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Aconcagua Advice

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Aconcagua Advice

Postby NJ » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:25 am

Hi Everyone!

I'm planning to climb Aconcaugua via the Polish Direct route but i'm having trouble picking a company to go with due to reviews online.

Can anyone recommend a company that is known to be good/provide a good service?

I have read that Daniel Alessio runs a tight ship but I can't seem to find much info to back that up.

Some other ones I have come across include:

http://www.fieldtouringalpine.com
http://www.grajales.net/aconcagua
https://www.patagonicas.com
http://www.aconcaguaexpeditions.com/

Thanks guys!
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Re: Aconcagua Advice

Postby cab » Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:51 pm

I used Grajales earlier this year for logistics on the mountain and they were very good. They did everything they said they were going to do, on time, and for a fair price. I would recommend them. We didn't have a guide on the mountain, so I can't speak to that. We went on the False Polish route.
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Re: Aconcagua Advice

Postby OPHIRTODD » Sat Nov 15, 2014 8:46 pm

You're on the right track, by doing your due diligence, but I would suggest that, regardless of which guide service you select, here are some things you might consider:

1. The percentage of climbers who "intend" to attempt the Polish Direct vs. those who actually get on the route is very low, especially with guide services.

2. Be very clear on how your Polish Direct trip is to be organized-- meaning I would be cautious about joining a team of climbers that is attempting the Falso, while the guide service is assuring you that you'll have a chance to break off and attempt the Polish Glacier.

I might be off by a bit, but I would guess that maybe 5% of climbers who intend to climb the Polish actually do and most don't even attempt it, as it is rarely in condition. When it is "in," it is a great climb, but just be prepared to be flexible and consider yourself lucky if it's in good shape when you get up high. The glacier has changed a bit in recent years, and if the trend continues, it will be significantly harder to get up the Direct, due to a big crack working its way north across the route.

There are guide services out there that will sell you the Polish Glacier trip, but the administrators and the guides are all of the same mind, namely that they are betting that you'll not even touch the route, because of the statistically low probability of it being in shape. Therefore, it is easier and more cost effective to just add you to a Falso trip.

The model goes something like: "Sure, you can join our False Polish trip on such and such a date, and when the team goes for the summit/high camp/traverse, you can go up the Direct with a guide!"

This model presents some problems for you, as you'll be with a group with climbers who have different goals. That alone can erode away at your own goals or create a weird dynamic among the group. Hopefully, the guide service has sent along a guide who is skilled enough to lead you up the route, if it is in shape, but we've seen otherwise over the years... In such cases, it is fairly easy for the guides to convince you that the route isn't in shape, because- heck-- they are the experts, right?

My point here is that you should look for a trip that is dedicated to attempting the Polish. Such a team will have the flexibility to wait for improving conditions or weather, and have all the necessary kit for an attempt. The combination team I described above is fraught with challenges and rarely have success. You still might not set foot on the route, but if you want to climb it, set yourself up for the greatest possible chance of success.

I should qualify all of the above by disclosing that I write this as a guide who has led teams up the peak over the past 18 years and as an owner of a guide service that has teams heading up this season as well. It is a great climb when it is in condition, but climbers should have a clear understanding of their actual chances of climbing it, and of the structure of the team that they will join.

Get after it and best of luck!!
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Re: Aconcagua Advice

Postby ScottyP » Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:28 am

Todd,
You need to post more ! Great advice from someone who knows...
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Re: Aconcagua Advice

Postby Sunny Buns » Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:58 am

You might check out SummitClimb with Dan Mazur. I've never used them so investigate before you send your money, looks like they do the route you are interested in, and their website and prices look reasonable:

http://summitclimb.com/new/default.asp?vid=90

Good luck and have fun.
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Re: Aconcagua Advice

Postby Chris Simpson » Wed Nov 19, 2014 3:33 pm

Dan and his guides are world class.
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Re: Aconcagua Advice

Postby Sunny Buns » Fri Nov 21, 2014 8:33 am

Here's some advice I would give when choosing a guide service:

Look carefully at the climbing schedule. If one company takes fewer days to reach a certain camp, that may be a red flag. If you are a strong climber at altitude that may be less of a factor; but if you are coming from sea level, and are not acclimated, slower may give you a better chance.

If they say they can get you off the mountain early, ask why. Do they not stick to the itinerary? Do they "race" up the mountain? Maybe they just usually have good weather? (Most have 3-4 days in their schedule for bad weather.)
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Re: Aconcagua Advice

Postby Sunny Buns » Fri Nov 21, 2014 9:53 am

Another one to look at is Mountain Madness.
http://www.mountainmadness.com/adventures/seven-summits/aconcagua

Taking Ophirtodd's advice above, I'd go normal route to give best chance at the summit - but I'm a wimp. :)
I just noticed Ophirtodd's company - you might check it out too: http://mountaintrip.com/international/aconcagua/
Here's one more: http://www.alpineascents.com/aconcagua-main.asp

I looked at Normal Route itineraries for several companies for number of nights at Confluencia camp, base camp, Camp Canada, and Nido de Condores, and here is what I found:

field alpine touring - no normal route shown
Aconcagua expeditions - didn't find itinerary.
grajales - 2, 5, 1, 1 then Berlin. I like the 5 in BC, but 1 in Canada and 1 in Nido I don't like. Prefer to climb high, sleep low and also prefer carrying a partial load to Nido and partial to Berlin rather than carrying all your gear in 1 trip.
patagonicas - 2, 3, 2, 2, then Piedra Blancas. 3 isn't enough in BC for me, but 2 in Canada and 2 in Nido are good.
Summitclimb - 2, 3, 2, 2, then high camp. Same as patagonicas.
Mountain Madness - 2, 4, 2, 2, then high camp (berlin). I like this schedule the best.

If you are going Polish Direct, do a similar comparison.
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Re: Aconcagua Advice

Postby Sunny Buns » Sat Nov 22, 2014 5:20 am

More wisdom from Sunny Buns: :)

Scroll down a little more than 1/2 way to the bottom:
http://www.alanarnette.com/climbing/climbing8000faq.php

More:
http://www.alanarnette.com/climbing/mountaincomparisions.php

The mountain:
http://www.alanarnette.com/7summits/aconcagua2005.php

Guide services compared:
http://www.alanarnette.com/climbing/guides.php

Looks like making a decision on which guide to use is going to be harder than climbing the mountain! :mrgreen:
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Re: Aconcagua Advice

Postby herdbull » Sat Nov 22, 2014 9:59 pm

If you do decide to go the normal route don't overlook INKA. They by far have the biggest base camp and amenities. With that said, if you do decide for the far better chance at summitting and heading up the normal route would you even require a guide?

You may get away with just some of their services to get you and your gear to Mulas or use them for a bunk or food which would in turn give you access to their water and toilets.

Either way, good luck and be safe.
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