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Prep for Aconcauga. Any Oct/Nov mountaineering in the USA?

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Postby adventurer » Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:05 pm

brokesomeribs,

Sounds like you need to get clear on what route your team is planning to climb.

Neither the highly popular Normal Route or the Polish Traverse (Vacas Valley approach) present any glacier problems.

The Polish Direct is a different story and frankly, based on your experience, that may be a problem for you.

Route considerations aside, in terms of training for Aconcagua the biggest challenge faced by most climbers is a combination of the altitude and the length of the climb. Climbing Rainier or any other peak in the lower 48 at most is an effort of just a few days. Climbing Aconcagua is a three week effort for all but the strongest and most acclimatized people. Good preparation for Aconcagua includes as much multi day hiking/climbing as you can manage to fit in before your trip. Similarly, the best way to prep for the altitude is to be as fit as possible at the start and to allow yourself plenty of time to get up the mountain.

Good Luck and Have fun!
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Postby wkriesel » Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:00 pm

It sounds like adventurer has done Aconcgua. So have I. You will not need glacier/ice climbing skills unless you do the Polish direct route. You will need a desire to suffer from the altitude and cold.
Regarding training, just one trip to a 14'er will help you learn what to expect at Plaza Mulas or Plaza Argentina, but that is about all. For training, I did 5-6 cardio sessions/week, 30-90 minutes each. My conditioning hikes were at GSMNP every weekend. On Mt Sterling, I made (and still do) 4,100' ascents with a 50 pound pack in 3:15.
Good luck, have fun and don't die.
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Postby brokesomeribs » Thu Aug 19, 2010 5:16 pm

Thanks for the advice everyone. At this point we're planning on doing the Normal Route, which like everyone says, is mostly a scree slog. However, we're open to alternate routes which do have crevasse danger and will be making the final decision much closer to the climb based on snow conditions, weather, final group, etc.

I don't want to be a weak link and prevent our group from choosing a certain climb based on lack of skills.
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Postby rdesota » Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:04 pm

Good cardio workouts and exposure to a or some 14ers is about all you need especially for the normal route. You guys won't be doing the south face, so the only other route that would have any crevasse danger is the polish glacier which it doesn't sound like you will be doing - it is fairly steep and committing. SO - good overall conditioning and a good attitude and you won't be a liability assuming you acclimatize well.
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Postby Day Hiker » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:51 pm

sjarelkwint wrote:Ok, this might be a good place to post another question about aconcagua.

On the internet I find a lot of info about different routes over the glacier.

What's the: Polish Glacier Normal route? Is it the polish direct or another one? The polish normal sounds easier ...


It's a pretty rough map, but it depicts the different routes. View is looking south:

Image

from http://everestmydream.blogspot.com/2009/07/climb-aconcagua-one-of-seven-summits.html
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Postby mstender » Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:34 pm

sjarelkwint wrote:Ok, this might be a good place to post another question about aconcagua.

On the internet I find a lot of info about different routes over the glacier.

What's the: Polish Glacier Normal route? Is it the polish direct or another one? The polish normal sounds easier ...


Take a look at Secor's book; it contains detailed route descriptions as well as pictures.
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Postby James_W » Thu Aug 19, 2010 9:47 pm

The standard route and polish traverse look like hill walks. I guess you should be hiking lots for prep. Since it is close to home you should do a great range and presi traverse.
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Postby Brad Marshall » Fri Aug 20, 2010 12:51 am

brokesomeribs wrote:Thanks for the advice everyone. At this point we're planning on doing the Normal Route, which like everyone says, is mostly a scree slog. However, we're open to alternate routes which do have crevasse danger and will be making the final decision much closer to the climb based on snow conditions, weather, final group, etc.

I don't want to be a weak link and prevent our group from choosing a certain climb based on lack of skills.


There aren't a lot of standard routes on Aco that have any crevasse danger . During the normal climbing season there are a few at the top of the Polish Direct. Few climbers that have gone there with me had been over 14K and Aco is a good first-test of your body at altitude. Climbing on the Polish Routes might be a good choice for your team depending on overall skill level. Those with more ice climbing skills could do the Polish Direct (if it's in shape) and perhaps some others could do the Polish Traverse (non-technical) or you could all do the Traverse. You would all be together at the camps until summit day. There are several great trip reports here on SP that have photos of both routes for your consideration.

sjarelkwint wrote:What's the: Polish Glacier Normal route? Is it the polish direct or another one? The polish normal sounds easier ...


The Polish Glacier route is, according to most, the more dangerous of the three more popular routes on this side of the mountain. The Glacier route skirts the ice cliff on the left side of the glacier heading towards Flag Rock and presents more objective hazard from pure ice. Most climbers prefer the steeper Direct route because it presents less objective hazard. On January 3, 2009 a French climber attempted the Glacier route solo and, after a late start, has never been seen since.
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Postby kcurchin » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:38 am

Your training depends on the route...the Normal Route has no glaciers and a chance of little snow...just 2+ weeks of expedition hiking at high altitude that most people don't take into account how hard it is. If the Polish glacier....steep glacier travel to train on would be a good idea. I have gone twice...once alpine style up the vacas valley.....3 weeks of very hard hiking...did not summit but got to White Rocks at 19,500'.....I was not mentally prepared for expedition hiking. Went back 2 years later and went up the Normal Route and stayed at the Refugio.....allowed us to not tent camp/cook for the entire time...and summited. Would suggest gym, stairmaster,etc....and stay healthy, eat right, don't get sick on the hike, hope the weather is in your favor and you are stubborn enough to overcome the mental grind of expeditions...you have a chance to summit and come back OK.
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Postby Palisades79 » Fri Aug 20, 2010 4:10 pm

Sell or trade the air ticket,go to Argentina at least a week early,recover from the international flight & numerous last-minute hassels of getting away, take some easy hikes at altitude , scope out the local food & water carefully , sort out gear ,and have a great climb !
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Postby Brad Marshall » Fri Aug 20, 2010 5:19 pm

sjarelkwint wrote:Was looking for another option to get around the main trail


Which main trail were you referring to? The normal route or the Polish Traverse?
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