The Normal route was first climbed in 1897 by Matthias Zurbriggen. Since then it has become hugely popular, mainly due to it being considered the highest ‘trekking peak’ in the world. Although this is true, the Normal route should not be underestimated as less than half of all attempts end in failure. The altitude is often overlooked by climbers who simply focus on the notion that it’s a trekking peak with no technical difficulty.
The route typically takes 18 days and is most frequently climbed in the peak season from November to March. Even in the peak season temperatures get well below zero near the summit and winds often reach in excess of 50 mph. Combined with the altitude, the climb is actually quite difficult.
Generally trekkers will not require ropes or ice axes on this route, however, in extreme conditions it has been known to happen. Most climbers use trekking poles and crampons near the summit.
The Normal route begins from the Lower Horcones Valley and takes the main path leading all the way to Plaza del Mulas (4260m). This is the first base camp. There is little vegetation and the land is dry, cold and arid. From base camp there are a further three high camps along the Normal Route:
The trail up is rocky and is often covered in loose scree. Dust is often a problem and you’ll need plenty of water. Summit day is a long and arduous trek of over 12 hours. Even though this is a trekking route, if you are not physically fit and acclimatized to the high altitude, you’ll most likely struggle to make the summit. For a full summary and itinerary, please click here.