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Aconcagua Questions

Discussion area for peaks outside of the USA.
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Re: Aconcagua Questions

Postby lonewolf210 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:10 am

davey_rocket wrote:
lonewolf210 wrote:I took a pair of size 13 Scarpa Inverno's for the days above Camp 1. Those boots alone necessitated having a mule as they took up the vast majority of my pack space. But we also packed and planned on expedition style climbing. If you plan to do it lightweight it could probably be done. When I was preparing for my trip a friend sent me a trip report of a couple who did the mountain UL style and included a painstakingly precise gear list. Let me look around and see if I can find that again.
.


IS it usual to take a separate pair of boots for higher up? From what I have read it's likely to not even require the use of crampons up there so a plastic boot seems overkill in terms of stability. Is it the cold that mandates it? Also why not attach the boots to the outside of the pack rather than putting them in the pack? I don't have touring boots so did this with ski boots when I did a ski descent of Quandry this year. If worried about snow getting in then use bags over the top. They can then double as use for trash once u start wearing the boots.

Obviously u have more in sight to this than I do just my observation

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Re: Aconcagua Questions

Postby Dave B » Wed Jun 15, 2011 11:20 am

lonewolf210 wrote:IS it usual to take a separate pair of boots for higher up? From what I have read it's likely to not even require the use of crampons up there so a plastic boot seems overkill in terms of stability. Is it the cold that mandates it?


From what I noticed from the guides and other groups, double plastics were almost an understatement. Many of the guides and other groups on the mountain were wearing boots similar to what you'd expect to see in the Himalaya. From Camp 1 up I would not want to be with out well insulated boots. The first carry day to camp 2 I wore my hiking boots - I didn't make the same mistake the second day.

However there are stories and trip reports of Aconcagua climbs with people wearing little more than a windproof layer and no gloves on summit day, but I certainly wouldn't prepare with that in mind.

Again, I'm not saying it can't be done in Alpine style, I'm sure it can (and it most certainly has). However you'd have to judge your endurance and compare that to previous high altitude exposure to make those decisions. Aconcagua is expensive - short of the the pampered life style of a guided trip, I would take every precaution to ensure success, sometimes that may mean slowing down and taking your time.

This is of course, is just my opinion.
"There is no cheating in climbing, only lying." - Semi-Rad

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Re: Aconcagua Questions

Postby climbing_rob » Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:28 pm

lonewolf210 wrote:
davey_rocket wrote:
lonewolf210 wrote:I took a pair of size 13 Scarpa Inverno's for the days above Camp 1. Those boots alone necessitated having a mule as they took up the vast majority of my pack space. But we also packed and planned on expedition style climbing. If you plan to do it lightweight it could probably be done. When I was preparing for my trip a friend sent me a trip report of a couple who did the mountain UL style and included a painstakingly precise gear list. Let me look around and see if I can find that again.
.


IS it usual to take a separate pair of boots for higher up? From what I have read it's likely to not even require the use of crampons up there so a plastic boot seems overkill in terms of stability. Is it the cold that mandates it? Also why not attach the boots to the outside of the pack rather than putting them in the pack? I don't have touring boots so did this with ski boots when I did a ski descent of Quandry this year. If worried about snow getting in then use bags over the top. They can then double as use for trash once u start wearing the boots.

Obviously u have more in sight to this than I do just my observation
Just my $0.02, it sure was nice having super-warm boots up high on this mountain, basically many of us used approach shoes up to 14K, double-plastics above. Even with plastics, one of our hardy team members still had very cold feet. This is a simple, yet very high and potentially very cold mountain, and I'm glad we were fully equipped. It does accumulate snow high at times along the std. route, and we were in fact LUCKY enough that this was so and we did use crampons. Crampons on hard snow is way easier (more energy efficient) than bare-boots on scree, so I would certainly carry crampons to high camp and evaluate for summit day.

I certainly do respect the alpine approach as well, but we were mule-supported to base camp, where the "fun" begins IMHO. A pal of ours BP'd all the way from the trailhead, and he did make the summit eventually, but wow, was he miserable schlepping 70+ pounds up 21 miles to basecamp. Ouch.

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Re: Aconcagua Questions

Postby pbakwin » Wed Jun 15, 2011 7:19 pm

Double boots are actually required on Aconcagua because of the cold. However, I don't
know that anyone actually checks. I have done it in regular goretex hiking shoes.
Don't recommend this unless you are doing a single push from Pza de Mulas. We did
hire a mule to carry our stuff up to PdM. It was only I think $150 for the 3 of us and
saved an annoying shlep. Mules do not go above PdM. That was 2005, things likely
changed some (i.e., cost of mules).

These guys certainly didn't have plastics:
Image
The photo was taken near the base of the Canaletta, but they accompanied us
from Nido to the summit & back.

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Re: Aconcagua Questions

Postby lonewolf210 » Wed Jun 15, 2011 9:11 pm

pbakwin wrote:Double boots are actually required on Aconcagua because of the cold. However, I don't
know that anyone actually checks. I have done it in regular goretex hiking shoes.
Don't recommend this unless you are doing a single push from Pza de Mulas. We did
hire a mule to carry our stuff up to PdM. It was only I think $150 for the 3 of us and
saved an annoying shlep. Mules do not go above PdM. That was 2005, things likely
changed some (i.e., cost of mules).

These guys certainly didn't have plastics:
Image
The photo was taken near the base of the Canaletta, but they accompanied us
from Nido to the summit & back.


That makes sense I had just seen some threads(other forums) where they were discussing not taking double plastics but only single ones. I was planning on crampons and an ice axe. What made his pack so heavy? Seems you could avoid an extremely heavy pack by using only dehydrated foods and melting snow. Also chocolate is great for energy. Meet the guy how had the speed record for hiking the pacific rim trail (IIRC) and pretty much all he ate the whole time was chocolate bars.

So you made it to the summit from PDM and then back in one day? Doesn't that but u at an extreme risk for HAPE or HACE?

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Re: Aconcagua Questions

Postby pbakwin » Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:36 am

So you made it to the summit from PDM and then back in one day? Doesn't that but u at an extreme risk for HAPE or HACE?


Yes, PdM to summit & back. I believe this puts you at LESS risk for AMS because of the brief time
spent at altitude. Plus, moving quickly you don't get as cold. In fact we were well acclimated and
had no problems.

TR is here: http://pbakwin.home.comcast.net/SA2005/aconcagua.html

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Re: Aconcagua Questions

Postby lonewolf210 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:14 pm

Wow that's crazy. I also apologize for all the typing slang.

Why don't most people summit that way then? seems a lot easier just a long day

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Re: Aconcagua Questions

Postby climbing_rob » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:20 pm

lonewolf210 wrote:Wow that's crazy. I also apologize for all the typing slang.

Why don't most people summit that way then? seems a lot easier just a long day
Most people aren't ultra-runners and can move fast enough to avoid HAPE/HACE issues. We were a merely-very-fit group and it took us 14 hours to roundtrip from Nido, probably would have been 20-22 hours at least from PDM. Be careful up there, this "blitz" thing is not an uncommon technique, but you should know what you're doing and know the risks.

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Re: Aconcagua Questions

Postby Woodie Hopper » Thu Jun 16, 2011 4:15 pm

You need to understand if you decide to make a push from PdM you better be well-acclimated because if you try it without adequate acclimatization and get stuck high due to weather, fatigue, etc., you could pay dearly for it- I know of someone who did last season (died at high camp). I'm all for trying, just be careful.

Woodie

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Re: Aconcagua Questions

Postby lonewolf210 » Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:46 pm

O I wasn't planning on trying it merely a curiosity thing.

Well my group should have a little bit of a leg up living at 7,000 feet and most of us compete in Ironman and Ultras so I'm not to concerned about fitness more the weather. But I don't plan on anything like a push from BC just maybe more of an alpine style ascent with two camps above pdm

How cold can it get up that high during the climbing season? I skied in some wind chill temps that were estimated at -70 to -80 that wasn't much fun.

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Re: Aconcagua Questions

Postby pbakwin » Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:16 pm

It can be very cold. I don't know degrees, but in 2004 I had 5 layers on top, a balaclava & a fleece hat under the hood
of my shell, plus goggles and was moving as strongly as I could move at 20K, but it was still marginal. The wind was
fierce and nearly knocked me down at times (with poles). Or, it can be "nice".

Someone said something about an ice ax. I don't know where on Ruta Normal you would want that. I would leave it
home & bring crampons & trekking poles.

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Re: Aconcagua Questions

Postby Gabriel » Sun Jun 19, 2011 10:29 am

I spent only one night above basecamp. You can acclimatize on day hikes from Mulas. You'll know when you are ready for the summit if you have the high alt gene.

If you really want to be self sufficient choose another high mountain. Aconcagua is fun, but way too well developed in terms of infrastructure to make a realistic self sufficient attempt. I only went one day without a hot shower and beer! It's amazing how many people show up prepared for a high alt wilderness experience. You can get a great steak dinner with wine for a reasonable price in basecamp or at the basecamp hotel.

PBawkin did the right thing summiting from basecamp. On an acclimatization hike from Mulas to Berlin, I was tempted to go for the summit, but had slept in at Mulas and it got late. I really think that any strong, acclimatized fourteener hiker is capable of making the summit from Mulas in a long day in good weather, which is the norm on Aconcagua.

Plastic boots: I summited with my Denali plastics. Not at all necessary! If I were to do this again I would go with an insulated light hiker. Take microspikes to basecamp just in case. An ice axe is not necessary on the normal route from Mulas.

Mules: Not necessary. most of what you need is available in basecamp. Hike to basecamp with a light backpack and enjoy the services.

Have fun,

G

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