Aconcagua Expedition - The Training

Aconcagua by proxy: what can we learn in the Lakes?

The Lakes

After the 'Full English' was demolished, I had a slightly intimidating round of introductions to my fellow hikers for the weekend. Between them, they'd summited more 7000m peaks than I'd had full English's. It was staggering to consider how many crampons and Gore Tex jackets must have been worn through getting this lot to the roof of the world.

There can't be much high altitude know-how that isn't at the fully-gloved finger tips of this lot. The first big lesson, as we set off along the side of a flat calm lake, is that the top of the hill and the bottom of the hill bear no relation in terms of the prevailing weather.

The Nab

The flat calm water was a distant memory by the time we'd reached our second Wainwright of the day, The Nab. I was extremely glad to be trying out the Mammut Eiger Extreme waterproof jacket and my merino/ Primaloft beanie. Apart from looking the part alongside the other altitude groupies, I was fantastically well protected from the elements.

Next tip: walking poles are key to balancing in a headwind. Just as I was about to be blown into oblivion off the near-vertical descent from the Nab, our guide Jordan suggested an alternative route, down the steep but wind-free side of the hill where we hunkered down behind a well-placed stone wall for a relaxing 7-minute lunch break, then it was back to the steepest ascent of the day. The views were surprisingly good, there was even a risk of sun at one point.

Crummock Water

The walk back down to the shores of Crummock Water was steep soggy peat and slippery rock, but my Scarpa Manta Pros handled the conditions perfectly, no leaks and great grip (they got more than a few compliments from our fellow hikers... that means something from these hardcore gear nerds).

Back at the pub as I was yawning over dinner, the laptops came out and we were treated to high altitude footage from Aconcagua and the Himalayas - it's going to be intense!