Date: Sun, 12 Apr 1998 20:46:12 -1000 From: Kukailucy (Kukailucy@aol.com> Subject: Re: Slide show
Aconcagua is a very popular mountain to hike up, and a feather in anyone's cap who wants to be on top on the western hemisphere's highest mountain...although 22Ksome-odd feet is nothing to scoff at (is that frozen guy still sitting on the top?), hiking up the mountain is probably well within the capabilities of say, a half a dozen or so or your hardcore listserv members. There are well known, well-travelled and established routes up the mountain. Excellent aerobic conditioning is all that's required if you encounter ideal conditions with a guide. (please, I know what I'm talking about here, no comparisons to the Everest debacle.)
Mountain heights alone do not make a peak difficult. And many people do not realize that you most often start your "assault" at a very high altitude.
But you'll still feel miserable: tired and cold and stink. And to "solo" it or to go as a group without a guide would require additional solid outdoor experience, esp. in adverse conditions, and experience using crampons and practicing ice-arrest, in case the weather is less than ideal. Jan-Feb (the south's summer) is the best bet. It would also help to know what it feels like to want to puke your guts out at high altitude, be familiar with how long you'll be able to not feel your toes and still know you'll keep them, or to try to sleep with your heart pounding at 150 bpm. Many of the U.S./European outdoor companies offer this "experience" for a hefty fee and take you out a week ahead to practice and to acclimatize. Local, Argentinian or Chilean guides are many times far more experienced and cheaper, but you're on your own in trusting that (I would).
What helps to make Aconcagua so accessible are the numerous guides, maps, literature out there to help plan your trip. I don't know what's available in Hawaii outside of mail-order, but I found more info. here on Aconcagua than on Mexico's volcanoes (only an 18K foot jaunt!). Also, compared to other popular but dangerous peaks (like McKinley), Aconcagua is relatively safe. (Well, frozen dude might think otherwise..)
What makes Aconcagua so inaccessible is the plane fare, and the very unsubstantiated fear of Americans in general to travel to places more exotic than Cancun. And of course, it is a very respectable mountain that demands quite a bit of physical and mental endurance from even the experienced outdoorsperson.
So, what are you guys waiting for?! I want to hear of the first Hawaiian chanting, maniacal laugh/nyuk-nyuking, pig-chasing, neat-o utter-ing, photography taking motley crew up there. Hawaiians hiking in 20 lbs worth of clothes. That would be a sight. You can plant a 'Taco Bell flag on the top, and there are plenty of places you can lose your equipment along the way. :-)
After all, unlike Aconcagua, you people often go to places few/any have gone. Scary stuff, too, like Haiku Stairs (!! ok, so it's taken me this long to admit it), and for you guys it's a Sunday picnic with the kids, or an afternoon workout. You're capable of more than you think. Keep up the good work.