At 22,841 ft (6962 meters), Aconcagua is the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas and one of the seven summits. Aconcagua Provincial Park, located in the province of Mendoza, Argentina is visited by thousands of tourists every year. There is no limit as to the number of people that can climb the mountain in the climbing season. During the 2009-10 season 45,000 visitors entered the park. 7,000 people hiked to Plaza de Mulas base camp, or higher. 2,100 people tried to summit the mountain. Climbers are required to purchase a climbing permit of $500 U.S. dollars (during the high season). Information regarding the use of this money is unknown at this time.
There is an official Search and Rescue Team for the park (La Patrulla de Rescate), operated by the Mendoza police department, which consists of about ten paid individuals; all others are volunteers. The Search and Rescue Team works on a rotating schedule. Guides, guide associations, park rangers and the SAR all agree that improvements are needed, especially after the tragedy in January 2009 which was the largest rescue to date in the history of the mountain.
At present, we (family, friends, guides, guide companies, and medical organizations, both in Argentina and in the U.S.) are trying to create rescue and medical protocols to present to Aconcagua Park as well as organize training seminars and provide search and rescue equipment to this mountain.
On January 19, 2010 three rescue caches were installed on the mountain. Please refer to the Aconcagua page “Aconcagua Rescue Caches 2010” as well as the equipment page for more information on the caches.
The next goal for the foundation is the implementation of a working and effective protocol for the mountain for the 2010-11 season. The foundation also hopes that the Aconcagua Park Administrators will become more proactive with the necessary changes. When the Aconcagua Park Administration begins to participate more the foundation will organize a medical and search and rescue course for all of the involved parties for the 2011-12 season.