||Arrive La Paz and overnight at hotel
||La Paz exploration and city tour
||Depart La Paz for the Cordillera Real, trek into first camp (4hrs)
||Trek over pass at 4,600m/15,000ft and continue to next camp (6 hrs)
||Trek over mountain passes and onwards to camp
||Trek to Plaza de Lama and transfer back to La Paz for the night
||Preparation day in La Paz for remainder of expedition
||Lake Titicaca exploration and boat ride (3,812m/12,507ft)
||Hike to Base Camp in the Condoriri Valley (4,600m/15,000ft)
||Work on climbing skills and ascending peaks in the Condoriri Cirque area
||Trek out and drive to Zongo Pass
Begin the ascent of Huayna Potosi and establish camp at (5,500m/18,000ft)
||Climb Huayna Potosi (6,088m/19,974ft) and return to La Paz
||Either depart for home or spend a day in La Paz preparing for the Illimani ascent if continuing on
||Drive from La Paz, meet Arrieros and their horses and trek to Illimani Base Camp (4,600m/15,000ft)
||Climb to High Camp (5,500m/18,000ft) with the assistance of the porters
||Climb to the summit of Illimani (6,438m/22,401ft) and descend to Camp One or Penaya at the base of the mountain
||Return to La Paz for an evening of celebration and relaxation
||Depart for home
Topics intended to be covered during instruction include:
- selection and use of personal equipment
- anchors for fixed and running belays
- selection and use of ropes, knots, and harnesses
- an introduction to high altitude physiology
- design and selection of technical equipment
- response to high altitude illness
- principles of glacier travel
- nutrition during extended trips at altitude
- belaying techniques on snow and ice
- introduction to natural hazards evaluation
- French and German cramponing techniques
- crevasse rescue procedures
- principal ice axe positions
- concept and application of the self-belay
- route finding and evaluation.
After spending two days in the city of La Paz, we head north to the central region of the Cordillera Real. We begin our trek and travel over a series of valleys and passes over the period of three days, and enjoy camping out each night. This is an opportunity to take in the scenery and enjoy spotting the native wildlife. The final day of trekking ends in Plaza de Llama, where a vehicle is waiting to transport us back to La Paz. The team will have a day in La Paz to prepare for the next stage of the adventure.
The next day is spent travelling by boat on Lake Titicaca and driving across the altiplano to a trailhead in the central part of the Cordillera Real. Covering a substantial part of Bolivia's altiplano, Lake Titicaca is the world's highest navigable waterway and from its waters, we enjoy memorable views of the scores of seventeen to twenty-thousand-foot peaks that make up the Cordillera Real. This range has great vertical relief and the steep faces of ice that characterize its peaks, rise up in dramatic contrast to the broad and undulating altiplano. We visit a small island where 15th century Incan terraces can be observed, and we see villagers who carry out farming, spinning, weaving, and reed boat construction much as their ancestors did during the rule of the Incas.
In the afternoon we drive east from the lake to the foot of the central Cordillera Real and then to a trailhead, where we meet our llamas and support staff to camp for the night. With the animals carrying the bulk of our gear, we make an easy-paced ascent to our Base Camp at 4,572m/15,000ft.
The trek takes us through some beautiful valley landscapes and our camp provides excellent views of the many surrounding mountains, and puts us in position to make a series of single-day ascents. During the first days of the program, we tailor our schedule of instruction and practice climbing to suit the needs of the participants acclimatizing at different rates. We give instruction in climbing technique on a glacial practice area near our camp, while team members gradually acclimatise more fully to the higher altitudes, and then cover additional skills in the process of making summit climbs. We make a beautiful short trek to the Condoriri Lake District and here we make two ascents on 5,180m/17,000ft and 5,486m/18,000ft peaks. This area includes two of the most beautiful mountains on the continent, Cerro Condoriri and Pequeño Alpamayo.
Our approach is once again made easy by the help of llamas, and we set up camp near a lake below the magnificently sculptured white tower of Condoriri. We practice additional climbing and rescue techniques and then make our first major climb, most likely of the beautiful Pyramide Blanca. After a day of rest or more practice climbing, we tackle our primary goal in this group, Pequeño Alpamayo; a hidden peak with a very impressive pyramidal summit. We climb a broad glacier to a col, traverse along a ridge to the base of the summit pyramid and then ascend directly to the top. The entire route is photogenic, offers excellent climbing and makes use of all the skills taught earlier in the program.
We then move south past a series of colourful altiplano lakes to the Zongo Pass, right at the very foot of Huayna Potosi (approximately 6,099m/ 20,011ft), from which we take a full day to establish a high camp at 5,486m/18,000ft. Setting off from that camp the following morning with sunrise over the Amazon Basin to our east, we climb a beautiful route which includes serious glacier travel and intermittent sections of moderately steep ground — challenging climbing but well within the skill level developed by the climbing team during the preceding days of the program. With Huayna Potosi's summit, a well-defined point at the end of a beautifully sculptured ridge and the last few steps to the top provide an exhilarating finish to a great climb.
Following our ascents above, we return to La Paz and return home, or for those also completing the Ilimani Ascent, spend a day and a half to preparing for this next stage of the expedition. We leave the city travelling southeast over very rugged roads to a small settlement, where we meet our Arriero and his llamas. With our gear loaded on his animals, we climb gradually higher while enjoying brilliant views of Illimani and eventually pass through the isolated village, where our Arriero and his family live. Here Aymara life is very traditional with thatch-roofed homes constructed of mud brick and stone, and villagers busy attending to the soaking, drying, and freezing of their potatoes (in the world's original freeze-drying process).
We climb above the village and establish Base Camp at a small lake at 4,572m /15,000ft, where in the evening we enjoy the dependable arrival of a flock of Andean geese that spend the night at the water, and from which we have a beautiful view of sunset over the altiplano.
The next day our Arriero returns with members of his family, who help us as porters. With them we make a 915m/3,000ft ascent up trails and a rock ridge to reach a snowy bench at 5,486m/18,000ft, where we establish our high camp. From that camp we get great views into the enormous, steep-walled cirque of Illimani and across Lake Titicaca into Peru. The next morning we begin our ascent of the peak's steep Southwest Buttress. The route is broken by a series of large crevasses and we carefully zig zag our way up, using snow bridges and ice ramps where we can to shorten our route.
Eventually we climb a 40 to 45-degree glacial face and gain the final ridge to the summit — a gently rising, exposed, and very photogenic finish that provides some of the finest views in the Andes. Always scenic and offering rewardingly varied alpine climbing, this is an exciting expedition on one of South America's greatest peaks.