Mount Aconcagua Expedition – Sidharth Routray 

  • Height: 22837 feet / 6961 meters
  • Highest point in South American Continent
  • Mountain Range: Andes
  • Location: Mendoza Province, Argentina
  • Expedition Company – Aventuras Patagonicas –
  • Lead Guide: Rolo Abaca
  • Support Guide: Sebastian, Caesar
  • Team:
    • Sidharth Routray [India]
    • Zeff [France]
    • Zach Lowry [USA]
    • Sarrah Lal [Canada]
    • George Sandoz [Argentina]
    • Chris Riley [ USA]
    • Christopher [ USA]
  • Length of the normal route: 75km to summit and back.
  • Days of trekking – 10 days 
  • Note: Usual expedition to Aconcagua is 19 days, the 10 days trip is specially for advance mountaineers who come here acclimatized by doing bigger peaks in advance.
  • Training Peaks [4 weeks prior to Aconcagua]
    • Mt. Ralston, California, USA – 9239 ft.
    • Mt. Massive, Colorado, USA – 14429 ft.
    • Mt. Yale, Colorado, USA – 14119 ft.
    • Mt. Princeton, Colorado, USA – 14196 ft.
    • Mt. Elbert, Colorado, USA – 14439 ft.
    • Mt. Cerro Pintor, Chile – 13700 ft.
    • Mt. Cerro El Plomo, Chile – 17795 ft.
  • Other Adventures:
    • IRONMAN – 5 times. [Maryland, Santarosa, Whistler, Mont Tremblant, Louisville]
    • 36/66 top peaks in the USA.

Day 1 – 05 Jan 2022 – FROM Mendoza TO Camp1 at Confluencia

Elevation Camp Confluencia: 11200 ft

We packed our backpack light and put most of this in duffle bags. The bus ride from Mendoza to Penitentes took around 4 hours. We reached the gate of entry to Aconcagua around 2 PM and did all our paperwork to validate our entry permit.  We started our trekking towards the first camp which is at 11200 feet elevation and 10 km from the gate. We reached camp Confluence around 6 pm. We set up our tent and had dinner served to us by the cooks of our guide company. Went to bed around 9 pm. Most of our Stuffs were Carried by Mulas. The views were breathtaking with mountains of different colors and formation.

Day 2 – 06 Jan 2022 – FROM Camp1 at Confluencia TO Camp2 at Plaza De Mulas

Elevation Camp Confluencia: 14300 ft

Got up early, packed everything back, in the duffel for the mules to carry the stuff to the next camp. Plaza De Mulas is at 14300 ft, and 16 km from Camp Confluence. It was a long hike for around 8 hours of climbing up and down the hills and river Horcones leading up to Camp2. During this hike on the river bed, we got to see the Mt. Aconcagua for the first time. That is time you stop bow down to Mother Aconcagua and take permission to help you reach the summit safely. Reached there around 4 PM, and again set our tents and unpack everything. The facilities at camp2 were even better, with a kitchen, shops, restaurant, and place to bath. 

Day 3 – 07 Jan 2022 – Acclimatization and rest day at Camp2 the Plaza De Mulas

The day was for getting acclimated to new 14000 ft weather and oxygen. We did local hiking and went up to 15500 ft to get ready for the next day. One of our teammates, George from Argentina,  felt sick at camp2, and dropped out. At each camp they have doctor to check you blood pressure, oxygen level and pulse. Good for me all my vitals were normal, and doctor approved me to go up further. It was a fun day, they serve good food at Plaza De Mauls, with amazing Mendoza Red Wine. The weather was excellent and the sunset followed by the Milky Way sky views were out of the world. On top-of that, there was hot water shower,it felt like heaven. We did a small hike to 15500 ft, and after a nice meal, rested for the day.

Day 4 – 08 Jan 2022 – Carry ½ of Stock – FROM Camp2 TO Camp3 BACK TO Camp2

From Plaza De Mulas there is no more mule support, so you have to carry your stuff. On the 4th day we carried half of our supplies and summit day dresses to camp3 – Plaza Canada which is at 16500 ft. We staked our stuff up there and after photography sessions and snack, we returned to Plaza De Mulas. It was though as the bag packs were heavy, and gaining height with that is tiring. But the views from camp 3 were breathtaking, as you are almost cross most small mountain around the valley. You get a birds eye view of camp2 which look like small ant hills from the top. Camp3 is the most picture taking place in the whole of the expedition.

Day 5 – 09 Jan 2022 – FROM Camp2 TO Camp3 Plaza Canada

Elevation Camp Plaza Canada: 16500 ft

After 2 days at Plaza De Mulas, we started our hike with the rest of our stuff in our backpack to camp3. It was not as though, as we moved very slowly with a 20kg weight in our backpack. Reached Camp3 around 3 PM. At 16500 ft and with a snow storm ready to strike in the evening, we hurried up to set up our tents and prepare for the meals. It started getting colder at 16500 ft, and as soon as we finished our dinner. But the sunset was one of most extraordinary event you can watch for hours at camp3. With most of the other mountain around us, at below eye level, and the red light from the sun, made all of them start singing to fading sun.

Day 6 – 10 Jan 2022 – FROM Camp3 TO Camp4 Nido De Condores

Elevation Camp Nido De Condores: 18300 ft

Since the weather was deteriorating we decided to skip rest days at Camp3 and move to camp4. By that morning it was all white and everything looked like we were in winter. We packed everything and started to move towards camp4 called the Nedo De Condores. We did potion very slowly, as the weight in our back pack was even heavier. The team decided against hiring porters in spite of me and the guide telling me to do so. Risk – too much carrying of weight and losing energy at early stages hamper our chances of summit. As predicted one of our team mates fell ill halfway, so we all had to distribute her stuff and carry it further. It was the toughest day of the expedition. We reached late around 6 pm and were completely exhausted. 

Day 7 – 11 Jan 2022 – Rest day at Camp4 Nido De Condores

Since all were so exhausted, we had no choice but to take a rest day at camp4. Although we knew that if we push ahead we may get one more chance at the summit. With worsening weather our chance looked very difficult. One more teammate fell sick, and he decided to go down. The weather turned worse and there was snow all day and night. Next day morning we woke up to a beautiful snow capped surrounding. At least now we do worry about carry water, as the snow and the ice is with us now, for this valuable and heavy resource. It was a fun day, we all got out to collect water, went up to 17000 ft on a small hike, and had lot of food. Unfortunately by afternoon my health started to deteriorate.

Day 8 – 12 Jan 2022 – FROM Camp4 TO Camp5 – Colera

Elevation Camp Colera: 19600 ft

It was more of a winter expedition by now. There was a little window on the 13th Jan, where we might try to summit, before the weather turned too windy and cold. We packed all the essentials for the summit day, and we hired a porter finally to carry our community stuff to final camp. I got sick that day and developed diarrhea, cough and fever. With 4 runs to the toilet and all the liquid gushing out of me, I lost a lot of energy. Jai Mata Di chanting all the way up to final camp5 helped a lot. In the night it was cold up to -10’c and winds up to 35 km, and snowed all night. One top of diarrhea, I developed a fever and severe coughing. Around midnight , our lead guide Rolo came up to me and gave me some herbal drinks to pacify the coughing. I could not sleep all night, and was chanting Jai Jagannath, Jai Mata Di all night. 

Day 9 – 13 Jan 2022 – FROM Camp5 TO SUMMIT

We woke up at 3:30 AM, although I never slept that night. Good thing the diarrhea was gone, as I stopped eating any food from guide company which had a lot of cheese. Instead I carried Chuda. A mix of chuda, amul, and nuts saved my endeavor. The herbal drink from the guide brought down my fever and cough. The moment I put on all the layers, 5 layers on the top and 4 layers on the bottom to take on the -20’c temperature outside, I started feeling confident. By the time I put on summit boots and all the headgear, and took a walk, I got even more confident that I am going to summit, no matter what. We started our push towards the summit at 5 am, it was severely cold and dark. After 2 hours of hiking the teammate from Canada could not keep up, so we had to send her down, with one of the supporting guides. Up to 10 am, there was sun, and no winds and everything looked good. But after that things started worsening. 

Clouds started enveloping us from all sides, winds started to pick up. By the time we reached the launching point called the Caves, it was a complete whiteout. 5-10 ft visibility, wind chill of -30’c and exhausting. One of our teammates from France was not feeling well and the other supporting guide, Sebastian, was asking us to turn around, as most of the other groups were doing so. We motivated our France teammate to continue and with Rolo our head guide, being a guru of Aconcagua, we decided to go for it. Every breath I would chant Jai Mata Di, and next breath I would chant Jai Jagannath. This spiritual rhythm helped me reach the summit, in spite of ill health. We reached the summit, around 2:45 pm, a 9 hour push. We could not see much at the top, as there was zero visibility. We did our best, took group photos and videos and paid our home to Mata Aconcagua. Jai Mata Di.

It took 4 hours to return to Camp Colera with severe wind and snow blasting on our face. But once the summit was done, nothing seemed as hard. By God’s blessings and the help of experience guides we came back safe and sound. 

Day 10 – 14 Jan 2022 – FROM Camp5 TO Plaza De Mulas

It was a fun day as 4 of us reached the summit and the rest of the team was waiting for us for a party. I made the team to dance to Punjabi dance songs. We enjoyed a lot of red wine and amazing food in the kitchen at Plaza De Mulas.

Day 11 – 15 Jan 2022 – FROM Plaza De Mulas to Penitentes Gate

Going back was not easy. It was a 26km trek which took more than 9 hours. But the excitement of going back to civilization and talking to loved ones made it slightly easier.  On top of that, the food and wine and the greenery of Mendoza is so inviting. What a lovely city they have build with sidewalks bigger than roads, and trees everywhere. Loved it.