Approach Aconcagua Camps

Approach Camps – Base Camps – Altitude Camps

Are the areas for the settlement of park visitors. Generally serve as sheltered from the wind and avalanches, are supplied with water and/or snow melters for their generation. They are also the base for park rangers and medical services.

Approach Camps

These camps are used as a rest area between the trailheads of Aconcagua Park and the base camps.

– To ascend Aconcagua by way of the Normal Route and the South Wall you will go through Camp Confluencia.
– To ascend Aconcagua by way of the Polish Glacier Traverse Route (and Direct Polish Glacier) you will go through the Pampa de Leñas and Casa de Piedra camps. These are not available with their own services.

On the Normal Route:


This stop is generally used to get the equipment ready for the expedition. It is not much used since it is necessary to use a tent and nearby there are hotels and shelters.

Elevation: 2950 meters above sea level


The name comes from the confluence of the Upper and Lower Horcones River. It is the temporary camp used by all the mountaineers who began their march on the Normal Route either to attempt the summit from the west side, make a trekking to Plaza Francia (4,000 m) or challenge the hard way of the hill: the south wall.

It is advisable to spend at least one night in Confluencia before reaching Plaza de Mulas. Most expeditions spend two nights in this camp as part of its strategy for acclimatization. It has drinking water, an area for tents, communication, toilets, mules, medical care, food service and a park ranger service. This is the most visited camp in the ravine due to its location and services.

Elevation: 3.380 meters above sea level / 11.122 feet

Hiking time from Horcones (trailhead): approx. 4 to 5 hours
Hiking time from Confluencia to Plaza Francia: approx. 4 to 5 hours
Hiking time from Confluencia to Plaza de Mulas base camp: approx. 7 to 9 hours

On the Polish Glacier Traverse Route

Pampa de Leñas:

To get there it is necessary to follow the Vacas River through the ravine. A Park Ranger post can be found in this area, where everyone should present their permissions of ascent. There is potable water and the route is well marked. Fifteen kilometers away, on the right bank, is the shelter Casa de Leñas (3 to 6 hours).

Elevation: 2.960 meters above sea level / 9.711 feet
Hiking time from Punta de Vacas (trailhead): approx. 4 to 5 hours

Casa de Piedra:

This camp gets its name from the small house you will find on this site, constructed with rocks, that is used by the muleteers as a refuge on the way to the base camp and/or to trailhead. This shelter is hard to find since it is sometimes covered with snow and it is also integrated with the environment. Water can be found in its surroundings (5 to 8 hours).

Elevation: 3.250 meters above sea level / 10.662 feet
Hiking time to Plaza Argentina (base camp): approx. 6 to 7 hours

Base Camps

These camps are used mainly to acclimate and prepare for starting the ascent.

On the Normal Route:

Plaza de Mulas Camp

This is the base camp of the Normal route and its variants. There are two campsites:

Lower Plaza de Mulas: used only by military personnel. Has potable water and heliport.

New Plaza de Mulas: Located in the following moraine to the North.
When we talk about Plaza de Mulas we mean this second camp. The area is surrounded by water and large rocks that protect tents. This is the most visited camp in the park and the most popular, where not only the expeditions that wish to reach the summit, but where hiking expeditions that will journey close to the highest mountain in the Americas will arrive.
During the climbing season this camp practically turns into a small town.

In the surrounding areas there are mountains whose elevation reaches above 5000 meters above sea level / 16400 feet. These may prove to be very useful to carry out summits and to work on the process of acclimatization. The Horcones Superior glacier is also in the area, and it is a magnificent place to visit and to practice climbing its big ice towers.

Plaza de Mulas also has medical service (provided by Aconcagua Park), Park Rangers and is the base of operations for the Rescue Patrol. For more information about these services, we invite you to visit our link “Aconcagua Park Services”

Elevation: 4.370 meters above sea level / 14.337 feet

Puente del Inca – Confluencia (3 to 6 hours)
Confluencia – Plaza de Mulas (7 to 10 hours)

On the Polish Glacier Route:

Plaza Argentina base camp

This is the base camp used for those who will ascend the Polish Glacier Traverse Route (False Polish Glacier), Direct Polish Glacier (or by way of its’ variants).
There is no infrastructure and is divided into plots among the different service providers. This is an area extremely exposed to wind. The approach from Punta de Vacas is about 60 kilometers and slightly over 2000 meters of difference of level. It is advisable to allow three days for this approach. Ascent to the Polish Glacier is only allowed to people over 21. It has good medical service and a permanent park ranger camp. It does not have rescue service.

Elevation: 4.200 meters above sea level / 13.779 feet

Timing and access:
Punta de Vacas – Pampa de Leñas shelter (3 to 6 hs)
Pampa de Leñas shelter – Casa de Piedra shelter (5 to 8 hs)
Casa de Piedra shelter – Plaza Argentina (5 to 8 hs)

Plaza Guanacos Camp

This camp was the last to be set up, it was established in 1995 due to the increasing demand of alternative routes. It is situated 70 kilometers from Punta de Vacas (9 hours from Casa de Piedra), at the bottom of the Río Vacas valley.

Because this route is rarely used lacked medical service or permanent rangers or rescue squad or service providers. Have drinking water from temporary streams. From the 2006/2007 season this route was finally closed to sport use your income leaving only reserved for use and scientific study, as it is located within the “Area Intanginble” nature reserve.

Plaza Francia Camp

This camp is the starting point for the ascent to the South wall.

There are a lot of places suitable for camping determined by small streams which go down from the Circus southern counterfort. In that place there is no vegetation and winds are not a problem, but it is important to place tents out of the way of the big rocks, that go down fast from the neighbouring counterforts. It would be fatal to underestimate rock falls.

Starting from Puente del Inca, there are 26 kilometers and approximately 1400 meters difference of level. It is possible to reach Plaza Francia in a day mark (7 to 13 hs).

To achieve better adaptation and acclimation, it is possible to practice climbing and to become familiar with the rock of the area by climbing the walls of the large nearby “Gendarmes”.

To get to Plaza Francia it is not necessary to cross the river like to get to Plaza de Mulas (see map). It is necessary to walk up the left path of the ravine.

Elevation: 4.200 meters above sea level / 13780 feet
Puente del Inca – Confluencia (3 to 6 hours)
Confluencia – Plaza Francia (3 to 5 hours).

Altitude Camps

These camps located on the mountainside of Aconcagua are middle points between the base and the summit.
Can be used to spend the night and to better acclimatize yourself during the ascent. There are places sheltered from the wind or with snow melters for water supply.

On the Normal Route:

Camp Plaza Canadá (Camp 1):

At this hight there are no traces of vegetation and prevailing high peaks and absolute silence. This path of hiking takes about 3 or 4 hours and has a vertical drop of 750m.

Elevation: 5.050 meters above sea level / 16.570 feet

Camp Nido de Cóndores (Camp 2):

After 4 or 5 hours of walking we reached a large camp consisting of striking rocks in the form of shapely peaks. The sunsets from here are magical and make Condors Nest a true viewpoint in the highest vertical drop of 500m from Camp Canadá.

Elevation: 5.570 meters above sea level / 18.270 feet (this camp has a Patrol of Park Rangers)

Camp Cólera and Berlin shelter (Camp 3):

In this camp the height causes a great stir. With a slower walk, we are witnesses of spectacular views because we are nearby the summit. Many climbers use Berlin Shelter (5.940m) as camp 3. This is equidistant from Camp Cólera but, being older, the surroundings are quite dirty and contaminated.

Elevation: 6.000 meters above sea level / 19.690 feet

At 6.380m there is another camp, Refugio Independencia (in ruins), where it is not recommended to spend the night at because of the height and strong winds, although it can be used in emergency situations.

It is important to point out that it is not always possible to have shelters available due to their bad conditions and the large number of climbers who use them. In addition, some camps only have room for a few tents; this is why climbers are advised to consult with the park rangers before beginning the ascent.

On the Polish Glacier Route:

On this route there are basically two itineraries: by Plaza Argentina or by Plaza de Mulas. The first one is shorter and has better services, the second one is less used and more beautiful.
In the route that leaves from Plaza Argentina, the first camp is usually set up at nearly 4900 m.a.s.l (Camp 1) in the first rock spur, and the second at 5850 m.a.s.l (Camp 2) among large rocks situated to the right (orographic left) of the inferior tongue of the glacier.

On the South Wall:

Due to the technical difficulty of this route, it is better to spend the night in places sheltered from rock falls and avalanches. That is why there are no regular camps.

Aconcagua Tips

The South Wall, the Great Challenge of America

The Normal Route: 6,962 Meters, Objetive Fulfilled

The Normal Route: Summit Insight

The Normal Route: Above: 5,000

The Normal Route of the Pioneers

Activities of the Aconcagua Provincial Park and Permits

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