Argentina 2020 – Aconcagua

Science in the Wild Education/Adventure Expedition

 January 12 – February 1, 2020

Interested in trekking in the Andes? If so, then join Science in the Wild for our expedition to Aconcagua (6962 m/22,841 ft.) in January/February 2020 with our partner, Alpine Expeditions. You’ll learn about the geology of the landscape, help us collect snow samples towards understanding how the snowpack is changing in the high alpine region, and participate in studies to understand how our bodies acclimate to such extreme altitudes.

Includes: all transportation while in Argentina; hotels and lodging (2 hotel nights in Mendoza and 1 in Penitentes are included); group climbing gear; all meals while on the mountain, mule service for transporting our gear to base camp; mess tents, cooks and food service at base camp; latrine service while in lower camps

Excludes: round-trip airfare, Argentina; climbing permit fee; excess baggage charges and airport tax; meals in Mendoza; personal gear; extra hotel nights in Mendoza as a result of itinerary changes; charges incurred as a result of delays or changes in the itinerary beyond the control of Science in the Wild.

·         $1000 Deposit will be fully refunded if applicant is not accepted.

If accepted, the following applies: $150 non-refundable registration fee.
·         Full refunds, less registration fee will be provided if requested 90 days prior to expedition departure.
·         50% refund will be provided if requested 60 to 89 days prior to expedition departure.
·         No refunds will be provided 59 days or less prior to expedition.

Deposition of dust and black carbon or soot (pollution) is a problem on accumulation zones of valley glaciers and on snowpack 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!

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

Day 1 - Meet in Mendoza

The group meets in Mendoza, Argentina (2,428 ft.) today. Evening dinner in this charming city features excellent inexpensive restaurants with delicious Argentine beef and fine, excellently priced wines. Night at an excellent 3-4 star hotel. We’ll also conduct a gear check, to make sure you have everything you need for the climb.

Day 2 - Mendoza/Puente Del Inca

We obtain our climbing permits today, which must be done in person in downtown Mendoza, after which we drive to Puente Del Inca (8,924 ft.), admiring the geology on the drive. We spend the night at a very nice hostel with hot showers and a great restaurant.

Day 3 - Confluencia Camp

We load up our mules and drive 3.6 miles to our trailhead. Carrying only daypacks, we hike 4.5 miles to Confluencia camp (10,892 ft). It’s important to spend two nights here to acclimatize gradually and avoid altitude problems at base camp (14,300′) or higher in the mountain. Our mules meet us at Confluencia camp with our gear. We’ll have a chance to do a short hike in the evening and check out the incredible geology in this region.

Day 4 - Confluencia Camp

Acclimatization hike. Today we hike up the lower Horcones Valley, alongside the glacier to the base of the impressive south face of Aconcagua. This 10,000 ft. vertical wall of rock and hanging glaciers is truly spectacular. We’ll take photos of the glaciers and make water quality measurements along the way. Our hike today takes us up to approximately 13,800 ft., then we descend to spend our second night at Confluencia.

Day 5 - Aconcagua Base Camp

Hike to base camp. This is our first hard day on the mountain. While the mules carry our gear, we hike 9.8 miles and 3500 vertical feet to base camp (14,300 ft.). We’ll have a chance to look at the spectacular geology along the way!

Day 6 - Aconcagua Base Camp

Rest / Acclimatization day at base camp. We’ll get familiarized with the scientific equipment that will be used higher up on the mountain.

Day 7 - Camp 2 Carry

Today we will carry food, fuel and hardware to Nido de Condores (Camp 2 – 18,200 ft.). Along the way, we’ll take photos of glaciers flowing down nearby peaks.

Day 8 - Acclimatization Day

Easy acclimatization day. We visit the Hotel Refugio, which is located less than a mile from Base Camp. For those interested, this is a chance to have a nice hot shower.

Day 9 - Camp 1/Base Camp

Today we will carry food and fuel to Camp Canada (Camp 1 – 16,108 ft.). There will be some time to point out and talk about the incredible geology of the region, as well as take closer looks at the rocks.

Day 10 - Rest Day

Rest day today. We’ll explore the penitente formations around camp, as well as sample the snow and ice.

Day 11 - Camp 1

We pack our tents, stoves and personal gear and move up to Camp 1 today.

Day 12 - Camp 2

Today we move to Camp 2. We’ll explore how the winds (and water) have geologically shaped the rocks here.

Day 13 - Camp 3 Carry

Depending on the group’s energy, today will be a rest day or carry to Camp Berlin (Camp 3). There are plenty of volcanic features to point out here, as we gasp in the thin air.

Day 14 - Camp 3

Today we pack our camp and do a single carry to our high camp, Camp Berlin, at 19,600’. The rest of the day will be spent resting and repacking for our summit attempt.

Day 15 - Summit Day

Summit Day. Our summit push is most likely the hardest day on the mountain. We climb almost 4,000 vertical feet. The final 1,300 vertical feet are negotiated by climbing the infamous 33º chute called the Canaleta. If covered in snow, it presents a steep snow climb, but without snow it is a physically, more than technically, challenging scree and loose rock ascent. Once we reach the Cresta del Guanaco, we follow the ridge to the higher north summit of Aconcagua. At 22,841 ft., it is the highest point in the western hemisphere and outside of Asia. The views are incredible! We descend to Berlin Camp and if possible, to Nido de Condores for a better night’s sleep. Along the way, we’ll pick up rocks and snow (on the descent, of course!) to study and measure back at base camp.

Day 16 - Base Camp

We descend to base camp today. We’ll have time to process our rock and snow samples here.

Day 17 - Hike Out

Today we hike out to the trailhead. Being acclimatized, it should be much easier to hike down 14 miles and 4,700 vertical feet in one day. This can also be done after a rest day at base camp, depending on the group’s energy.

Day 18 - Mendoza

We’ll drive to Mendoza and celebrate with a wonderful dinner downtown! We’ll also debrief on the work we completed on the mountain.


Days 19-20 - Weather Days

*In case of bad weather on the mountain, it is good to budget a few extra weather days.

If these extra days are not needed on the mountain, then, once back in Mendoza, you will be responsible for your own expenses.

Day 21 - Flights home

Today you will fly back home!

Ok, I'm interested, what do I do now?

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