Can anyone do Aconcagua ascents?
Anyone who prepares for that. I always say that the preparation is not so much physical – since the better prepared, the better – but the preparation has to be in the mountain aspects. That is why it is always more advisable to climb a mountain of 4,000 meters first, then a 5,000, a 6,000. Then do something a little bit longer. Adapt to mountain issues precisely, such as sleeping in a tent, seeing how I feel sleeping at 5,000 meters, etc.
What specific preparation is required?
The preparation can be equivalent – not physically – for preparing for a 42 km race. The ideal is to run a 10 km first, then a 21 km, a logical progression. In the mountains, it would be to climb first 4,000, then 5,000, some trekking. And then comes the marathon that would be to climb Aconcagua. That is the healthy way. I have met people for the first time; they did an Aconcagua guided climb and finished with the summit. That breaks the statistics. Exists. It is not the most advisable or the healthiest, but it exists.
Many people think they have experience because they climbed the Lanín volcano, for example, 3,700 meters. Knowledge is being at more than 6,000 meters and making decisions at height, which can take a few years. But many people have impressive sports résumés, and of course, they can climb alone. In the absence of knowledge or to increase safety on the Aconcagua treks, it is 100% advisable to hire a guide.
Like services, like mules, many people do not hire and are seen carrying 20 kg backpacks on Playa Ancha because it is supposed to be a slightly more alpine ascent, less polluted. The truth is that if the service is available, it can be used, it moves the regional economy, and it is perfect.
What is the acclimatization process?
Acclimatization is a double process of assimilation and accommodation. I assimilate the environment, and I accommodate myself; I adapt to it. All end up acclimatizing in a period of between 8 and 11 days. What is sought is to be in moderately normal conditions at 6,000 meters to climb the last 1,000 of unevenness. A good acclimatization stage would be to touch the 4,000 meters several times but sleep below the 3,000 level before entering the Park. What are the advantages of acclimatizing in Las Cuevas?
In Las Cuevas, you are sleeping at 3,200 meters; it is perfect. But the real advantage that the Limit mountain range has is that it is effortless to reach 4,000 meters. For example, in the Cristo Redentor, that can be reached by vehicle. Hills like Santa Elena or Cristo are perfect for acclimatization, always sleeping in Las Cuevas at 3,200. Considering that the Confluencia camp is at 3,400 meters, it is very likely that the medical controls there will be a little better than if you enter the Park by one.
And stepping on the same ground, the same terrain as when you entered Aconcagua, can be an excellent advantage.