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Aconcagua questions

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Aconcagua questions

Postby drManhattan » Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:44 am

Hello all,

After a few years of putting off Aconcagua for various reasons I have finally decided to attempt it at the end of this year. I am looking to go as a pair and get logistics to basecamp.

I have a bunch of questions I am hoping people can provide some information on:

- I am looking to get some new boots, my Spantiks run a little big and I am looking to replace them for Aconcagua and beyond, would G2 SM's be good for Aconcagua/Denali/Muztag Ata or would I be better off looking at Olympus Mons?

- Can anyone provide some information around carrying your own waste? can you hide your waste at each camp and then just collect it one bag at a time on the way down? or do you need to carry it the whole time?

- What are water sources at each camp? if none do you need to melt snow? (are you using a filter of some sort?)

- We are looking to go as a pair, will one mule with one large duffel each be sufficient?

- How do you manage the river crossings?

- With load carries what is the likelihood that someone steals your cache? I'm a little worried about this as it would effectively end the expedition...

- Where can I buy a good map of Aconcagua?

- Would 2 tents be a good idea? (leave one up at basecamp) take one higher up.

- Anything you would suggest for 2 people doing this unguided?

I am sure I will have more questions later, thanks for your time.
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Re: Aconcagua questions

Postby asmrz » Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:24 pm

It has been a few years since I have been there but

If you are comfortable with a minimum of gear, one mule for two people load is just fine. One duffel bag for you, one for your partner.

The company you hire to carry your load will have at least one tent at the BC. You should be able to make easy arrangements with them to store your gear.

I don't think two tents are essential or needed. After you arrive at the Plaza (if that is your BC) you can stay at the Lodge for four or five days and each day you can go for day hike up the mountain, each day a bit higher.
Or if it is still allowed, there used to be a tent area beside the lodge which allowed you to buy some food from the lodge but camp in your own tent.

Actually, you do not say what route you intend to do. I'm only assuming that your intent is the regular route, so this write-up is for it.

On the regular route and other routes on the mountain, you'll need to melt snow, well with the exception of the approach which has running streams (good water). I used Iodine to purify.

I do not recall big problems crossing any of the streams but I have not been to the South Face.

I think two people who are used to climbing on weekends in any conditions, should have absolutely no problem flying to Argentina, taking a bus from Mendoza, hiking the two days to the BC, taking a few days to acclimatize and then climb the mountain. I used 25 days and soloed the peak in 1998 via the regular route after we failed on the Ibanez-Marmillod route.

A bit of Spanish would not hurt while making arrangements in Argentina.

E-mail me if you find any of this useful and if you want to talk about anything. Good luck, Alois.

Edit.. Spelling, what else.
Last edited by asmrz on Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Aconcagua questions

Postby drManhattan » Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:12 pm

Thanks for the response Asmrz,

I speak ok spanish as I have spent a lot of time in South America, and my partner is a doctor so i think we compliment each other there.

We have both been over 6000m previously, but majority of our climbs were guided, we have done some hikes unguided though.

Becauseof that logistics and the weather are my two biggest concerns at the moment, so with a good 10 months to prepare I am trying to soak up as much information as possible. I would rather do this unguided and have to turn around then go guided and summit.
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Re: Aconcagua questions

Postby drManhattan » Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:48 pm

Can anyone else help with my questions above?
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Re: Aconcagua questions

Postby Sunny Buns » Wed Feb 22, 2017 6:43 am

Answers assume you are going via normal route:

-Water? ~20 years ago, water at BC was from small melt streams off the snow - make sure to fill bottles before it gets dark because stream will freeze over night. I filtered everything. Poop is everywhere on the mountain. Higher we melted snow - no fun.

- One duffel? Look on the internet at the mule services - they will give max weight and other requirements for the mule. We hiked from Plaza del Inca to Confluencia (6 miles) with enough gear to spend the night, then the mules arrived later with the rest of it. For the 14 mile hike to BC we carried only survival gear/lunch - mules took the rest. On one trip I was on something went wrong and a bag did not arrive and some people had to leave the trip! Make very sure the mule guys know exactly what to do with each bag. Will one bag work? I took 2 large bags just to make the trip easier on the airplane - but to answer your question, put what you want to carry 20 miles in your pack on your back, then see if you can put all the rest in your duffel bag. I used those green canvas army-type duffel bags - they got some holes rubbed in them on the mule ride.

- River crossings? Were not a problem in January on normal route - carry light weight shoes for crossings. May be bigger problem if not on normal route.

- Steal cache? Saw one older man walking out crying because his gear was stolen. Don't know how often it happens. We had no problem - we buried our gear under rocks.

- Map? Try this: aconcagua-the-map-t49406.html
I bought a southern hemisphere compass in Mendoza. Didn't really need it.

- 2 tents? Yes, you may have gear you want to leave at BC like your heavy duffel bag. Also, what if one of your party decides not to go up for some reason? What we did was to pay a guide service like Amayra or Grajales, etc to feed us in BC, and they let us stash some items in their camp - maybe we left one of our tents down there so they could watch it - can't remember. That was good - they had a big tent with table/chairs where we ate breakfast, lunch, dinner, which was nice - we did not have to cook - take a down parka - it is cold sitting around camp. BC tent should be able to handle some wind - we had some at BC - but does not need to be expensive.

- Unguided? Normal route, no problem. It's a trail all the way to the summit. I'd read RJ Secors book on Aconcagua. It's excellent. Your Spanish should help. Review all of the information on commercial guiding sites to see their itinerary, logistics, how they do things, etc. Mountain Madness, Field Touring Alpine, all of them - READ, READ, READ. Look for old threads on summitpost.
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss ... +aconcagua

Good luck. Have fun.
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Re: Aconcagua questions

Postby drManhattan » Wed Feb 22, 2017 12:23 pm

Awesome stuff!

Yes I will be doing the normal route and will definitely be looking to book Grajales for our BaseCamp logistics. I am wondering if Grajales can provide the second tent for BC? so I will pretty much just need to concentrate on the 6-7 days above BC.

Man I will be furious if my gear goes missing and my trip is over >:(

What about Radios? or Satellite phone? needed?

Like I have said the weather worries me a little. going unguided I guess we will need to be a bit more conservative on summit day.
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Re: Aconcagua questions

Postby logsden » Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:43 pm

Boots: I have not worn your boots but considering they are marketed as warmer than Spantiks, they will be fine for Aconcagua. Likely warm enough for your other objectives.
Human waste: Basic rules apply - Carry it all off and keep it centralized in each camp in a strong trash compactor bag. Don't forget it or lose it. Don't let it get blown off by wind. Otherwise manage as you see fit.
Water: On Normal Route, most camp options have snow in normal conditions. Camp Canada is not worthwhile in my opinion. Often dry and too short a carry/move from PdM. BC to Nido to Colera or Berlin is better for multiple reasons.
Duffel: One duffel apiece should definitely be adequate.
Rivers: No significant river crossings under normal wx conditions getting to PdM.
Theft: Not a major cause for concern. Stashed gear should be out of sight in a black trash bag.
Maps: Can be found at any gear shop or street vendor in Mendoza
Tents: Second tent allows more flexible logistics and some lighter moves.
Other: Go with Grajales. Excellent company. Sat comms are excellent option for wx updates. InReach works very well.

The lodge mentioned in a previous post has been out of business for years.
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Re: Aconcagua questions

Postby Sunny Buns » Thu Feb 23, 2017 12:29 am

Email Grajales and ask if you can stash some stuff in one of their tents; and ask if they can provide a tent for your use while you are in BC - I'd guess they can, but that's just a guess. If not, ask them if you can put some stuff in a tarp and cover it with rocks in their camp until you get back to BC.

I thought there was a sat phone available somewhere in BC. Unless you want to call someone, don't need it. Nice to have? I guess, but maybe spendy and heavy. I heard there is a medical ranger tent at Nido - maybe they have one. You might find out if you can stash stuff in their area so they can keep an eye on it.
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Re: Aconcagua questions

Postby drManhattan » Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:29 am

Excellent thanks guys really excited for this
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Re: Aconcagua questions

Postby hvassios » Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:12 am

I'd like to tag another question onto this string if you don't mind. I'm headed down with a group to do Aconcagua in January. I have heard from other blog posts that people have gotten their food taken in customs on the way there. My preference would be to buy most of the food for the trip here in the States and have it organized and ready.
Has anyone had experiences with food getting taken in customs? What did customs take/not take? What food did you wait and buy in Mendoza?

Thanks!
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Re: Aconcagua questions

Postby Sunny Buns » Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:56 am

"Has anyone had experiences with food getting taken in customs? What did customs take/not take? What food did you wait and buy in Mendoza?"


Are you going with a guided group? They usually provide your food, but some may not.

My info is prior to 9/11/01: I took food but that was before the 9/11 attacks. Don't know how it works now. Back then I had 2 huge green canvas duffel bags with everything in those. They didn't even open them up. I did have lots of freeze dried food, jerky, etc. Mendoza had fairly good grocery stores at that time - there was a Wal-Mart but it's a ways out of town - don't know if it had food or not. You could buy fuel in Mendoza.
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Re: Aconcagua questions

Postby cab » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:51 pm

I went in 2014 and had heard the same thing about food being confiscated. I took a bunch of food with me and at the Mendoza airport they didn't even open my bag to look, so I think it's random as to which bags they search. Due to some travel difficulties on the way back, I had to take a bus over the Andes from Mendoza to Santiago and at the Argentina/Chile border, the Chileans did search my bag and took some leftover beef jerky and other stuff. Maybe they are just more strict at land crossings vs. airports? I think it's probably worth the risk to buy food in the states and bring it with you rather than having to deal with doing all of your shopping there (especially for specialty items). You should be able to get last minute stuff in Mendoza no problem.
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