Standing tall and proud at 6962 metres (22,840 feet) with the bragging rights of being one of the World’s Seven Summits and the daunting nickname ‘The Mountain of Death.’ the mighty Aconcagua of Argentina demands a lot from you on a mental and physical level. It also requires you to plan around the fickle mistress that is the weather.
After answering the question how hard is it to climb Aconcagua and deciding you’re up for the challenge, the next logical question is usually when is the best time to climb Aconcagua?
It’s certainly a different beast to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro where you can trek Africa’s tallest mountain pretty much all year around whereas South America’s tallest only has one climbing season.
While it doesn’t share the same rich cultural tapestry and lush, varied landscapes as the majestic peaks enveloped in the Himalayan scenery, Aconcagua provides its own unique and stark beauty, coupled with a set of challenges that every who has their eyes on the Seven Summits must navigate.
Let’s dig into Agoncagua’s climbing window and find the best times to climb it so that you can control as many variables as possible on your route to the top.
Best Time To Climb Aconcagua
The climbing season for Aconcagua every year starts in November and runs until mid-March. The very last day you can enter Aconcagua’s park for an attempted summit is 28th February.
In terms of the weather (which I will discuss in detail below), it is a bit of an urban myth that there are agreed periods in a climbing season when it’s the best time to climb Aconcagua.
The climate is very unpredictable and I have spoken to multiple guides who have climbed Aconcagua at the exact same time a year apart.
On one expedition starting on February 1st, they were unable to summit due to harsh cold conditions and other February 1st the year later they were summiting with barely any headwind, wearing t-shirts at the summit and no need for winter jackets!
That being said, if you don’t mind the crowds and want to aim for potentially better weather and give yourself more of a time window, shoot for starting your expedition in January.
What’s The Weather Like on Aconcagua?
The weather on Aconcagua is capricious and constantly changing on a daily basis. On both occasions, I attempted to summit Aconcagua the weather was sunny and dry en route to boot camp and I have experienced anything up to -31°C and up to 80+kmph headwind up on that beast on both occasions.
The first time I tried in December it was absolutely covered in blankets of snow from Plaza de Mulas and it got worse and worse before we were told it was game over at Nido de Cóndores (5500 Metres).
Although this aligns with the whole “peak” period theory that often goes around and that this was too early to try, the snow and cold weather were unprecedentedly bad and nobody summited for the whole of the climbing season that year.
During my Aconcagua failure in Mid-January, the second time around the headwinds was the problem when it came to the weather, but the main issue was really my delirious level of altitude sickness and most of my climbing team braved the weather all the way to the top!
I have sadistically checked the weather on the trusty website that we used on Aconcagua base camp every year after this event and there was no snow, barely any headwinds and I knew people who summited without any snow, minimal headwind and a nice sunny sky!
When Are There Fewer People on Aconcagua?
If you want to avoid crowds of climbers then you should avoid arriving for the start of your expedition on the mountain between mid-December and January.
It starts to get really busy at that time once you get to Plaza del Mulas base camp, the opposing argument to this is that you will have more time on your side for sickness and bad weather conditions delaying you. If you feel strong you can play the patient game, wait it out and have another go when the weather Gods are shining down on you.
To wrap this all up, the best time to climb Aconcagua really is arriving any time during the climbing season when you’re optimally trained, have the weather on your side and you don’t get altitude sickness! Best of luck with your Aconcagua climb.
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