How to Climb South America’s Aconcagua
For those who are serious about climbing Mt. Everest, Aconcagua is a stepping stone toward the high-altitude, expedition-style mountaineering of the Himalayan peaks. At 22,835 feet, Argentina’s “White Sentinal” is the tallest peak in the Americas and towers above the rest of the Andes.
1. Come up with approximately $2,500 U.S. for a guided expedition, not including international airfare.
2. Allow for a 17-day trip with 10 days of climbing.
3. Fly into Buenos Aires, then on to Mendoza where you’ll secure your permits and meet up with your tour operators.
4. Grab your mules and local porters at Plaza Argentina for the trek up the Vacas Valley, a three-day, 30-mile stroll.
5. Hike up to Casa Peidre at 10,000 feet. There you’ll have your first unobstructed view of “The Big A.”
6. Set up Base Camp at around 14,000 feet where your battle with headaches will likely begin. Acclimatize and rest there.
7. Move on to Camp I at 16,600, then push to Camp II at 19,300. You’ll need plenty of rest and fluids along the way, and don’t forget to filter the running water in the streams.
8. Begin your summit attempt at 5 a.m. on the Polish Glacier Route for challenging ice climbing.
9. Look for signs of Incan civilization as you approach the summit.
Follow the Plaza Mulas route back down for a different view, or start there if you don’t mind the added crowds.
Mountaineering can cause injury, illness and even death.
Beware of human waste along the trail that contaminates the snow and water, and filter water thoroughly to avoid parasites.
How to Climb Indonesia’s Carstensz Pyramid
Although it is not considered a part of a major continent, the 16,023-foot Carstenz Pyramid on the Indonesian island of Irian Jaya is certainly more challenging than the tame Kosciusko of Australia. Its remoteness, jungle environment and technical rock climbing make it a de facto member of the “Seven Summits.”
1. Part with approximately $8,000, spent largely on your required five days of travel to and from what the locals call Puncak Jaya, or “Victory Peak.”
2. Land in Jakarta, then fly to Wamena via Jayapura. Overnight in Wamena where you’ll take a tiny plane to Ilaga, then a helicopter to Nasidomeh.
3. Meet up with your Dani guides dressed in nothing but penis gourds (the guides, not you) and enjoy the lush Beliem Valley.
4. Trek to Larson Lake for your warm-up.
5. Hike to Base Camp where you’ll rest and acclimatize.
6. Begin the technical portion of your hike, following gullies and an undulating ridge.
7. Attempt the summit by climbing all day, first using fixed ropes, then free climbing with the occasional jumar or abseil.
8. Descend and unwind with additional day hikes out of Ilaga.
Treat the local tribesmen with respect. The Dani, Yali, Mek and Kim-Yal people have very little contact with Westerners.
Prepare for basic rock climbing on good, solid rock, which usually has reliable friction.
Mountaineering can result in injury, illness and possibly death.
When travelling to Indonesia consult your County Health Department and the U.S. Department of State for any health and safety recommendations.
How to Climb Africa’s Kilimanjaro
The tallest mountain on the African continent at 19,339 feet, Kilimanjaro is made up of the Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira peaks – all extinct volcanoes. Though the climb is not technical, the grueling nature and exquisite beauty of this giant are often underestimated. Kilimanjaro simply does not disappoint those who explore its flanks and challenge its summit.
1. Write a $4,000 check for a guided expedition and safari, but pay your airfare separately.
2. Connect through Europe to Nairobi, Kenya, where you’ll spend the night prior to your land adventure.
3. Shuttle to Arusha, Tanzania, where tour operators register with the park service and arrange for your porters.
4. Travel off-road to the less-visited and wild Machame trailhead.
5. Begin your hike at 6,000 feet among the monkeys of the rain forest.
6. Camp at 9,000 feet to rest before you trudge across the moor lands.
7. Ascend to the Shira Plateau and acclimate to 12,460 feet.
8. Push on to the Barranco Hut at 13,500 feet, where you’ll be treated to a panorama overlooking five ecosystems and game reserves.
9. Charge onward to the Barafu Hut at 15,700 feet, a five-hour hustle to the high desert plateau, where you’ll rest before your summit attempt.
10. Awake for a 2 a.m. departure with your headlamps mounted. Walk along the ridge approaching the rim of the crater and traverse northwest to the Uhuru peak.
11. Absorb the 360-degree panorama before you descend on the same path, or take the Mweka route down the south side of the mountain for a change of scenery.
Be nice to your porters. In addition to lugging much of your gear, they can provide you with an interesting look at African culture you might otherwise miss.
Allow for seven to eight days, rather than a rushed six-day trip. You stand a better chance of making the summit and will take in more of the wilderness.
Mountaineering can cause injury, illness and possibly death.
How to Climb Alaska’s Denali
At 20,320 feet, Alaska’s Denali, also called Mount McKinley, is North America’s highest peak. With a daunting 18,000 feet of vertical rise, it is extremely demanding both physically and mentally. Climbers must train rigorously for this three-week expedition.
1. Shell out approximately $4,000 for a guided summer tour.
2. Fly to Anchorage, Alaska, and then on to Talkeetna, where you will unite with your climbing expedition operators, pay National Park Service ranger station fees and register (advance notice of 60 days is required).
3. Hop on a plane with skis and land on the Kahiltma Glacier to set up Base Camp at 7,300 feet.
4. Hike in snowshoes to Camp I at 7,900 feet and do the first of many double carries of gear up and back to each camp.
5. Reach the Kahiltma Pass and Camp II at 10,000 feet, then push up steep terrain to Camp III at 11,500 feet.
6. Rest at Windy Corner’s Camp IV and enjoy the 14,200-foot panorama of the Kahiltma Glacier below.
7. Carry loads to Camp V at 16,400 feet – up the head wall and 50-degree slopes – using fixed ropes. You’re out of the tundra and among the peaks now.
8. Charge ahead from the crest of the West Buttress to Camp VI at 17,200 feet, along the ridge and at the base of Washburn’s Tower.
9. Summit by traversing a steep, snowy face at Denali Pass, where you’ll head for a 19,400-foot plateau called the Football Field. Ascend the final 1,000 feet along the crest and battle the winds on the exposed ridge for the last 300 feet.
10. Marvel at the 360-degree panorama with great views of the 8,000-foot South Face, the Cassin Ridge and South Buttress and nearby Mount Huntington, Mount Foraker and Mount Hunter.
Try the Muldrow Glacier, West Rib or Cassin Ridge routes for a truer wilderness experience, free of the crowds normally found on the West Buttress route.
Rent a wind tunnel to ready yourself for 100 mph blasts of frozen snow.
Develop a training regimen and allow yourself plenty of time to get in top shape.