Of all the Andean countries, Bolivia remains the least touristed and most adventurous. It offers all the attractions of its more popular neighbors, but has not yet been “discovered” by the masses. This offers a unique opportunity to adventurous climbers.
And for climbers, Bolivia is a dream. Even its capital city is made for mountaineers. La Paz sits in a valley at 11,900′ / 3627m, surrounded by glaciated peaks and rolling hills. The airport, the highest international airport in the world, is even higher, at 13,200′ / 4023m! This means our acclimatization begins as soon as we land in Bolivia. We will take full advantage of this acclimatization time, exploring the Andean highlands and the sights of La Paz for two full days while we get used to living and sleeping at the same elevation as most of Colorado’s summits! We will also spend two days on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, where we will visit the famous reed islands.
From Lake Titicaca, we will attempt our first peak, Pequeño Alpamayo (17,482′ / 5329m). Like its famous taller neighbor in Peru, Pequeño’s face is beautiful and the climb is technical yet reasonable. It is also an ideal place to increase your mountaineering skills. We will spend 5 days practicing glacier and climbing skills, acclimatizing, climbing sub-peaks, and finally making our summit bid. The summit day consists of a moderate glacier, followed by two pitches of fourth class rock, and then steep ice or neve on a knife-edged ridge. After our team makes its summit bid, we will return to La Paz for a hot shower and a much deserved night in a comfortable bed!
At 19,975 feet (6,088 meters), Huayna Potosi is taller than all but a handful of peaks in the Americas. After a short drive from La Paz to base camp, we spend a day practicing steeper ice climbing skills on the glacier’s edge. Our summit day route is comprised of steep glacier travel, huge crevasses, and a final airy ridge to the summit. A summit of Huayna is a proud day, and is excellent preparation for longer routes on the big mountains of the world. The views from this summit encompass the countless peaks of the Cordillera Real, the city of La Paz, and on a clear day the distant peak of Sajama, Bolivia’s rarely climbed tallest peak. After our team makes its summit bid, we will return to La Paz for a hot shower and a much deserved night in a comfortable bed!
While heading home after the summit of Huayna Potosi is one option, we encourage those that have the time to stay for an attempt of Illimani (21,125′ / 6439m). Illimani looms over La Paz, and no climber has ever arrived into Bolivia’s airport without being awed by its steep flanks and sheer size. With the acclimatization and skills we have gained on Pequeño Alpamayo and Huayna Potosi, we will be ready to tackle this challenging peak, the tallest in the Cordillera Real. After a beautiful drive through Bolivian farmland and small indigenous towns, we will arrive at our base camp. From there, and with the assistance of local high altitude porters, we will move to the Nido de Condores, or “Nest of the Condors”, our very aptly named high camp at 18,372′ / 5600m. Summit day takes us across an exposed ridge and then onto broad snow slopes, around crevasse fields, and eventually onto the final, classic, knife-edged summit ridge.
Our Bolivia expedition will be guided by one of Alpenglow’s AMGA certified lead guides. AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) certification is the highest possible training available to guides, and only the most experienced and dedicated attain it. Our lead guides have also traveled and climbed extensively in South America and know the Bolivian Andes intimately. Their knowledge of Andean culture as well as the mountains, combined with their passion for teaching others to become competent mountaineers, guarantees that your experience will be one to remember! We combine our guides’ experience with the local expertise of one of Bolivia’s original logistics operators, a great cook, and our small team size (maximum ratio of 2 climbers to one guide) to ensure that you stay healthy, strong, and are able to enjoy each component of your experience.