Aconcagua Season Cut to One Month

Aconcagua Provincial Park opened at its usual time, on November 15. The Aconcagua season usually runs from mid-November to the first week of March, and most international outfitters have resumed their trips to the Stone Sentinel (the meaning of Aconcagua, or Ackon-Cahuac, in the Inca language).

The season’s return is good news for those wanting to climb the highest peak of the Americas (at 6,962m). However, severe restrictions apply.

Right now, Aconcagua Provincial Park is only open for trekking. “Most visitors are hikers doing short day trips,” Fernando Jadur of Acomara Aconcagua Expeditions, one of Mendoza’s biggest outfitters, told ExplorersWeb. “As for climbing the peak, the Polish route from the Horcones Valley will remain closed for the season, while the normal route will run only in January.”

Climbers at dawn on Aconcagua’s upper part. Photo: Acomara Aconcagua Expeditions


Only 1/4 the number of visitors this year

The measure has raised some health concerns, since all climbers will flood the area at the same time and there is no limit on their numbers. However, Fernando Jadur thinks that the risk of a COVID outbreak — which happened at Everest and Dhaulagiri Base Camps last spring — is low. “The expected number of visitors this year is barely 25% of what it was before the pandemic,” he admitted.

And unlike Nepal, where COVID was spiking in May, Argentina’s rates are low at the moment. Almost its entire population has received its two doses of vaccine. Still, some international clients hesitate to leave their own countries. Some fear the situation abroad, others want to avoid potential problems when they return home.

The number of flights between Argentina and the rest of the world is also much lower at present. “Getting tickets is not easy and definitely not cheap,” said Jadur. “Fares have increased a lot.”

Local businesses have higher hopes for 2022. Reservations are already piling up for next season, as a possible record number of visitors resume their long-deferred South American plans.

Currently, foreign travelers need to show proof of double vaccination and a PCR taken within the last 72 hours before arrival. Visitors to Aconcagua Provincial Park must book and buy their trekking permits in advance. Multi-day treks and Aconcagua climbs must go through accredited outfitting companies.

The average Aconcagua expedition takes about three weeks.