I'm planning on climbing Argentina's Aconcagua in January '05 and could do with some advice on gear, particularly what sleeping bag and boots I will need. I've been considering getting a Superlight zero-degree down bag from The North Face, to be combined with a Thermalite sleeping pad. As for boots, I'm looking at the Scarpa Freney Pro GTX. (I'd like to stay away from the plastics unless absolutely necessary, as I unlikely to get much use of them again). Do you know how suitable this proposed gear setup will be for Aconcagua? Ciaran Dublin, Ireland
Plastic boots are sort of a reflexive recommendation for Aconcagua, but not mandatory. That said, I think the Freney Pros ($325) may be a little on the light side, insulation-wise. Better to go with a boot such as the Scarpa Cumbre (US$435, but check www.scarpa.co.uk for Euro rates), which has Primaloft insulation, or the Salomon Pro Thermic ($335; www.salomonsports.com), which has Thinsulate insulation. Both boots offer the comfort of a leather boot, with the warmth of a plastic. And of course they're perfectly fine with crampons. You will, of course, also want to pack some overboots, such as Outdoor Research's X-Gaiters ($106; www.orgear.com).
Have a great climb! That's one very big mountain.
Read "Mountaineering 101" from the June 2003 issue of Outside for an indispensable start-up guide to conquering the top 10 North American high zones.