Elevation Gain: 696m
Total Time: 3 hours 44 minutes
Date: January 9th, 2022
Cerro Bonete is a 5052m peak located a few km west of Aconcagua’s Plaza de Mulas base camp. It’s frequently used as an acclimatization hike for climbing parties and expeditions during their stay in Plaza de Mulas. From base camp it’s ~8km round trip and around 844m of elevation gain, making for an easy day trip. The normal route does go above 2nd class and it’s mostly a hike up.
On our 3rd day in base camp we planned to make an ascent to the top and left camp around 10am for a leisurely start. We traversed west ward across a moraine field and then ascended up a steep slope gain the valley entrance.
The route through the valley followed a well-trodden foot path that gained elevation slowly up to about 4650m. Here the route steepened and the path turned to a series of switch backs up a mix of loose scree and hard rock. Ascending felt easy as the previous day we’d done a gear haul with heavy packs and now we were just carrying food and water.
We paused for food at around 4800m, next to a lone stand of penitentes. After 20 minutes or so we started up a scree slope on climbers left of the summit ridge. When we reached the base of the ridge we traversed climbers right for about 300m, before ascending directly up to the ridge. Here we hit a small section of 2nd, maybe 3rd, class terrain before topping out on the ridge.
From the ridge it was about 130m over easy terrain to reach the summit. We had a clear day and so the views were phenomenal. Most impressive was seeing the true size of Aconcagua, which you can’t quite imagine from the lower aspects.
We hung out on the summit for another 20 minutes and then reversed our way down the ridge. We deviated slightly from our ascent track, aiming for a soft scree slope that enabled us to run down all the way to our first rest spot. This area did have a high risk of rock fall, so we had to be mindful of that.
Once at the first lunch spot we regrouped and then retraced our steps back to base camp. All said, it was an awesome outing and an easy peak to grab that’s above 5000m!