Start by reading this book: (take it along on the trip) 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:
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. 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.htmlhttp://www.grajales.net/aconcagua/servi ... camps.htmlhttp://www.aconcaguaexpeditions.com/ing ... aotros.htm