Aconcagua Equipment and Logistics.
It is now 6 weeks until I leave for a 3 week expedition to tackle Aconcagua Again!
The time feels like it is flying by. I have been busy preparing physically and mentally, raising funds, gathering equipment and ensuring logistically, everything that needs to be done – is done.
I wanted to share some of the things that need to be in place when taking on board such a massive challenge. Like trying to ascend the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas.
In 2018 when I missed the top by 150m I had been part of a 4 man team taking on the mountain self-supported. It had saved us money but at the same time it became apparent that come summit day I was under equipped and my inexperience showed.
This time I am heading out on my own to meet the team from Elite Himalayan Adventures. It’s fair to say I am looking forward to taking on this challenge once again under their guidance.
I see all adversity as an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and to potentially grow.
I have learned a great many things from last time. I am doing everything in my power to set myself up for the best chance of success. A large part of this is ensuring my equipment is up to the job in hand and covers all eventualities. Then there is the physical and psychological preparation that I will cover at a later date.
One of the significant differences this time is, I have been before. The unknown is less so and that is in itself a huge edge.
Tickets, Permit and Insurance.
There is a significant amount of admin to arrange for a 3 week Mountaineering Expedition such as this.
I am heading out with The Elite Himalayas Adventures team, led by Nims Dai – the new World Record Holder for ascending all 14 x 8000m peaks in less than 7 months – when the previous world record was over 8 years.
My booking with EHA means that many logistical items will be taken care of.
For instance transfer from the airport to hotel, night in the hotel, transfer to Aconcagua, Mule Hire to carry equipment to Base Camp, food for breakfast/dinner and all tents – all taken care of.
Going with a company like Elite Himalayan Adventures means the expense is higher, to the tune of £4500 but I am a believer in learning from the best the world has to offer. I intend to learn as much as possible about high altitude mountaineering from these guys during my time in their company.
I have booked my flights but not without issue as my first set of flights was cancelled and I have since re-booked. Such is Life.
Insurance to climb is needed and this has been done through the British Mountaineering Council of whom I am member due to my own Mountain Leader Qualification. This is taken for the duration of my trip and covers me against a great many, very important things – mainly medical and safety related.
In order to climb Aconcagua you must purchase a permit. These are around $800. Once paid you are allowed to climb and given a “waste” bag which must be returned when you leave the mountain having been used! This is to keep the mountain cleaner and less contaminated.
On a mountain like Aconcagua a day sack, packet of sandwiches, fleece and waterproofs just do not cut it!
As I experienced last time, the weather conditions combined with the altitude can be brutal.
In January 2018 I was woefully under-gunned in terms of equipment for the extreme sub-zero conditions we encountered.
This time around things are different.
The Elite Himalayan Adventures Team supply a full equipment list of everything you could possibly need to tackle the most severe conditions while maximising safety and suggest equipment with a view to one day climbing an 8000m peak.
Aconcagua Kit List:-
Helmet, Ice Axe, Crampons, Jumar (ascender), Harness, Carabiners (3 locking, 6 regular), Rappel Device.
High Altitude Boots suitable for an 8000m Peak (Scarpa Phantom 8000), Hiking Shoes, Summit Socks x 6 pairs, Liner socks x 3 pairs.
Clothing: Head Gear and Hand Wear:-
Warm Hat, Sunhat, Buff to protect from sun and cold, Glacier Glasses, Ski Goggles, Liner Gloves x 2 pairs, Softshell Gloves, Shell Gove with insulated liner, Expedition Mitts.
Clothing:- Body Layers:-
2 x Merino Wool Base Layers (tops and bottoms), 1 x Mid layer top, Underwear, Lightweight Nylon Trekking Trousers, Soft Shell Jacket with Hood, Soft Shell Pants, Insulated Down Jacket with hood, Insulated Synthetic Trousers, 2 pairs Insulated Long Johns, Summit Down suit or jacket and trousers, clothing to travel in.
2 x 100l Duffel Bags, Expedition Rucksack (65l), Trekking Backpack, Sleeping Bag rated to at least -40 degrees, Compression Stuff Sacks for Down Clothing/sleeping bag, High Quality Inflatable Mattress, Closed Cell Foam Pad, Trekking Poles, Plastic Cup and Bowl and Fork, Head Torch x 2, Glacier Glasses, 2 x 1l water bottles, 2 x 1l water bottle jackets, 1l pee bottle, 1l thermos flask, hand and toe warmers, multi tool, camera, phone/kindle, solar panel charger, battery power packs.
Snacks for on the mountain including energy gels and bars, hydration tablets, water purification tablets, cheese, meat, crackers, pringles, Oxo cubes to drink, sugary snacks such as trail mix, beef jerky.
Toiletries and Medications:-
Toothbrush, Factor 50 sunscreen and lip balm, hand sanitiser, toilet roll, blister plasters, athletic tape.
Aspirin, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Imodium, Ciproflaxin, Metronidazole, Promethazine, Diamox (altitude sickness), Dexamethasone (Cerebral Odema).
Note that Dexamethasone is a controlled drug and so you will need to have a Dr or equivalent make it available to you – at least in the UK.
When I went out in January 2018 I spent in the ball park of £3000 on equipment.
This year there has been around another £2000 spent.
It is a big investment but now that I have it all I am properly set to explore my mountain journeys further and higher!
The Expedition Draws Closer!
This time around I have invested many new items that I did not have last time including full down jacket and down summit trousers, 8000m boots (I had 6000m boots last time and they were not enough) various specialist jackets, trousers and layers the metal equipment for climbing and more.
But if you want to climb big mountains like I do, then everything you buy is an investment in your comfort, health and safety – and potentially your life.
The preparation, while heavily involved, has been fun and part and parcel of getting the mind and focus more into the challenge ahead and what needs to be done.
My next blog post will cover how I am preparing physically and mentally for taking on Aconcagua Again!