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Aconcagua Solo

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Aconcagua Solo

Postby chickentikka » Wed Dec 26, 2012 7:33 am

Hey! Planning on heading to Aconcagua first of February. Was originally gonna use Inkas but having a good look at this it sounds like I don't really need the added comforts of an expedition especially at 3.5k. I see the X-Factors on this mountain as a) weather and b ) health, which the expedition can't do much about. Correct me if I'm wrong. I Think I'll feel better failing if I do it solo, because of shitty weather or altitude sickness, than if I spend 3.5k on the expedition, and get hosed by bad weather or sickness. Plus the savings on the 3.5k should cover a lot of new equipment that I've got my eye on. Planning on the normal route.

Been to all the top google websites on climbing solo, which were very helpful. Still have some questions, so answer away whatever you can:

1) What type of radio should I carry with me if I go solo? Brand suggestions are good btw.

2) Can I pay a local to guide me on summit day? If so about how much?

3) Should I bring two tents or one tent and a bivvy? Also recommendations on a tent would be good. Right now I'm thinking 2 person MH Trango or possibly North Face assault (since its much lighter). Appreciate any thoughts there. Thinking MH Col Membrane for sleeping bag.

4) How best do I protect my stuff from being stolen when I stash it at the camps? Should I actually hide it? Leave it in plain site? Lock it?

5) Where do the solo climbers tend to mingle? Obviously, I'll try and make a few friends along the way.

6) How much of that 3.5k am I likely to save? I'm estimating mules are about 300 dollars and I'm budgeting about 200 for food. What else is expensive that the expeditions are providing me?

7) How much spare cash for the mountain?

8 ) I've heard about restaurants and facilities at Plaza De Mulas. I'm interested in knowing what I can get there and how much it costs. I'm not a very picky eater, but I am kinda lazy. So if I can buy all my meals at Plaza De Mulas at a reasonable price I will. Otherwise I'll be eating meal replacement packets (I'm that lazy).

9) Will my mule company let me use their latrines? If not, what are my options?

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Aconcagua Solo

Postby John Duffield » Wed Dec 26, 2012 6:11 pm

The first of February, is getting late in the season. But yes, there are restaurants at the Plaza. Things will be pricey of course. You can simply follow the hordes up the mountain. The guides of the groups will be watching you to make sure you poop into a bag.

I left on the first of Feb. It was - 50 degrees at the top camp about 2 weeks later. They were pulling down the Plaza when I descended. It's late though not too late. You'll have to bear that in mind if any delays pop up.

As with any big mountain, you'll need to observe your altitude acclimitization. A night at Penitentes, 3 nights at Confluenza, 4 nights at the Plaza should have you ready to head to the high camps.

Others may chime in here. There are people that go more than once and may help you more.
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Re: Aconcagua Solo

Postby logsden » Thu Dec 27, 2012 1:53 am

1) What type of radio should I carry with me if I go solo? Brand suggestions are good btw.

- I didn't carry one. II use Vertex. They work well. Not cheap

2) Can I pay a local to guide me on summit day? If so about how much?

- I'd say not worth it once you've committed to going solo anyway. You'll have company on the route. Make smart choices and know your conditions and physical limits...turn around if you reach them. Simple.

3) Should I bring two tents or one tent and a bivvy? Also recommendations on a tent would be good. Right now I'm thinking 2 person MH Trango or possibly North Face assault (since its much lighter). Appreciate any thoughts there. Thinking MH Col Membrane for sleeping bag.

- Two tents is nice. You'll appreciate being able to crawl back in without having to set up again back at Mulas. Not necessary...but nice. Also makes it nice to be able to ditch camp up high if need be and not have to take everything down. Skip the bivy sack. MHW Trango for Mulas and MHW EV2 for high camp...or similar. A high camp tent that can truly handle wind will likely be appreciated. Any nice zero degree (F) down bag should fit the bill. Sleep in your puffy if it gets colder.

4) How best do I protect my stuff from being stolen when I stash it at the camps? Should I actually hide it? Leave it in plain site? Lock it?

I never worried about it. Had no problem.

5) Where do the solo climbers tend to mingle? Obviously, I'll try and make a few friends along the way.

Everybody wanders. You'll see tents set up with other bored indi's roaming around talking about ... either about the weather or ... about the weather.

6) How much of that 3.5k am I likely to save? I'm estimating mules are about 300 dollars and I'm budgeting about 200 for food. What else is expensive that the expeditions are providing me?

Comforts of home. =) Shelter. Hot meals. Entertainment. More time for laziness. Places to wash clothes. etc...

Oh...and weather forecasts and expertise in understanding what they mean. How they will impact you and where. How to schedule carries and summit pushes. General mountain knowledge and awareness. Medical treatment. Safety net. Lighter loads. Logistics handling for getting bags to where/when you need them.

That stuff. =)

You'll save whatever the diff is between their total and your permit, mule and food and I suppose the 70 pesos or so in bus fare and maybe a night in los penitentes depending on which service you hire........you can do the math.


7) How much spare cash for the mountain?

Enough for some weather updates and internet time. $10 for 15 minutes I think?

8 ) I've heard about restaurants and facilities at Plaza De Mulas. I'm interested in knowing what I can get there and how much it costs. I'm not a very picky eater, but I am kinda lazy. So if I can buy all my meals at Plaza De Mulas at a reasonable price I will. Otherwise I'll be eating meal replacement packets (I'm that lazy).

You can buy meals yes...but not at reasonable prices. You can buy beer and wine too...

9) Will my mule company let me use their latrines? If not, what are my options?

Yes they typically will. And potable water should be available.
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Re: Aconcagua Solo

Postby markhallam » Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:12 am

Hello

I climbed Aconcagua in Feb 2011 and was solo and unsupported above Base Camp (Plaza Argentina - I went to the Vacas side). Up to Base Camp I used INKA for their 'Climber Assist' service - which I found well worth the expense in terms of sorting all travel including mules, plus also it was nice to have meals and some creature comforts at Base. In terms of security I left a kit bag with them whilst I was on the mountain.

I see you are a newcomer to SP. There is lots of information for you on this site, and I'd make a start with William Marler's excellent 'Aconcagua' mountain page. The info on the page is great, but in addition down LH side of page you will see (1) Trip Reports - of which there are quite a few - including my own "Aconcagua 2011 solo via the polaco-guanaco-normalo route" - but I seem to recall at least one other is 'solo' (2) Articles - I'd recommend Brad Marshalls excellent article on planning for an Aconcagua trip (albeit Vacas side - but much holds true for both) - but then also you seem to take 'health' as being down to the luck of the draw and subject to the vagaries of fate - not strictly true; you can do a lot to make sure health doesn't ruin your trip - in which case I recommend a read of my article on "Expedition Medicine" which is there on William M's page down alongside Brad's article.

Anyway, here is the link to William's page:

http://www.summitpost.org/aconcagua/150197

Best of luck!

Mark
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Re: Aconcagua Solo

Postby chickentikka » Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:08 am

Thanks guys! This is excellent stuff.

I know it's late in the season. I'm thinking of pre-acclimatising in the Himalayas skiing at around 4200 meters. I've heard that time at high altitude can stay with you for a few weeks. So I was thinking a few days to get me from India to Mendoza could be all right.

Since I'm saving all this money I'm gonna pick up a new tent and have two with me. Thinking trango plus north face assault or ev2.

Col membrane sleeping bag.

Mark, would you believe I've already read your entire trip report? Really well written. Thanks. Will check out your article on medicine now.
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Re: Aconcagua Solo

Postby chickentikka » Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:48 am

Mark,

Who would have known that I could use cialis/tadalifil to relieve HAPE? The idea of walking up a big mountain pitching a tent in my pants is hilarious. That drug is a wonder. You would probably disapprove of this medically, but my friends and I have used it on many a stag doo with great success.

I'll be taking diamox and the standard painkillers with me. Anything special I should take (e.g. The syringes they use on Everest). Drugs are plenty cheap here in India so I can get pretty much anything. I've got my own pulse ox as well.

What do you think of using Benedryl to knock you out at night? I've read in some places that you shouldn't, but my tent mate on Kili (nurse/Iraq vet) and brother (radiation oncologist) saw no issues with it. After having issues falling asleep on night one I took it every other night, slept well, woke up rested and happy? I've also been using it in Kashmir for years. I understand it's out of your system in four hours. Or would you have another drug in mind? Ambien?

Finally, medically speaking, when should you turn around? Or when should you try and turn another climber around. If you know, or authored, an article on that subject I'd love to read it.

Here's marks medicine article:
http://www.summitpost.org/expedition-medicine/675753

Thanks again for all your advice and help!

-T
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Re: Aconcagua Solo

Postby markhallam » Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:54 am

My friend,

I am pleased you found my Expedition Medicine article – but I fear you have read it a little too quickly and have misinterpreted a few things. Not least since this is a public forum and I wouldn’t want the wrong messages going out, forgive me if I correct you on a few points:
• NO! I am not saying use tadalafil/sildenafil to treat HAPE. What I am saying is both are not fully proven yet, although some evidence thus far is promising. Until fully proven I would still carry nifedipine to treat HAPE and will leave tadalafil/sildenafil until fully researched - and endorsed as being safer/better than nifedipine.
• You ask about drugs and say they are cheap in India. What I would recommend is all in the article – but 1) make sure you have full knowledge of what you are taking – in the article I have recommended non medics go further than just reading the article 2) make sure any drugs are sourced from a retail pharmacy and in consultation with your Doctor 3) you are going solo so you will not be able to carry everything I have listed anyway – so keep to a small range of emergency drugs that you may need above base – and don’t forget there are medical services at both base-camps on Aconcagua.
• On sleeping tablets: again, what I think is all there in the article – but having used them with abandon 20+ years ago I now think they are potentially harmful at altitude and with hindsight, may have caused harm on some of the trips I went on. You ask about Benedryl... I have no information to confirm or refute. IF the Benedryl formulation contains a sedating antihistamine then it may be of benefit as a sedative – and probably safer than the benzodiazepine class of sleepers (e.g.temazepam, triazolam etc) which depress breathing. But you get different active ingredients in Benedryl depending on which country you buy it in – and in some formulations you will get a ‘non-sedating’ antihistamine – or a decongestant which could even have the opposite effect!
• On ‘turn around’ – again – it is all there in the Expedition Medicine article! Have another look. You will see DESCENT recommended in red letters in situations such as where you suspect such as severe AMS, HAPE or HACE... but really, at altitude, if someone is just ill and not getting better they should turn around, whatever the cause - or if you have no idea of the cause.

Best of luck on Aco - let us know how you get on.
Mark
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Re: Aconcagua Solo

Postby Sunny Buns » Fri Dec 28, 2012 8:59 am

Start by reading this book: (take it along on the trip) :idea:
http://www.amazon.com/Aconcagua-Climbin ... +Aconcagua


$2450 for BC services only via Field Touring Alpine (not sure exactly what that includes):
http://www.fieldtouringalpine.com/progr ... lish-climb


1) What type of radio should I carry with me if I go solo? Brand suggestions are good btw.
Don't know.

2) Can I pay a local to guide me on summit day? If so about how much?

12 years ago you could hire a porter to carry loads from BC to higher camps - cost depended on how far they went. Seems like it was $80 or something. I didn't do it so didn't pay a lot of attention.

3) Should I bring two tents or one tent and a bivvy? Also recommendations on a tent would be good. Right now I'm thinking 2 person MH Trango or possibly North Face assault (since its much lighter). Appreciate any thoughts there. Thinking MH Col Membrane for sleeping bag.

I'd bring one tent and hire a guide service to allow the use of a tent at BC, BUT do arrange that before you go - I suspect you can arrange it, but I'm not sure. See links below. Don't bother with the bivy unless you want it for survival gear up high.

4) How best do I protect my stuff from being stolen when I stash it at the camps? Should I actually hide it? Leave it in plain site? Lock it?

I used a guide service and we "hid" our stuff under rocks at Nido, then went back to the lower camp for the night. (You can't "hide" it because people will see you put it there.) There was one older man that I saw walking out as we walked in - he was crying because his stuff was stolen at a higher camp - that was the end of his chance at the summit.

5) Where do the solo climbers tend to mingle? Obviously, I'll try and make a few friends along the way.

Mostly in their tents trying to stay warm, melt water, cook, eat, poop, brush teeth, sleep, carry loads, etc. Not a lot of time to spare.

6) How much of that 3.5k am I likely to save? I'm estimating mules are about 300 dollars and I'm budgeting about 200 for food. What else is expensive that the expeditions are providing me?

Used guides twice. It is nice - they pick you up at the airport, haul you to a hotel, tell you where to get a permit, where to find food and fuel if you want some of your own, etc; you have people to hang out with, they haul you to the hotel at Puenta del Inca, arrange for mules, arrange for a ride to the trailhead, talk to the ranger at the trailhead, lead you to Confluencia, arrange for mules from there to BC, arrange for meals in a tent at BC, they do a lot of the cooking, they have tents so you don't need one at all, etc. They arrange for mules on the way back and transportation back to the hotel at Puenta del Inca and then to the hotel in Mendoza, then to the airport. They do a LOT!

Now that I think about it I didn't tip them enough!!!
:(

BUT going SOLO is doable if you read the RJ Secor book - bring it on your trip.

Whether solo or guided put something colorful on your mule bags that is obvious so you can identify them from a distance. But not something that will rub a sore on the mule!


Here is a list of services from one company - as you can see it is long so the $3500 isn't unreasonable:http://www.aconcaguaaymara.com/services_expeditions_aconcagua.asp



7) How much spare cash for the mountain?
$500 minimum in case you need something. Also have enough to get back to the hotel/airport.

8 ) I've heard about restaurants and facilities at Plaza De Mulas. I'm interested in knowing what I can get there and how much it costs. I'm not a very picky eater, but I am kinda lazy. So if I can buy all my meals at Plaza De Mulas at a reasonable price I will. Otherwise I'll be eating meal replacement packets (I'm that lazy).

If you are real lazy you should go on a cruise instead of a mountain climb. :mrgreen:

The hotel is a fair distance from most of the tents so I didn't go there much, but there are food and beer vendors at BC.

Freeze dried food works OK at higher camps, but it's easier to pay a guide service and eat at a table and sit in a chair in their tent while at BC. Expect the inside of the tent to be cold.


9) Will my mule company let me use their latrines? If not, what are my options?

When I was there if you paid for BC food thru a guide service I think you could use their latrines. Write and ask - see links below, read the book.

If I were you I would contact one or more of the BC guide services and get the answers to your questions directly from them. Tell them you just want to pay for mules, BC meals, a BC tent, latrine, etc. BUT you may want them to pick you up at the airport, haul you to a hotel, point to the permit office, arrange for mules, BC meals, etc, etc, etc.

Here's some: (I just googled these - I have no personal knowledge)


http://www.grajales.net/aconcagua/servi ... vices.html

http://www.grajales.net/aconcagua/servi ... camps.html

http://www.aconcaguaexpeditions.com/ing ... aotros.htm


Good luck!
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Re: Aconcagua Solo

Postby chickentikka » Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:29 am

Mark, I'll be reading your medical article a bunch more times. There's a lot of great information to take in there and it warrants much closer consideration. I just thought the tadalafil bit was funny and interesting. Thanks for all your info.

Sunny,
Thanks for your advice! I get that the guide service is nice. I'm definitely considering getting base camp and logistical help. Although, part of me really wants to do this on my own. Money is really a much less important secondary consideration. Besides, it sounds like I can always buy whatever I need a la carte if I change my mind.

I do speak spanish (well, I used to at least) so I'm not afraid to deal with the stuff in Mendoza. Argentina is a much nicer, safer, and less corrupt country than I'm used to dealing with, so I'm not gonna be a fish out of water.

Question about the mules. Do they stop in with you on the way to Plaza de Mulas? Or do you need to carry your tent and whatever you need to camp on your back during that part of the trip? Good tip about putting something easily identifiable on the bag.

I purchased the secor book on Amazon a week ago. As I'm in India it will take another week to arrive.
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Re: Aconcagua Solo

Postby LS » Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:07 pm

Hi
I did Aconcagua solo and unsupported (no mules) in 2008, read my trip report here:
http://distantpeak.blogspot.com/2008/01/aconcagua-unsupported.html

One or two tents:
I understand that you want to bring two tents, since the mules will haul them into BC anyway. I had to carry all my gear from the road, so it was out of the question to bring 2 tents. Mules or not, I don't think it's a good idea to have two tents for a soloist on Aconcagua. It's just adding risks. Tents often get destroyed when left unattended, no matter how much you secure them, especially on a windy mountain like Aconcagua. There is also the high risk of theft from tents. I think it's much better to bring just one tent, and hide your stuff behind/under rocks near the camps. A soloist tent is only 2 kg, hence it doesn't make so much difference to ferry it up and down the mountain.

Toilet:
People pee everywhere around BC, especially the local guys. At least that was the case in 2008. Pooping is a bit more difficult for climbers without a local service provider. I usually only poop every second day, so then I just walked the 1 km over to the hotel near Plaza de Mulas. You can even camp outside the hotel if you want to be a little closer to the toilet :-) HIgher on the mountain you have to use poo bags, you can even use them in BC (inside your tent) if you are too lazy to walk over to the hotel toilet. Then throw the poo bag into the container at BC after you finnish :-)

Budget:
My total cost for Aconcagua everything included from Mendoza was 500 USD, including food, fuel, permit, transportation etc (in 2008)
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Re: Aconcagua Solo

Postby Sunny Buns » Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:50 am

Question about the mules. Do they stop in with you on the way to Plaza de Mulas? Or do you need to carry your tent and whatever you need to camp on your back during that part of the trip? Good tip about putting something easily identifiable on the bag.


The mules will drop your stuff at Confluencia so all you have to do the first day is carry a day pack the 6 miles to camp. Then we rested the next day (took a day-hike), and the following day the mules carried our bags the 14 miles to BC and we just carried a day pack with survival gear. The mules left Confluencia for BC AFTER we did, and somehow a bag or two was misplaced or stolen so one or two people in our group lost some of their stuff and had to quit the trip. I did see mules behaving badly once they arrived at BC - some heading up the wrong trail, etc. This is why I recommend a brightly colored cloth or something on the bag so you can see it from a distance. Best to stay with your bags at Confluencia if possible until the mules leave with them, but if you can't stay that long, you'll probaby be OK - don't want to leave so late that you arrive after dark at BC - that would not be much fun.
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Re: Aconcagua Solo

Postby chickentikka » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:55 am

Cool that's great Sunny!

What's the story with electricity at base camp. If I'm destined to be there awhile there's lots of reading and writing I can do assuming I have my electronics. Otherwise, I'm gonna bring some russian novels.
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Re: Aconcagua Solo

Postby chickentikka » Tue Jan 01, 2013 7:13 pm

Also, could someone please walk me through the "load carries," up from PDM to Berlin. Is it basically just food and fuel that I'm carrying up and stashing?

Also, would anyone suggest camping at White Rocks instead of Berlin before the summit push.
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