Aconcagua is a tough mountain, but an excellent challenge nevertheless. One of the many reasons that I chose this mountain was because I was looking for a 7000m peak for training purposes, prior to an 8000m summit attempt in the Karakoram lather this year. No regrets, aim achieved, 360-Expeditions preparation advice spot on!
Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Western hemisphere (6962m), located in western Argentina, near the Chile border. The 'Normal Route' is non-technical - a walk-up, following the Northwest Ridge. It is the altitude that poses the biggest problem. That and the sense that this is an easy climb. Every year people die because or inexperience and/or they underestimate the task at hand. Respect this mountain and you will fare better.
You need experience walking in crampons and with the use of an ice axe, but nothing more. However, the sheer height of Aconcagua, along with extremely cold temperatures on the mountain, make it a challenging ascent, even for accomplished mountaineers.
How fit do you need to be to climb Aconcagua?
In order to climb Aconcagua, you need to have an excellent level of fitness. We rate this as a level 8 expedition, which means it's an extremely tough challenge. For most people, it will be the toughest challenge of their life. You need to have an excellent level of cardio fitness and also be well used to hillwalking. The lessons gained about how you perform and the skills taught by the guides will establish robust guidelines for any future aspirations you have at high altitude.
Local Guide Gianni has worked closely with Rolfe Oostra (360-Expeditions Co-Founder / Owner) over a number of years to set up an ascent programme that gives the clients the best possible to chance to summit. Acclimatisation works, so the itinerary is excellent in terms of summit preparation.
Some further Aconcagua thoughts, based upon this excellent 360-Expeditions experience:
• Expect extremes of climate from very hot to very cold all within 24-hrs. Being the highest mountain in South America it has its own diverse weather.
• Unusually, no water at C1 which impacted on logistics and weights carried by expedition members to the higher camps. However, the 360 local guides adapted quickly and came up with an alternate plan. No issue, ultimately.
• Base camp snow and above meant that crampons and plastic boots were worn continually for 4-5 days either side of the summit. All good training, being prepared for the unforeseen.
• Gianni and Mercedes combined well throughout as 360 local guides. Sound advice at all times, both very knowledgeable and with considerable high-altitude experience. Specifically, meticulous preparation from base camp to C1 / C2 / C3 to the summit and back down. When faced with a couple of team members suffering from exhaustion near the summit, quick plans were executed to ensure safe passage back to C3. Additionally, both did much more than ‘just guiding’ in that they cooked for us on a daily basis above 5000m. Impressive stuff and the food was good too!
• Excellent medical protocols throughout, especially at Confluenzia and Base Camp where all team members were routinely reviewed by a doctor. Also, pulse oximeter tests were conducted by 360 Guides Gianni and Mercedes on a daily basis.
• Aconcagua Vision services at Confluenzia and Base Camp were excellent, including a diverse menu, notwithstanding altitude and long resupply routes.
In summary, Aconcagua with 360-Expeditions was a fulfilling experience from start to finish and more than fulfilled expectations. The perfect preparation for the Karakoram in the summer (with 360, of course)!
I had never been in the Himalayas before and was a bit uncertain about what I was committed to. I shouldn’t have worried from the first day to the last Rolfe and his team made sure I felt save and well looked after. We managed to climb Mera peak, island peak and Lobuche plus crossed the Amphu Lhapsa pass and visit Everest basecamp in 18 days. This expedition was definitely all I could have wished for in my first visit of these mountains! Thanks again team 360! You have not seen the last of me!
The support provided by the office staff prior to departure was excellent. We had two guides, both local guides who were excellent hosts, took us to amazing restaurants and when if something needed fixed (the tent zips frequently broke) they were quick to sort this out. Food at Confluencia camp and Plaza de Mulas camp is provided by staff appointed at the fixed camps and all companies buy into this service. The food and service at these camps was amazing. However, my overall experience on the mountain was extremely negative. Although I got sick at 6,500m and had to turn around to a lower altitude, I truly believe these expeditions are not just about the summit. Its about the memories and fun we have along the way and talk about, sadly I have few. I have a lot of experience, I have climbed, been guided, taught and coached by some of the top UK guides who have had multiple 8000m ascents between them (including guiding), therefore have a lot to compare this expedition to. I have had some amazing expeditions with other companies.
Overall my impression of the expedition was:
1. There were no introductions, the guides did not take any time to get to know me or find out about previous experiences.
2. At camps they regularly spent time speaking in their first language or were sitting across the table from each other in the middle of our group speaking in their first language, an extremely isolating experience which excluded me from them and the rest of the group.
3. There was no attempt to make this a fun relaxed experience (even when in camp), the days were simply the same - one guide at the front one at the back, most of the time you were told where to stand in line. If one member of the group stopped everyone had to stop. You walked for an hour then stopped for a 10 minute break (all timed), there were no points of interest talked about and very little talking whilst walking. Simply a process.
4. The food at Camp 1, Camp 2 and Camp 3 is prepared by the guides, from Camp 2, for me, the meals became of exceptional poor nutritional value, mostly consisting of pasta or mixed with plain rice (apart from a simple sauce, there was nothing added to the pasta). Food for mountain days consisted of a few cheese triangles and sugary sweets. Snacks (crisps/cheese) at around 4 were provided. The food completely inadequate for big mountain days. The evening prior to summit night having had pasta for lunch and again presented with it for evening meal, I simply could not eat it. The guide standing, started ranting, making several personal comments about my eating habits and told me I would not summit, this in front of the whole group. There was no attempt to offer support or alternate food, an experience that had a significant impact on me.
5. The guides never provided any information as to what to expect during each day, weather, conditions etc, you were left guessing what to carry in your rucksack. Even on summit night the only information I was provided with was that conditions were good. On summit night they didn't ask how I was on route (until I became ill), didn't provide any information about the route, only at one point we were told to be 'careful'.
6. On previous expeditions it has been normal practice for guides to assess the group, their experience, strength and speed, then split the group into smaller groups accordingly, thus giving everyone the best opportunity. This stops everyone getting frustrated if they are faster either on the uphill or downhill sections. On summit night there was no attempt to do this even though it was known that one of the group was ill. We were in one big group and had to stop on a regular basis in the first few hours every time the group member needed to stop. In the dark, stopping and starting at this altitude is not only an extremely cold experience but disrupts the pace.
7. The morning after summit day the guide came to my tent to advise that there was breakfast, they then started talking about one of the other clients telling me how they were not happy with them on summit night, details that I did not need to know.
8. Their logistics on the mountain were to go to a higher camp to acclimatise carrying very little in your rucksack, then the next day move up carrying everything, meaning heavy rucksacks. Other guiding companies I have been with will move equipment in stages, spreading the load.
9. I talked through my feedback with 360 who in turn went to the guides for feedback. What came back was either completely irrelevant to the specific questions I asked (food, COVID and the outburst about my eating habits) or were so far from facts I recall or noted in my diary.
There is more I could say but for me I could not recommend 360, they listened but I believe didn't hear - saying others seemed to have enjoyed the trip. Reviews are often based on comparisons gained from experience with other companies, I have had excellent experiences with other companies. For me there was no assurance that improvements would be made therefore there is a risk that a similar experience could occur. Summing up, I found this expedition extremely dull with a guide who at times in my opinion was unprofessional. The guides did not promote fun, or encouragement. All of these statements are my personal opinions and experiences, based on the facts I recall or noted in my diary.
We received this same feedback directly from the climber after one of our recent Aconcagua expeditions, and had various in-depth communications with this climber to address their concerns.
We very much appreciated the comments on our pre-departure support, something we take a lot of pride in, but were really disappointed to hear this climber felt the expedition didn’t deliver, especially as the feedback from others on the expedition differed considerably. We did go through each point of the feedback in details, and also assured the climber at the time that their feedback had been taken forwards, and can only reiterate that.
We strive to give the best expeditions for our trekkers and climbers, and with every trip, if there is anything that can improved upon for future climbs, we will implement where we are able. To just take one example, this is the first time we have received feedback such as this regarding the meals on the trek (we generally offer a soup starter, a main course, plus snacks and chocolate), but we do often use boil in the bag foods due to the logistics of such an expedition, as they contain all full complement of the nutrients needed for a trek such as this. However, they are often pasta or rice based, and we have been in comms with our team in Argentina to ensure that for future expeditions there are additional options for any climbers preferring a less carb-heavy diet.
Simply put, Aconcagua is a really tough expedition. It is one that pushes you the top of your game in the mountains, an expedition on which you must be incredibly self-sufficient, with the team living and breathing on top of each other, under challenging conditions. Reaching 6,500m on Aconcagua is a huge accomplishment and we do hope that, in time, this trekker will be able to feel proud of their achievement.
Nepal and the Himalayas, are completely stunning worth a trip anytime. But if you wish to feel completely cared for and safe 360 expeditions. Is the way ahead. It will be hard, the weather maybe against you. You may be in the dumps but you will find out what your capabilities are and the trip. You will laugh cry and enjoy every minute of it.
360 expeditions have the best European guides, backed up by fantastic local guides who are with out doubt second to none.
If I could I would do it again.
You don’t know the strength of a company or confirmation of what they ‘Say ‘ they will do , until it actually really happens to you , not from a want of trying , I learned my life lesson on Mera , about adventure, the real meaning of being an adventurer , it’s not about the summit , it’s the journey , know your limits , it is what it is !!! I wish , pretty much everyday that I could have summited Mera , however life carries on just the same , I got rescued off Mera , totally cared for , flown home and very grateful to the wonderful service the 360 team said they would do , I have always promoted this company to people I know and I hope this will reassure you , that they know exactly what they are doing !!!!! Good luck Adventures , your in safe hands
360 Expeditions deliver exceptional adventure experiences. Right from the initial enquiry about the Mera Peak trek we were warmly welcomed. As our first attempt at a Himalayan trekking peak we had many questions, which were quickly answered both via email and also a Skype call with Rolfe. Once booked, unlike feeling like a 'number' with a larger company, we were pleasantly surprised with the number of communications leading up to the trek and we immediately felt part of the 360 family.
Upon arriving in Kathmandu we were enthusiastically greeted by the local staff and by Jo, our leader. We were really happy with the accommodation at the well-known Kathmandu Guest House in the centre of Thamel. We met the rest of the expedition team members - a great bunch of like-minded adventurers. Jo quickly built a good team spirit by organising a meal at a local restaurant. She also did a good job at checking our gear to ensure we had the right gear and not too much!
The itinerary for the trek towards Mera Peak had been designed to help us acclimatise, and with the extra bonus of avoiding the crowds. Jo and the expedition crew were very caring and helpful. The food and accommodation (tents and tea houses) were really good.
Unfortunately for us, due to a number of factors outside 360's control, we had to end our trek early. Due to a mix of altitude sickness and injury my partner and I were medevac'd back to Kathmandu before we were able to complete the expedition. Jo and the 360 team back at HQ were so helpful in making all the necessary arrangements and following up to check that were were OK. We were sorry to have ended the trip early but the upside was that in that short time we had made some long lasting friends who we've kept in touch with ever since.
I'd have no hesitation in recommending 360 Expeditions to anyone seeking an adventure with a difference, with highly experienced crew and with a company that really cares. In fact we have since been on another adventure (the Winter Skills Course) with 360 which was an amazing experience.
Back on it with 360 again, first time to Nepal, a great next push from Aconcagua into serious mountain terrain. Mind blown again - starting in Kathmandu with an assault to the senses, its such a cool town! I've been back with the old man since for an EBC trek with him, the place is just buzzing!
On the crazy flight to Lukla, nice chilled trek to EBC - really easy going with some tougher days, once again all at that 360 pace which keeps you confident and always climbing! Every day a new view that just gets better and better!
After EBC we left half the group, after a cheeky night bivvied up Kala Patthar - we then ducked into the valley up to Ama Dablam with the superstar climbing Sherpas of Phurba and Dendi... these guys immediately became like brothers, but don't play s**thead with them... they might cheat a little!
Great times on the mountain once again, pushing the technical side way further than Aco... if its the way you want to go, the way 360 can progress you is just seamless, never once doubting a trip, or a move, or a single second... as I've said before I won't go with anyone else.
Once again another part of the world with 360 - like I said I've been back here once already - and it likely won't be the last time!
My second expedition with 360, and the one that sealed the deal that I'll never climb with anyone else. Some of the photos displayed here I took, and I can assure you it was as ace as it looks! After chatting with Rolfe on Kili, his knowledge assured me this was the right next move. A true salesman of the mountains, I went from having never heard of Aconcagua to being 110% all in within 5 minutes...
As per Kili, the groundcrew were epic - Gianni, Quique, Gordo - we had some awesome bouldering sessions on the downtime, when you might think they want a break from the clients, the welcomed me in with my shoddy skills to pull some funky shapes and share some local tea!
We had a pretty tough summit day with no visibility but the motivation from the crew kept us going to success. Plentiful downtime at base camp and back in Mendoza, 100% all round good times! Stop messing around and get it booked!
From the minute the team met up at Heathrow I knew this exped was going to be awesome! This was my fourth trip with 360 Expeditions and I have trusted them implicitly since my first exped with them to provide an awesome team, an awesome guide and crew, an awesome experience, and a top notch itinerary with the best possible chance of a successful summit. Their attention to detail in both the planning and the execution of this expedition was great. Stu S was at the helm on this one, and with his infectious enthusiam and incredible mountain knowledge along with the cool Russian crew we were in very safe hands. Even the drive in to base camp was an off roading advenutre, and the ascent up the north side of the mountain provided a real, remote feeling, full on mountaineering experience. I've marked the food down a little just because it was a bit basic, perhaps Russian cuisine isn't quite to my taste, but there was plenty of it and snacks provided too and to be honest it's well worth it in order to be on the north side ascent away from the crowds and infrastructure of the south side. This is an exped for those who love a real mountaineering experience and enjoy the highs and lows of expedition life (we were lucky with the weather but Elbrus can be brutal!) rather that those who simply want to summit quickly and tick it off their list. Reaching the summit was the toughest thing I'd ever done, but such an adventure and so many laughs along the way, and with the support and patience of our team and awesome guide I got there and I can't really explain how amazing that felt. A celebratory night out Russian style is also an experience not to be missed!
This is a great exped that doesn't require too much time off work, I would highly recommend it. It was absolutely awesome and really motivated me to keep climbing and keep dreaming big!
I was sat in the bar in Moshi after an awesome Kilimanjaro expedition with Rolfe and the 360 crew and had seriously caught the exped bug! I was already considering what might be next, and Rolfe told me about his Aconcagua trip and suggested that I should go for it. The more I read about the expedition the more I wanted in on it! Marni and Helen in the office are always available to answer question and offer advice and moral support through moments of personal doubt! Fast forward 18 months and I was on my way to Argentina...
From the minute we landed in Mendoza and met Gianni and his team I knew we were in safe hands. They were excellent, as was the food and the facilities at base camp. The whole thing was a fabulous experience. Other teams on the mountain were very interested in Gianni's plans for ours regarding acclimatisation and weather windows etc. It was obvious we were with the best, with a guide well known and well respected on the mountain. On this occasion I had to turn around before reaching the summit, this was largely down to my own fitness and does not detract from how awesome the expedition was. I felt supported and safe on the way up and when I had to decide to turn around. No summit is ever guaranteed but I do think that the quality of the 360 guides and the thought that has gone into planning the itinerary give you the best possible chance of success.
In addition to the awesome surroundings and the personal challenge, the Andean Condor that landed in Camp 2 was a particular highlight, as was the odd glass of local Malbec that I enjoyed in Mendoza!
This was a huge trip for me, a big step out of my comfort zone, but Rolfe, Marni and Helen really encouraged me to dream big and go for it! The mountain is not hugely technical but it is high (!) and it's a long expedition. With the 360 team I have achieved things I never thought possible.
This was my second trip with 360, but my first big expedition. And what a trip it was! 6 years on and it's still probably my favourite expedition, and my proudest physical accomplishment. Right from the very beginning, there was support. Not just training plans and packing advice - reassuring emails from Marni whenever I got in a panic that maybe I'd bitten off more than I could chew.
A full day in Mendoza before heading to the mountain not only gave us a day to appreciate the sun (coming from the UK in January!) it gave us an opportunity to get over our jet lag, but more importantly we had a full kit inspection. Reassuring to know that you kit is up to scratch BEFORE you get on the mountain!
On the mountain, things ran brilliantly. And I say that despite suffering from the worst altitude headache I've ever had, at 3400m! We were encouraged to go at our own pace, and there were plenty of rest days built in to the itinerary. You don't realise just how important it is to sit and do nothing on rest days until you have days where you push your body wayyyy outside its comfort zones. Regular checkups with the doctor at base camp reassured everyone that we were all coping well with the altitude. Acclimatisation rotations and more rest days were to follow, and through out it all the food just kept on getting better! Despite being in Argentina, I never expected to get steak whilst on the mountain, but we did and it was delicious! The best meal of the trip was cheeseburgers, cooked by our guides on the primus at camp 1 - such a brilliant meal, accompanied by the most spectacular sunset.
Our team bonded right from the beginning, and after 3 weeks together there hadn't been a single disagreement or falling out. Just support, laughter and care.
I doubted that I'd make it to the top, and could easily have talked myself out of summiting. But I trusted the guides, and they believed in me. Their belief in me made me believe in me - I made the summit, and 8 didn't even have a headache!
This was my first trip to the Himalayas and it did not disappoint! Having flown in to Lukla, we took a less direct route to Mera, hiking through the Hinku Valley before joining the main route at Khote. Going this way not only allowed for plenty of natural acclimatisation - climbing high, sleeping low - it was also much quieter, with less people on the trail. We stayed each night in tea houses, some very basic and traditional, others were more modern. All had excellent food - in many we had a menu to choose from for both breakfast and dinner. How they managed to turn out so many different plates of good from such a small kitchen was very impressive!
360 Expeditions were brilliant throughout - pre trip support and advice, our in country guide and our local crew were ever supportive. The biggest bonus of the trip was that when our flight to Lukla was being repeatedly delayed, putting our itinerary at risk even before we started, our local team were able to organise helicopter flights instead (with no additional cost) which ensured we only started half a day behind. In my experience, that's not a level of service you get with many companies. That's one of the reasons I'll always happily use 360 expeditions for expeditions 😊
Great trip, fantastic mix of culture, interesting trekking and real Himalayan mountaineering. Sherpas really look after you and many of them Everest regulars! 360 obviously well respected in the area with loads of experience. Nice to finish with time to explore Katmandu as well. Throughly recommended.
What makes a great travel company and is 360 Expeditions one of them?
I have had the pleasure of using a fair few companies to ship my Yorkshire butt up a hill or two around this planet over the last 20 years.
For me the experience of most expeditions starts the day you seriously send that first email with an enquiry about a trip or date.
360 Expeditions backroom team are excellent, quick, efficient, informative, experienced and for me a really important quality is approachable, fun and ultra professional.
This sets the tone of the trip, they get back within hours, with the information you asked for, giving you confidence that when you really need them, they will be there for you.
Let's be fair, if a company cannot be organised 6 months out in an office with warm coffee and biscuits, do you really think they will do well when nature decides to have some fun with your plans at 5000m?
I have been fortunate enough to have used 360 Expeditions on my last 3 trips. Everest Base Camp, Mera Peak and recently Stok Kangri.
Rolfe Oostra has been my guide on all of them, he has been more than just the owner of 360 Expeditions, he has also been my guide, confidant, medic, card teacher, drinking partner and that friend you see every few years and
look forward to seeing again the moment you have parted company with them at the airport.
The first thing you realise is the amount of respect 360 Expeditions have for the most important people on any of their trips to the bigger hills, their Sherpas.
The quality of Sherpa 360 employ, means that even before you have taken your first real steps, you have the confidence that you are in very safe hands.
Couple this with the organisational skills, the hygiene protocols, the seamless way kit is taken and reappears in a timely manner 10 days later at crampon point, the communication back up, briefings made informative, relevant and fun and a host of other features nearly too many to mention, well, you get the picture.
360 Expeditions do all these things incredibly well, to the point that most clients will simply take them for granted, I can assure you, this is not the norm.
As a Diving Instructor of 25 years, I have organised many trips for large numbers of people in challenging circumstances around the world.
Maybe this is why I appreciate just how good 360 Expeditions are at not only doing the basics exceptionally well, but recognising how they can go the extra mile for their clients in the areas that really matter.
Remember you only get to see how good a company is when nature has thrown the "proverbial" at the fan.
So all the above is what makes an adventure company great, remember the views are always the same irrespective of the company?
How you get to experience them views, is what makes the real difference.
So I could not recommend 360 Expeditions more highly.
Naturally as a Yorkshireman, I asked for a large sum of money to write this, but it appears the cheque has been lost!
Clients Great &
so maybe the views aren't always the same, irrespective of the company?
Finally; The Sherpas - Simply the most amazing people in the world, we learn so much from just been in there company.
What a blast this trip was! Including off road jeep safari, a huge traverse summit day, summit day 2, a night out Russian style and experiencing PistonBully and Skimobiles on the 'other side'.
Its great to be able to get a big mountain feel on a trip that only need a week's leave from work.
My advice is get fit, it makes it more enjoyable.
The 360 Expeditions team went above and beyond to cater for all the different skills and fitness levels in the group. Despite feeling awesome on all the acclimatisation climbs, I bombed on the 'big' day and didn't attempt to summit; the traverse was enough. Back in the hotel that night Rolfe offered to take me and another climber, who also didn't summit, back the next day for another go this time from the South. He didn't have to do that, that's just the sort of guy he is and company they are! On attempt 2 we all summitted but in appalling weather - it turned into an 'epic' and I learnt a lot about myself and mountaineering!
The best referral I can give is that I've now booked to climb Spantik at just over 7000M which will be my 4th 360 Expedition trip.
I summited Ama Dablan in 2018 together with 360 expeditions. The whole 360 crew are extremely professional and keen for details and they earned my trust during this trip 100 %.
Rolfe let me climb the mountain in a way that i really appreciate and am grateful for.
Rolfe and the team welcome you into the 360 family and that feels absolutely fantastic. They make you feel more like a family member than a client.
This expedition was the best in my life so far and i am still enjoying it and fell proud about the achievement.
What can I say. An all in, amazing adventure. This was my first ever trekking holiday. I LOVED it. The 360 guides obviously knew their stuff, the food was amazing, the company fantastic and the scenery breathtaking. Photo's just do not do it justice. I met such a great bunch and we laughed and trekked for the full three weeks. If you are lucky enough to get three weeks of work - You MUST do this.
Really Great trip. If you are looking to push to new heights, this is a great mountain. I was worried about pushing 7000m but with health checks up the mountain, the 360 team and professional local guides I was more than happy. It is an amazing part of the world and the party in Mendoza after was something to remember !
A real adventure, getting to see a different part of Nepal. 360 organise it well. After a beautiful walk in there is a lot of time at base camp which is enjoyable, especially when 360 arrange a TV and DVDs up there! As always the food was great. A lovely but tough trip, which i sadly didnt complete but 360 made sure I got back to Kathmandu safely. Its not the destination its the journey and that was still fab.
My version of the trip didnt include EBC which can only enhance this wonderful trip. This is a really interesting and rewarding summit with the most amazing scenery. The walk up through the valley is breath-taking and the overnight huts are a delight. The final phase of camping and summitting is equally great and this summit night/day is touch, as they all are, but well worth it because of the terrain an views. A little bit of climbing near the end but fairly simple if you have some energy reserves. 360 manage the whole thing incredibly well and the combination of the english speaking 360 host and the locals works in harmony.
What an epic trip. This is a wonderful experience in a remarkable part of the world. 360 always do a good job so all you have to worry about is putting one foot in front of the other. This is a big one but very achievable and not particularly technical. You arent quite as spoilt as in the Himalayas but there are lots of other advantages to this one. Would thoroughly recommend this trip with 360.
I have used 360 for numerous major expeditions and all have been fabulous. This particular one is a great trip because its relatively short in duration but gives access to a completely different culture and this north south traverse gives a beautiful few days ahead of a challenging but rewarding summit day which isnt too technical at all so this would suit relative novices.
I have been on several expeds with 360 Expeditions, all led by the amazing co-founder Rolfe Oostra. What stands out about 360 Exped's Mera Peak trip (and most I have been on with them) is the intimate size of group (6 of us) and the close level of support provided pre-trek by the 360 team and the in-trek leadership and support of Rolfe and his team. I fell ill with a serious altitude issue at one of the upper camps and had to be helivac'ed back to Kathmandu. At a time when I didn't feel great, the smooth operation that Rolfe put into gear and the regular visits I received from 360's in-country team in hospital whilst the trek team walked out was amazing - a real testimony to a company that does things professionally and doesn't cut corners. Amazing.
Aside from Rolfe's excellent technical ability, his attention detail and client care, is truly fantastic. He was utterly heroic on Everest in 2019 and I saw first hand his commitment to clients. Like every good leader though, he needs a good team, and he has that in buckets including with Marni at the control centre. My experiences of 360 Expeditions has always been brilliant.
I have travelled with 360 Expeditions before. When I wanted my next test 360 Expeditions were my first choice. I have used several guides with the company before but when I heard that Rolfe was leading this trip I jumped at the chance to join, and trained hard. Pre trip planning advice as always spot on from their head office experts in Helen and Marni (more about them later) and I Joined a team on board to Moscow where we met Rolfe. A quick flight to Milnerady Vody and we were chilling, having a beer and getting generally excited about the next day. Rolfe ensured that kit prep was done early and others on the team were taken away for extra kit - no stone left unturned with Rolfe.
We were promised an exciting ride in - no kidding ! it was awesome. Fleets of jeeps whipped us away from the city and into the valleys. Eventually, after river crossings and what can not really be described as a road we arrived at base camp. No rest here - acclimatisation walk straight away.
The next day was humping our kit to base camp - 20kg up to 3800 metres. we returned via an incredible rock formation. The next day up we humped again in a thunderstorm which was incredible. I was slower but Rolfe was by my side. And as we had met before and have some similar interests talking about Guns N Roses meant that I soon forgot about the pain of carrying a large unit up the hill. Rolfe knew what made me tick!!
When I arrived my appetite had gone - not unusual for me and i know it happens. But i had also not slept. Rolfe, thinking on his feet as always arranged for me to sleep in a tent as i sleep better when no background noise from others and taught me "tent craft" when tent pegs wont do.
The evening was poor for me - I became unwell and had to ask to leave the trip. I am high on the mountain, its 7am and I am forced to leave for "ailments". Rolfe simply gave me a hug, said "its been great fun brother" and via satellite phone contacted Marni and Helen to assist me home. One of the porters arranged by the team carried my main bag and i hiked 1300m down to base camp. By the time i arrived 3 hours later everything was arranged by the excellent helen and Marni, always in contact reassuring me that all is ok. A jeep appeared from nowhere, took me back to the city where a hotel had been arranged and a flight home the next morning.
Overall this trip was incredible - i didnt get the summit but I got the experience and also got the 5* treatment when things went wrong. When choosing the team that you trek with i would urge you to ensure that the company you select is experienced in the area, has the right logistical support behind them and more importantly - care about you. The team managed to get some summits 2 days later via the tougher north - south traverse. But being different to any other company i know Rolfe helped 2 others summit from the more popular south side just 24 hours later to help others achieve their dream.
The very best team ever!! On to the next one 360!
5 Star review! I wish that I could give more. This still lives with me 8 years later as the best 3 weeks of my life. I have done 4 expeditions now - 3 with 360 Expeditions and I would not consider any other firm to work with. Firstly its the pre-expedition logistics. I was managed impeccably from Marni and Helen. They did not know me before (even though I had met Rolfe, my guide prior in 2010) but before I went I felt that they knew me very well. Pre expedition training plans, kit advice for a novice and a discounted kit package too. You do not just book and arrive unprepared. I was met by Rolfe - I had met him in 2010 and he was super cool - but he doesnt know it (just google this guys CV!!). He just breathes the mountains. Pre flight prep talks and kit check and we were away to Lukla. If you havent done Lukla before - you need to do Lukla!!! When we arrived we had breakfast and Rolfe arranged his team of Sherpas, Sirdar and Porters. The logistical planning was exceptional - kit split into 2 teams of porters - one going direct to the Mera Base at Khare and the remainder was carried with us through the Hinku Valley as we prepared for the change in altitude, slowly and deliberately gaining fitness too. Food was incredible ! On another trip I lived on porridge, eggs and Dal Bhat. With 360 Expeditions I was getting salads, toasted sandwiches, chicken and chips on one day, soups, dumplings - everything. It amazed me that we were eating a picnic by a waterfall and then it would just be packed up and moved on. The camp chef would overtake you to ensure you had a nice hot chocolate at the end of the day. The team was close knit - I talk to them all, 8 years later. I knew no one prior, but thats the beauty of expeditions - you are all in the same boat. What I found amazing was how immersed in culture you become - Nepal is the most fascinating place - dont think that you go there for the scenery alone! Above everything else the main difference - the biggest difference and the greatest compliment that i could pay 360 Expeditions was the difference in class in their professionalism. Other teams - supposed big players - rallied around Rolfe for advice. I mean, he had been here several times before. He had contingencies - extra rope (which the big players asked to borrow) and it soon became apparent to our small group that our team got bigger as other companies clients joined us for advice from Rolfe. They didnt feel safe with the others, but they could see the expertise that made them more than a bit jealous. And finally the biggest difference - Rolfe and his team of Sherpas. Fully immersed within our team, highly entertaining and just a little bit crazy at times too. Think Bum slide races! I look back on this trip with agony that I need to do this again - and I will - and I will not shop around for the team to take me. There is only one choice for me, and it should be yours too.
5 Star review! I wish that I could give more. This still lives with me 8 years later as the best 3 weeks of my life. I have done 4 expeditions now - 3 with 360 Expeditions and I would not consider any other firm to work with. Firstly its the pre-expedition logistics. I was managed impeccably from Marni and Helen. They did not know me before (even though I had met Rolfe, my guide prior in 2010) but before I went I felt that they knew me very well. Pre expedition training plans, kit advice for a novice and a discounted kit package too. You do not just book and arrive unprepared.
I was met by Rolfe - I had met him in 2010 and he was super cool - but he doesnt know it (just google this guys CV!!). He just breathes the mountains. Pre flight prep talks and kit check and we were away to Lukla. If you havent done Lukla before - you need to do Lukla!!! When we arrived we had breakfast and Rolfe arranged his team of Sherpas, Sirdar and Porters. The logistical planning was exceptional - kit split into 2 teams of porters - one going direct to the Mera Base at Khare and the remainder was carried with us through the Hinku Valley as we prepared for the change in altitude, slowly and deliberately gaining fitness too.
Food was incredible ! On another trip I lived on porridge, eggs and Dal Bhat. With 360 Expeditions I was getting salads, toasted sandwiches, chicken and chips on one day, soups, dumplings - everything. It amazed me that we were eating a picnic by a waterfall and then it would just be packed up and moved on. The camp chef would overtake you to ensure you had a nice hot chocolate at the end of the day.
The team was close knit - I talk to them all, 8 years later. I knew no one prior, but thats the beauty of expeditions - you are all in the same boat. What I found amazing was how immersed in culture you become - Nepal is the most fascinating place - dont think that you go there for the scenery alone!
Above everything else the main difference - the biggest difference and the greatest compliment that i could pay 360 Expeditions was the difference in class in their professionalism. Other teams - supposed big players - rallied around Rolfe for advice. I mean, he had been here several times before. He had contingencies - extra rope (which the big players asked to borrow) and it soon became apparent to our small group that our team got bigger as other companies clients joined us for advice from Rolfe. They didnt feel safe with the others, but they could see the expertise that made them more than a bit jealous.
And finally the biggest difference - Rolfe and his team of Sherpas. Fully immersed within our team, highly entertaining and just a little bit crazy at times too. Think Bum slide races!
I look back on this trip with agony that I need to do this again - and I will - and I will not shop around for the team to take me. There is only one choice for me, and it should be yours too.