Summitting 6088m!

Huayna Potosi Travel Blog

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So, when your in South America, and after a little adventure... what do you do? climb mountains of course!!

Now Im no mountaineer, but I do have (or had) a desire to go beyond 6000m. And one of the best places to give it a go is in Bolivia. A peak regarded as easy (in comparison) to summit is Huayna Potosi, just outside La Paz Bolivia. It is a popular activity amongst backpackers on the road with an adventurous streak, but yet, not to be taken lightly. Especially seeing as most backpackers have let their fitness go a little, and dont regurlary venture to high altitudes... myself included.

I opted for the two night option for extra acclimatisation, improving the chances of making it to the top.

It was a good idea, and energy levels and spirits were at a all time high going into the first night at 4700m. However, that night I fell violently ill.... having to visit the baño multiple times, and clearing the system from both ends... if you know what I mean. The worst part was, that the toilet was a good 30 meter walk outside, meaning each time i had to get up feeling ill, you had to trudge outside in the cold and snow...

The next day was to be easy, a 3 hour hike with an elevation change of 400m, to the next camp. I wearily managed to make this part, but was running slighlty low on energy. Upon arrival, I crashed out straight away... waking only for some coca and Aniseed tea... a perfect solution to Altitude and stomach upsets...

Soon enough came the wake up call - it seems it was a little later than planned.

.. 1am. After another cup of tea, and gearing up we were out the door at 2am. I still hadnt eaten anything since the lower camp a day before, and was struggling to keep hydrated. But nevertheless, I had to give it a go.

Im not going to lie. Hiking with all those layers, crampons and axe, in the night, up a steep hill was hard work. My buddy, Andy seemed to do it a whole lot easier than me. It was however a picture perfect night, and everytime we stopped to rest, and I layed in the snow catching my breath, the sky was lit up with Stars.

When we reached 5,700m i realised that that was it... only 400m more to the top. Regardless of how crap I felt I had to fight the urge to sleep, and give it a go. The hiking got easier, then it got worse.

.. crossing deep crevasses, thin ice bridges, and crawling up faces that seemed impossibly steep...using only your toes (of the crampons), axe, and the other free hand....

When we made it to the last ridgeline, it was all worth it... after puffing up the last steep face, you could lie down at see the lights of la paz below you. After another short stint up to the summit, it became even more amazing.... from the one position you could see La Paz, Lake Titicaca stretching off in the distance, The immense mountain of Illiamani towering over the city, and down into the jungle... which was covered in clouds thousands of meters below.....

Oh, and we clocked in at 4 hours... apparently its usually a 5-6 hour hike...

Unfortunately, I was that tired and cold, that photos were not on the agenda... after taking it all in, and a few happy snaps, it was back down the mountain......

It only took half the time to get down, and before I knew it, I was passed out in the back of a car, heading back to La Paz... with a decent story under the belt...

 

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Huayna Potosi
photo by: orcio81