Trekking for Tips

As I travel around the world I join many FREE city tours. If you enjoy the experience, you tip the guide.

One such company, for example – tours4tips.com

Because the guides only survive if they make good tips, the tours are (usually) excellent.

For the first time I saw offered in Valparaíso, Chile Trekking for Tips.

A minimum charge is fixed at the beginning, depending on the number of people in the group.

After that you can tip the guide additionally if you like the experience.

GREAT IDEA.

Advertisements

Lake O’Hara in the Canadian Rockies

The most beautiful place in a beautiful place. Nearest international airport is Calgary, Alberta.

So popular that it’s difficult to get a reservation to camp.

MB Guiding has everything you need to know to make it happen.

Lake O’Hara – Yoho National Park

hiking Ausangate hut-to-hut

The Ausangate Circuit in Peru is one of our top 10 hikes in the world.

You can now do Ausangate without a tent with a company called Andean Lodges.

To avoid altitude sickness, they recommend a 10 day itinerary:

DAY 1: FLIGHT TO CUSCO + CITY TOUR

DAY 2: SACRED VALLEY

DAY 3: TRIP TO MACHU PICCHU

DAY 4: MACHU PICCHU- OPTIONAL HIKES (SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY)

DAY 5: VISIT TO HUANACAURE AND SAN PEDRO ́S MARKET

FROM DAY 6 TO DAY 10: AUSANGATE TREK

Download the company brochure from the link below. (PDF)

CUSCO & ITS SACRED MOUNTAIN

That looks pretty great to us. The 5 days, 4 nights on the trek itself costs about $1600 if you are in a group. Their guided treks run March through November.

If interested, email them at info (a) andeanlodges.com.

Read some reviews on TripAdvisor.com.

 

 

my hiking jacket – Columbia OutDry Ex Gold

Top layer is the new Columbia Men’s OutDry Ex Gold Interchange Jacket

It’s fairly heavy with the removable Omni-Heat Reflective inner layer. For most hikes, I’ll leave that liner at home carrying only the 2 layer shell.

I tested it in the rain while cycling. With seam tape it feels entirely waterproof. And it’s reasonably light.

It has no pit zips.  Breathability is not nearly as good as Columbia claims. In fact, I’d say it’s breathability is LOUSY.

I paired it with the new Columbia OutDry EX Gold Down Hooded Jacket

For most hikes I will bring this along, replacing my usual down hooded parka.

The most compelling reason I decided to go this direction is the OutDry™ EX outer layer. It seems obvious to me that down jackets should be waterproof. The down is not hydrophobic, but doesn’t need to be as it won’t get wet.

I’m confident I’ll never be wet nor cold with this system. The hoods are excellent.

Some feel the fit is boxy. I’d agree. But I like the extra room for more layers underneath.

For warm hikes I also picked up the Frogg Toggs Men’s Ultra Lite Rain Jacket as an alternative.

This is what the cool thru-hikers wear. It’s not breathable at all. But at US $14.22 you can’t lose.

All in all I’m very happy with my new OutDry system. It has got some bad reviews, however.

Gortex` wets out. Starts to fail after a few years. It’s the fabric of deceit. I’ve never trusted it.

Here’s how Outdry is supposed to work. Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

 

Trekking to Aconcagua’s Plaza Francia INDEPENDENTLY – Day 3

trip report by editor Rick McCharles

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | info page | video

Up early again. Coffee as the sun rises.

Rather than doing any more hiking I enjoyed a lazy morning at camp. Toying with my electronics. Listening to my Spanish lessons. The sun was HOT.

There are all sorts of characters coming and going. Some carry huge backpacks.

The craziest of the crazy are trying to summit Aconcagua independently and unsupported. Somehow transporting 70kg of gear or so up the mountain with multiple shuttles.

Around 11am I finally packed up the tent.

I figured it would be an easy walkout. No rush to catch the 5pm bus.

On a rest stop I laid out my basic gear to dry.

I’d expected a quick 2 hour 400m descent, but the walk felt long. Full pack. I was tired.

It was nice to finally reach vegetation.

If there’s something green here, there’s plenty of water.

Laguna de Horcones (2950m)

I checked out at the park entrance. Turned in my permit. Handed over my trash bag.

My Aconcagua trek was a success.

With a couple of hours before the bus arrived, I walked the highway …

… down to Puente del Inca (2740m).

…a natural arch that forms a bridge over the Vacas River, a tributary of the Mendoza River. … 

In March 1835, Charles Darwin visited the site, and made some drawings of the bridge …

In the old days people would walk across the bridge to reach the stone church.
It’s a tourist trap with overpriced junk and yappy dogs.

I decided to wait to eat in Mendoza.

There are a couple of hostels and a campground, however. A good emergency stop. Or hikers could sleep here one night before heading up towards Aconcagua.

I slept well on the bus. Then got myself a big chunk of Argentinian beef to celebrate back at the hostel.

Trekking to Aconcagua’s Plaza Francia INDEPENDENTLY – Day 2

trip report by editor Rick McCharles

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | info page | video

I was up early. Drinking coffee. Watching the sun catch high peaks.

I waited until 8am to start and was still first to depart Confluencia.

In fact I wasn’t sure of the route as it wasn’t signed at the start. A couple of people pointed me in the right direction.

Very soon the signage began. It’s clear. You can’t easily get lost (though people have). No GPS, guidebook or map is needed. Follow the cairns.

With about 1000m to climb I carried a fairly light pack. I was in the shade of the mountains for the first 2 hours.

You see the big mountain appear early on.

WOW. This must be one of the best days of the year. Very little wind.

Was I in Nepal? Or the Andes.

Once you get above vegetation there’s no way to tell.

Many people finish at the second of two viewpoints. The view is as good here at 4126m as anywhere.

But, alone, first hiker of the day, I continued another 45 minutes on to French Camp.

As you can see, it was t-shirt weather.

The only reason to hike the final rugged stretch after the viewpoint is to get an even closer view of the massive south face wall. The hanging glaciers. It’s not easy to believe that’s a 3km drop from the top.

I couldn’t guess what line they’d climb. It looked impossible.

Turns out they’ve climbed many impossible lines.

This same day a guy I met later was on the other side of the mountain slogging through metre deep new snow. His entire group turned back at 6600m aside from one character who did (somehow) summit.

Excited I’d been so lucky with my weather, I turned back quickly. Perhaps I could hike some of the trail towards Mule Camp before dark.

Vistas in the other direction are beautiful. I’d not looked back much on the way up.

I’d expected plenty of water but you should carry up all you need. It’s a desert. And most of what’s running is silted.

On the way down I took time to observe the glacier. Most of the trail is on glacial moraine.

Almost nothing can live up here. This thorny bush is hardiest.

THIS astragalus arnottianus somehow survives too.

By the time I got back down to the main trail I was exhausted. There’d be no more hiking for me this day.

It was 8 hours tent-back-to-tent moving quite quickly.
I again climbed into my bag for a nap, but this time also to get out of the sun. Though careful with face and head, I’d managed to sunburn my hands and forearms. There’s very little shade available.

That evening I went over for my mandatory doctor’s check-up. He listened to heart rate. Blood pressure. Asked a few questions. Then signed my permit.

In the tent that night I listened to Coffee Break Spanish language podcasts and got into a hilarious book about character named Hard Luck Hank.

Two tents of noisy independent Russians had arrived. They argued and shouted late into the night. With headphones on, I didn’t care.