Aconcagua Trip Report 2018 | Earths Edge
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Aconcagua Trip Report 2018

This trip report was written by experienced guide Ronan Lenihan about his adventures on our Earth’s Edge Aconcagua Expedition 17th January to 6th February 2018.

On the 17th January I met with the other 4 members of our team at Dublin airport. Everyone was on time and in good spirits, probably because we were meeting in the afternoon and not at 4am as seems to be the norm with these trips.

It was almost 40 degrees in Mendoza when we arrived and this was a bit of a shock for some of us. I had snow in my garden when I left the previous day! In Mendoza we met Paki, our Argentinian guide who we’ve worked with for 4 years. As well as being one of the most experienced guides on the mountain he is a highly experienced mountaineer and medic.

We had the day in Mendoza but unfortunately not much time for relaxing. We had to sort out permits, equipment and of course get some food and wine!

The next day we made our way to Penitentes, a small ski resort which has suffered badly over the last few years due to a lack of snow in the winter. The hotel which we stay in is used as a staging post for most of the teams going onto Aconcagua so it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet mountaineers from around the world. As always, we were well looked after in the hotel with its excellent food and great bar.

The next three days involved walking from Pampa De Lenas to Plaza Argentina Base Camp. This took us up the Vacas Valley which host amazing views, flora and fauna. On this journey we were accompanied by the muleteers who transported our heavier equipment to base camp.



What a crew!


The highlights of these three days were steak cooked on a camp fire for us by the muleteers, beautiful night skies combined with lightening storms, seeing amazing wildlife such as condors, guanacos and Andean foxes. The team also had its first view of Aconcagua itself on the second day. On the third day we had to cross a river. It was shallow but very wide and very cold so we all opted for paying the muleteers to take us across on their mules.

The team arrived into base camp and seemed to be pretty impressed; big tents, great food, showers, views and clean toilets. The next day was a very welcome rest day as we were now at 4200 meters and had been walking for 3 days.

The following day we left base camp to carry some equipment up to Camp 1; the day was challenging as we were carrying massive loads on loose scree. We cached our gear at Camp 1 and descended to dinner at Base Camp. It was our first really tough day and all the team did great. The next day was another rest day.


Carrying some of the equipment to Camp 1

Eventually we had to leave the comfort of base camp and we made the move up to Camp 1. This involved carrying more heavy loads and setting up tents and rebuilding protective walls. It was also extremely hot. That evening we were rewarded with an amazing sunset and lightning storm.

The next day took us up to Camp 2 which is probably the most scenic day of the trip. Everyone was blown away by the views to the north. Camp 2 is spectacularly located and once again we cached equipment before descending to Camp 1.

The following morning we packed up all our remaining equipment and moved up to Camp 2. Everybody was now feeling the altitude and looking forward to the rest day which followed.

Our rest day at Camp 2 actually involved some work. People explored and took lots of photographs, people practiced with axes and crampons on the glacier behind the tents and we talked at length regarding the next couple of days and our summit attempt.

All during the trip we were checking the weather and it wasn’t looking good for our intended summit day so we decided to take an extra rest day at Camp 2. We have spare days built into the schedule to allow for this and although Camp 2 is rather high it is definitely more comfortable than Camp 3.


One of the many sunsets we got the pleasure of seeing


After our couple of days at Camp 2 we moved up to Camp 3 at 6000 meters. Camp 3 is also known as Cholera Camp! In years gone by parts of the mountain, especially the camps could be very dirty. However the mountain is now very clean and this is mainly due to the National Park enforcing waste management rules and mountaineers being better informed.

This day was tough as we were moving all of our kit in one go unlike previous days. We arrived into Camp 3 early.  It is set in a stunning location but it is difficult to appreciate the beauty when you’re so high, cold and feeling the effects of the altitude.

That afternoon we packed for our summit attempt early the following morning. I don’t think anyone really slept.

We set off to attempt reaching the summit at 5.30am on the 1st February. This day is normally 12 to 15 hours long and involves being tired, energised, too cold, too hot, dismayed and elated. There is a variety of terrain to be crossed during the ascent on summit day. This year much of the route was covered in snow and this certainly helped, especially on the steeper sections.

The final hour of the climb is on steep terrain and you arrive on the summit all of a sudden without warning. The team were lucky to have good weather on the summit so they could enjoy their few minutes up there. The feeling you get once you reach the top is hard to describe. All the doubt you had in your mind vanishes and left is this overwhelming feeling of self satisfaction and joy! After a couple of pictures it was time to begin the long descent to Camp 3 and more importantly to water and food.

The following morning the team started late. This was to allow longer to rest and for the sun to reach the tents. As this expedition is a traverse of the mountain the team is descending to a different base camp. It is a long loose scree filled descent to Plaza de Mulas where cooked food, beer and wine await.

Our last day on the mountain involved almost 30 kilometres of walking on very tired legs. The walk is stunning but difficult to appreciate. It helps knowing there are showers and comfy beds at the end of this walk. That night we were back in the hotel in Penitentes with great plans to celebrate, however most of us were in bed early.

From Penitentes we travelled on to Mendoza where we had a night to relax, celebrate, recover and to be regular tourists for a couple of hours.


‘It’s the friends we meet along the way that help us appreciate the journey’


‘It’s the friends we meet along the way that help us appreciate the journey’

We are holding a FREE information talk on this trip of a lifetime where we will be covering everything from gear to training and will have a Q&A session at the end. The talk takes places @ 7pm on Tuesday the 13th of November in the Great Outdoors on Chatham St, Dublin 2. To register click here.

If you are interested in joining us on our Aconcagua trek, contact us today!

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