Aventuras Patagonicas is synonymous with success and quality when it comes to Aconcagua Expeditions. We have lead over 200 Aconcagua expeditions in the last 28 years. We have THE MOST EXPERIENCE ON THE MOUNTAIN having led more expeditions to Aconcagua than anyone in the world. The quality and expertise of our trips are unparalleled. We have the highest success rate on Aconcagua.
All of our lead guides are professional mountain guides, most are AMGA Certified Guides (American Mountain Guides Association). This is an important aspect of guiding to ensure that your guides have the high standards required by the American Mountain Guides Association. Anyone can offer expeditions to Aconcagua. Virtually all major professions, doctors, lawyers, pilots, etc, require some type of certification to ensure quality and safety standards. You should expect high standards from the guides that you trust your life and safety with, for an entire mountaineering expedition.
We use the best hotels of any companies guiding on Aconcagua. Due to our long-standing reputation in the region, we are able to use five-star lodging in Mendoza at an affordable rate to accommodate our clients. We also use the best possible transportation to and from the mountain. Our mule services, which we have used for many years, are completely reliable – they have a history with and loyalty to our guiding company. There are less expensive mule operators on Aconcagua, but their services are not always dependable. The difference can be tremendous and greatly affect an expedition. We are convinced that one of the key factors for a successful Aconcagua expedition are the mules. This may sound simple but a lot of mule handlers can strike, gear can get lost, weak or overworked mules can cause a shortage of transport animals, delaying the entire expedition. You need top animals to get to 14,000′ elevation with 120 lbs of gear, each way. We have seen all of this multiple times and have experience in handling these tricky situations. Our mule manager is devoted to each one of our expeditions. He has gone out of his way many times to make sure all of our gear arrives at base camp and returns from the mountain on time, not a simple task.
Most of our lead guides are not only certified by the AMGA, but are North American Mountain Guides. Occasionally we have very qualified local assistant mountain guides proven to be of a superb asset to expeditions. We strongly believe that having North American professional mountain guides is extremely important for several reasons; Many of our clientele are North American, although we do attract clientele from many parts of the world. Mountain guiding standards of North America, due to the competitive nature, require mountain guides to adhere to increasingly higher and higher standards of mountain guiding, professionalism, and safety in the mountains. Our guides have extensive guiding experience. To ensure higher standards of safety and professional high altitude mountain guiding expertise, and to provide you with a quality mountaineering experience, we carefully choose our guides according to these standards. We have often seen companies contracting their services and delegating the entire trip to local agencies to save $ and to cut corners, losing their control over the quality of the mountaineering expedition.
We have mentioned the importance of having North American mountain guides with a wide range of experience. Interestingly enough, Aventuras Patagonicas Director/Owner Rodrigo Mujica was born in Chile only 100 miles from Aconcagua. Rodrigo has lived in the U.S.A. for 17 years. He is a professional mountain guide, with a wide range of high altitude mountaineer guiding experience around the world. He is fully certified by North American and European standards and brings a unique and unparalleled combination of knowledge and experience to Aconcagua expeditions. Rodrigo knows the mountain better than perhaps anyone. He is well known and well respected on the mountain. He has been on almost every face, side, and valley of Aconcagua, pioneering routes, and searching for new alternative routes on the mountain, in the forefront of offering new and interesting routes for his clients. It has been proven over and over the importance of having previous local experience, and bringing with it international guiding experience and standards when dealing with quality logistics, pre-logistics, city arrangements, transportation, customs, mule arrangements, weather, and many other aspects of the Aconcagua climb.
We have literally seen time and time again, foreign guides unable to deal with the simplest logistical complications at customs and borders, with mule arrangements, hotels, etc. Circumstances in which Aventuras Patagonicas guides, and especially Rodrigo, can say just a few words and things happen very quickly. The respect and experience Rodrigo and Aventuras Patagonicas commands in these areas, has proved invaluable over the years.
After 28 seasons of guiding expeditions on Aconcagua, we have developed an incredible relationship with the local people, mountaineers, Park Service Authorities, Local Agencies, Park Rangers, Muleteers, Hotel Owners, etc. This aspect makes us unique. Our success speaks for itself, as today AVENTURAS PATAGONICAS is the most successful and well respected guiding service on Aconcagua.
Having a high guide to client ratio is essential to the success of a trip, especially on Summit Day, when so many variables arise and the number of guides, play a critical part in the success of an expedition. If for any reason a member needs to descend, or a slower pace is required for part of the team, having multiple guides is a most powerful tool. Decisions on group management are constantly changing, especially on summit day, depending on such situations as weather, group strength, rhythm, etc.
We use a 1:2 guide to client ratio for technical routes and a 1:3 ratio for non-technical routes. We can customize trips of any size, though on an average our trips have 9- 10 people, with 3, or sometimes even 4 guides!
Imagine being on a trip to Aconcagua with 10 other clients and only one Guide…things could go well all the way to Base Camp, and maybe even Camp One, if everything goes smoothly, and with lots of good luck, but summit day could potentially be a disaster. One small problem, and the entire group would have to abort the summit. We have seen this happen time and time again. I have literally seen, on the Normal Route, groups as large as 17 people with ONLY one GUIDE! This is something that we are unable to comprehend…the margin for error is too high in such a situation. Safety is extremely compromised and the chance of reaching the summit is much lower.
We plan for a 20-day trip with multiple weather days included. We highly believe that the ONLY way we can successfully get clients to the summit of Aconcagua is through proper acclimatization, and this requires time. Most of our trips are done in about 16 to 17 days but we still have extra days in case of bad weather. We often see guiding companies running 10 day trips to Aconcagua via its crowded Normal Route, where approaches are shorter and big groups can be reduced with a “survival of the fittest” attitude getting to the top only it’s strongest members. This style of expedition guiding is unacceptable to Aventuras Patagonicas. We believe in traditional expedition style while we are guiding high altitude expeditions. We also believe in having several days at High Camp, if necessary, in case of bad weather, or for further acclimatization. To reach the summit successfully the group has to be well acclimatized. This takes time, patience, and multiple DAYS. The body can’t acclimatize itself to climb the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere in only a 10-day trip. This can be very dangerous. To be able to stay at High Camp, at 19,200′, for a few nights during bad weather is a challenge. It is a high altitude art for the guide, and a mental challenge for the clients, unattainable without proper acclimatization, and the time necessary to do so on the lower mountain.
We already stated that Aventuras Patagonicas plans sufficient weather and acclimatization days for the Aconcagua climb. In the best case scenario, providing that weather is superb and everyone acclimatizes well, we may be ahead of schedule. On the other hand, we may need to use every day of the trip due to weather, acclimatization etc. Our unique flexibility makes AVENTURAS PATAGONICAS far ahead in this aspect. When most other companies have a fixed schedule for the mules to bring their gear out of Base Camp, WE DON’T. We communicate directly with our mule manager from anywhere on the mountain once we are above 14,000 feet. After summiting, we request our mules via VHF radios or satellite phone, proven to be essential to the success of the expedition. Imagine finally you have your calm day to go for the summit, after waiting for the weather to clear, but instead having to go to Base Camp because your mules are scheduled to pick your gear at Base Camp that day! Or imagine finishing your climb 3 days earlier but you still have to wait in Base Camp 3 more days until your mules arrive. With our flexible schedule we have the unique advantage to achieve a successful climb and to get you back to civilization as efficiently as possible.
AVENTURAS PATAGONICAS has strived from the beginning to offer less crowded routes on the mountain. This is how we pioneered guiding via the Vacas and Relinchos Valleys in the mid 80’s using Plaza Argentina as our Base Camp. Our goal was to give our clients a spectacular non-technical route without crowds, leaving the overcrowded Normal Route behind, where literally thousands of people try the mountain each season. We purposely chose not to guide the Normal Route for several years because we felt with the overcrowded conditions on this route we could not provide a quality experience for our clients. Presently, we guide the Normal Route with porter support, for those who prefer this method of climbing Aconcagua.
In February of 1997 Aventuras Patagonicas Director, Rodrigo Mujica, pioneered the last non-technical, untouched valley of Aconcagua. Named by Rodrigo, the Guanacos Valley, this route become AVENTURAS PATAGONICAS’ main route to approach and climb Aconcagua for many seasons. Our Guanacos Valley Route has been a beautiful traverse of the mountain. This route proved to be the best way to climb Aconcagua, with gradual elevation gain between camps, allowing for easier acclimatization than other routes. Acclimatization is the key element to summiting the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere.
Access to the lower Guanacos Valley is now restricted by the Aconcagua Park Service due to park boundary issues and to protect the sensitive Guanacos wildlife population. We are now using a variation of our time-honored Relinchos Valley route. We call this route the Ameghino/Upper Guanacos Route named for Ameghino Peak, which is visible on much of the route. This route ascends the Relinchos Valley and joins up with the upper Guanacos Valley higher up on the mountain. This has proven to be an excellent alternative to our lower Guanacos Valley route.
In the early ’90s, to offer our clients a different and richer experience, we came up with the Aconcagua Summit Climb and Traverse Expedition. This traverse has proven to be a favorite among our clients after many years of innovative and successful guiding on Aconcagua. At the time, this was one of the greatest non-technical routes to climb Aconcagua. The Aconcagua Traverse Expedition ascended the Vacas and Relinchos Valleys Route. At the base of the Polish Glacier we traversed the mountain. Upon summiting, we descended the Normal Route, offering a wide spectrum of the mountain, traveling through three different river valleys – the Vacas, Relinchos, and Horcones, thus experiencing the entire mountain, and passing the four tremendous main faces of Aconcagua. Today we offer the same traverse on all of expeditions except our Normal Route expedition.
The Aconcagua Park Service is restricting access to the lower Guanacos Valley. In response to Guanacos Valley access issue, we have added our newest route on Aconcagua. Our new route, the Ameghino Valley / Upper Guanacos route, named after Ameghino Peak, a prominent feature on the climb, is a hybrid of our Relinchos Valley and Guanacos Valley routes, and an excellent alternative to the Guanacos Valley route.
AVENTURAS PATAGONICAS, has always been ahead on equipment standards. We believe it is necessary to use the best equipment available in the industry to succeed on the mountain. Not only do we use the best equipment, but we renew our equipment at the end of each season to keep our equipment in excellent condition. We have also proven to be ahead in communications on the mountain every trip departing with a satellite phone and plenty of batteries. We use top quality radios to communicate with Aconcagua Park Rangers and Park Authorities. Most guiding companies do not make this a priority and have just radios, unable to communicate by phone from higher elevations. This is key in the event of an emergency, logistical changes, and simply to call your loved ones, which you can do any time on the mountain (a charge per minute will apply).
We mentioned the importance of high quality equipment, but we do not believe in bringing up a mountain everything available since that would be heavy and inefficient. We believe in selecting the best possible gear for the task, still keeping it to a minimum. We bring to Base Camp a Gamow Bag, and use pulse oximeters to measure accurate blood oxygen saturation and pulse rate, monitoring clients’ acclimatization in every camp.
Our menus are some of the best expedition menus available in the guiding industry. They have been developed meticulously and thoughtfully, evaluating amount of calories per day, carbohydrates, weight, taste, variety and creativity. We are very proud of our menus and Rodrigo has used them on his Alaskan expeditions on Denali. We tremendously emphasize staying hydrated. One of the most important aspects of our menu is the way we pack our food. Although not related to the taste of the food, it is logistically one of our keys of success. Everything is carefully prepackaged, labeled by the day, and waterproofed, to take the abuses of a 3-day mule ride. Finally, the small amount of garbage that we produce during the expedition and carry out with us, is an indication of our careful packing process.
I believe our prices are among some of the most reasonable out there, considering the high quality of our expeditions. This is a 20 day expedition in which we provide; professional mountain guides, 2 nights hotel accommodations in Mendoza at the five-star Mendoza Park-Hyatt Hotel, 2 nights hotel accommodation in Penitentes, all land transportation, mules, all expedition food, and all community gear (tents, stoves, cooking gear, medical kit, radios, etc).
We do not cut corners. We have the best possible mountain guides for your expedition, the best possible accommodations in Mendoza and Penitentes (a total of 4 hotel nights), the best possible private transportation to and from Penitentes, and the best mule operators on the mountain.
Our guides choose the finest food available for our expeditions. This is an area we feel it is very important to provide excellent quality and quantity. We often have guides who are gourmet cooks and provide fresh fruit, meat, vegetables, and Chilean or Argentinean wine for the beginning of each expedition.
Many other guiding services subcontract to local agencies, have a poor guide to client ratio of 1:5 or 1:6 to save on cost, cover only 2 nights accommodation in a 2 star hotel in Santiago or Mendoza, use public transportation, have a tight budget for food – since they are subcontracting, use very old gear with multiple season use, and ironically enough may charge the same or even more. You will clearly notice that with AVENTURAS PATAGONICAS, most of your money goes directly into your trip. We are a small business. Your money does not go into high office expenses, staff salaries, etc, but instead directly into YOUR trip!
We are a small guiding company and intend to stay this way. This is the only way we can personalize each one of our climbs. However, we highly believe that by staying small, and not delegating every aspect of the expedition, a high level of quality can be maintained. We have chosen to specialize, and remain small so that we can continue to pay attention to details and to the art of high altitude mountain guiding.