I was just wondering who was going to be on this trip. My name is Jacqueline and I am from Edinburgh. It would be good to make contact.
I was also wondering what preparations everyone was making. I have not done anything nearly as serious before. I plan to do a Winter Ice Course at some point at Glen More in Aviemore as I haven't done much of that. Though I have climbed a number of Scottish Hills... I also did Kilimanjaro (but in the Summer!) I expect it is going to be somewhat colder... Still it will be worth it.
My name is Neil and I will be on the Aconcagua trip with my brother Peter. This is also the first time that both of us have done anything like this so looks like we will all be on a steep learning curve (literally :-) ).
We are both reasonably fit so my focus is now going to be on carrying weight on my back. I am planning a number of trips trekking in Wales and will be loading up my rucksack with extra weight as we get nearer to the trip. I am also planning a weekend in Scotland for a Winter Ice course later in the year as I have never used crampons or ice axe before.
It will be good to share training progress and advice as well as any recommendations on equipment. I will be making a big investment in some equipment over the next few months so any recommendations or advice would be very useful. I am particularly interested in the boots that people will be taking. I know we have to have double lined plastic boots and I have sourced a pair but they are quite heavy at 2.5kg. I have been looking at lighter pairs but they are very expensive. I don't want to be let down by my kit though so I might just have to bite the bullet.
Looking forward to meeting everyone on the trip and getting some further advice through this site.
Great to make contact. I feel somewhat relieved that you seem to be in the same position as me. I have not looked in detail over the Kit List although there does seem to be quite a lot. I am in a similar frame of mind as I would not want to be unprepared. The boots will be extremely important and I will let you know how I get on and what I decide. It will take some getting used to as they will be heavy. I have some pretty solid winter boots and my ankles are always very sore after a day in them. I am hoping to do a course at Glen More in the Cairngorms over Winter - will give you some info on that when I find out. The weight training (ie heavy pack) is going to be hard. 20Kg... I am thinking of my summer suitcase weight. Oh dear! I weigh 54 kg - think I might need to bulk out a bit!!! Keep in touch and I will let you know of anything that crosses my mind in the preparations.
Good to make contact with you and I'm pleased we all seem to be in the same boat.
If you've climbed Kilimanjaro and a few Scottish Hills I'd say you're Kilimanjaro and a few Scottish Hills ahead of me. When Neil asked me to come on this trip I thought it sounded great so agreed very quickly. Now having seen a few Youtube clips about the ascent (and being only 5 months away), reality is starting to hit. Still, it's a great reason for me to up my training and get into condition. So it's on with the trainers, weights packed in the rucksack and credit card at the ready.
I'm currently living in Barcelona so I'll spend some time in the Pyrenees to build up the strength and stamina. I've bought a small amount of kit (jackets, trousers, underwear etc) and it's clear that both weight and volume will be an issue. High altitude boots are my biggest concern as they're similar to ski boots so v. heavy and expensive. Any advice on this matter would be appreciated.
Edinburgh is a great city and I guess you'll have plenty of opportunity to hike through some beautiful countryside, so good luck and enjoy the training. I look forward to meeting you in February.
All the best
John McLauchlan here from Nottingham. I am booked on the same trip. I believe another young lady, Lucy Butterton, is booked on as well.
I have done a number of Exodus trips (met Lucy on the Everest base camp trip last November) and they have all been very well organised and led. I guess this one will be similar to the Kili trip, just a bit longer and higher!
I am planning a few days' ice pick/crampon training in Scotland as well, probably December or January, and need to look at the kit list carefully; not sure how much of the kit can be hired in Argentina and I will be asking Exodus about this in due course. Might be looking at hiring a local porter above base camp as well!
Looking forward to it...I think!
Great to have some contact it makes it feel a bit less daunting and more personal. I am planning to hire a porter after base camp as well. Have not looked out my Kit List yet but hope to hire as much as possible.
Keep in touch.
Hi all, been on the hill twice since Im working as an Exodus leader. Big bots wise, its mentioned in the notes. Things have mowed onwards since couple seasons ago, so last year probably 40% of the people there were using La Sportiva Spantik. Fit is quite important, so take lots of time to choose between sizes.
Kili wise, anybody will say its a great achievement. However, summinting Kili apart from giving u confidence in dealing with height, does not mimic the high environment conditions u face on Aconcagua. Thats why BC is comfy and higher up the guides are doeing their best to support the clients.
Training wise, I feel that winter camping is very helpful as a preparation for the trip. Doesnt have to be extended period, but if u setup camp on snow, than that could resemble conditions higher up on the hill.
Technical training wise it could be important to play with proper technique for using poles, both uphill and downhill. When u walk with crampons, look for ways of walking in such a way that u minimise the effort spenditure. Raising ure heels on an easy slope is a good example of spending too much energy. Fontpointing is not really necesarry giving good weather conditions on the hill. Also, ice axe is rarely used (not if there a freak storm...which case.. well decide upon using them) and its more emphasis set on proper help from using the poles.
Up to BC the guides use crosstraining shoes, higher than that normally big boots.
Hope this helps, Alex
Thanks for the advice. Getting very excited now as we enter the 2 month count down. I chose the Sportiva Spantik boot so good to know I have gone with the majority. I have worn them a couple of times now on short walks just to get the feel and will truely test them next weekend when myself and Peter climb Ben Nevis. We were hoping for snow for the weekend so that we can really get stuck in to the crampon and ice axe training...now we are just hoping that we can get up to Scotland as I might have over down the snow dance :-) I am pretty much there with the lit now I think although my biggest concern is how I will fit it all in my rucksack.
Training is going well although I would like to be doing more mountain trekking. I really like the idea of snow camping as part of the training and might just have to camp in the back garden this week!
Hope the training is going well for everyone and looking forward to meeting everyone at the start of our great adventure.
Myself and Peter have just returned from a very successful training weekend on Ben Nevis. The weather was perfect and very cold on the summit. I know it wasn't quite Aconcagua but it was really useful to test some of the kit and an opportunity to break the boots in a bit. We both came home with blisters though :-( First experience with ice axe and crampons and I have to say it won't be the last. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and were lucky with the current weather conditions as it meant there was loads of snow to play in. You can have a look at our video of the weekend at the url below.
One thing that we did learn over the weekend is that it is going to be hard going carrying all our kit up the mountain as well as ourselves. Might be focusing on carrying the weight now as we move into our last 2 months.
Anyway, enjoy the video and happy to pass on the contact details of our guide for the weekend if anyone wants it.
Well done for making it up Ben Nevis. I would have liked to have come along but unfortunately the roads in Edinburgh have been extremely hazardous. My husband was stuck for 10 hours on Monday evening on the M8. The roads are still closed and it is pretty poor here. Still I have been out and about with my boots. My goodness it is hard going and very sore on the ankles. I think I will definately take some padding of sorts and plenty of plasters.... Somebody recommended some thin foam taped on with Duct Tape. I will give it a try. I have not done any crampon training yet. Did you find it hard? Could I read up about how to do that and practice myself?
Good to keep in touch.
Big boots can be punched out (heat molded), usually in the ski shops. Hoping that some padding will fix the problem is good, but might not be a true alternative in the long run. Have a proper look at the boots and decide if theres anything u can do about it while in Europe.
A boot fitting specialist (usually to be found in a ski shop) might be a good idea.
For load carring, a good quality backpack will pay off. If one decides to do all the carries, then it is to be expected having 20kg at some stage. So good padding on the hips and a 5000cu inch volume is what ure looking for. My backpack is a former Dana Design Alpine LTW.
We had clients deciding to carry no more than 10kg at any stage, which can be done, since one or more people can share the costs of a porter load. The only risky bit is in case someone decides to turn around....the porter costs still need to be covered.
Thanks for the advice you are providing, all very useful. I did return from Scotland with some blisters on my shin from the Spantiks boot. I found they were fine on the ascent but it was on the descents that I found the boot rubbing. Will probably return to Snow and Rock and look at the heat treatment to see if I can get that sorted.
I have 2 questions:
1/ It states in the kit list that you require a kit storage bag to leave any items not required for the trek at Penitentes. I just have a 70 litre backpack currently and want to understand what kit I am likely to leave and when? Do we leave kit in Mendoza or do we leave kit half way up the mountain? it maybe that we will get further communication from Exodus on the detail I don't know.
2/ Also, many people have recommended to take Diamox. Do Exodus have a view/policy on this?
Your question regarding the crampons, I found the training very useful just to get the feel of using them. They are easy to put on but what was useful was understanding how effective they are and the best way to walk with them. We walked up and down some pretty steep slopes which I certainly wouldn't have gone up had I not had an instructor with us. Alot of it was aldo having the faith in them.
I watched the video on the link below which explains how to put them on and walk in them:
It also helps if you have bandy legs like me as you will see from my video :-)
what we did last time with bags was:
1-we didnt leave anything in Mendoza for the simple reason that it could be a different hotel once back from the mountain.
2-at penitentes there is a storage room where u leave things that u dont want on the hill. Lets say jeans, 220 chargers, maybe ure city clothes. Here u get a paper tag to attach with ure name on it, so easy to find when u come back.
3-u need to divide ure gear even further in two piles. high altitude gear that goes to bc and trekking gear that goes to confluencia for 3 nights. If we use the same sistem, than probbly best is to share one kitbag between two persons, so one bag goes to bc , one to confluencia.
4-once in bc, u have one kit bag /person, plus ure big backpack.
I wont see it as a drama if u only use a sturdy plastic bag to leave stuff at Penitentes.
U need to have a word with ure GP, since some people are allergic to diamox.
Some info on altitude ilness u can find here http://www.himalayanrescue.org/hra/article.php?sno=9
I normally keep a brief at confluencia, covering hints and tips on altitude problems. That takes like 40 min.
Before this we are happy to speak about altitude and for those who are planning on using it we suggest trying it at low altitude to see how u feel once u take it. Diamox has some side effects as well and my take is, after u speak to gp, to try half pill and see how u feel. This is so u will know once u take it at altitude if whatever u feel is altitude or just drug side effect.
If one wants or not to use diamox, there are no hard rules on it. The park rangers are normally against using diamox. The explanation is that diamox makes u loose fluids. A very high fluid intake is paramount higher on the hill. So, the rangers fear that it will come to a point where the advantage in aclimatization given by diamox will be offset by the loss of fluid. I believe that above bc one needs to use caution while taking diamox, maybe lowering the dose, but Im not against it. I also had a client "running" on high dose diamox and she made it to the summit.
Last, Spanticks on descent. Heat molding(punching) is apliable only to the side of ones boots. exterme cases they could play a bit with the toe box of the shoes. MY reccolection is that spantics have the inner boot heat moldable.
However, for going down, if ure toes are happy and u only get problems with the shins, than maybe heat molding is not the answer.
JUst for going down, I would try first to release the upper part of the lace. In other words, u tighten the lace on the lower part of the boot, up to the side locking nut. Then, play with some slack on the upper part of the boot. This works for me, but i admit is a bit fiddly.
If u want to treat ureself, than maybe some heat moldable foot beds could be the ticket(conformable is one example).
Thats me, alex
Hi again from John McLauchlan
Christmas over, the gym is cold and dark!
A couple of queries for Alex please:
1. can we hire crampons and ice picks in Mendoza?
2. can we hire sleeping bags and mattresses as well orwould it be better to take our own?
Not sure what happened back there but my IT skills are somewhat limited...
A couple of queries for Alex please (and apologies if these have been dealt with elsewhere):
2. can we hire sleeping bags and mattresses as well or would it be better to take our own?
3. how much cash (US$) should we take with us to cover permits etc?
Hitting the tab button is a mistake!!
4. do people generally hire porters to carry their kit after base camp and if so, what are the approximate costs?
I will sign off now..
some answers for John
1-yes, but they are not the latest or the lightest things. Mendoza has quite a few shops for rental.
2-sleeping bags yes. My reccomandation would be to have a sleeping bag liner. I also fear that the quality of a rental sleeping bag from Mendoza is not matching the quality of the UK hire place ones.
Matress-usually possible to get a foam one, but I would not be sure about the inflatable versions. If you are a person loving confort and keen on having an inflatable one, then its safer to get one from home.
3-Im a bit confused about this one, I remember reading on the trip notes that you will be told how much the cost is depending on the departure.
4-on the trip page, u have a selector with trip notes. If u open it you can dowload a pdf file with information and some estimative costs at the time of publishing.
If you go for full porterage, my memory tells me its something in the range of 600 usd.
People have different aproaches on the porter issue. Up to BC is hard to know for sure.
Once there, some choose full porterage , some decide to share, some will use from camp2 up and a few would go on hauling the whole gear by themselves.
Mind you, above BC there is a communal load that gets split between the group, so each one has to manage some group weight as well.
If one wants to do gear hauling, then the quality of the backpack becomes paramount. Good quality, good quality and qood quality once again. :)
Well, hope this helps a bit. One month to go now! :)
Alex (and gang out there)--
I am also joining the group and very much appreciate this forum...great questions (many that I have had) and great answers (thank you Alex).
I have several items from a dogsled trip in the Arctic that are warm enough, however, I am a bit unsure on the weight side. I have a -40 (synthetic) sleeping bag but it weighs almost 7 lbs. (about 3 kg), I have a great down jacket but it is expedition size, and I have some real heavy mitts and hat. So, I would clearly be carrying a few extra pounds (other things I have from other hiking trips are quite light). However, this seems like it would make sense to bring these items and have porters carry them as a less expensive option versus buying new gear. Your thoughts?
In the boot debate, what are the pros and cons of going with the hard plastic boots vs. the Spanitks several have mentioned? I am off on a three day trip this weekend and will be using the plastic boots with crampons (rental) in an attempt to make up my mind (and get some training in some nasty winter weather--Mount Washington, NH, USA).
Again--thank you for any and all assistance...one more month!
Many thanks Alex for your comments, they are very helpful, and hi Darin
Looking forward to meeting you all in just 4 weeks time!
Hi everyone, with less than 3 weeks to go before departure I just wanted to say good luck with your final days of training and looking forward to getting to know you all. I just left Snow and Rock for the last time (hopefully) so I'm fully kitted up and ready to go. Here's a couple of interesting facts..1/ apparently it's really windy on Aconcagua because it's the only 7k peak so close to the ocean 2/ the mountain has a different name in Chile because Aconcagua sounds very similar to s**t in the local dialect. Not sure if either of these 2 facts are actually true, but they make for a good story :-). Have a great trip to Mendoza and see you there!
Hi Peter (plus the rest of the gang!)
I am very much looking forward to meeting everybody now. I can hardly believe it is going to happen. It is going to be a wonderful adventure and it will be nice to meet you all and share the experience together. See you very, very, very soon.!
Hello all, been away training myself as much as possible....but doeing ski touring. Yesterday we were blessed with 60cm of powder snow.....so Ive done lots of training in the pow....:)
Darin, Spantics are basically plastic boots, ie with an inner boot and a shell which is just more leather and high tech materials. Its a modern plastic boot if u can say that.
Down jacket_ High up its a good thing to have proper down stuff . BC if cold is great to hang around with a jacket, altough dinner time is better to have a somehow lighter layer, i mean down. Massive protection comes in handy on the higher camps, used static. Walking wise I only think about summit day on a down jacket.
Mittens.....they are golden. Again higher up. Same with face protection.
Sleeping bag. a 40 (i believe fahrenheit) must be top. I think is cheaper if u share a porter and have it carried than buying another. Just make sure u get a compression sack for it.
right, 10 days to go.....need more powder snow. :))
Best, me, Alex
Alex, thank you for all of the advice, very helpful...See you all next week!
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