Argentina 2017 – Cerro Aconcagua

Have you ever wanted to travel to the Andes? Climb one of the world’s highest mountains, while helping a science project along the way? If so, then join Science in the Wild for our ‘wildest’ climbing and snow sampling expedition on Aconcagua (6962 m/22,841 ft.) in January 2017! Not quite ready for a summit climb? Then join us at the ‘wild’ and ‘wilder’ levels, detailed below.

WILD: Trek with us during our acclimatization hike at Cordón del Plata Park (located 80 km from Mendoza) and climb a 4000-meter (13,000 ft.) peak from January 8 – 16, 2017. Learn about the geology of the area, the scientific tools we’ll be using on Aconcagua, and help us train our summit climbers.

WILDER: Trek to and support our science efforts at Aconcagua’s base camp from January 8 – 24, 2017. This includes learning about the geology of the area alongside us, processing samples from the upper camps, and making measurements nearby base camp. This option also includes the 4000-meter/13,000 ft. peak at Cordón del Plata Park.

Includes: hotels in Mendoza (single supplements apply) at start and end of trip; lodging in Penitentes; private transport to/from park; extra acclimatization at Vallecitos (‘Cordón del Plata’ Park); 3 meals/day, tea and tents on trail and mountain; mule gear transport; park entrance and climbing permits/fees; base camp internet services.

Excludes: international airfare, excess baggage fees (international), visa (if needed), porters*, gear rental, rescue insurance, helicopter, alcoholic beverages, tips

 *Porter fees (2016 estimates), by camp, should you choose to hire someone to help load carry:

Base camp to Camp 1: $150; Camp 1 to Camp 2: $250; Camps 1 or 2 to Camp 3: $350; High Camp to base camp: $350

Deposition of dust and black carbon or soot (pollution) is a problem on accumulation zones of valley glaciers worldwide. This soot is the result of incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels (e.g., Goldberg et al., 1985), while dust is released from devegetated or dry soils due to land use changes. These dark contaminants absorb more solar radiation, much like you do when wearing a dark versus light t-shirt, thereby reducing the natural albedo (reflectivity) of snow and ice, and leading to enhanced melting (e.g., Kaspari et al., 2011). Help us study these effects firsthand!

As a citizen-scientist participant, you’ll help us sample and measure the quality of the snowpack on the highest peak in the southern hemisphere. To prep for the rigors of Aconcagua, we’ll take a few extra acclimatization days at Cordón del Plata Park and climb a 4000-meter peak. We look forward to sharing the beauty of the Andes with you!

Goldberg, E., (1985), Black carbon in the environment, Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Kaspari, S. D., Schwikowski, M., Gysel, M., Flanner, M. G., Kang, S., Hou, S., and Mayewski, P. A., (2011), Recent increase in black carbon concentrations from a Mt. Everest ice core spanning 1860–2000 AD, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L04703, doi:10.1029/2010gl046096.

Trip Itinerary

January 8 - Travel Day
This will be a travel day from your home country to Mendoza, Argentina. Plan to arrive to Mendoza in the afternoon or evening. We will greet you at the airport and transport to a local 3 or 4-star hotel for the night.
January 9 - Mendoza
Today we will have some time to explore the city of Mendoza, as well as apply for and collect our climbing permits. We will do a gear check, a discussion on what to expect on the science side of things (with demos), and a wine and dine in the evening.
January 10 - 13 - Acclimatization Days
We will spend a few extra days acclimatizing in preparation for the extreme altitude of Aconcagua. Located just 80 km from Mendoza, Vallecitos, at the ‘Cordón del Plata’ Park will provide us with a plethora of acclimatization peaks to try, ranging from 3000 – 5000 meters in height.
January 14 - Penitentes
After our acclimatization adventure, we will make our way over to Penitentes by private transport. Once there, we will organize the mules (for gear carry tomorrow), have dinner, and overnight and shower in a lodge-style hotel.
January 15 - Confluencia Camp
Today we will check in at the park ranger’s station at Horcones and then make our way to Confluencia camp (3390 m/11,122 ft.). We will overnight here in tents and enjoy the beautiful night sky!
January 16 - Base Camp
Today is a long day on trail (8-9 hours), ascending to Plaza de Mulas (4250 m/13,943 ft.), which will be our base camp for the climb. After setting up camp and having dinner, we will head to bed early!
January 17 - Rest Day
After the long day yesterday, today is set aside as a rest day at base camp. We’ll have time to sort through our gear and do some exploration around the area to acclimate to the higher altitude. In the afternoon, depending on conditions at base camp, we will do a demo with some of the snow sampling gear.
January 18 - Camp 1 and Base Camp
Today we make the slow trek up to Camp 1, called Plaza Canada (4900 m/16,076 ft.). If you opted to have a porter, they will help carry extra supplies (e.g., your high mountain gear that you do not want to carry tomorrow) for a cache. We will return to base camp and overnight there, as part of our acclimatization.
January 19 - Camp 1
We make our way back up to Camp 1 (Plaza Canada) today, where we will spend the night at just over 16,000 ft. We will take breaks every hour, and check in with each other to ensure everyone is well-hydrated, fed, and happy (no headaches). There will be some time to point out and talk about the incredible geology of the region.
January 20 - Camp 2
Today we make our way up to Camp 2, called Nico de Condores (5400 m/17,716 ft.). If you opted to have a porter, they will help carry your gear up to camp. Given the large gain in altitude, we will be trekking slowly and admiring the geology!
January 21 - Camp 2 Rest Day
We will take a rest day today, to get used to the higher altitude. There is a chance to explore around camp, learning more about the geology of the region. If there’s snow on the ground here, we’ll spend some time taking samples and measurements.
January 22 - Camp 3 and Camp 2
Today we make the slow trek up to Camp 3, called Camp Colera (6000 m/19,685 ft.). If you opted to have a porter, they will help carry extra supplies (e.g., your high mountain gear that you do not want to carry tomorrow) for a cache. On the way back down, we will collect snow samples and make some measurements. Then we will return to Camp 2 and overnight there, as part of our acclimatization.
January 23 - Camp 3
We make the push up to Camp 3 (19,685 ft.) today, over about 4 hours, taking care to check in with each other, to make sure everyone is feeling healthy and strong. We will overnight here and for those with the energy, do some stargazing with a telescope.
January 24 - Snow Day
Before our summit push, we will take a bit more rest at this higher camp, as well as learn how to sample and measure snow locally around the camp. This will make us more efficient tomorrow!
January 25 - Summit
Today we make the push to Aconcagua’s 6,972 m/22,874 ft. summit! This will be a very long and demanding day, but worth it to see the view from the top! On the descent, we will stop and collect snow samples, completing an altitudinal profile.
January 26 - Snow Day
Weather-dependent and dependent on the energy of the group, we will do some more explorations (off-roading) and sampling on the Horcones glacier. There is the option to stay at high camp and rest instead, with the expectation that the team members resting will help prepare hot drinks and soups for the return of the team members out collecting snow.
January 27 - Base Camp
Today we will make the long descent to Plaza de Mulas. Once at base camp, we’ll enjoy a nice big dinner!
January 28 - Confluencia Camp
On this day, we will slowly make our way down from base camp and to our camping spot at Confluencia. We’ll enjoy one last night of camping and stargazing.
January 29 - Penitentes
We exit the park at Horcones today and make our way back to our hotel at Penitentes. We’ll enjoy a nice dinner, hot showers, and some much needed down time!
January 30 - Mendoza
Today we take a private vehicle back to Mendoza, where we’ll overnight in a 3 or 4-star hotel. We’ll have a final group dinner at one of the local restaurants.
January 31 - Departure*
Today you will depart for your home country.

*In case of bad weather on the mountain, it is good to budget a few extra weather days. These extra days, once back in Mendoza, will be at your own expense.

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