Frequently Asked Questions - Patagonia School
Please note you will be mailed specific information for your course upon registration. The following is to serve as a helpful guideline.
What kind of physical condition should I be in?
The weight of your pack is generally 65 pounds. We invite you to check out our Training page
We highly recommend checking with your physician before embarking on strenuous physical activity. We reserve the right to turn away those climbers who we determine to be in inadequate physical condition.
The mountains of Patagonia are an exciting and spectacular area. The climbing is physically demanding, as are the practice sessions for learning and reviewing skills. Most days will involve 12 or more hours per day of physical and mental activity, at times strenuous. Please come prepared physically, and read Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills ahead of time. The mental preparation of reading course information ahead of time is as important as your physical training to success on this course!
How do I reserve a space for a course?
The best way to reserve space on a course is to call our offices and place the deposit on a VISA/MC/AMEX. Our courses fill quickly on a first-come, first-served basis, and registering over the phone is the best way to ensure reserving the course dates you want. You may also submit an application by mail with a check, money order or credit card number.
How do I get to/from the Course locatiuon?
Arrival: Book flights to Balmaceda, Chile. You must arrive in Santiago, Chile no later than the early morning of Day 2 of your trip, after your overnight flight to Santiago. You will be met at the airport in Balmaceda.
Departure: You may depart in late afternoon or early evening on the noted date.
Please note that there are many other things to see and do in this region should you have the time and interest. For those participants continuing on to the Aconcagua Expedition, your flight to Mendoza, Argentina will depart from the Santiago, Chile international airport.
Where can I buy flights?
Alpine Ascents uses the services of Charles Mulvehill at Scan East West Travel: 1-800-727-2157 or 206-623 2157. They are very familiar with our Mountaineering School and offer competitive prices on all domestic and international flights. firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I check my Baggage to Balmaceda?
To help ensure that your luggage gets to Balmaceda we encourage you to do the following:
1) Please arrive at the airport at least 3 hours ahead of your scheduled departure.
2) If you change planes en route to Santiago, check with an airline employee to make sure your bags have been transferred.
3) You will clear customs and immigration in Santiago. Be advised that as of 2003, US citizens on their first visit to Chile must pay US$ 100 in cash for their visa at immigration. This amount may change, and other foreign nationals may need to pay differing amounts but always in US Dollars and in cash.
4) Find an English-speaking Lan Chile employee at the customer service booth just outside customs and immigration. Your baggage can be checked at this point. Then proceed to the national terminal to check in for your Lan Chile flight or other carrier's flight to Balmaceda.
Who is my Guide? Will Someone meet me at the airport?
You will be met by an Alpine Ascents representative and/or your guide at the airport.
What do I need to bring?
When you sign up for a course we will send you a confirmation package that includes an annotated equipment list detailing each piece of equipment you will need. Please read your annotated equipment list very carefully. You are required to bring every item on the list so be as precise as possible when packing. Alpine Ascents rents quality technical equipment at reasonable rates. If you have any equipment-related questions please call us (206-378-1927). You can also email us at: Climb@AlpineAscents.com
Do I need any immunizations?
In addition to discussions with Alpine Ascents International, we always encourage you to seek additional information. You may want to contact an international health clinic for any updates about travel in Chile . The US Department of Health Services at 404-332-4559 has an easy to use touch-tone service. You can also try the CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/travel.htm No inoculations are required at this time.
Is food provided on my course?
All meals are included while in cities during itinerary and climbing, including a Welcome Dinner and Farewell Dinner.
Where do I pick up my rental gear for the course?
For all International trips, rental gear is mailed to you two weeks prior to your departure.
How heavy will my pack be?
Since everyone purchases different gear and is a different size, it is hard to give you an exact number. For most of our courses, you can expect your internal frame pack (packed with gear and food) to weigh between 55 and 65 pounds. It is likely that you will be asked to help carry some of the group equipment such as ropes and protection, so make sure there is some additional room in and on your backpack for approximately 4-8 pounds of gear.
Any tips on packing?
The mountains of Patagonia are subject to highly variable weather conditions. Make sure you bring a minimum of 4 plastic trash compactor bags. Your guide will offer waterproofing and packing techniques as you prepare for your trip.
What can I read to prepare for the course?
You will get far more out of your course by reading Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, 6th ed., The Mountaineers. This book provides an excellent overview of the elements involved in alpine mountaineering. Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 6 review many of the aspects we will be covering during your training and familiarity with these aspects will greatly enhance your experience.
Where is a good, trustworthy store to purchase gear?
Alpine Ascents climbers receive a 10% discount from Moosejaw Mountaineering. Our climbers also receive a discount of 10% from Feathered Friends. See our gear page for links to these and other companies.
I am concerned that the gear I am renting will not fit or work properly.
We rent the Koflach Degree. The packs, crampons, ice axes, tents, and other items are cleaned and checked on a daily basis. All of our gear is of the highest quality. Please note that double plastic boots do not break in.
Is this trip going to be physically challenging?
Yes. See the training tips above, but... Keep in mind that you are climbing a mountain and it is not easy. If you follow our physical fitness tips and do some training on your own, you should complete the course with no problems.
What will the weather be like on my course?
In Santiago , the climate is a warm Mediterranean-type climate similar to southern California . Daytime temperatures are generally 70 to 85 degrees. Northern Patagonia is in a temperate maritime zone. Windy and rainy conditions are as common as bright and sunny ones, with daytime temperatures of 50 to 70 degrees in the Patagonian spring and 60 to 80 degrees in the summer. As with any mountain climate, sudden storms, including snowstorms, can occur in the peaks at any time of the year.
What if I need to leave the course early?
On occasion, climbers opt/need to leave a course before conclusion and will be responsible for additional expenses such as additional transport, additional hotel nights beyond the 1 night Alpine Ascents pays for, etc. Trip cancellation insurance may pay for some of these costs but needs to be applied for within 30 days of incident.
How much money do I need to bring?
Please review the Costs Include/Do Not Include portion of the website. With regards to personal expenses, please note that Chilean Pesos are the preferred method of payment. Cash in conjunction with Credit Cards are best. Credit Cards are useful and fine at larger hotels. Smaller places do often accept credit cards, but charge a fee. Cash Machines are plentiful and offer up to the day exchange rates. Traveler’s Checks are not widely accepted and often need to be exchanged for cash at a bank (time consuming) or a much better option is hotel desk or cambio.
Tips and costs: You may want to bring $150 - $200 for local guide tips or an amount as meets your budget. It is advisable to bring some cash/pocket money $200 - $400 and a credit card. You may want to consider a money belt for carrying cash. Guides are permitted to accept and greatly appreciate tips.