In this 8 days mountaineering program in Mendoza we will attempt the ascent of Cerro El Plata, in El Plata range. To get prepared we will first go up a couple of acclimatization points starting from Vallecitos, in a region known as a mountaineering school in Argentina.
Cordón del Plata draws you in even from afar. With its numerous snow coated peaks it catches the eye of anyone visiting Mendoza city. But looking at pictures and sightseeing from behind a car window are hardly enough- come with us and tour the immensity of this mountain area. In our 8 day programme we’ll take you step by step, climbing up to 3000 and 4000 meters the first days in order to get ready for breathing the mountain air at 6000 meters and enjoying the view, this time not from below but from above.
THE HIGH MOUNTAIN SCHOOL
The Cordón del Plata is located in the Province of Mendoza, 80 km. from the city. It’s a mountain chain with peaks in a range of 2000 meters, from 4000 meters above sea level up to 6000 meters in the Cerro del Plata. This place offers a wide variety of climbing trips, some easy and short and some higher and more physically demanding.
This mountain chain is ideal as a form of preparation for those who want to pursue the climb of Aconcagua or other high mountains.
The day before:
We meet up at Mendoza to wrap up details, check equipment, book transportation to and from site, etc.
Day one: the trip begins
We’re transported from the city of Mendoza to Vallecitos, a refuge area where we have to register before starting the climb. There is a wide range of mountain refuges there with commodities where we can spend the first three nights, like Universidad de Cuyo, San Bernardo or Mausy(Club andino Mendoza) refuge. All three refuges are about 2900 meters above sea level.
Here we’ll begin a short hike through “Las Veguitas” camp (3200 meters) to “Piedra Grande” camp(3600 m.a.s.l.), where we’ll rest and share some mates before returning to the refuge to spend the night. The hike helps us get better used to the environment.
We try to reach the peak at San Bernardo and Mausy mountains.
We rise early and after breakfast we begin to hike, at approximately 7 am. The path begins after we cross a creek, and meanders through a pebble covered ground up to the mountain’s edge, where it turns to stone grounds leading to San Bernardo’s peak. The climb to said peak takes about 3 and a half hours. After another hour of walking along the mountain’s edge, we reach the peak of Mausy mountain (4569 m.)
Day three: The Little Chain
We’ll wake up early, have breakfast, and hike to the Little Chain. We hike along the mountain’s edge connecting mounts Loma Blanca(3650 m.) , Estudiante(3850 m.) and Iluso(3990 m.). It is an easy hike that further helps us get better adjusted to the environment but doesn’t tire us, so we’re well rested for the hike of the fourth day.
Day four: El Salto camp, 4200 meters
We’ll wake up early in order to have breakfast and pack our rucksacks. We’ll carry little weight in this part of the trip, because we’ll hire local mules to carry it. We strongly recommend hiring the mules since carrying our personal equipment, plus tents, cooking supplies and food for the rest of the trip would be physically exhausting. This will be a hard day because we’ll climb another 1300 meters and rest that night at 4200 m., which can bring some physical discomfort due to height. We need to be alert for this discomfort in order to check how well we’re adjusting to the environment. After leaving the shelter, we’ll walk along a signalized path up to “Piedra Grande”, where we will rest and eat. Then we’ll trek through a path covered in materials carried by erosion, and a more arid landscape, consequence of the height. Finally, after a short but steep slope, we’ll reach camp after 5 or 6 hours. We will set the tents and rest, because we’ll already be high enough to feel some physical discomfort. Around El Salto(4200m.) we’ll find mountains Lomas Amarillas, Rincón, Vallecitos and El Plata.
Day five: Path recognition up to Hoyada, 4900 m.
It is convenient to use this day to rest, in order to be better prepared for what will come later. We will do a short recognition hike to camp La Hoyada while taking pictures and enjoying the view. The itinerary of is day of rest can be adjusted to the needs of the group and climatic conditions.
Day six: Resting day at El Salto before trying to reach the peak
This is a full resting day before the toughest climb of the trip, Vallecitos or El Plata. It’s important to regain energy, get properly hydrated and organize our luggage and equipment. The itinerary of is day can also be adjusted to the needs of the group and climatic conditions.
Day 7: Attempt at reaching El Plata’s peak
The day starts very early, we’ll wake up at 1 am for breakfast and start walking at around 2.
This is a long and exhausting day, because not only are the height and distance to be hiked a lot, but the conditions consequence of the altitude make it tougher and slower. We begin by walking along a well signalized path to La Hoyada. After, we have to walk over a steep snow covered slope, until we reach the col between Lomas Amarillas and Vallecitos mountains.
Then we’ll walk along the mountain’s edge to another col at 5200 m. At this point the group and guide will decide whether to aim for Vallecitos or El Plata, the decision depends on the conditions the members of the group are in and on the weather conditions. In case of choosing to go to Vallecitos, the trek will take 2 or 3 hours from this point, along the mountain’s edge.
If we decide to go to El Plata, we will walk along a large but not very steep slope up to 5500 m. At this point, the slope gets steeper and the physical strain is much, because altitude begins to create quite an amount of discomfort that slows hikers down. We climb along this slope following the “z” shaped path up to the peak, from where a great view can be appreciated, of Aconcagua mountain and of Mendoza city to the east. The hike from the camp takes 9 or 10 hours. After taking pictures, we’ll begin the descent to El Salto, which is also quite long and exhausting.
Day 8: descent and end of the trip
We will descend from “El Salto” to the refuge where there we will find transport to Mendoza. Once at the city we will have dinner and finalize the trip.
This climbing experience is an excellent option for those hoping to achieve their first mountain experience in the Andes. Don´t hesitate to ask for more information so you can start your adventure!
We provide the high mountain tents, warmers and cooking equipment (pots, etc.)
All our clients are covered in case of accidents, or if they need to be rescued. We also provide social responsibility insurance.
We provide all the meals on camp, dinner in the dining dome, snacks, breakfast and 5 o’clock tea. We also provide packed rations for the hike.
A trained assistant will be accompanying four member groups in order to help the guide with group management and camping chores. His main function is to help ensure the safety of the group.
We provide the technical equipment, certified helmets, crampons, picks,
walking sticks and leg warmers.
We’re all certified. We’re guides of the AAGM(Argentine mountain guides association) certified by the APN (administration of national parks).
Spots of interest
Cerros Calle and Stepanek
El Salto campsite
Around El Salto(4200m.) weâll find mountains Lomas Amarillas, RincÃ³n, Vallecitos and El Plata.
Ascent to Cerro El Plata
Cerro El Plata summit
From El Plata summit a great view can be appreciated, of Aconcagua mountain and of Mendoza city to the east.