Mountain Madness - Aconcagua Required Gear List

The Roof of South America stands proudly as the highest peak in the world outside of Asia.  Mountain Madness offers non-technical ascents on two routes - the Northwest Ridge and the Polish Traverse. Both are physically demanding adventures and involve all the complexities of expedition climbing. For more than twenty years, Mountain Madness has provided outstanding service to the highest peak in the western hemisphere.

Regardless of the route you take, Aconcagua is a challenging mountain that deserves respect and a healthy margin for error. The gear recommended on this list will ensure that you are prepared for anything you might encounter, so it's important that you shop carefully and well in advance of your trip.

Mountain Madness has developed this gear list based on decades of guide and client experience and it is a key part of their high success rate on Aconcagua. Ascent Outdoors is familiar with these requirements and will help you purchase the correct equipment, at the best price, online or in store. Our salespeople work closely with Mountain Madness and the businesses even share several employees. 

Why Ascent Outdoors?

  • Use the discount code provided by Mountain Madness to get the best possible price on all your equipment
  • We match prices with all USA based retailers
  • We stock and are familiar with all the gear needed for your expedition
  • Free shipping on orders over $100
  • Returns up to 1 year for unused gear
  • Returns up to 30 days for used gear
  • Buy online, pick up or return to the store 
  • Knowledgeable well-trained staff 
  • Professional mountain guides on staff

Expected Weather Conditions: 

 Base Camp Summit
Temperature 10-60F
-30-15F
Precipitation ?????? ?????
Wind ????? Very Strong
Mountain Madness believes that all mountain travel equipment should follow two simple tenets: Lightweight and Functional. Lightweight equipment increases your chance of success and helps make you more comfortable. Functional equipment determines how warm, dry, and safe you will be, so always choose equipment that is of good quality, is dependable, and is adaptable to a variety of extreme conditions.  Ascent Outdoors sells a wide variety of equipment that meets these requirements and can help insure that you purchase the best gear for your trip. 

Climbing Gear:

  • 1x Mountaineering Ice Axe 
    • Aluminum ice axes and technical ice axes are not appropriate. 
    • Under 5’7” use 60cm, 5’7”- 6’2” use 65cm, over 6’2” use 70cm
    • Petzl Glacier or Black Diamond Raven recommended
  • 1x Pair Crampons
    • Steel general mountaineering crampons required
    • Semi-Automatic type recommended (Plastic toe bail, heel-throw)
    • Aluminum or technical mono-point crampons not allowed.
    • Check fit with boots and supergaiters prior to travel. 
    • Petzl Vasak, Black Diamond Serac Clip, Grivel Air-Tech Recommended
  • 1x Pair Expedition Grade 6000m Double boot
    • Fit is essential on this key piece of gear, shop early and take the time to get it right. 
    • Recommended: La Sportiva Spantik or Scarpa Phantom 6000 
    • OK but not ideal: Plastic double boots, Scarpa Inverno
    • Not Allowed: La Sportiva Batura, Scarpa Phantom Guide or any boot without a removable liner.
    • Ask about custom footbeds and heated footbeds
    • Ascent Outdoors can help with fit and sizing 
  • 1x Pair insulated super-gaiters
    • Super-gaiters will provide more warmth than boots alone and are required.
    • If the toe section of the rubber rand of the gaiter fits loosely you may want to consider gluing the toe section to the boot.
    • Check the fit of the crampon, supergaiter, boot combo before leaving for your trip
    • Best resource for Super-gaiters is Mountain Tools in Carmel, CA
  • 1x Pair Adjustable trekking poles
    • Lightweight and easy to use with gloves. 
    • Buy poles with non-absorbant wrist straps or grips
    • Buy poles with a "flip" style closure (not screw-tight)
    • Shop Trekking Poles
  • 1x Climbing helmet
    • Climbing helmets are rated to take impacts from above, bike or ski helmets are not allowed
    • Climbing helmets adjust to fit hats and balaclavas - test the fit before leaving. 
    • Shop Climbing Helmets

Apparel: The overall system

These four layers are usually sufficient for most people, but if you tend to be colder bring one extra medium-layer that would be ideal for extra warmth around camp, such as a vest. When deciding what to pack, remember to bring enough clothes and accessories to ensure your safety and comfort, while not over-burdening yourself with items you probably won’t use. Ascent Outdoors and Mountain Madness can help guide your purchases and layering strategy. 

  • Base layer: manages moisture and wicks perspiration away from your skin. ( Capilene, Merino Wool)
  • Softshell: should be a durable, comfortable, insulating and wind/water resistant layer that breathes well. 
  • Hard shell: windproof, waterproof and breathable. (e.g. Gore-Tex, or similar)
  • Insulating layer: should be down-fill or synthetic-fill and fit over all layers. (e.g. down, primaloft or polarguard)

Apparel: Upper Body

  • 2x Changes of casual wear for time off of the mountain. Cotton is okay for this.
  • 2x Synthetic t-shirts
  • 2x Synthetic long sleeve shirts
    • 1 Lightweight, light colored shirt for sunny days. "Sun Hoody" style shirt
    • 1 Hoodless layer for colder days. 
  • 2x Sports bras - Synthetic, preferably with minimal lycra (it holds water)
  • 1x Soft Shell Jacket
    • Stretchy but with some wind resistance.
    • Thinner is more versatile - don't buy insulated softshell jackets
  • 1x Down/synthetic sweater or vest
    • Lighter/packable are recomended
    • When worn as a midlayer, synthetic holds up better under packs and with persperation. 
  • 1x Hard shell jacket with hood
    • Waterproof and breathable. Gore-Tex or equivalent is best,
    • Buy a lightweight "climbing" oriented jacket, not a ski coat
    • The hood should be helmet compatible
    • Pit zips recomended
    • "Napolean" pockets (chest pockets) recommended as they leave your waist cleaner and more comfortable under a pack harness.  
  • 1x Expedition down parka with hood.
    • This is probably your most important piece of clothing at high camp and summit day!
    • 700+ fill down required, 800+ recomended
    • Baffle construction (not sewn through seams) - warmer
    • Thick insulated hood - this is your warmest "hat"
    • It should fit over all other layers. 

Apparel: Lower Body

  • 4x Pair of liner socks - Synthetic or Wool
  • 2-3x Pair light weight trekking/hiking socks - Wool recomended
  • 4x Pair med-heavy wool socks Check boot fit with liner and wool socks on
  • 1x Pair nylon travel/trekking pants
    • For trekking and around camp.
    • Zip off legs for conversion shorts recomended.
  • 2x Pair lightweight long underwear bottoms - Wool recommended
  • 3x Pair Underwear - Wool recomended
  • 1x Pair fleece or synthetic "Puffy" pants w/ full side zipper.
    • Warm insulation for upper mountain.
    • Side zippers allow for layering without removing boots
  • 1x Pair soft shell pants
  • 1x Pair of hard shell (waterproof) pants
  • 1x Pair down booties - Optional 
    • Nice to have around camp
  • 1x Pair trail/tennis shoes for the hike to base camp and use at camp.
    • Trail runners or low-top light-hikers recommended
    • Shop Trail Runners
  • 1x Pair sandals (lightweight) for showers.

Apparel: Hand Gear

Two systems are required; one glove system for lower on the mountain and an overmitt system for the cold temperatures encountered on summit day.
  • 2x Pair liner gloves
    • Merino wool or powerstretch fleece recomended
  • 1x Pair midweight softshell gloves 
    • Great for moderate temperatures and higher output
  • 1x Pair expedition shell gloves
    • Durable, warm
    • Waterproof
    • Removable liner (optional)
  • 1x Pair modular expedition shell mitts.
    • OR Alti Mitts.
    • If they do not have wrist straps consider sewing one on so that you do not loose your mittens in high winds.
    • These are your "finger insurance" 

Apparel: Head Gear

  • Warm hat
    • Wool or synthetic 
    • Covers ears
    • Fits under helmet
  • Balaclava and/or Buff-style neck tube
    • Balaclavas are nicer for sleeping and cold weather
    • Buffs are more versatile, but less warm
  • Face mask – Required
  • Shade hat or baseball cap
    • No cotton
    • Avoid hats with the "button" on the top - its uncomfortable under a helmet
  • Glacier glasses 100% UV protection with side shields and a hard-sided storage case (i.e. Julbo or Cebe)* 
    • Cat 4 recommended, Cat3 OK (measure of lens darkness)
    • Fit is essential, there should be no gaps that let extra light in
  • 1 Pair extra sunglasses (Also with UV protection in case your primary pair breaks)
  • 1 Ski goggles With UV protection *

All clothing should be stored in waterproof stuff sacks. Compressible items like down parkas should be stored in waterproof compression stuff sacks. 

*If you require prescription glacier glasses, you get your lenses modified to your prescription.  Julbo Sherpas glacier glasses works great for prescription lenses.  Send the glasses to Opticus along with your PD number with your order.  Their number is 1-800-870-5557 get these with your prescription

Sleeping System:

  • 1 Down sleeping bag Rated to -20 F
    • 800+ Fill recommended - higher fill-power ratings mean more insulation for less weight 
    • This will be the bulkiest item in your pack
    • Consider buying a size larger than you would normally need so that you can store boot liners and electronics in your bag at night
  • 2 Sleeping pads
    • 1x full length closed cell foam (mandatory)
      • Thermarest Z-lite recommended.
      • This pad adds insulation and protects your inflatable pad from puncture.
      • It's your insurance if the inflatable pad is punctured
    • 1x Full Length Insulated inflatable pad 
      • A key part of your sleep system
      • R-Value of 5 or higher - These are winter appropriate pads
      • Weight under 1.5 lbs
      • Therm-a-Rest and Exped make the best options currently

Back Packs

  • 1x Large capacity internal frame pack
    • 5000+ cubic inches / 70+ liters
    • Second to boots, this is the item that most needs to fit properly, please try on several options with weight before committing for your trip
    • Mountaineering style packs offer this capacity without extraneous features or weight. 
  • 1x Daypack
    • For the approach hike, possible use on summit day and carry-on pack.
    • 30L recommended if it's to be used as a summit pack (must fit down jacket, clothes, food+water)
    • Simple "climbing" style or stuff sack style packs recommended, they're packable and lightweight
  • 2x Large (7,500+cu.in./ 125L) duffle bags for gear
    • Must be durable and water resistant for use on pack animals. 
    • Patagonia Black Hole duffels recommended
    • Shoulder straps nice
    • Wheeled options not recomended
  • 1 Small duffel bag/luggage piece
    • To store casual clothes and personal travel goods in Mendoza
    • To transport souvenirs home
    • Small/packable recomended
  • Small padlocks for duffel bags

Below is a selection of some of the key items we recommend for Aconcagua, other items can be shopped via the links above or in the category tabs.