25 and $15 for rooms with bunks.

Climbers supply their own sleeping bags; meals are extra.

Among the tour operators and guide services available are these: Andesport, Rufino Ortega 390, 5500 Mendoza, Argentina; telephone and fax, (54-61) 235992.

Guide Daniel Villarroel, 3457 Alpacatal, Santos Lugares, 1676 Buenos Aires; (54-1) 757-1585, fax (54-1) 757-0535.

Turismo Aymara, 783 9 de Julio, 5500 Mendoza, Argentina; telephone and fax, (54-61) 200607 or (54-61) 205304. This agency represents the Plaza de Mulas Hotel-Shelter.

Pub Date: 9/15/96

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